Steve Braunias: The Bachelorette episode 5 – a bit of banter goes a long way


No, I wouldn’t flat-out say that I’m beginning to enjoy or even tolerate the 2021 season of The Bachelorette, but it’s growing on me and in any case there are worse things, like death or a coma, which the show often resembles.

Last night’s episode, the fifth in the series, actually featured one of the greatest lines in New Zealand television history.

It came from one of the drongos who was lamenting he hadn’t been out on a date yet with Hottie Lexie, the show’s nexus, and that instead he has to hang around for an eternity at the mansion. I can’t remember his name. It may have been Prongo.

Anyway his lament was articulate and from the heart. “This house,” proclaimed drongo Prongo, “is a prison on Planet Bullsh**.”

Know the feeling, mate! It nailed what it’s like to watch The Bachelorette. Time drags as you gaze dumbly at the drongos who are filmed mucking around not doing a hell of a lot and perfecting that lowest form of conversation: banter. “Love a bit of banter,” said a drongo whose name may have been Bongo.

There was a very good essay about banter a few years ago in the Guardian and it came up with a handy definition: “Either you have banter (if you are funny and can take a joke) or you don’t (if you aren’t and cannot).”

Banter is small talk, nothing serious, good-natured, teasing, idiotic. It’s the lingua franca of The Bachelorette. Step out of line and say something meaningful, and you’ll be shown the door. But banter is no protection, as last night proved.

Nathan the Musician could banter all day and all night. He played guitar like he was bantering. It got him nowhere. “You’re going home,” creaked the show’s wooden host, Art Green. That was sad. Nathan was a really nice guy. He took it well. “If I’m the least likely to make Lexie happy,” he said, “so be it.” His exit wiped the banter off his face.

There are now 11 contestants. Vaz the Tall Guy looks set to walk. He had a date with Lexie and was very polite, asked her about her life and her family, complimented her looks, and all she did was put him down and laugh at him. “I found that disrespectful,” he said later. Fair enough. Asked how he thought the date went, he said, “I just didn’t really enjoy it. It was rigid … I don’t know. Do I just quit?”

We’ll find out next week, when the show resumes. Good luck to the guy. He seems like a decent fellow. So does Bongo, Prongo and the other drongos. Maybe one of them will decide to take matters into their own hands, and escape. Get out. Flee. A nation will cheer them on.

The Bachelorette NZ screens Monday-Wednesday at 7.30pm on TVNZ 2.

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