Of course, Bachelor in Paradise is not real life. Yes, it may have taken me three weeks to arrive at that decisive conclusion, but alas, we’re there.
After all, real life does not hand you a mango daiquiri the minute your smile becomes a frown, real life does not allow Jarrod to roam free and pink on an island without zinc, and real life would most definitely encourage Wais to charge his customers for his wisdom because this is capitalism and skills are currency.
The bubble and shine aside, there’s a curious thread to Bachelor in Paradise which is quietly snaking its way through the series like a poisonous vine.
It’s about women being the enemy.
There’s an age-old stereotype, a wildly sexist notion, that women are each other’s worst enemy. It was born from the same seed as the hysterical woman – you know, women are crazy! – and gave birth to the concept of ‘cat fighting’. The idea was and is simple. Women are emotional, women are jealous, women are always looking to pull each other down in order to get on top. Especially when ‘on top’ concerns a man.
So far, on Bachelor in Paradise, we’ve had Simone call Rachel “flabby” and like a “penguin”.
We've also heard her say: "Rachael's had some vodka sodas and now she's become a demon and put on a skimpy bikini..."
We've gone beyond the boundaries of body shaming into slut shaming, with Nina telling the show if Eden "wants someone to pash", then "Elora is [his] girl".
And then we've had Keira call Simone "that" and a "shiny new object".
Jealous, passionate women are good storylines for producers in Bachelor in Paradise. They create drama, and play into every stereotype we've ever sought to break down: Women are jealous, catty, emotional. Women are each other's worst enemy.
It seems strange that we're here, at a place where it seems not just appropriate but entirely necessary to remind the women of Paradise that other women aren't in fact, the enemy.
To remind them that a man can't be stolen from you. That everyone has the agency to choose to be with who they please. That you can't force a relationship with passion and a good deal of conviction.
And that bringing down another woman will never see you come out on top.
Sure, you can argue reality television stars don't have a duty to us to be anything other than themselves. If they want to fat-shame and slut-shame that's both their prerogative and their reputation on the line.
But while they have the right to do and be as they please, we have the right to keep them accountable.
This is prime time television, and if you think we'd sit by and watch it be overrun by ugly stereotypes and broken notions of what it means to be a woman, well then you truly overestimate how little time we have.
It's reality TV. We have aaaall the time in the world.
Michelle Andrews and I debrief on Jarrod's new love interest(s), on our Bach Chat podcast.