Netflix, you did it. I’m so proud of you.

Netflix has proved to be really good at some things. Shows about lady wrestlers. Shows about The Upside-Down. Making you cry about makeovers. Making you cry in a different way over terrible cakes.

They’ve not really nailed the rom-com before.

I watch basically every Netflix Original rom-com that goes on there, but I’ve only seen fit to write about A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance because they were really cheesy and ’twas the season etc. And yes I did actually enjoy Christmas Inheritance but that is because the standard for holiday romances is so, so low. However, I’m not going to pretend I’m not counting down the months until The Princess Switch with Vanessa Hudgens.

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I watch the rest of the nonsense they add. I watched Ibiza, which I felt vastly overestimated the appeal of watching people who are drug-fucked and vastly underused Richard Madden’s natural Scottish accent. Happy Anniversary made me want to never be in a relationship lest I have to talk that much. They do okay with teen rom coms….sometimes? Candy Jar was charming. The Kissing Booth was one of the most problematic things I’ve seen in a long time, GIRL RUN AWAY. I did not watch When We First Met because I hate Adam Devine with the fire of a thousand suns.

So I am extremely pleased to say, they’ve done it. They’ve made a good rom-com. Meet Set It Up: 

The basic structure is barely even trying. Two over-worked and under-appreciated assistants who work in the same building set up their bosses to get some free time: “When they’re boning, we’re free, right?”. In the meantime they hardly realise that they themselves are being drawn closer together. So no, you’re not here for the plot. You’re here for the charm.

This whole movie is like some sort of twisted charisma factory. We start with the most important role, the heroine. I haven’t seen Zoey Deutch in a lot, but I knew something very important going in: she made the dire, horrific mess that is the Vampire Academy movie legitimately enjoyable, purely through charm and excellent line deliveries. There was a moment there where even pashing her PE teacher seemed like a good idea. So yes, I was more than happy to be carried along by Harper’s crazy schemes in Set It Up, even if she made fun of Charlie for being horrifically old. At age 28.

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I’ve mostly seen Glen Powell be kind of blandly handsome and pleasant, as Juliet’s poor old American Not-Michiel-Huisman fiancé in Guernsey, and pleasingly not-racist John Glenn in Hidden Figures. He gets to lean in to his asshole (so to speak) a bit more as Charlie. He gets some amusing and cutting lines, although we’re probably meant to think his deeply terrible boss Taye Diggs has rubbed off on him bit. Look, even Mr Darcy has to learn how to soften up a bit before he’s a worthy romantic hero.

I was pleased to see Lucy Liu given credit as the goddess she is in the movie:

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She’s a badass sports writer with her own publication, and while she has a touch of the Miranda Priestlys to her, you never question Harper’s admiration for her.

There’s a great support cast, a brilliantly old-school soundtrack (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking that cue from Nora Ephron)… I’ll stop talking. Go watch it. The world is fucking awful, go escape for an hour and 45 minutes.

I’m absolutely delighted that Netflix has managed to produce a movie that balances rom and com so adeptly. I’d love to see writer Katie Silberman do more, but I have some bad news. Her next movie. Such a promising concept:

A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

It stars Adam Devine.

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An Incomplete Guide To Terrible Netflix Christmas Romances Pt 2

I’ve only watched three additional Terrible Netflix Christmas Romances, in part because did some extracurricular viewing of A Princess For Christmas (awful, awful, but Jamie Fraser is a strong drawcard) and A Royal Winter (actually…not too bad, as far as these things go?). I strongly recommend checking out Part 1 if you want to know how this will go.

Christmas Inheritance
Eliza Taylor and I go way back. No, not just to Neighbours (although Janae Timmins, princess of Colac, was a gift to Australian television). No, not even her struggle to say the word pineapple with a British accent in The Sleepover Club.We go right back to Pirate Islands. Which I watched predominantly because of a severe crush on Oliver Ackland who played Mars. So yeah, Eliza Taylor and I are going strong for 14 years at this point, I knew her way before her turn as the, in turn, blazingly kick-arse and heartbreaking Clarke in The 100, and I feel confident in saying this:
Christmas Inheritance may be Eliza Taylor’s breakthrough role.
You probably didn’t think you’d be reading that about the latest Netflix original Christmas movie, did you? Since I wrote my last post, A Christmas Prince has been subject to waves and waves of internet mockery. Even Netflix itself got in on the act:Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 11.32.24 pm

So here’s my surprise for you all: Christmas Inheritance is actually good (….on the terrible Christmas romance scale), and Eliza Taylor is even better. And we get to see her in a way we never really have before.
We’re not even meant to like her character, Ellen, that much at the start. She’s pulling dumb stunts….for charity. She also pretty much feels bad about it immediately when it gets bad press, and sets about making amends.
These amends involve her going off to Small Town Somewhere to deliver an annual Christmas letter to the co-founder of her father’s company, before her father will decide on appointing her as the next CEO.
….Oh, and she can’t tell people who she is, and she has to do it on $100.
So we’re meant to judge her for not understanding the bus, and not knowing she’s sitting next to Canadian royalty Mag Ruffman, but when she tells her seatmate she’s never been on a bus, you don’t really feel like you’re watching The Simple Life. Because Eliza Taylor is so fucking charming that it’s really, really hard not to like Ellen from the start.

So that’s the thing about this movie. It’s inherently silly. The important tradition is that swapping the letters forces Ellen’s father Jim, and his co-founder Zeke (current position in the business…hazy), to see each other each year, as they physically exchange the letters going back decades, as well as the new one catching up on the goings-on. And yeah, it’s a responsibility, but sending Ellen essentially negates the whole point of the task, which is for Jim and Zeke to see each other. Ellie ends up working at Zeke’s B&B to earn her keep, and attempts to vacuum in skyscraper heels. Her fiance is a cartoon fucko.

But no matter how unlikely all the things around her are, there’s Eliza Taylor, being warm and delightful and learning that maybe giving money to the homeless is actually a good thing and also how to separate eggs. And it lifts the whole damn thing.

Also helpful is some genuine damn chemistry with Jake Lacey. He plays Jake (big stretch), who once had his heart broken by a city girl and now hangs out in Snow Falls and seemingly just keeps the entire tourism industry afloat, particularly when it comes to taxi-driving and B&B managing. Most of the men in these movies, except for the Christian Grey wannabe hot ghost in The Spirt of Christmas, are just sort of blandly nice dudes who mostly exist to fall in love with our heroine, and preferably propose to her at the end. The writers here aren’t afraid to let it run a little awkward and real, for our hero and heroine to have dumb in-jokes and to have misunderstandings about real things, like hold on, why are we about to pash when I have a fiance.
Y’know, that sort of thing.
But chemistry is really important for a romance, funnily enough. You don’t necessarily realise how nice it is to see, until you try to watch two extremely attractive people like Sam Heughan and Katie McGrath barely be able to muster a tiny spark to pass between them. So I like the chemistry, and I really enjoy watching Ellen. She’s sassy and successful but also stares at the newborn baby she’s holding like she’s Rosalie in Twilight, that creep. Jake may or may not get an instant boner at this. Shades of Matty J there.

Look, even the presence of movie-ruining Andie McDowell couldn’t ruin this dumb movie for me. Go watch it with my blessing. Netflix might subtweet you for watching it, but I won’t.

8/10
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Easter egg: there’s a shot of Eliza in her Erinsborough High uniform from Neighbours in the movie, see if you can spot it!

A Wish For Christmas

So it turns out that Hallmark is almost entirely responsible for making sure fetch continues to happen for Lacey Chabert’s career, and the girl is in no less than seven holiday romances. This has led to my new headcanon revolving around her character from A Wish For Christmas trying to find a new family for Christmas each year, because she didn’t try very hard to spend time with her own in this movie. Despite one of parents being deceased.

Unfortunately, this is not, as it should be, about Lacey’s character Sara walking out on her job because the place is full of unmitigated arseholes – even her ‘friend’ at work is a complete and utter cockknuckle to her. And her boss has declared Christmas cancelled in his own life, and is having people work over Christmas.

Did I mention they work at some sort of design agency? Even if office shutdowns aren’t as common in the US as they are in Australia, their work could not be more non-essential. Having fucking Christmas Day off can be factored in to deadlines when they make their pitches! Oh goddddd there’s no just no reason for it, apart from him to see the error of his ways and for one particularly dim-witted colleague to shout ‘WOW BOSS’ when he turns up with food and graciously allows them to go home. If they have families. Fuck the single people, they can keep working until they die.

Uhhh so anyway there’s a mystical wish-granting Santa in this one, not my favourite trope, and he grants her wish to finally have some fucking balls for once in her life. There’s some satisfying chats but still. She should take this opportunity to quit her job. Toxic environments don’t stop being toxic because one person starts asserting themselves. Someone else just becomes the victim instead.

Her boss gets a competence boner for her but I just can’t get invested in this love story about how awful corporate America is and that a boss might need to be taught how to be reasonable human being by a woman who is obsessed with Christmas to the point of deep, deep, delusion. He’s gonna be heartbroken when she goes off to find a new family next year.

2/10

Merry Kissmas

A Nutcracker toy is a key plot point and the elevator is sentient.

Please just watch the trailer to cop low-rent Robert Downey Jr.’s terrible, terrible fake British accent. Eliza Taylor did better than that when she was 14 years old. Anyway, that’s Carlton, famous choreographer and Kayla’s terrible boss and fiance. We know Carlton is terrible because he doesn’t eat carbs. (I should mention that Ellen’s terrible fiance Gray in Christmas Inheritance doesn’t do sugar. What an arsehole).

Meanwhile, Kayla is an idiot with no self-esteem who emotionally unloads, several times, to an unsuspecting Santa on the street, and goes around pashing strangers in elevators. Dustin is quite used to this, as he’s regularly sexually assaulted in said elevator by Ray Barone’s mother. I don’t want to victim blame but maybe Dustin should consider taking the stairs every now and then.

Dustin runs some sort of catering business with his cousin Kim, which we know because he refers to her, when only she is present, as ‘my trusty assistant and favourite cousin’ (the exposition in this film is just so smooth it hurts) and Kayla ingratiates herself with them by baking cookies with them. Actual dialogue when they’re done:
Kayla: ‘Look at these cookies, they look so happy!’
Dustin: ‘They were made with happy!’
Kim:  ‘The real happy’s coming up…’
Apparently Kim is not talking about these simpletons getting their bone on, but about Kim and her friend from the animal shelter bullying Dustin in to adopting a dog, even though he says his lifestyle does not suit pet ownership (given all their food preparation seems to happen in the middle of his apartment, I’m tempted to agree). But anyway. Who am I to complain about a cute guy and a cute dog?

Kayla eventually half-heartedly breaks up with her fiance, so she and Dustin can have their relationship develop in a montage that seems to represent two months but is in fact two days, then she goes back to her godforsaken fiance because she has no spine, and cannot bring herself to break up with him until he is completely flagrant about the fact that he has been cheating on her the whole damn time. I’m not here for this. Everyone except Eliza, quit your job.

Anyway this movie is bad. Not just because at the end of the movie, they use the same costumes and setting from the montage in a scene that’s meant to be one year later. It’s also because of the atrocious music that seems to have been written just for the movie. The opening music talks about being ‘elevated by this Christmas kind of love’. When they pash it’s a song about being ‘under the mistletoe with you’ having ‘our first Christmas kiss’. This music, and this movie, made me consider never celebrating Christmas again.

2/10

I’ll call the series to a close there, as the only terrible Christmas romance I plan to watch from here on out is an off-Netflix movie starring the Hot Ghost. I think you know why.
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Merry Christmas. Fall in love with a stranger. Dump your fiance.

Quit your job.

 

 

An Incomplete Guide To Terrible Netflix Christmas Romances Pt 1

I start this blog post knowing it will probably necessitate a Part 2. But I’m just one girl, and there are just so many shit Christmas romances on Netflix (Australia). On a recent rainy weekend, I managed to knock out four of the suckers. By the rules of these movies, if I’d been hanging out with a stranger for that amount of time, I should be ready to get engaged to that bland white dude by the time the sun set. Anyway this is kinda like my movie reviews, but in this case I only want you to watch them so we can talk about how bad they are. Know my ratings scale bears no relationship to movies that aren’t crappy made-for-TV romances. Titles link to trailers.

A Christmas Prince
The only actual Netflix production from what I can tell (the rest are from the Hallmark/Lifetime school of schmaltz). And if you think this might be reflected in say….production values, a decent script, believable accents? You’re in for a surprise. I guess all the budget went in to procuring the charming Rose McIver from iZombie (although she’s not allergic to made-for-TV-trash…I bring to you, Petals on the Wind). Amber (McIver) is a copy editor at an implausible magazine, somehow sent on the even more implausible mission to attend a press conference in the tiny European nation of Aldovia. Something something the prince has a deadline to accept the crown and he is on permanent walkabout. He turns up just in time to meet our plucky heroine, luckily.
What do you think the accent of every single person in this snowy, mountainous European country is? If you answered ‘vaguely British, I guess’ (romantic lead Ben Lamb is actually English, but still managed to make it sound fake) then you’ve probably seen one of these movies before.
There’s a lot of mysteries in this movie. Why is this royal family’s security so lax that they just merrily accept that any old American who turns up two weeks early is clearly Princess Emily’s tutor? Why are the royalty in these movies so unwilling to do their fucking jobs, which is really just turn up places, smile and shake hands? (this is gonna come up again, sorry). Does Emily actually end up doing any school work over the course of this entire movie? I don’t think they give out degrees in mischievous matchmaking. Also she’s smarter than Amber at maths, and yet Amber’s going to get to be the fuckin’ queen because of some dumb female succession rules (spoilers, I guess? Come on now).  And why does Prince Richard look so much like this guy?

The Christmas Prince actually received my lowest rating, but it was also the first one I watched. I guess I had some warming up to do before I surrendered all attachment to logic (I watched The Room before The Spirit of Christmas, so I was fully off the deep end by that time).

3/10 for so much additional implausibility (wait til you get to the result of Richard’s evil cousin’s schemes, y’all) that I can’t share without spoilers.

Once Upon a Holiday
More dirtbag royalty, oh my god. They didn’t look far for the fucking names in this one, either. Princess Katherine of Montsaurai (Mont Sore Eye) has an aunt named Margaret, an old family friend named George, and meets an old bloke named Harry who may or may not be Santa, or a wizard, I’m not really sure but he can make people disappear and there’s not really any comment on it.  Anyway, Princess Katie is also not a big fan of her minimal responsibilities, or her aunt. Said aunt probably should be a Princess too, given she seems to have been the sister of the king, but it’s all extremely unclear, and in the end Margaret seems to act as a personal assistant and excuse-for-Katie-maker.
Dirtbag Katie sees her opportunity to piss off on a trip to ‘New York’ (I don’t remember any establishing shots that suggested this couldn’t be literally any city in America), so she steals some clothes that were being donated to charity. She runs in to Jack while being completely unable to function in a big city, because apparently sending her to the best universities in the world did not involve her handling money, or  learning how not to casually leave your possessions where they can be stolen. What it DID get her is an inexplicable American accent.
Jack is another classic bland white man, who had some hot shot career and then wanted to work with his hands as a carpenter or some shit. His ex-wife dumped him because ‘she didn’t sign on for a guy who works with power tools’, but I wonder if it was maybe because he’s a gullible idiot. Well, he’s found his perfect match in this terrible liar, who pauses while searching for a fake surname at a holiday party (she settles on ‘Holiday’), and instead of implying she’s ever travelled internationally, tells him she saw an art piece (exhibited in Milan) in a book. It’s a good thing they’re such a perfect match, because at the end he suggests they ‘spend all of their Christmases together’ after legitimately three days of acting like fugitives from justice.

4/10 I was going to leave it at A Christmas Prince but I had to find out what the ‘joys of a normal life’ were that Katie would discover, because to me normal life is taking out the bins and paying the bills, and I’d much prefer to be a princess. Nothing that happened in this movie resembled normal life, anywhere, especially not in ‘New York’. Apart from maybe getting robbed.

A Holiday Engagement
Okay I can’t believe I have to do this but warning: that trailer is basically the whole movie.
Have I mentioned that I read quite a lot of romance novels? It has occurred to me that part of my warm feeling towards this movie is just because it uses one of my favourite tropes – the fake relationship. Made slightly more complicated in this scenario because David is pretending to be a real person – Hillary’s now-ex fiance Jason. So much room for shenanigans!
This is a slightly older one, a special little slice of 2011 which you can date pretty exactly due to the presence of Haylie Duff as the social-climbing sister of Hillary (ha). Golly. Haylie Duff. They really did spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to make fetch happen with that one (she got her very own Terrible Christmas Romance two years later!).
I will say that this one is exactly what you expect, whether you watched the spoileriffic trailer or not, with Hillary’s overbearing Mom (Shelley Long) eventually learning maybe she can quit being terrifying enough for her daughter to think it’s an okay idea to invite a stranger in to their home, and everyone realising Real Jason is garbage, but it really gets by on its leads. I have a bizarre affection for Bonnie Somerville, despite my main association with her being Rachel, Sandy’s co-worker on The OC who tries to seduce him. She can actually fucking act, which is bloody rare for these things, and has some nice chemistry with Jordan Bridges who plays David.

7/10 But I need to deduct a point because this movie is mostly set at Thanksgiving. Luckily Shelley Long starts setting up for Christmas straight-up the day after Thanksgiving, doesn’t she know it’s bad luck not to wait til December? Are you a shopping mall, Shelley Long?
(The internet tells me this is an Australian thing? I will say none of the Americans on my Instagram feed seemed to put them up before we hit December).

The Spirit of Christmas
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You
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Kidding
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Me?
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10/10 for this guy’s fucking face, let’s all go home.

On the narrative side, my new crush up there is a corporeal not-ghost (for 12 days of the year, we don’t really know what he does the rest of the time but presumably it’s mostly ghost-y) who can also disappear and re-appear at will. This movie really doesn’t give a fuck about the rules of ghosts, any more than the others cared about the rules of royalty, getting to know a person for an adequate amount of time, or basic common sense. He took a blow to the head that killed him in 1920 and comes back every year acting like Christian Grey. Except with no BDSM, just with really proper speech and a cranky attitude. The movie only finds one excuse for him to take his shirt off, which is a bit half-arsed. The fact that he likes to be alone in his old house (rather than having to deal with our ‘heroine’, who’s mostly insufferable) is the movie’s reason for him not knowing anything about mobile phones and referring to them as ‘communications devices’.
The spooky mystery element – basically, who dun killed him, and is it stopping him from passing on – is a nice little bonus on top of what would be a pretty ordinary ‘oh you want to bone a ghost? Well that’s fine because he has a body’ story.
I think the best part of this movie is even though it wants us to think all lawyers and the general profession of lawyering is a bit evil and shit (so much time pressure!), she doesn’t stop being a lawyer at the end. I’ll let you guess about the boning.

My rating as above stands.

Bumbling along with Bumble: The Tinder Trends Sequel

….that no-one asked for.

You’ve heard of Bumble, right? It’s kinda like Feminist Tinder, in that ladies have to make the first move to make contact when they get a match, or that match damn well disappears. The whole thing kinda freaks me out, because I already spend 100% of the time thinking I come off as too thirsty, but nevermind, I wasn’t there to make matches! I was there to collect some of that sweet sweet data.

This post is intended as a sequel to my Tinder Trends series, but particularly the epilogue where I examined age-related data. Unlike The Big Study, I only collected data on 100 profiles (as I was hoping to have it done around PAX, but then I came down with an almighty case of PAX pox and did not want to think about men or romance or having a body). I set the parameters the same as The Big Study, however, searching for men between ages 25-40 within a 50km radius. I  also collected a few extra data points that were of interest to me.

First things first! Bumble did not want me to be a cougar. Well, not so much…

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This is good, because I have spent enough time with men in their twenties to last two lifetimes! More than 50% of the men Tinder showed me were in the 25-29 age bracket, whereas 41% is a much more manageable number of men I almost certainly wouldn’t date unless I started to have some sort of emotional crisis. Thanks, Bumble. There is always the chance that Bumble’s user base just skews a little older, or that the men on there set their age preferences a little closer to their own actual age.

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What ho, 30-35 year old men. Why is is that you’re 12% more likely to mention your height (my old bugbear), than, say, what you’re looking for? Once again, the older cohort were WAY better at expressing this than the young dudes. One of the biggest changes is the drop in the youngest age groups even having a bio at all. On Tinder, over 70% of guys in the 25-29 age group had something – anything – in their bio. Even if it was rubbish. Even if it was a bunch of emojis (seriously, some of these dudes really need to reconsider the picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words thing). But in this set it was only 59%. And I gotta say – 41% not having anything to say? It’s not good enough.  In the current environment where women are having to think about sexual harassment and assault literally every day, men should consider themselves lucky that a woman might even consider going on a date with them without a full police check. If they’re not going to offer any information about themselves, then they shouldn’t be surprised when the inevitable future comes about:

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In this dataset I also picked out what is actually a photo feature, but it it got thrown in there because it’s a Y/N rather than a numbers thing. If you put another person in your first photo….
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Don’t make it a magical mystery tour to find out which one you are! I came across a guy and ALL of his photos were group photos. No-one is matching with a dude just because he has a wide variety of friends who drink in a vast array of foreign locations.

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Across the board, Bumble men actually slipped in to my cliches more firmly than Tinder men. There was a higher average number of travel pictures, of animal photos, SO many more gym selfies (HELLO older dudes who want to show off those gainz), and and a heck of a lot more bar photos. But additional cliches emerged quickly too, cliches that only emerged about halfway through my Tinder research so I didn’t have an opportunity to factor them in to my data. I live in Melbourne, so no great surprises that apart from weddings, there’s a lot of photo ops when you suit up to get wasted at the races.
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Don’t put that photo on your dating profile you idiots

Guys also really want you to know they ride a motorbike. I don’t know. Judging by the age data it doesn’t seem to be linked with mid-life crises, motorbike dudes in my unfortunately vast experience just really. want you. to know. about their motorbike.

My new bugbear is the small child accessory! This is frequently accompanied by a vehement disclaimer that it’s not their child, but a niece or nephew. I’ve got a new idea! If you’re a parent, just disclose it. You don’t need a photo. It’ll make some nice content for your sparse bio. If you’re not a parent, don’t put a child in your online dating profile, unless you can also provide proof that their parents permit you using their kid in the pursuit of sex. And even then, probably don’t do it?

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However, it’s not too prevalent. About ten per cent of profiles pulled out the small child accessory. About the same percentage of profiles that did not feature a single photo of the subject’s face in full.
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So what are the overall takeaways from this Bumble vs. Tinder exploration? Well, just putting the power in women’s hands to initiate communication might be a slight improvement on Tinder, stemming the onslaught of dicks that can be experienced on such a platform (I mean, I presume that happens. My experience on Tinder is generally of matches that never go anywhere, but when I was on there I also explicitly stated I didn’t want to see anyone’s penis in my bio). But it doesn’t follow that the pickings are all that much better. The data actually tracked very closely with Tinder, when it came to how many people had something to say for themselves, how many were annoying cliches, and how there was a lot of content that didn’t quite fit in to easy categorisation. Is it nice to know that this app was showing me people a little closer to my age? Yes, but that can be controlled with preferences.

Want to know what the main difference is? You can switch off horndog mode (which I did when PAX rolled around) and switch to Bumble BFF. It’s just intended for making friends. As someone who’s still finding her feet in a new city, and has travelled solo, this idea appeals to me way more than talking to strange men on the internet. But unless you think it’s okay to choose friends on appearance alone…

You need to have a goddamn bio.

The Bachelorette Australia Weeks 3 and 4: Taking Out The Garbage

Back at the start of the season I shared my impressions of some of the contestants. There’s so much filler in the early parts of the season that I only picked a select few to discuss – Ryan, The Interrupter, Jarrod, The Keenest Bean That Ever Lived, and Sam, Who Calls Them Cans.

Oh boy, did the turn out some peaches. Sam decided to make best buddies with fellow dillweed Blake, who I would feel comfortable in referring to as ‘this season’s Jen’, except with more floral urination (I’ll return to that one). Sophie wasn’t afraid to call out Sam on the incident when his verbal diarrhoea led to him repeatedly let Sophie know he was looking down her dress. He excused this as an attempt to use humour to connect with her even though it wasn’t, y’know, at all funny. Despite his many attempts, the only thing funny about Sam is his delusional hairdo. Nonetheless, our Queen, who can be a bit awkies herself, seemed happy to move on from this. After all, Sam was owed two single dates after his first night Double Delight rose triumph (still never got any word on whether this meant he was safe from elimination until he got them both). I suspect she was just biding her time, however.  Because when Single Date #2 came around in Episode 8, it was nothing more than an opportunity to insert his foot directly in to his mouth. The guy tried to mansplain the music industry to Sophie Effin’ Monk. Boy you better stop, better run away.

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She didn’t send him home directly from the stretch Hummer, as I would have. No, this arrogant twat, who walked away from the date with no kiss and no rose, was still oozing confidence going in to the rose ceremony. Then our queen racheted up the tension, sending her Chosen Fellas (new/old bloke Stu, Jarrod, James, and Apollo My Prince) out the of the ceremony, summarily dismissing Unsung Hero AJ so she could face down Sam and Blake, who had just recently been thinking they could perhaps be numbers 1 and 2 in the finale. Briefly quizzing them both on their intentions, she sent Sam home, saying it wasn’t quite right.

You can say it, Sophie. Sam ‘isn’t quite right’.

Let’s talk about Unsung Hero AJ here for a second, because he played a very important role. This chef rolls in as one of The Old Blokes and he’s very tall but bald and  moderately fine-looking and just seems like a pretty nice dude with no chemistry with Sophie. But oh, did he provide her a service. It was under the guise of ‘not ruffling feathers in the house’, but he totally threw a spelling bee (ugh, don’t ask) in episode 6, spelling ‘cuisine’, ‘quizine’ (that sounds like a horse tranquiliser bro). What did this mean? Ryan wins and gets to spend some alone time with Sophie.

They didn’t make him go through this in his school uniform, unfortunately.

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(this is a bad screenshot but I don’t want to look at his face for longer than necessary)

So lately this fucknugget has been talking about how he doesn’t really want a woman who swears. I’ll leave my general response to that to the immortal words of True Blood.

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Sophie, much like myself and bonafide smart person Stephen Fry, enjoys a bit of a swear. She thinks truck drivers could learn a new turn of phrase from her. He’d also said last time they hung out (and, in fact, the first time they met), that he wants ‘a girl who takes care of herself’ aka a perma-hottie. Sophie just wants to dag out in her trackies tbh (god is it any wonder we love her?). So she knows, in her heart of hearts, that she’s not the right girl for Ryan and he needs to go find someone else, preferably an inanimate sex doll that he can treat like the wardrobe he destroyed in week 2’s Man Test (yeah sorry I can’t even touch that bullshit representation of gender roles, I’ll just say, if you need things fixed around the house, consider paying a professional? People do those things as a legitimate trade.  Help stimulate the economy by not entering a committed relationship only to save a few bucks).

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Yes, this is acceptable

So Sophie knows it’s time to take out the trash, but in the end she boots him because he doesn’t actually….like her? And she has a bunch of people here who do? He says that he would be willing to have a public relationship (to be clear mate you’re on a reality show right this second, and went through a whole casting process to be here) if he thinks she’s ‘worth it’. And it’s like watching that lightbulb moment go off over every woman’s head, when they realise it’s time to get rid of the fuckboy. As he doubles down on the looking good, and the swearing (even mentioning that he himself works on a construction site and ‘you can imagine what that’s like’), she tries so hard to make him see that he just wants everything that’s the opposite of her. So..she sends him off. And he has a mini tantrum, bringing his own little potty mouth out to play. Sophie’s shocked enough to break that fourth wall like it’s chipboard.

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And so Week 3 drew our time with Overly Aggressive Ryan And The One Time I Have Not Been Attracted To A Kiwi Accent to a close.

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So as of now, Sophie has recycled her two biggest pieces of trash. But we need to talk about Jarrod. And we can’t talk about Jarrod without talking about Blake.

I can’t type his name without getting this in my head by the way.

Congratulations Blake, you’ve officially brought me back around to looking on Jarrod more favourably. Like, not a lot – I’d probably still consider pissing in his pot plant if I had the imagination for such things – but bullying people is a great way to make people feel more warmly towards the victim. The plant thing? Cheesy, thirsty, and dumb, and I’d want to urinate on it after the second time it came up in conversation, third at best. But in Week 4 there was a sleepover night that made it clear that Blake is nothing more than a bog-standard schoolyard bully. Sophie asked the boys’ families to send in something from their childhood, and unfortunately there was no scandalous ballet shoes moment. However Jarrod received his childhood blanket, bringing up an emotional reaction as he remembered family members who have passed. You can only imagine how this was improved by Blake sniggering and sniping away about how it’s only a blanket. I actually wanted to give Jarrod a high five when he told him to shut up.

Guess what men? It’s not fucking cute to shame other men for having actual emotions. You are toxic masculinity embodied, Blake, and I need you to do something for me:
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Jarrod, you little thirst monster, I need you to do a few things. I need you to learn some basic mathematics. I need you to never say the words ‘pot plant’ ever again. And just chill the hell out, you’re turning in to a beetroot more and more every episode and I’m worried you’re going to have an aneurysm.

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Stop doing….all of this.

Even as the world proves to us that men as a whole are basically garbage, at least we have one thing. We have Apollo and puppies.

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I’ve decided to stop occupying the corporeal realm and live inside this post.

To finish off, a couple of updates!

  • This week I should be back to livetweeting Sophie’s adventures, unless life is completely unfair.
  • I may do a separate post for this, but next week if you’re in Melbourne you can come see me at PAX! My bestie has somehow roped me in to a panel on Bad Dating Sims, I don’t know how I allow these things to happen. I’m currently looking at a Tinder Trends follow-up to line up with that, although doing the data collection for that may depend on me not actually spending all my nights livetweeting telly.

 

The Bachelorette Australia 2017 Week 1: Toxic Masculinity Ruins The Party Again

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Okay, to be fair, that was just a Murderino reference, and I don’t think anything’s truly ruining this party. I think Sophie Monk is having the goddamn time of her life and she will sass anyone who tries to bring her down and/or bring a man bun to the party.

But oy.

There are a few corkers in this bunch. I’m not wasting my time talking about Blake – just go back and read anything I said about Jen or Leah on The Bachelor if you want a rant on cartoon villains. No, this is about men who I think have actually revealed something of themselves (creative editing nothwithstanding). Some of them started strong in episode one and then quickly devolved in episode two. But first let’s start with the guy who was a clear d-bag from the start – Ryan.

This guy is just aggressive. Every woman I spoke to after this episode agreed that this man has some form. A prematurely greying Kiwi 26 year old construction foreman, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for women, particularly Sophie. He tells us: ‘My ideal woman, she’s gotta look after herself. She’s gotta be respectful, she’s gotta have a great smile, good laugh, funny, and charismatic, and have that sponatuity [sic] that I’m looking for in a woman’. I’ll note two things here:
1) He certainly didn’t mention familiarity with the English language
2) How many of those things do you think he ticks off himself?
The first thing he asks her upon meeting her is why her past relationships have failed. He negs her on various things including her taste in pop music, creepily licking his lips as he supposes allowed that he might be able to change her taste (Sophie: ‘Yeah, right’). She seems to see right through him, sending him away from the red carpet pretty quickly, but he’s not quite done for the night. As Sophie prepares to kick off the cocktail party with a speech, he drags her off as soon as she opens her mouth to check that she is ‘there for the right reasons’. Ryan. You’re the one that needs to answer that question, not her. It’s a blessing that he gets minimal screen time in episode 2, as I feel some pretty violent urges towards this guy.
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Jarrod made a minor impression in episode one, another Gimmick Guy inviting Sophie to squash grapes with him, as he runs a vineyard. This whole vineyard thing is a bit odd. He says to Sophie at the first cocktail party that he finds women act differently towards him – aka keener – when he mentions the vineyard, but he makes the damn thing about 50% of his personality on the show and mentions it constantly. Anyway, Jarrod makes a damn good impression on the first single date with Sophie. For some unknown reason they’re walking on a highwire – given Sophie hates heights, I think we can pretty much put the nix on the idea that the Bachies organise or even have any input in to their own dates. Jarrod’s not much of a fan of heights himself, but when Sophie damn near shits herself, this former army man goes in to cool, calm, and collected mode, and gets her through it. He had the entirety of Twitter eating out of his hand, even though he pulled out the ‘treat a woman like a Queen’ line and appears to be a terrible kisser who made me recoil from my television (it’s possible Sophie is also a terrible kisser, but time will certainly tell on that one).

So how did this guy stuff it up? By going….intensively possessive and weird. Firstly he returns to the house to give a monologue instructing the other men on How To Date Sophie Monk, and I kind of wish it was all terrible instructions so I could pretend it was sabotage. At the cocktail party he argues with the other men on his determination to pull Sophie aside to thank her for their date. I get both sides on this one – he already has a rose, so he needs that time the least. On the other hand, all’s fair, etc, etc. But firstly, he yells a classic version of the old ‘not here to make friends’ chestnut, by telling the boys that he doesn’t want to marry any of them (do you want to marry Sophie? You’ve gone on one date! And the name of the game is that she’s also dating the rest of them…). And next he gives her a pair of uggboots, causing some minor drama after Blake had already given her a pair on the first night. I mean, points to all these boys for knowing the way to the heart of a bogan,  but Jarrod…

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Sam came in strong with an intro utilising three adorable nephews boasting about how Sam sometimes takes them to Target to try on bras (??? can I blame Safe Schools on this?). During the initial cocktail party, somehow we travelled back 16 years to when the walk-off in Zoolander was a fun, current reference. Sam made an appropriate spectacle of himself and gamely took part in a concessional undie run in the freezing cold. Sophie handed him the ‘double delight rose’, a new, fuzzily-defined thing entitling him to two single dates.

Within 5 minutes of episode two starting, he is champing at the bit. The first date of the episode is announced and he’s ready to stand, hoping Sophie will ‘stop playing around with him’. I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s probably not thinking too tactically (why are you in a rush, dude? Surely not having one of your dates blown straight away is a good thing?), he’s just keen for a change of scenery. No-one’s on this show to hang around with blokes all day. When another date comes up, he’s still keen as a bean, basically yelling to the camera ‘I want my date! I want my date!’. But no, he doesn’t want to be on a group date. Too bad, you’re on it. And…it’s gross. Around episode two on the Bachies is time for a photo shoot, and this time it’s ‘famous couples of [fictional] history’. He’s playing Robin Hood to Sophie’s Maid Marian, and he cannot stop himself from looking down Sophie’s dress and commenting on her breasts, loudly announcing ‘I just looked at Sophie’s cans, sorry!’. Is it possible his mental age is lower than those infamous nephews? Who told you to openly ogle a woman, Sam? It makes Sophie so clearly uncomfortable, pulling a face and saying ‘You’re not meant to tell me’ and ‘Can you please not say that’ (and laughing, because that’s what women have to do diffuse tension) when he makes a second comment. She’s trying so hard to be professional on this shoot while this guy is acting like a lech. It’s a good thing that James is also in their scene, and he’s able to rebuke Sam a little bit while making Sophie laugh. Based on her comments – particularly noting his negative, jealous comments about James – I think Sophie has seen right through Sam, and probably walked out of that shoot to get some very specific feedback from the producers on the particulars of that double delight rose.
Sam, I was rooting for you. I figured at some point during the show, they’d get rid of your ridiculous man bun combover, and you’d be a generally reasonable human being. Who would have known, that the guy who was noted with surprise that there wasn’t ‘at least one douche’ on the first night, actually turned out to be the greatest douche of all? Turns out we were dealing with a ‘he who smelt it, dealt it’ situation.
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Also if you don’t think Apollo whose real name may or may not be Jake is a beautiful perfect angel then I don’t want to talk to you.

As should be clear from this post, no, I am not recapping this season! I just have a lot of feelings and wasn’t able to livetweet this week. Want to catch up on the events of the week? Check out Smart Bachie Person Jodi McAlister’s caps at BookThingo. Or if you’re just in it for the lols, Sinead Stubbins is back in the Power Rankings game over at Junkee, and I cannot freakin’ believe I didn’t know about the hilarious Punkee video recaps before a few weeks ago.

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 16 (The Finale)

Did you notice the Baby Creeper aspect has been pushed in to the background over the last few episodes?

Well, that was your first clue about what was going to happen tonight.

(Well, no, it was about your 78th clue as I picked her for the final two as of the first episode)

You may recall – if you don’t, I have a handy dandy recap for you – that in episode seven, Laura told Matty she didn’t see herself being ready to have kids for another ‘five or six years’. Given she’s probably about to be spending plenty of time with a toddler and a newborn baby, I reckon you can guarantee she’s off to get a fresh Implanon installed, too.
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Anyway, it’s pretty significant that they stepped well away from that narrative once Laura became the clear frontrunner.

Look, we all knew what was happening here. The Daily Mail made sure of that, and while the show already did a pretty crappy job of telling the story of Matty and his second-place, it would have been an outright failure if there’d barely introduced his winner until the same episode her Dad appeared. Just sayin’. Let’s have a look at how they framed this inevitability.

At the final two, it’s important to contrast the two ladies left. After all, heaven forfend Australia notice that he’d probably be happy with any generically nice, white girl with hair in some shade of bronde. So Elise gets the ‘down-to-earth’ edit, where she is all warmth and smiles the girl who will fit nicely in to his life even though she lives in South Australia and Laura lives around the corner. Laura, by the way, seems perfectly down-to-earth too, but instead she gets the confident career lady edit, even though she cracks under the slightest pressure.

It’s used in two ways – to make us think Elise will win, and to make sure we know Elise will be okay. Firstly, she gets along with Matty’s Mum and brothers (there is no Tyrant Kate to be seen because he eggo is preggo again, although apparently she’s messaged them this morning, presumably saying ‘GRILL ‘EM TOMMY’) like a house on fire (Matty says ‘It’s almost too perfect’ hint hint). Boy does Matty’s brother have some questions for her, though. They edit it to look like he basically opens up his line of questioning with ‘Have you had many lovers in the past?’ and Elise chooses to answer talking about her two ex-boyfriends, rather than response I personally would have chosen:
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Seriously though Tommy, what’s up your dick with that question?  Umm anyway the rest of his line of questioning allows her to once again reiterate for the umpteenth time this episode how compatible they are because of how much they like not being inside and how much they enjoy physical exertion. And this is double edged sword for Elise, or at least the show wants us to believe that . She would fit nicely in to his life. His family likes her (his Mum fucking loves her). They can teach their tanned kids hockey and pick leeches off each other on hikes in the deepest wilderness. But also: what’s that exciting about someone who’s exactly like you? There’s no challenge. That’s a reason not to pick her, yes, but they could have just focused on the fact that these two have zero chemistry and just come off as good friends who pash sometimes.

In their solo day, taking place on a superyacht and a private island (so now we know where the budget for the rest of the series went) they want us to know Elise will be okay. Even though he wrings a few more declarations of love out of her, she also reiterates that she knows ‘it might get taken away from me, but I’m glad I’ve done it, because I’m really happy’. In her post-dumping to-camera and this heartbreaking interview after the finale, it’s pretty clear she quickly changed her mind on that, and it was just the confidence and high of love talking.

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Laura pretty much screws the pooch with the in-laws. And I think at this point I realise this why it is that I like Laura – we are not dissimilar. Because damn is she a nervous talker. One question down and they know her entire LinkedIn profile and then some.

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And then she straight up cries at Matty’s Mum because she gets a bit worked up. I’ve been there before. It feels like total garbage. It’s not just emotion – it’s nerves and anxiety and a million other things and you feel the need to apologise because you’re not usually like this, dammit. So even though she’s talking about something quite nice – her love for Matty – sometimes you’ve just been keeping your cool for too long and need to let it out.
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Lukily Matty’s Mum recognises this as a sign of the strength of her genuine feelings and not that she’s an overly-emotional weirdo.

I continue to lack any appreciation for Tommy after he basically tells Laura that Elise is better suited because she fucking likes camping or whatever, Laura then needs to jump to her own defence, talking about how she’s done heaps of backpacking, she’s ‘no-fuss, not precious, not a drama queen’ and of course someone in this fucking family thinks that’s ‘awesome’. This obsession with women being ‘low maintenance’, when Matty is the most fucking manicured, bleach-teeth, perfectly-abbed guy on television, is hypocritical and exhausting.
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Their solo date is full of loving sick on each other – in a lake, on a gondola in the rain – while the service industry employees of Thailand and an elephant look on.

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Weird that they invited Akoulina back.

Like I just want to get on with this because it’s nearly midnight so basically their date is full of a lot of laughter and Matty’s patented Fuck Eye.

Suddenly it’s doomsday. Everyone’s melting in their suits, Laura gets frocked up in a white top and skirt – all the better to show off her abs – and Elise looks stunning in gold (for the second episode running – I’m glad to costume department liked her, at least). Matty positions himself between two golden elephant statues that are surrounded by pink petals.
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Old mate’s brought a ring along, too. Over the last few days there’s been a story going around that he proposed and the girl turned him down, which was a good way to create any dramatic tension here.

They’re transporting the girls via boat and I start dreading the indignity of stumbling off a boat in heels while you’re off to get your heartbroken, but a strapping gentleman is kind enough to carry them off the boats, which is a bit fabulous, actually.

The first girl to arrive is always the dumpee, and no-one’s particularly surprised when it’s Elise. But oh, she’s so excited and hopeful. It’s awful to watch. It’s mostly treated in the kindest way possible – no fakeout like Georgia gave him, the gut-punch that started us on this whole sorry journey. Although he does tell her ‘I’ve realised that we’re so similar in so many ways, and I love that about you’, which is a great way of really saying you’re a bit up yourself. She does an amazing job at saving face in front of him, wishing him the best, but she only gets to walk away as far away as necessary before she starts crying.
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Matty relocates himself to a colourful rug at the end of a rose-strewn path to greet Laura. Laura has told Osher ‘I’m ready to find out where I stand, whether it’s good or bad’ and it turns out she was deadset convinced it was bad. Matty greets her with a broad grin and sighs, to which she replies ‘it’s okay’. She looks like she’s going to vomit or cry or both, interrupting his speech with ‘It’s okay, whatever it is, it’s okay’ and just generally acts like she’s lost until he finally spits out that he loves her. So it’s actually pretty nice to be able to see these kids finally express their feelings for one another. Also he pops the ring on her right hand (god, it’s a risky move giving jewellery to a jewellery designer) so presumably she’s got a bit of time before she needs to start worrying about getting knocked up.

Put out your hockeysticks for Elise, folks.
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