When you’ve been watching popular television in a professional capacity for as long as I have, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve seen it all.
Those big secrets and massive swerves that networks like to advertise using a duo of voiceovers (Upbeat Hunky Man and his colleague, Seductive Bitchy Lady) are usually little more than the same-old worn-out tropes of reality and “factual” programming. In other words, when Ten’s voiceover artist announced that the finale of The Bachelor would shock me, I anticipated experiencing nothing of the sort.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins dumped not one but both of his “final two” at the New Caledonia-set finale of this year’s season. In fact, I screamed at the empty living room, finding myself suddenly thrust into a scene reminiscent of Tootsie’s big reveal (“That is one nutty hospital!”).
Texts went flying left and right, my phone groaning under the strain of the flurry of indignation and disbelief. How could he? Would the top four take out a class action against Ten? Would Ten sue the Honey Badger? Cosmopolitan asked the hard question: what happens to everybody’s bets? (Sportsbet, ever the humanitarians, refunded everyone.)
As my friends and I processed what we’d just witnessed, it became quickly evident that our shock wasn’t due solely to this seemingly unheard of denouement (Cummins was in fact just the first Australian Bachelor to peace out; the 11th US Bachelor, Brad Womack, chose nobody back in 2007 before it was cool). Instead, our dismay and surprise was due to Cummins’ performance, on the grandest stage of all, of the reality of dating in 2018.
Nearly every single woman I know (and more than a few men) have experienced this particular brand of emotionally withholding, commitment averse “romance”.
Bastow, Clem. Modern Romance. 2018. Photoshop, while in a blind rage.
Honey Badger types are everywhere on the human supermarket conveyor belt of Tinder: they love “banter” and “laughs” with “the lads” or “the boys” (“yeah the boys”), and most things in life are undertaken “all in good fun”.
If you’re lucky they might call themselves “ethically non-monogamous”, saving you the trouble up of trying front, but through it all, there’s a reticence towards any sort of emotional intimacy that suggests — as Cummins’ “she’s out there” did — an apocryphal perfect match floating forever just out of reach.
“Nah,” these types are always thinking, “I reckon there’s someone better out there”– even when Osher Gunsberg has just presented them with two dozen smoking hot babes on a silver platter.
Dare to suggest that, as this year’s contestant Cassie did, “hanging out” on multiple occasions over a course of time would indicate a relationship of some sort and you’ll be met with a blank stare. The Honey Badger might send you a few half-hearted 2am “haha and then what ;)”-type texts as your dalliance enters its death rattle, but soon he will be too busy to engage with you at all: he’s hanging out with “the boys” or, perhaps, doing a solo trek through the Kokoda Trail.
The tears came quickly last night when Brittany urgently told the off-camera producer she wanted to see Sophie, rushing to commiserate with her fallen comrade. If there’s a silver lining to this nightmare, it’s that the women of The Bachelor — like my friends, and the women who populate my Instagram comments with “SAME!” stories of dating woe — have undergone a bonding ritual that will be hard to tear asunder.
It seems it was really a finale of firsts: for once, the true treasure really was the friends they made along the way.