Only three episodes in, and The Bachelorette already feels like the setting for the longest, and worst, cocktail party in the world.
Eighteen clones — it could be 18,000; who among us can keep an accurate clone count? — have to suffer a cocktail party just among themselves, night after night, and go in search of that elusive social intercourse known as conversation.
"All good," says a clone.
"Yep," agrees another clone, "all good." An inquisitive clone asks, "All good?" An affirmative clone replies, "All good." "All," chorus the remaining clones, "good."
But it's not all good. It's hell. It's the eternal Slough of Despond, updated for New Zealand conditions and set in a big, white, empty mansion, which seems to be somewhere out in big, green, empty countryside. I'm guessing it's in Karaka or Coatesville. Certainly it reminds me of the Coatesville mansion where I once called in to meet its host: Kim Dotcom. This wasn't long after his marriage split-up and the whole place had a sad and deserted feel. But even that felt cheerier and more hopeful than the vibe of The Bachelorette mansion, with its collection of clones rattling around in a torment of boredom and massive disinterest. At least in the daytime they get to strip off to air their awesome bodies. But at night, at the cocktail parties that never end, they look at the floor, and mutter about their chances of winning the heart of the stunningly beautiful Lesina.
Brendon left the mansion last night. He tried to look crestfallen but there was a glint in his eye that suggested sweet, sweet release.
"Brendon gave me no choice," Lesina regretted, talking it over with the show's moving piece of wooden furniture known as Art Green. "Yeah," said Art, sitting in a chair that seemed more animated than he did.
Back at the cocktail party, Clone Glenn upset Clone Marc, and tried to make amends.
"Bro," he said. "All good?" "We'll see how it goes, eh," said Clone Marc.
"Okay. Sweet. All good." He left, and Clone Marc said: "Don't know. Don't care." The nation felt his massive indifference, and echoed his words.
The show went on. It staged a talent show. There wasn't much evidence of talent. Clone Logan went for a walk with Lesina. "There might have been a spark there," he said. It was very hard to tell.
The show ended with a big reveal: There would be another bachelorette. We saw a flash of leg. A black skirt. Dark hair. Could it be that producers have found a Lesina clone?
Don't know. But do care, because the show, for all its parade of witless, charmless Kiwi masculinity, its limited art of conversation ("All good", etc), and the habit of its first bachelorette to laugh hysterically at anything, is showing signs of sweetness. It's a romcom without the com. It's hell, but it's in search of heaven, and the possibility of true love.