The Bachelor’s creepy rules
YOU could see the sudden, horrific realisation in Honey Badger's eyes.
It happened at the exact moment Romy started burrowing into his neck like a pigeon sensually digging for worms.
He had made a terrible mistake, approaching that couch with nary a cheese board to distract her from his precious man parts.
He never expected attempted seduction to be part of this date. Honey Badger just wanted to throw dough in the air at his uncle's humble pizza establishment and make folksy Aussie quips about yarns and cut snakes and meat pies.
He was trapped, he was distressed, and it was all very amusing.
But imagine, for a moment, the exact same scene playing out in reverse. Imagine a sexually aggressive male contestant ignoring a Bachelorette's obviously uncomfortable body language and continuing to grope and devour her like a particularly juicy ham.
We would all be creeped the hell out.
Which brings me to the fundamental point I want to make in this snobby thinkpiece, which is that The Bachelor is a bad and disturbing television show, even when everyone involved does manage to resist the urge to spread unwanted saliva on each other's faces.
This fact is easy to forget because it is so obviously true, like the sky being blue or Donald Trump being batshit insane.
We have all grown so accustomed to The Bachelor that the annual, ritualistic offering up of twentyish mostly blonde women to be ruthlessly judged by a muscular C-grade male celebrity no longer registers in our consciousness as a deeply weird event.
I'm not saying The Bachelor isn't entertaining or hilarious, because it is indisputably both.
It's a bit like KFC, really. Delicious, addictive and fun to consume, but it leaves an unsettling, uncomfortable feeling in your gut.
It even has a formula, its own 12 secret herbs and spices (give or take a few). You can discern this in every single season, and I absolutely despise it.
• You have the weird girl, who exasperates everyone else in the mansion for a handful of episodes before the producers decide her inexplicable survival at each rose ceremony is no longer plausible;
• There is the eastern European lady who makes politically incorrect jokes in an accent everybody assumes, sometimes correctly, is Russian;
• There's a villain, who is universally hated but nevertheless makes it through a good chunk of the season, fomenting as much drama as possible;
• One woman believes she is above the whole exercise and treats her housemates with utter contempt, which makes you wonder why she applied for the show in the first place. This is the compulsory "dirty street pie" contestant;
• There are three acceptable topics of conversation at the mansion: how great the Bachelor is, how awful the other women are and whether everyone thinks the lady currently on a date with the Bachelor will return with a rose;
• A grim-faced Osher must announce "you didn't receive a rose" like he's telling a pair of parents their son didn't make it back from Afghanistan;
• Everyone agonises over whether or not they should pash the Bachelor, and when one woman works up the courage to actually do it, the rest ostracise her;
• All individuals involved pretend the Bachelor has thoughtfully planned his dates down to the most minute details, even though this is a TV show and the producers are obviously doing that for him;
• The Bachelor and whomever he happens to be spending time with are only allowed to talk about their feelings. Any conversation that could be considered vaguely interesting is out of bounds;
• No ugly people allowed;
• Every rose ceremony is preceded by a stupid fancy cocktail party for some reason. Is this Downton Abbey? No, it's a freaking reality show. Throw in a casual pizza night once in a while;
• And of course, you need a bloke who is vain enough to bathe unironically in the adulation of a couple dozen women who treat him like the second coming of Jesus despite knowing literally nothing about him.
These are not the only iron-clad rules of The Bachelor - I'm sure there are many I have skipped over in my zeal. The exact number is not important.
What matters is the result when the formula is put into practice. It creates a TV show which deliberately torments its contestants until they break, preferably on camera.
You can already see it happening this season. Cayla the energy healer is being blatantly bullied by some of the other women. Cass, who already had a crush on Honey Badger outside the show, is struggling to deal with the absurd power imbalance between them.
These storylines will inevitably result in tears, which we, the esteemed viewing public, will watch eagerly and dissect in merciless detail like the soulless monsters we are.
Which is fine, I guess. But the whole thing would be far less infuriating if this show didn't follow the same weird, sinister formula every damn season.
The next episode is on Wednesday, by the way. Yes, of course I'll be watching.