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Bachelor in Paradise: Reality Television Reaches a New Peak With an iPhone-Wielding Raccoon

Alex Casey brings you the Bachelor in Paradise moment of the week. First up, an innocent phone call becomes critter communication at the hand of the maniacal Bachelor editors. 

Bachelor in Paradise is the messy mecca of reality television, throwing ex-Bachelor contestants together on a tropical island and waiting for the sparks to fly as they couple up, double up, break up and even marry up. With author and host Chris Harrison as THE MINISTER. Each week totals a whopping 120 minutes spread across two sprawling episodes, making it essential, marathon viewing for fans of the genre. Click here for an introduction to the gang I wrote after the series’  debut.

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Please take a moment to appreciate how truly blessed we are to witness this experimental, boundary-smashing point in reality television. Docuseries I am Cait is following one of the most important pop culture figures of our time in Caitlyn Jenner, and simultaneously raising awareness and sharing the stories of transgender youths that would otherwise have never found such an immense audience. Over at Teen Mom, the production staff appear readily in front of the camera, living comfortably beyond the fourth wall. Last year, Fox’s launched Utopia, the year-long social experiment that brought a group of misfits together to build a new society. It totally bombed, but still.

A similar air of experimentation has made it to Bachelor in Paradise. The sophistication in production, paired with a growing audience awareness of reality conventions, means that these longstanding franchises must constantly morph to create new avenues for batshit insanity to flow forth.

Which is where the infamous Paradise raccoon comes in.

First, some backstory. In the last season of Paradise, during one of many meltdowns, contestant Clare (shunted into second place during Juan Pablo’s season of The Bachelor) found herself spilling her guts to someone off camera, presumably a delighted story producer, of the kind you might find lurking in UnREAL. Sobbing her way through her unlucky love life on the island, the conversation was soon put through the hands of an eager editing wizard.

The result? Clare appeared to be having a deep and meaningful conversation with a local raccoon about how she got bit by fire ants:

Fine, right? Plausible. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that, after many days and many drinks on a tropical island surrounded by reality stars, you might go a bit nuts and have a yarn to an animal. I do that pretty much every day after work, it’s fine.

But this wasn’t enough for the Bachelor in Paradise editors.

With Clare returning to the island this season for one last shot at love, and sadly falling into the same funk, producers again seized the opportunity to pull a “Dr Doolittle” on her. This week Clare picked up the phone on the island, clearly needing some guidance from home:

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At this point you’d expect to see a bewildered but wise father, or perhaps a supportive yet much-dowdier sister. Not a racoon holding an iphone next to a pool:

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The proceeding conversation is either the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s the thing with Bachelor in Paradise, you can never quite know if you are witnessing utter idiocy or pure genius. It’s a real grey area. The raccoon uses consoling squeaks to comfort Clare in her time of need, HANGS UP the phone with his TINY RACCOON FOOT and then DIVES INTO THE POOL:

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Just another day in paradise. Click here to watch the full cross-species conversation, and for the love of god watch Bachelor in Paradise on TVNZ Ondemand because I honestly feel like I’m losing my mind over here. 


Love all things bonkers and all things Bachelor? Click here to watch UnREAL exclusively on Lightboxa dark behind-the-curtain drama that explores the fascinating inner workings of reality television.