And there are about 75,000 tea-candles vying for one hell of a house fire. There are flammable frocks at every turn, and more fairylights and fake flowers than a Christmas grotto.
The French Provincial mansion that is home to TEN’s new series has been over-dressed in an effort to match the US prototype series. There’s glossy filters, swirling music, aerial shots, and a Balinese-style daybed by the pool.
The girls are dressed to the nines, in all sorts of figure-hugging, bling-dripping evening wear for the show’s first cocktail party. Hairdos are wrapped around gorgeous faces that have been heavily brushed with cosmetics. For a “reality” show, there’s not much that’s real about this, except perhaps the desire for a happy ending.
But a fairytale romance is just what The Bachelor Australia is looking to sell and aspiration is its currency.
This series has been a long-running success in the US and it’s abundantly clear that Shine Australia has had to stick like glue to all the Mills and Boons trimmings of this format. Whether Australian audiences take to its gaudy manufacturing remains to be seen, but given these limitations, the first episode stands up well as a mix of competition and overt romance.
30 year old Tim Robards is a dashing Prince Charming: attractive, muscular, with gleaming teeth. The opening video package shows him at work as a chiropractor, with his parents and siblings (hello, younger brother!) and practically capable of caring for sick puppies and saving the world… so what’s wrong with him? We’re never told. Under the scrutiny of this picture perfect format do I think we will ever find out? Not really.
We’re told he is also “Australia’s most eligible bachelor” although it’s surely the work of scriptwriters. What’s he worth financially?
Amongst the bevy of single ladies are lawyers, hair stylists, professional skateboarders, models… even a woman from the Shire. They range in ages from early 20s to mid 30s, but only 2 of them struck me as being non-Caucasian.
Each of them meets Robards on a red carpet, resulting in lots of cooing and gushing, some necessarily awkward moments, and some that are just trying too hard. During the cocktail session everyone is trying for some one on one time with him, which is when conflict begins to emerge.
A few brazen women interrupt private time between Robards and their competition. Claws begin to come out when the first roses are already being given during these chats. There’s an emphasis on ladies panicking about being overlooked as time at the cocktail party begins to slip away. Haven’t they been to a TV shoot before? These things take hours….
Smiling host Osher Günsberg bookends the first episode with no effort, but isn’t yet given much to do. I’m hoping he brings some humour to this oh-so-serious affair.
A montage of upcoming episodes promises plenty of lavish fairytale romance dates, sometimes decked out in absurd costumes.
I worry about the show getting clear air for its launch, and indeed whether the rural nature of The Farmer Wants a Wife is more representative of the audience than this Latin Telenovela. But at least it is an alternative to singing, cooking and renovation so on that front it deserves to score with a female demographic.
The Bachelor airs 7:30pm Sunday and Monday on TEN.