This is not a rom-com: Why the Four Weddings and a Funeral series is such a disappointment to fans of the film

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Edit: the below is based at the first four episodes, which at the time of writing I was under the impression was the whole miniseries. There’s now 5 episodes out and according to iMDB there’ll 10 all up (miniseries?). Although it’s clear I’m not really enjoying the show, I’m happy to catch up when it’s finished to see if my comments about pacing and character development still stand. I’m really glad ‘the end’ was not the end.

Well, look at the image above. We have to give them some points for vastly improving the diversity.

But was anything else an improvement? Four Weddings And A Funeral is probably not in my top 5 rom coms (if you’re wondering at the top 2 spots, it’s When Harry Met Sally and Bridget Jones’s Diary) but it’s certainly in the top 10. I love spending time with the characters, but the execrable acting from Andie MacDowell puts me off a little.

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*head explodes*

I’m just saying this movie put me off Andie MacDowell until she popped up in the greatest film of the last ten years, Magic Mike XXL, and I was given no choice but to stan.

Spoilers abound for the series below, btw.

So it turns out that Andie MacDowell provides our extremely tenuous link to the original film, as the mother of Rebecca Rittenhouse’s Ainsley.  We don’t discover this until episode 3, when she turns up to cut Ainsley off from the family money. This is all terrifically mysterious as quite recently in the diegesis Ainsley had a failed wedding, crossing over episode 1 in to episode 2, which apparently her parents decided….not to attend? It was quite a large wedding. It makes no sense. But nonetheless, there’s your connection.
(Note: Andie’s character is credited as “Mrs Howard” and not Carrie so….who knows, tbh. Given Carrie and Charles’s daughter is somewhat-canonically Lily James…)(also yes that clip confirms Carrie and Charles never got married so let’s just say it’s only a cameo and this entire thing is unlinked and they should have just named the whole show something else that would not invite comparison)

It turns out that, particularly when you only insert easily the most charm-less part of the film, it is incredibly difficult to recreate the charm of the first film. Yes, the movie is filled with toffs who we should probably not feel a lot of sympathy for because they’re pretty much all rich. However, they somehow manage to exude warmth, a genuine bond, and they all (Kristin Scott Thomas and Andie MacDowell – a literal model – excepted) sort of *look* like ordinary people – helped along by the fact that 1994 was simply not an extremely attractive time in our history as a people.

The show doesn’t help itself a long a whole bunch by centring around a bunch of beautiful Americans – going so far as to cast the wonderful…British… Nathalie Emmanuel as a Yank – who inexplicably all met in the UK for university and most of them ended up moving there. Leaving the show to be set in London, with a British supporting cast, but unavoidably American. The main cast can’t seem to nail the dry, self-deprecating humour that seems innately part of a British rom com (particularly one penned by Richard Curtis).

Nathalie particularly suffers, I believe, by the Four Weddings and Funeral project sharing a lot of key staff from The Mindy Project – most prominently Mindy herself but also producers, writers and directors. In the end, it feels like they’ve made Nathalie’s character Maya – in many ways, the main character of the series, the catalyst whose return to London sparks much of the plot – in to a Mindy-esque protagonist. Fast-talking, flawed, funny. But it isn’t until you notice it that you realise a lot of Mindy Kaling’s charm is extremely specific to herself.

It’s not helped that our first impression of Maya is her waking up in the bed of a married man. It’s hard to engender sympathy in me personally for a woman who’s either 30 or closing in to it, who definitely knows better and definitely knows he’s married, who is carrying out an affair. Nora Ephron just managed it in When Harry Met Sally, but….a) no-one on this writing staff is Nora Ephron and b) Marie was not one of the very main characters of When Harry Met Sally. It’s there in the name.

The miniseries format seems to have presented a challenge to these writers, very few of whom seem to have worked outside the weekly series format. They seem to want to have characters who are somewhat unlikeable to start out with (intense and jealous neighbour Gemma, rude and conducting-an-affair Maya, pining and insufferable writer Duffy) and bring us around to loving them. In a rom com film, you pretty much have to start out with having the characters you want the audience to like being likeable. In a series, you have the luxury of time to develop and endear. The pacing of this miniseries is off. Very few characters have coherent journeys, nor make the trip for unlikeable to likeable.

Let’s talk about Maya’s love life. Over the course of about 3 hours, she pines after her married boyfriend, dumps him when she realises he’s having an affair, sort of observes her best friend’s fiance Kash from afar while having the occasional flirty conversation about Mamma Mia! (which the show’s trailers want you to think is endgame, even though it would be messy), then suddenly at the end she’s kissing Duffy in the rain. Duffy spends the first bit of the series pining after Maya (who he’s had feelings for since uni), picks up with a fellow teacher at his school, and all of a sudden the end he’s dumped the teacher and is professing his love to Maya on her doorstep. Why did he dump her? We’ll never know, apart from the fact that she’s not Maya, which he’s always known. Apart from a few conversations about the death of her mother, there is almost no build-up on Maya’s side towards deciding she wants Duffy.

This is not a rom-com.

Do not buy that this show is a rom-com.

One of the best things the movie gave us was absolutely no romantic development between Fiona and Charles. Fiona wanted Charles, and we felt for her, but Charles didn’t see her that way. Even if we, as the audience, kind of thought they would be a great match, sometimes love is simply unrequited. Fiona let him know her feelings, and he treated her with honesty and kindness. It’s a more realistic portrayal of what sometimes happens between friends than grand gestures that first go unnoticed and then are suddenly reciprocated from nowhere.

Suffice to say, I did not ship it.

The only character who has a semi-sensible journey emotionally and takes the turn from unlikeable to likeable is Gemma, the extremely posh neighbour who has developed a (deeply possessive) friendship with Ainsley. Her jealousy is off the charts when Maya makes her return. I think we’re supposed to side with Maya, but all in all the female cattiness just comes off as distasteful all round, and Gemma presents as a caricature despite being part of the core cast. She barely develops in to a rounded character – with an emotional life outside the scope of her friendship with Ainsley – until her husband passes late in episode 3, with some of the best work in the series being her send-off to her husband and handling her son’s grief.

By the end of the series, we are left with a broken engagement, a death, a break-up, a secret child and an out-of-nowhere coupling which is only telegraphed by a seemingly unrequited pining. As such, it’s a struggle for such a show to recreate the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you finish a rom com. In fact, I finished it by yelling ‘WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT COME FROM’ at the telly.

Which might mean that the closest analogue is not a rom com, but a horror movie making a play for a sequel.

 

 

 

An Incomplete Guide To Terrible Netflix Christmas Romances Pt 3

Look, if Netflix is going to persist with this, I’m going to keep hate-watching. Like, hate-watching while low-key loving. You can find the 2017 editions with gems like the o.g A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance here and here. I’ve watched a few of the newbies over the last few weeks, and there might still be time for another edition before Christmas. Spoilers embraced this time.

Hope you like single Dads because Netflix is betting on them this year.

The Holiday Calendar
I watched this one right when it came out – at the start of November. Early November is too early for Christmas movies y’all. Particularly really bad ones. Let’s lay this one out – Kat Graham can sell you a lot of highly unlikely shit. Although her character Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries wasn’t wildly…joyful, she is super charming and all those years of basically shrugging off vampire/witch/werewolf shenanigans really did a lot for her ability to sell some wild concepts.

And you know what? She sold me on an Advent calendar that can somehow predict two versions of reality with one toy item a day. But she couldn’t sell me on a girl not choosing Ethan Peck. It’s pretty easy to see he’s The Wrong Man, given how late in the game he’s introduced (a full 20 minutes in to the movie) compared to all the time we’ve invested in loving stares from her male bestie who quite clearly wants to join her family to ensure continued access to her Mum’s cookies (not a euphemism).

But. Come on. That voice. I thought maybe it was just me but even my many friends who have not had the pleasure of watched Ethan play sexy broody fuckboy with a heart of gold Patrick Verona in the 10 Things I Hate About You show were convinced she’d made the wrong choice.

Never mind that the reason they break up was that he didn’t put a lot of faith in the rather out-there idea of a sentient Advent calendar, meanwhile the guy she ends up with not only loses her job for her, he also reacted to her Advent calendar theory by accusing her of being an alcoholic. So.

One last point of Sorry, I Can’t Buy This: as if any millennial who had a shot at it with absolutely no fucking training wouldn’t take a creatively unfulfilling office job where she had absolutely no chance of being fired, as opposed to a creatively unfulfilling casual job taking Christmas photos of pukey kids, while wearing an elf costume. SPARE ME KAT GRAHAM, go somewhere that’ll give you insurance.

Rating: 3/10, The ending was kinda cute but I can’t get over the terrible life choices.

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The Princess Switch

Ethan Peck given you a taste for hot single Dads? Well do I have the hot single baker Dad for you:

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Shockingly, Olivia is not played by Vanessa Hudgens.

Welcome, also, if you’re a Nashville viewer, to the uncanny valley of Sam Palladio speaking in his natural accent, which somehow sounds super fake?

What a great mash-up of genres this one is. A Parent Trap-style life swap and a royal romance? What more could you ask for, really? Oh yeah. CHRISTMAS. It’s got it all. Super-organised Chicago baker discovers the only person in the world with a bigger stick up their arse is the Prince of a small, probably European country (important question from Twitter: do you think Princess Switch‘s Belgravia and A Christmas Prince’s Aldovia have a voting bloc in Eurovision? I bet they both hate Montsaurai of Once Upon A Holiday, with its Dirtbag Princess Katie). He must learn the spiritual fulfilment of carriage rides and visiting orphanages which hang up mistletoe, a very normal thing to do in a workplace based on childcare. Meanwhile, a Duchess learns the pleasure of making out with a really hot single Dad who knows how to make cakes, and who only has one annoying family member (his cloying daughter) rather than an entire small country paying attention to him.

Anyway, my main problem with this movie is that it’s G-rated, and therefore when Kevin turns up in Margaret’s bedroom looking like THIS:

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She does not play any form of hide and seek with him.

A big ups to Netflix for refusing to buy any jewellery for these royal movies that doesn’t look like it comes from Lovisa (Americans: think Claire’s). This movie includes a corker:

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How many hot glue guns died in the making of that thing?

All in all, this movie is extremely silly and manages to pack in every cliche you could want, plus a baking competition. I can only imagine the environment in which it was written. I’m picturing a lot of eggnog and six seasons of GBBO on in the background.

Rating 9/10, deducting one point for not getting Kevin’s pyjamas pants off.

Christmas Wedding Planner

I’ve got two words for you: Charisma. Void.

That’s the only way I can describe the romantic hero in this movie, an extremely low-budget version of Michael Weatherly from NCIS. And he just kinda comes off like an arsehat? I read plenty of romance novel heroes with his personality type, but to translate it to the screen you really need to cast for charisma and chemistry with the heroine, because we have a lot of gaps to fill without the written word. And while the heroine does a bit of narration, she mostly uses it to yell “I am a fierce warrior”, a quirk disturbingly reminiscent of Anastasia Steele’s inner goddess. I’m not particularly surprised to find out this one is based on a Harlequin novel.

So, what’s Kelsey’s job? You may think it’s to plan Christmas Weddings, an extremely niche market if I ever saw one. Bloody millennials. In fact, she’s never planned a damn wedding before her cousin’s, and yikes. She needs to….make some interventions.

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Girl if you don’t think that’s gonna date your wedding, think about how it’s already dated this movie.

This is an extremely dumb movie with a heroine who on first appearance seems kinda charming but eventually just becomes so quirky it’s annoying. You know. The Zooey Deschanel effect. I’ve got a theory though. She’s so odd because she’s dealing with the fact that a ribbon is keeping her head on.

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Aesthetically, it’s a fascinating movie. Kelly Rutherford (what are you doing here? There’s actually good soaps out there to pay your bills!) is a sort of generically-rich aunt, and it’s just close enough to Lily Van Der Woodsen that it really shows that this movie….does not know how wealthy people dress. For example, not a lot of grown-ass women sitting around their homes in tiny lid fascinators and diamanté headbands, Lovisa strikes again.

The worst accessorising choice of all happens when Emily rips the ribbon from her cousin Kelsey’s neck for her wedding bouquet. A truly tragic end.

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Jk the biggest tragedy of this movie is (SPOILER ALERT), Kelsey decides to marry a Charisma Void she’s known for about a week on the spot.

Rating: 4/10, added one point for the heroine’s fabulous lipstick game.

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

I, known A Christmas Prince hater, am back on my bullshit.

Because I hated this one too. It’s the only one of this bunch I abandoned so frequently that I was able to plan a trip to Sri Lanka and become obsessed with Ariana Grande in the three hours it took to watch it (I’m not joking, my screencaps have timestamps). If you can’t even sustain me on sheer bonkers trash, then that’s a sad indictment of your trash movie. There were some highlights, however.

Amber continues to be a truly atrocious note-taker and also journalist:

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Her Undercover Outfit? Literally Sunglasses At Night and the outfit she was heavily photographed entering the country in like, a week ago.

I really didn’t expect this movie to have a prominent plotline about The Power of Unions. I was truly disappointed that it turned out to be some good old-fashioned corruption and the end of the movie didn’t end with Aldovia turning in to a Socialist Republic. Maybe next time?

The plotline about press freedom didn’t hold a lot of water either. Did Amber end up keeping her blog that should have absolutely been killed about twelve months before the events of this movie?

We learned that the royal family attached Go Pros to the end of their toboggans:

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And that Amber, one of the most awkward people on the whole planet, was raised by one of Life’s Huggers:

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Amber cannot be trusted with a Hot Glue Gun:

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Great question, I thought I’d managed to travel in to this fictional universe to burn it.

Wisely, someone ripped off the Gryffindor ribbons before Emily made it to stage. Everyone on this stage is a scab btw, as the concert had been cancelled due to worker’s strikes.

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The workers! United! Will never be defeated!

We learned Richard can’t decorate for shit and Amber is a ginormous liar.

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Richard has also taken to referring to himself in the third person, so it’s kinda hard to be Team Richard in this movie. Read some Karl Marx, dickhead.

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This kid….has a boner. I’m sorry but he does. Blame Netflix.

50 Shades of School Play

Clearly, the greatest job on this production was to create the outlandish initial sketch for Amber’s wedding dress. I was very disappointed not to see the Cone of Shame at her first fitting.

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Everyone involved in this movie should have to wear one tbh.

And finally, Lovisa have got their claws in to another one:

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Golly, Aldovia’s budget really is in crisis.

Rating: 3/10, same as the first one.

Alone in the City of Love

In my last post I mentioned my impetus for downloading The Bad App again was that I was off overseas to Europe. I didn’t actually end up swiping a lot – turns out the No Bio Epidemic is international, and weirdly enough most people wrote in their local language… three languages I do not speak, despite my awful, awful attempts (my hot tip? Learn your yes, no, please, thank you, and ‘I do not speak this language’).

I wanted to talk about the rather odd experience of travelling alone in deeply romantic places. I was not by myself for my whole three-week trip. During my time in Germany I was able to stay with friends, and I met up with my bestie in Berlin. But I took myself solo to Florence and…Paris. The City of Love. I was not at all phased about travelling alone – I live alone and I’m highly independent, so I’m used to my own company and making decisions about where I’ll be, when. My only concern was really not being lonely, but not having anyone to talk me down from my anxiety if something went wrong (fortunately, I only had one issue – when I missed my train connection from Italy to Germany. Four hours in Bologna station and a rather difficult conversation through Google Translate later, and I was on my way).

I’ve dreamed of Paris since I was a kid. What a cliche. But I didn’t realise until I was there how seriously they take the whole ‘City of Love’ thing. That city is PDA central. A quiet break from the sun in a park attached to a church delivered me two teenagers making out for a good twenty minutes straight. I never realised what prudes Aussies are until  I witnessed the amount of physical affection people are willing to share when some random broad is sitting right there. Then there was the moment I had to jump out of two separate sets of wedding photos as I took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, while I had another couple waiting for me to take their picture (I believe in Good Travel Karma so I always take people’s photos….but I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I do not know their angles). I was shoved away in some pretty odd corners when I turned up in restaurants alone, like they didn’t really want me to be seen committing the repulsive act of eating with only a Kindle for company.

It’s a bit odd to be wandering by yourself in all that. The closest I came to romance is when a strange man called me over to his car when I was crossing the road and yelled at me in French, eventually communicating ‘You are very beautiful’. I’ll never know how close I came to getting robbed that day.

But just because you’re all alone in the most romantic place on earth, doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love. Because I fell in love with Paris. Not the one in my head, the actual Paris. With centuries of history and culture, dizzyingly intricate and ornate architecture, just the best afternoon light, and some of the most delicious cheese around. Also that pain au chocolat the size of my head. And people there know how to fucking live. Drinking a wine at a cafe on the boulevard before midday? No biggie. Picnics as soon as the sun shines? I’ll bring the baguette. Salsa dancing by the Seine? Welcome to Sunday evening. You can even find the occasional Aussie making a half-decent coffee. It’s kinda hard not to have a boner for it all.

Walking ’til your feet yell back, snacking ’til you nearly burst, feeling like your eyes will fall out of your head with SHEER BEAUTY EXHAUSTION, admiring the perpetual tans on almost universally attractive people. You can still do it with your eyes open. The people there smoke too bloody much, everywhere, and the hustle is seriously in your face at attractions. You can queue for eons to see the good shit. People will not fucking move for you on the sidewalk, probably because you’re Skecher-clad tourist scum or maybe just because they don’t feel like it.

But it just can’t kill that high. And I think that’s probably love.

 

 

 

 

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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‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’: The Victorian Values Review

It’s a mouthful. I’ve been shortening it to Guernsey – because a lot of this film is about Guernsey, and its experiences during WWII – but I was delighted when the girl at the box office told me that some people have been asking for tickets to ‘The Potato Movie’. Come on guys, Peter Dutton’s a long way off getting a biopic.

First up, as always, a trailer:

This particular film is a difficult one to talk about without spoilers, but golly there’s a few of them in the trailer, anyway. Part of the issue, of course, on basing your movie on a bestselling book (in this case, the 2008 novel of the same name) is that you want book fans to know that the key scenes and lines they love are in there. Nonetheless, the trailer could have dropped a little of the content and still been effective.

The movie starts thusly: Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is a successful writer in London, shortly after the end of WWII. She’s starting to become slightly disillusioned with the explosion of partying that has taken over London society, but is having a damn good time with her American diplomat beau, Mark. Her publisher Sidney (my boyfriend Matthew Goode) would be pretty darn happy if she’d just start her next book. Unexpectedly she received a letter from a pig farmer from the island of Guernsey named Dawsey Adams, asking for a book hookup for a group he’s part of – the titular Society. The story of the group’s origin (and let me reassure you – the name’s a gag) draws Juliet in to a correspondence, with her eventual decision to travel to Guernsey to meet this infamous group. Once she arrives, she becomes drawn in to their lives and the tales of what happened when Guernsey was under German occupation during the war.

I was lucky enough to be recommended the book by a friend many years ago, and was very excited when rumours broke in 2013 (yes, five years ago) that Michelle Dockery had been offered the lead, as I thought she would be perfect. To make it clear how long this movie has been in development hell – it was apparently initially intended to be a vehicle for Kate Winslet, and in 2013, Simon Curtis was attached to direct. Although Mike Newell ended up tapped to direct, the movie ended up maintaining the Downton Abbey connection from Dockery and Curtis (who is married to Elizabeth McGovern who played Cora), with a star turn for James (Rose), and support from Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley), Jessica-Brown Findlay (Sybil) and Goode (Henry Talbot). Taken together you’ve got a whole lotta people who are incredibly comfortable in period costume. Part of me can’t help but mourn for the idea of Dockery in the lead role, however – in the book, Juliet is 32 years old, and James, who has just turned 29, reads a bit young for a successful writer. She is bloody lovely to look at, though, and is less ‘mannered’ than I’ve seen her in other roles, allowing Juliet a bit of goofiness. The cast is mostly rounded out by people you’ve seen on the telly – like Katherine Parkinson from The IT crowd – and a man I shall henceforth know as The Extremely Handsome Michiel Huisman. Look, I’ve seen The Age of Adaline, I’ve seen Game of Thrones, and he has NEVER done it for me more than in his pig farmer get-up. I don’t understand it and I don’t particularly care to. He is extremely swoon-worthy – noble and caring and just a smidge sarcastic – in this movie.

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Sexy men aside, there are so many factors at play that will determine whether you like this movie. I enjoy it, as I did the book, because I’m intrigued by the lives of ordinary people during WWII. I gobble up books and movies set in the period, even though I know they make me cry every fucking time (this one wasn’t too bad). However, if that bores you….this movie will probably bore you too. I will say that the period details are absolutely stunning, from Juliet’s fancy London get-ups, the phones, the recycled and repaired clothes from the folks on Guernsey, to the old-school ships and planes. There is a lot of attention to detail at work here, and I always want to give props to the people behind the scenes that hunt these pieces down and create props. While the story itself could easily be told in a TV movie, the budget that comes along with a studio feature has allowed some gorgeous work to be given a starring role. Also, a word of warning for the ladies: you will want to buy hats after this. Juliet wears an abundance of wonderful 1940s hats, and it’s no bloody coincidence that I saw this movie yesterday and went and bought a knit beret today.

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Not as nice as this one though.

It’s also a love letter to Guernsey, with lush scenery (although it was predominantly filmed in Devon, unfortunately, due to the logistical issues of filming on the island). And what an extraordinary tale the locals had – the book was well-researched, but the movie also does an excellent job of showing just the kind of difficult position they were put in, forced to live alongside their enemy in such a small space for five years. Whilst the Blitz was a horrifying experience for any Londoner, Juliet quickly learns how different the Guernsey experience was to her own. The Society itself grew from an act of resistance, and she learns the complex interrelation between this small group and the occupying forces, and the legacy it has left behind.

The cast bring a lot of warmth, wit, and heart, to what is at its essence a drama. This is a movie that is hugely at risk of being being trod on by genre pics, coming out right in between A Quiet Place (which I also saw yesterday, and really should have seen first to give my heart an opportunity to recover) and Avengers: Infinity War, and as always, I try to review movies that are at risk of being ignored. However, I think just from the trailer, most people know if they want to see this movie or not. If you’re not interested because you don’t like romance…I’m not sure why you’re reading a Victorian Values review, but sure, skip it. If you’re interested but on the fence, I can assure you that the movie is unlikely to disappoint. It’s not a thrill-ride, but it’s stunning to look at, the leads are charming, and the ending is happy.  And Michiel Huisman is very, very handsome.

Bachelor in Paradise Australia: Episode 7

I want to start this recap with a little statement.

Mostly, that the people I write about in this recap are essentially characters, brought to life by producers and editors. I try to use people’s own words as much as possible, lest it all becomes my own interpretation, but I know that their narratives are created by those making the show. It means my perception is limited by what they choose to screen. I know I can get super-judgey, but it is intended against the ‘characters’ and the story the show is telling about them, and not the people. ‘The Edited Version of X Which We Are Being Shown’ is just a lot longer to type than ‘x’.

I say this, mostly because on Twitter I was judging Laurina’s behaviour at the end of this episode as ‘bratty’. The context that both the people on the show and to some extent production, certainly at the time and possibly right up until after the show last night, that was missing was that Laurina’s brother died a month before production. It casts her behaviour in a different light.

In addition, whilst I’m going to have a rant about Keira in any case, a conversation between Jarrod and Grant, and a subsequent conversation between Keira and Grant, seems to have been so heavily edited in such a way that it again robs people of vital context – including exactly what it was that Grant apparently quoted Keira as saying, e.g that Keira thinks Jarrod is a terrible kisser (a theory that I actually think is quite likely). Apart from ignoring actual relationships in favour of drama, the editing is not bringing any clarity of circumstance to viewers.

With all that said, this is the story of Paradise we were told last night…

Eden is celebrating the current post-ceremony cruisy vibes, and tells us that the good news is, ‘the men have the power’. This has never been good news in the entirety of human civilisation, Eden.

The show starts telling the story of The Magical Disappearing Laurina, aka She’s Having A Nice Holiday And We Are Not Happy About It. I think to some extent the show is trying to draw parallels with Brett, who was very much here to have a chill in Fiji with his girlfriend. Once again, context, she was grieving and needed time out and a gentle reminder that dealing with Blake would be an excellent cause to go off men permanently. Jared would like to get to know but can’t seem to actually find her. She’s probably not interested then, mate.

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There is so much more Jarrod and Keira nonsense in this episode than anyone could ever want or need. And I think I deeply just need to accept the editing shenanigans here, but the long story as short as possible seems to be that she gave him a rose not because she wants him for herself, but that she wants him to find love. She has told him this, and he feels ready to ‘mingle’ on that account. But every time he makes an effort to actually mingle, Keira gets annoyed and jealous. There is some serious wanting her cake and eating it too vibes. It’s annoying and hypocritical and I just want them to sort themselves the fuck out, preferably with at least one of them going home.

The girls are having a chat and Tara asks Leah if she’s been making good choices. No she has not…’Have you pashed and someone’s dashed again?’. Oh dear, Leah really is a little bit unlucky. Not that I think she’s a particularly kind and lovely person, but apparently she tried to pash Michael after a few wines post rose ceremony and he wasn’t having it. And indeed, Michael is here to tell us he feels no romantic connection to anybody and he’s just waiting for his girl to walk in.

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Which brings us to Elora! I wasn’t really a fan of Elora on Matty’s season, but I am kind of excited on Megan’s account. Elora is currently our only option for saving her from the clutches of Jake….according to the promos, at least. Elora comes in with a date card and Tara tells her she has to ‘go on chatty-chats with the boys’, determined that they not tell her off the bat who’s in relationships….mostly to give Sam the chance to decline her. Elora first approaches Luke (who tells her he’s solid with Lisa), and Jake, who lets her know he’s close to Megan and wishes her luck on her future dating endeavours. Elora then approaches Megan and the entire island flips shit at the idea that Elora might be asking her out
Keira: ‘Taking a girl on a date???’
Elora: ‘Maybe….’

Jarrod: ‘I hope that’s what I think it is’.
Settle down, perve.
All the fuss was enough for me to know she wasn’t going to. Megan is a bit further behind, getting her hopes up, but Elora is just getting permission to approach Jake again. Elora made fun of his ‘sexy squint’, so I’m not sure why she’s pursuing this one so hard. Laurina tells Jake: ‘Megan’s face doesn’t look impressed, but that’s just her usual face…’ Well if people would stop being so deeply unimpressive…

So Elora pulls Jake aside, and tells him to really only go for it if he’s open to meeting new people, but yep she would really like to take him on this date. He is flattered and thinks it would be fun, but ultimately lets her down. When he returns, Megan is pleased. She thinking it’s a big turning point in their relationship, and hopefully it’s the turning point where she dumps him because a better option is there. Hey, one can hope.

Elora sets off the flames on the side of Leah’s face by eventually approaching Michael, who she will go on the date with. Leah thinks Michael can’t even see what’s standing in front of him! Okay, Leah, he has seen you. He’s not in to it. I thought he wasn’t rugged enough for you, anyway?

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Elora and Michael are off to do some glass blowing! I thought Michael was just being a ridiculous person when he referred to is as kinky and sensual, and then I heard the instructor telling him ‘Blow blow blow, go for it, harder ….and stop’ and I maybe changed my mind. The show plays some very subtle saxophone music over this entire scene.

Leah is ‘exhausted from chasing Michael around….next, moving on’ and Nina points out that she is pretty low on options, at this point. Guess who’s completely unloved by the Aussie girls, though? Thunderbirds are go! Leah wants us to know that she finds him ‘genuine and lovely’, which arguably means he is a terrible match for Leah.

Oh god, it’s back to Jarrod and Keira. Jarrod is creepily noting Keira’s nude-coloured top when in walks Simone. Simone got caught up in the Great Matty-J Slut-Shaming Scandal with Leah, a fucking low point for this entire series. She’s blonde, if you recall, which means she has Jarrod’s immediate attention, describing her as ‘a blonde bombshell in a  little red number’. He mentions to Keira that Simone reminds him of his ex-girlfriend, and yeah…you could probably say the guy has a type, right?

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It’s like a peroxide-heavy game of spot-the-difference.

Keira is happy to rant about how it would be ‘downgrading’, but she clearly feels threatened knowing the guys have the roses this week

Leah has a chat with Simone and starts selling Jarrod: ‘He’s so, so funny’ (is he???). Simone had presumed he was with Keira, which Leah shoots down. This chat has lasted approximately five seconds when Jarrod The Keen Bean screams across the courtyard: ‘Leah, are you going to share Simone around or are you going to keep her all day?’. Settle down petal. Funnily enough, this buys him some time with Simone, which she mostly spends laughing nervously and experiencing genuine confusion about the term ‘vineyard’. Jarrod’s feeling like a prince what with his vast knowledge of that place wot where grapes are grown. He tries to explain the thing with Keira, which Simone describes summarily: an absolute mess.

Just to really rub this in, Keira is off questioning how genuine Jarrod’s feelings were in the first place, because he’s off talking to Simone. This is what you wanted him to do.

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Michael and Elora sit down to have a very dull conversation that mostly serves to remind me how pretentious she is. ‘I do much more things than other people’ she says, and she’s really easygoing. She boasts about her wanderlust some more. I just find it so hard to believe that someone who’s so self-consciously easygoing actually is easygoing. Accurately, Michael isn’t really feeling the chemistry, because there is none, but he would like to hang out some more. When he returns, he greets Ali, Grant, Luke and Lisa with a ‘What’s up, couples retreat’ and lets them know that she’s a ‘top bird’ but not for him.

Leah aggressively does not care because she’s over here talking to Jared, thanks. She tells him that he seems to be there find love and he says ‘he’s here for the experience and to hopefully form a connection’, which I think we can all agree is a very different thing
Leah: ‘I think you and I connect’
Jared: ‘Yeah….yeah’
Leah: ‘You’re cool, this could be fun’
Tell Ali to call off the search, I’ve found her sparks.

There’s a bit more negging of Laurina’s solo time here that I don’t care to recap, although it does feature an amazing dance routine from Tara, Keira and Laurina.

Now it’s time for the ridiculously heavily-edited conversation between Grant, Ali, and Jarrod (with Jared hanging off the side, presumably to escape his overwhelming chemistry with Leah)
Grants asks who Jarrod will give his rose to, and Jarrod feels like Keira is already jumping down his throat for talking to Simone. Grant decides to give it to him ‘straight’: ‘as sweet as she is, she’s wishy-washy. She doesn’t know what she wants…don’t string someone along just because you wanna stay here, you know?’, the most gentle straight-talking I’ve ever seen. Jarrod seems blinded by his honesty, and has maybe finally acknowledged he is being taken advantage of, which he probably is.

Keira is watching this happening and getting antsy. She says she is in Grant’s ‘bad books’ which is why she wants to know what is happening. If you check the link near the start Keira has essentially said that after the last rose ceremony, Grant cornered her and abused her for sending Daniel home, which is a very bad look for Grant, because Grant was a fucking sex pest (and it turns out the girls basically agreed to send him home on account of sex-pestiness). In addition, apparently he passed on a comment that Keira thinks Jarrod is a bad kisser. So while she’s being paranoid, perhaps there’s reason for it. She pulls Jarrod aside, and he won’t tell her what they were discussing. Keira is determined to get to the bottom of it, and wheedles him. He quite reasonably says he’ll discuss it when he’s ready to talk about it, and he wants to sleep on it. She is very drunk, and tells him she doesn’t need to know what was said, just what it was about. Yeah, alright.
In any case, she decides:
‘I need to go talk to someone’
Jarrod: ‘Don’t talk to them about it’
Keira: ‘I will’
Cue the deepest sigh ever.

She very obnoxiously grabs Ali and Grant, and their whole conversation is a mess, much as she is. We’re never actually allowed to know for sure what it is that Grant said he was essentially quoting Keira on (we now have her word for it), but her main point of offense seems to be less about Grant warning Jarrod off Keira, than Grant assuming he can speak for her and her thoughts. Then again, ‘You think he’s a safe bet. And you feel like he’s Mr Right, but I don’t know if you want Mr Right. You might be in between Mr Right and Mr Right Now’ does not seem particularly flattering.

Keira goes on a drunken rampage, screaming at him and threatening to throw her drink at him. That one’s not editing, love. She tells us ‘When I feel slightened or hurt, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I’m very reactive’. She’s very good at mangling the English language, our Keira.

Probably the worst part is Jarrod’s weird, patronising reaction where he accuses her of ‘chucking a tanty’ but finding this cute and adorable rather than a sign of someone whose drinks should probably be watered down. Anyway. He’s still hanging on that thread, it seems.

We’re now on Laurina chilling out with her under-eye mask when Megan runs in with a date card. I should emphasise it is dark and at the very least, Keira is drunk so it’s probably not very early. Megan screams that Laurina has the date card, and has ten minutes to get ready. ‘Nah, I’m not going’. Look, you can see here that without the knowledge of what’s going on with her, forcing her to spend some time with someone is not a bad idea from production because it looks suspiciously like she’s using the show for a holiday, but it is the date equivalent of a ‘u up’ text at 1am when you’re in your jammies. Sam’s reaction that this ‘is a dating show, not a sleeping show’ seemed okay in context, and he really didn’t know, but an apology probably wouldn’t go astray now (nor would it go astray to comparing her to a 300-year-old demon, either). No-one comes off particularly well from the ensuing scenes – production seems insensitive, the others seems a little mean, and Laurina comes off as a bit disingenuous with her excuses – when the context is added in.

In the end, Laurina gets weepy and accuses production of being disrespectful, before deciding to leave. I think everyone can agree it’s for the best. Apparently she’s in love now, and I bet he doesn’t even where stupid braids in his hair.

 

 

 

Bachelor in Paradise Australia: Episode 5

Channel Ten’s Week of Torture – i.e four episodes in one week – got off to quite the start on Sunday, with tears, triangles, and more than one accusation of dogging (not that kind).

The episodes begins with a tiny recap of what’s happened recently. Nina actually gets some screentime for once and tells us while things have been cruising along with Eden, she’s not really feeling like he’s putting a lot of effort in to woo her. Mack has somehow acquired the nickname of Mack and Cheese since he threw everyone for a loop and gave Ali his rose when Jarrod (and to a lesser extent Michael) had already done a wee on her and marked their territory. Jarrod is ‘disappointed and peed off’ that someone went right ahead and exercised their free will, and has now decided to focus his attention on Keira. Funny that. Now that the girls have the Power of Roses.

Osher is greeted by an incredibly handsome American by the name of Grant. He was on Jojo’s season in Bachie US, which means nothing to me, and actually got engaged to someone he met in Paradise US. For some reason he has come back because he ‘trusts the process’, which I suspect is code for ‘I trust the amount of money they were willing to pay for me to appear and make all these Aussie blokes feel insecure about their abs’. I quite liked Grant upon first appearance because he was very polite to everyone including Osher, but as the episode went on I started getting a bit suspect of how damn smooth he is.

Anyway. He starts a small frenzy when he walks in, date card in hand. Just imagine this, but en masse.

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The only one of the ladies who’s not feeling it is Ali, who finds him very ‘American’ and showy. Yeah the hot firefighter (yes, really) is a real problem, Ali. Anyway. Her love life is more than complicated enough, I think she can afford to leave Grant to the others.

Grant chats to the fellas first and it is a veritable parade of male insecurity. Michael does charming things like vowing to “fight for their Australian women”, which isn’t a creepy and loaded sort of thing to say at all. Grant then spends a bit of time chatting to a bunch of the ladies, trying to work out who to take on a date. Leah’s getting impatient. She is HOT FOR THE BOD and she doesn’t give a fuck. As he goes to talk to Keira she straight up intervenes (Keira is only a bit bothered: ‘As long as he takes his shirt off later to make up for it’). It’s not a bad move – Grant is the kind of guy who appreciates her confidence. He ends up asking her on the date after about 30 seconds of her making the fuck eyes at him.

Mack and Ali decide go for a swim in the rain, and by swim I mean walk in the water to their knees. Mack talks about how the conversation just ‘flows’ with Ali, and I must call this out as delusional bullshit. They clearly have no chemistry, only able to muster up conversation about how the nice the water is at first. Apparently the conversation ‘flowing’ amounts to him doing 90% of the talking (reeks of the old study done by Dale Spencer about perception of female dominance in conversation…) and her paying him one compliment. As the group scream ‘kiss!’ at them from shore (once again…Schoolies), Ali finds this an appropriate moment to mention that she is not planning to kiss a lot of frogs on her Paradise journey. In fact, she’d like to only kiss one frog. The implication that this will not be Mack is mostly lost on him, although there is a small glimmer of self awareness: ‘I’m not sure if she’s falling for me the same way I’m falling for her’. She’s not bro.
Keira and Jarrod are chatting and it is clear she is seeing entirely through his utter bullshit – ‘I’m so intrigued that you and Ali aren’t even interested in each other anymore’. Well, we never had any confirmation at all that Ali was interested in Jarrod, but he sure was a keen bean for her. Apparently, he just woke up thinking of Keira, and this was some sort of epiphany for him. She very pointedly mentions that she feels like men only talk to her when they want a rose, and that he should not feel safe – if someone comes in that grabs her eye, she won’t hesitate to pursue it. I think I like Keira now?
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Maybe I just hate fuckboys, and Jarrod truly is the worst kind. He deeply seems to believe his own bullshit.
Leah and Grant go on their date and they are a couple of thirsty birds for each other. They ‘decide’ to go for a snorkel in the rain (were they in Fiji in the off-season?) and Leah straight up rips off his shirt, with all the female viewers secretly sneaking her a high five. He compliments how she looks in her bikini and yes, thirsty thirsty thirsty. Leah is basically feeling on top of the world as they go for a chat after their swim – she feels very relaxed around him (seems obvious from the shirt-removal). And I start to think maybe he’s a bit of a slippery bugger as he effortlessly dodges her first question about what happens if he genuinely meets a girl he wants to be with on the show – it’s a long way from the US to Australia. Spoken like someone who’s truly never considered the fucking soul-crushing difficulty of a long-distance relationship – particularly between people who don’t know each other particularly well – he thinks if two people want it to work, it’ll work. However, he says he’s not just here for fun and that is enough for her to have an almighty couch pash with him. She has a schoolgirl crush (and a thirst for days).
Michael’s big romantic gesture to Ali (after a decade of angst about being roommates with Mack) is to force her to walk through the rain to have some winey cheesey time. Last week these two didn’t get much time together, but did confirm their mutual interest. Ali mentions that she is holding back a bit because it is ‘not finished’ with Mack. As they leave to go back to the party, Michael gives her a lingering hug, and Ali seems to be struggling with her ‘rule’ about pashing,  because she’s worried that she might go back to the party and get talking to Mack, and want to kiss him! It is clear to literally everyone that she has no chemistry with Mack and will never want to kiss him, so I don’t know if this is some convenient get-out-of-awkward-situations free card, or what.
Mack ruins any chance of any woman ever wanting to kiss him by being deeply passive-aggressive on their return. Michael pushes Ali and Mack to chat because he thinks she might finally let him down, and Mack launches in to some creepy nonsense (after essentially shaming her for talking to Michael) about how he could introduce her to his family. Everyone at home is screaming SHE’S NOT INTERESTED but before she’s forced to be direct with someone for once in her life, there’s a new arrival.
Canadian Daniel is here. I saw Canadian Daniel on the last season of Bachelor in Paradise, where he basically pretended to have feelings for Lacey to get her to sleep with him towards the end of the season, and then ditched her after the show. He’s done other garbage, misogynistic things that I have not witnessed in other seasons (he has been in both Bachie franchise shows and at least one other dating show). He is not a legitimate contender for anyone’s heart and he makes it clear in his first to-camera, where he essentially says he’s here because the Canadian women are in hibernation for winter. Personally I would go in to hibernation in 40 degree heat if Daniel decided to approach me. No doubt the man has formed himself in to some sort of Greek god in the gym (Jarrod refers to him as a ‘unit’), but honestly it’s grotesque and lumpy, like a statue made by someone who’s never actually seen a man with their clothes off. The arrival of Daniel kind of ends their conversation, or is it Mack bitterly muttering ‘He’s probably going to like you as well’?
Golly we’re not even halfway done with this episode. And I’m reluctant to spend a lot of time on Daniel, because on top of being a huge arsehole who refers to the women like objects (referring to Lisa, he says to Luke ‘Is this yours?’), he also refers to himself as a wolf and I’m also pretty sure he doesn’t understand consent and I just don’t like wasting a lot of typing energy on that. Anyway. He makes an impression on Keira, and slimes all over all the other girls while winding up the boys about ‘stealing their women’, and ends up approaching Nina for a date. She accepts, presumably to put the wind up Eden’s arse because such a sensible-seeming girl cannot actually be interested in such a skeeze. I honestly thought she was trying to purposefully bore him when she told him she plays competitive netball 3-5 times a week, but the man has seen an opportunity here.
Megan and Jake have a pash but she’s pretty convinced it’s lust, not love. Just hanging out for Elora, I’m sure. Jake may get a stay of execution at the rose ceremony depending on who comes in next – Megan doesn’t seem to have bonded with anyone else.
It’s bucketing down for Eden and Nina’s date and after making a gross comment about taking a hike to claim her ‘hot spring virginity’, he then attempts to murder them both by crossing a flooded river. Rather than actually just having any sort of OH&S in place (and Osher is so clear about their duty of care on Twitter!), some local bloke has to intervene and tell them they’re being huge fucking idiots. They end up at some slightly more civilised hotel hot tub and Daniel leers down Nina’s sensible swimming costume. However, given she hasn’t even kissed Eden yet (how?), it’s safe to say she is not going to pash old Rapeface over here. He’s disappointed because he ‘likes to go from zero to one hundred real quick’, like a sensible romantic prospect we should definitely put on our dating show, over and over again.
It’s slaughterhouse time. First, Ali has to dump Mack. She fucking flim-flams around it for an eon, talking about wanting to feel a spark. Mack has definitely felt a spark, in his pants region at least, but the most Ali can muster for him is a ‘sparkle’. Because he cannot get the fucking point he asks what it would take for that spark to happen. Mack….
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She has a gigantic teary on his shoulder because she doesn’t like hurting people, while he just stares off like he’s dead inside. Maybe if you’d just put any effort in to reading signals you could have been spared this pain. Again.
She then goes off to chat with Michael and hurrah, it is on! Michael is looking forward to getting a rose from her! No. No it is not on. She mentions again that she’s looking for that spark, and when he leadingly asks if he has that with her, she must respond that no, she’s not feeling it. Bit unexpected. Time to break out the capris and woo a new girl, I suppose.
Laurina explains that she would not feel a tiny bit bad about dumping Blake because he called her by the wrong name in the last rose ceremony. I would also consider an extremely valid reason to be that Blake has started doing his hair like this, while implying that Daniel is a dickhead:
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She pulls him aside for a chat. While she feels that they have affection, they haven’t got much of a connection, and that if there was one it would have emerged by now. And in this environment of honesty, she wouldn’t feel right giving him a rose.
His response: ‘So….okay’.
He thinks that he’s a very loving person, but shows this more physically than with words. You know. When he’s not criminally assaulting people.
He’s taken by surprise and takes Tara and Sam off for a chat. And now it’s my turn for a surprise, because Sam is actually way better at this than Tara. Sam tells him ‘Acknowledge it for a second, and then move actively forward’, while Tara just wants to know who Laurina will give her rose too. Maybe not the time, love.
Oh, and now Sam is taking Tara on a date. Tara says ‘Sam and I have been getting along really well as friends’ and they have only hugged so far, but speculates that maybe they will kiss. I am horrified at this but also kind of horrified that somehow, Sam is one of the better options on the island. Tara, like myself, thought he came off like a bit of a dickhead on the telly, and I will go so far and say he seemed a lot like a dickhead, loudly announcing that he was staring down Sophie’s dress and then trying to educate her on the music industry. And I am not going to start forgiving him for that, however, when the other options include Daniel and Jake, I can see how this might come about. I just hope Apollo arrives before it goes to far.
And he is appropriately swoon-y over Tara, telling us he thinks she looks like a supermodel at 9am in the morning. So I must give the man credit for admiring my queen, who is severely under-appreciated on this island. Their date is to make drinks for each other based on their personalities – he thinks she is fun, fresh and fruity, while she thinks he is an acquired taste (understatement). Turns out they’re both pretty crap at it, him plying her with booze while she’s a little bit deluded on this one: ‘I think I’ll be great at making cocktails. I make drinks for myself ALL THE TIME’. There’s some people playing romantic music and I think we work out why Tara would possibly not make a great Bachelorette: she’s bloody allergic to romance. Sam tries to cajole her in to a slow dance but is refused, much preferring to make awkward, self-conscious banter and over-planning their kiss. They make about 30 minutes of fuck-eyes at each other before they smooch, and I think this feeling inside me is not so much joy but sheer relief that these two people got out of their heads for five seconds.
I don’t want them to fall in love.
Because this show doesn’t actually care about romance, we do not end the episode on this. We go back to the boys, sitting around the campfire. Everything’s changing in the camp, and Mack doesn’t think it’s because of the two Americans making everyone feel narky and insecure, but because of the ‘dynamics changing’. But really, the issue here is Mack and Jarrod. Keeping in mind Jarrod is apparently not even thinking about Ali anymore and focusing on Keira (although presumably this conversation happens after he’s heard Ali has ditched both Mack and Michael), he would really like to have it out with Mack over ‘dogging’ everyone by choosing Ali first last week. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on, including his argument that Mack has somehow made a bad impression on the girls by using the rose ceremony exactly as it was intended – to choose the person you think you are most likely to have a romantic future with, as delusional as it may be – and after about 30 seconds of arguing, everyone just leaves. Send’em both home, tbh.
BRING. ON. APOLLO.