Thank God for The Bachelorette. It dates from a yonder age when life was good and kind. Even now, in this time of the plague creeping upon our houses, it's still with us, a reassuring and familiar presence, content to go about its innocent business of providing the nation with an index of what it means to be a New Zealand man in love.
And yet it's impossible to not see the show as some kind of metaphor for what's going on all around us right now. The premise is that bachelors compete for the affections of two eligible women, who continually narrow the field by sending contestants home. And so on one level what we have is a situation where the two women, Hottie Lesina and Hottie Lily, are employers who sorrowfully have to make most of their staff redundant. The Bachelorette is a study in job loss. It doesn't get more contemporary than that.
• Premium - Steve Braunias: Adios, los amigos Bachelorette NZ drongos
• Premium - Steve Braunias: Tolstoy's shadow over The Bachelorette
• Steve Braunias: The lord of the bros in the Bachelorette
• Steve Braunias: Episode 19 of The Bachelorette, NZ's longest-running show
But it does get more anxious than that, because on another level it's a study of death. What we have on The Bachelorette is a declining population. The statistics are bad. Eight contestants left, the series three-quarters of the way through – the day is coming when Hottie Lesina and Hottie Lily, those beautiful reapers, will kill off everyone except their chosen mate. Love in the time of Covid-19: it's the survival of the hottest.
What will we do when it finishes? How will we function without them? It'll be really sad when The Bachelorette ends, and robs us of the company of a bunch of nice, vulnerable guys, and Aaron.
Last night's show carried an echo of the very first episode when it shed Bachelor Elliot for the second time. Hottie Lesina threw him out in that opening episode. But he made a surprise return to the series, only to be thrown off last night by Hottie Lily. Bachelor Elliot really had a way with women. It just wasn't a very effective way.
You'd have to think Bachelor Logan and Bachelor Terence are next. Things looked promising for Logan last night when he leaned in to kiss Lesina. All good, except it wasn't; she appeared on camera afterwards and gave his kissing a terrible review. She really panned it. She was like Samuel Johnson's famous review of Paradise Lost: "A mere ulcer; a sore from head to foot; a poor devil so completely flayed that there is not a square inch of healthy flesh on his carcass; an overgrown pimple, sore to the touch."
Okay she perhaps wasn't that bad but it was damning nonetheless. As for Bachelor Terence, he got into the same trouble that has sunk other contestants on The Bachelorette: he took his walls down. The lesson from The Bachelorette is that you ought to take down your walls but the last thing you want to do is take down your walls too swiftly or too completely. Be like Trump: build a wall.
Bachelor Terence was enjoying a perfectly good date with Hottie Lily until he ripped his walls down, and choked in the dust. "You're the first girl I've ever opened up to!" he told Hottie Lily. "Even my family, I'm not as open with them as with you."
The Bachelorette NZ: Michael and Mike are both losing their rags
She appeared on camera immediately afterwards looking like she'd stepped on something really unpleasant in bare feet and said, "I worry a bit about Terence."
It'll be sad to see those two bachelors go. Everyone on The Bachelorette is a nice guy, and even Aaron, who fulfills the role as the show's pantomime villain, has good qualities. They're all in it together. Let's wish them as well as the series progresses.