Each and every episode of The Bachelorette is now looking like a bizarre metaphor for these dark times. The declining population, the continual tearful farewells, the general sense of uncertainty and dread ... You come to the show for escape, for diversion, but there it is, the same anxiety, the same tension. But at least everyone's got awesome bodies.
Last night's show brought the population down to six bachelors. For the second consecutive episode, one of the guys took matters into their own hands and decided to quit. They weren't pushed; they fell. You come to the show for a hook-up, for a bit of conscious coupling, but there it was, tapping into the same prevailing mood right now that the best thing to do is wander off into the wilderness, alone.
Good luck to Bachelor Mike. And good luck to Bachelor Michael, who signed off on Monday night. Both of them were keen on Hottie Lesina. But both of them grilled her about her intentions and asked her what the hell she was playing at and why she was even on the show, and she squirmed, she blinked, she gave nothing away, absolutely nothing, left them hanging, left them on the ledge – so they did the honourable thing, and jumped.
Their ultimatums with Lesina made for strange and intense viewing. Michael grilled her in the shade of some very fine trees; Mike grilled her beside a pretty lake. It was as though the entire premise of the show was being challenged, and overturned.
The point of The Bachelorette is that the two eligible women, Hottie Lesina and Hottie Lily, are immaculate creatures whom every man in the radius of The Bachelorette wants and desires. The bachelors sign up for tests and various assorted examinations of their character and motive. They have to do all the work; Lesina and Lily are as remote as princesses, and grant their royal favours as they so wish.
But that whole schema was rejected by Bachelor Mike and Bachelor Michael. They said: "We're all good." They said: "What's your problem?" They said: "Yeah, whatever. Bye."
Their departure has left Hottie Lesina with a couple of milksops to choose between. One by one, all the real men have left. She got rid of sex beast Glenn. She got rid of handsome Steve. She got rid of sex beast Marc. Michael was another sex beast; as for Mike, he had it all, in his capacity as a handsome sex beast.
Well, okay. But does she really want either Bachelor Logan or Bachelor Aaron? They're so vanilla, they're so wet. They're a pair of slippers. They're a bucket and a mop. They're a teatowel drying on the line but the sun's gone behind a cloud and it looks like rain.
Good luck to Hottie Lesina. Her only shot at happiness is if Bachelor Mike changes his mind, and comes back. Otherwise the chances are that she'll reject both Logan and Aaron, and walk off into a post-viral sunset with a bouquet of dying roses clasped to her bosom.
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God almighty. The Bachelorette could be heading towards the ultimate metaphor for these dark times – nihilism.