On Wednesday night, the 2018 season of The Bachelor Australia premiered, and by 9.15pm 25 flesh and blood women were metamorphosed into characters and now they’re ours to play with.
All of them learned, at precisely the same time we did, how they had been cast.
The roles, of course, were predetermined.
We unpack the best moments from the Honey Badger’s first week in our Bach Chat podcast. Post continues after audio.
They needed a villain. A front runner. A lovable girl next door and, of course, for lack of a better term a ‘stage five clinger’.
The final character is potentially the most important.
She encapsulates exactly what a woman mustn’t ever be: desperate. She stands as a foil to the other women, all of whom have put their lives on hold and signed up to find love on prime time television but manage to toe the fine line between ‘pathetic’ and ‘willing’. ‘Needy’ and ‘open’. ‘Intense’ and ‘passionate’.
A woman must want to find love but not need to find love. Her life, in case you were wondering, is just perfect the way it is. It’s complete and full of friends and family and laughter, but one day, just a few weeks ago, she suddenly thought to herself, “Perhaps I wouldn’t mind a partner!”.
She’s chill about it though. Easy going. She just wants to see where things go.
But she’s not indifferent. Goodness, no. She’s passionate and spontaneous and can fall in love in less than six weeks.
Or she could not. Whatever.
She’s invested. As long as he is.
And this year, 23-year-old Cassandra Wood has been set up to commit the ultimate romantic crime: like a man a little bit too much.
You see, Wood already knew our Bachelor, Nick Cummins. It would appear they dated months before the show commenced. They’ve certainly hooked up.
Now, the Home and Away extra and accounting student has been thrown in among 25 hopefuls, to explicitly compete for a man she already has feelings for.
And humiliating Cassandra Wood is about become our national sport.
Last night, the camera lingered on her staring at Cummins for just a beat too long. When she received a rose, she hugged him just a little bit too tight. When they spoke, she shared just a tad too much, and women sitting at home on their couches heard the message loud and clear: Don’t behave like Cassandra.
Because when you’re dating a man you’re expected to be smitten without being territorial. Just act cool even when it doesn’t feel right. Give him what he wants without asking for anything in return and just cross your fingers that in the end he’ll pick you.
What we saw on television tonight wasn’t Cassandra Wood the person but Cassandra Wood the character. It’s a trope as old as time.
And for Wood, the next few weeks will likely be excruciating.
Already, brutal memes are popping up in Bachelor Facebook groups, and she’s been widely branded in the media as a ‘stalker’. And this is only the beginning.
The character might be ripe for a giggle, or even a moment of recognition where we realise we’ve all been Wood at one time or another.
But it’s worth remembering that Wood, the 23-year-old who has a crush on a man from the gym, is much more than a caricature. She’s a living, breathing human being with two eyes and two ears.
The next two months are going to be hard enough for her. Let’s not make them harder.