The Maclean’s Bachelor panel: One bachelor, three critics, countless possibilities.
The Bachelor Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Citytv. You can catch this week’s episode here.
Something is definitely amiss if the three little words you whisper to your date over a sunset dinner in Tahiti are, “I don’t know.”
On Tuesday night, Tim took April and Trish to the South Pacific, where each woman got one last dream date, one stressful encounter with his parents, and—next week—one shot at a big ring.
But April couldn’t offer Tim much more than “I don’t know” after he asked her how she felt about a possible marriage proposal.
“I’m still trying to figure that out. It’s a huge step and I’m really nervous to take that step,” she said. “I don’t know that I’m ready yet.”
This confuses me. If I were drinking white wine in Tahiti after spending a day on a yacht, I’d look Tim in the Aviators and say, “Yeah, what the hell, let’s get married. My wife will understand.”
April’s lack of enthusiasm for marriage was matched only by her lack of enthusiasm for spending the night with Tim in the fantasy suite. She gave that one an, “Aye yai yai.” Although she ultimately accepted, by the next day, she was in a panic, wondering if she should leave Tahiti altogether.
I think that, for a few weeks now, it’s been clear that Trish is the Bachelorette for Tim. Their date in Italy was a game-changer. Ever since then, Tim has seemed happiest around her. They spend their time getting to know each other, not struggling to get to know each other.
Trish reminds me a bit of Kara, the fun, kind, open-hearted Bachelorette on the first Bachelor Canada season who finished third behind Bianka and Whitney. I remember it bothered me that Brad had gone on and on about wanting someone who was communicative and ready for commitment, and then, instead of Kara, went for Bianka. (That season’s April, if you will.)
Maybe—like Brad—Tim will choose the more mysterious woman, lured in part by the very challenge of winning her trust. Here’s why he shouldn’t: There’s a ring involved.
There’s a post that’s been making the rounds on Facebook by a guy named Mark Manson. (Colin, Aaron: no judging me on getting my relationship advice from Facebook.) It’s called Love is Not Enough and basically argues that relationships fail when couples idealize love and ignore their actual compatibility.
“Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term,” Manson writes.
Tim clearly has real feelings for both April and Trish, but he’s only demonstrated real compatibility with Trish. The fact that she quickly won over both of his parents is the icing on the cake. I think she’s his best shot at a meaningful, long-lasting relationship.
Colin, Aaron, who has your vote?
Did you notice how little time there was for subtlety this week? And I’m not just talking about the invitations to the fantasy suites.
It started (or was most obvious) when Tim and April were on the yacht. Tim decided it would be a good idea to simply jump off the side of the boat into the immaculate blue South Pacific Ocean below. April was hesitant, but finally, with Tim holding her hand, she took the plunge. And, just in case you didn’t pick up on the importance of it, Tim was quickly there to lay it all out: “I feel like we’re on the verge of a whole new level,” he said. “I just want her to have the courage to do what I feel like she wants to do, and that is to take leaps of faith together.”
I was surprised by how much this bothered me. I think my problem with it, in the end, is that it reinforces a falsehood inherent in all reality television—the thing that makes it most unreal: that nothing falls in a grey area for too long. It can’t. Otherwise, the whole thing falls apart.
Since we are willfully and gradually groomed to accept this as reality, we are, eventually, more prone to seeing those elements that reinforce this world view as positive. Hence, Trish, who is more outgoing, more obvious in her intentions and feelings on TV, comes across better. April, on the other hand, is a huge question mark. She is guarded. She has questions. So, she seems a bad fit.
Weirdly, though, she is just as certain about many things as Trish is. It’s just that the things of which she is certain guide her to a different conclusion than the one that’s expected.
“I know I want to be with you, I know that I want to be in all these moments with you, I know that I love so much about you. And I don’t want any of this to end,” April tells Tim on the yacht, definitively. But while Trish would add all that up to equal True Love and Marriage, April reaches a different answer. “I don’t know that I’m ready yet. I’m nervous. I’m afraid to trust or I’m afraid of how big a step it is. It feels like, very quick, with everything, and I’m like, still wondering whether things are like, y’know . . .”
“Real?” Tim offers.
“Yeah, real,” April responds.
I asked a fairly weird question last week: Where does reality end and reality begin? I’d be content pointing to this exchange and saying this is where the rift shows. Because in real reality—this world, not the one on TV—April’s doubts are completely rational questions, ones that any normal person would ask herself if, after only dating a man for a few weeks (while he was dating other women), he suggested he might soon propose. This, perhaps, is what April is ultimately struggling with. In that moment, she has not given herself over completely to this alternative reality.
This becomes all the more apparent after she meets Tim’s parents, and returns to her cabin in a state of emotional panic. After trying in vain to articulate all her concerns and worries (forgetting, it seems, that she’d just done so the day before), April finally blurts out: “I don’t want to deal with thinking about how I’m feeling anymore.”
This is an amazing sentence. I enjoyed it so much, I listened to it three times. April’s frustration is understandable, but she is forgetting something very important: Thinking about how you are feeling is . . . living. It is human existence itself. To achieve that level of existential relief, you pretty much have to be dead. Ask Descartes.
But it’s too real for reality TV. It disrupts the construct. And so, instead of these thoughts about feelings getting the treatment they usually would—namely, the time to consider them—they are immediately seen as being troublesome. Why? Because thinking about your feelings too much is to effectively give up on the entire premise of this program, the world that you have accepted as reality for weeks, the world where ambiguity doesn’t exist. April is all subtext. That can’t work here.
So, to finally answer your question, Sonya: This is a game show for people prepared to fall in love in a month and believe that to be a reasonable thing. Trish can do that. Tim can do that. April cannot. Or can’t yet. At the moment, it looks like Trish is the one.
Three things off the top.
First, I’m happy we got a Descartes reference in.
Second, this episode reminds me that there was (still is?) a carbonated beverage called Tahiti Treat.
Third, I would watch a two-hour compilation of clips of bachelors and bachelorettes being presented with their fantasy suite invitations. Those 60 to 120 seconds of reading the card aloud—“Should you choose to forgo your individual rooms, please use this key to stay as a couple in the fantasy suite”—and then trying to configure a response that is not completely embarrassing and then making the awkward walk to the
sex place fantasy suite amount to some of the greatest moments in television history. All of it is amazing.
The language of the invite is hilarious. Forgo? As a couple? Fantasy suite? Fantastic. This is the classy Victorian way of writing, “Would you like to have sex with this person? Please check yes or no.” It’s amazing that this is televised.
The reader of the card then has to nuance a response that somehow glosses over the implied physical act. Almost always, because the answer is almost always yes, there proceeds a walk to the suite, possibly an establishing shot of a bed, and then, finally, an exterior shot of the room as the light goes out. (Obviously, kids, it’s been a long day and the nice man and woman have decided to call it an early night.)
The whole thing is so excruciating and silly and crazy. Each season, the Bachelor or Bachelorette has a week, on the verge of the moment in which a proposal might be made to just one lucky winner, in which he or she presents two or three members of the opposite sex with a note that suggests they have sex. The card is read aloud at the dinner table by the man or woman who must then answer, with the implied result being that they have sex, cameras following them as they go to the place where they will seem to have have sex.
Each year, television produces dozens of great moments, but I’m not sure anything is mind-bogglingly perfect as those fantasy suite invitations. Parents, never mind Descartes. Never mind the great moments of live sports or politics or the genius of scripted dramas. Gather the kids around for next season’s fantasy suite invitations. That’ll give the little ones something to think about and remember.
As for April, I, too, was struck by how acknowledging reality she fell apart within this show’s reality. Is it kind of messed up that you have to think about accepting the wedding proposal of this dude you just met on a television show? Yup. I would want to go home, too.
Mind you, I was also fascinated by Tim’s desire to somehow work things out. Is he really still unsure of which way he wants to go here? Was he possibly leaning toward picking April before she fell apart? Does he just really hate seeing people upset? Is he not simply a television character, but also a basically well-meaning guy? If he convinces her to stay, can he possibly not pick her?
Anyway. I kind of hope the shows end next week with news that not only will we get the televised wedding of Tim and Whoever, but that, on the undercard will be the wedding of Lisa and the Italian Bartender She Kissed.