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“Where he’s going, he doesn’t need roads” – reviewing the first episode of The Bachelor NZ

Alex Casey reviews the first episode of The Bachelor NZ, including bliss balls, gongs and a whole new meaning to the word “throw pillow.”

“He could definitely be my future husband… I think.”

And so the second season of The Bachelor NZ opened with a perfect “yeah, nah” blend of sincerity and trepidation. Almost instantly, the show had revealed so much about the New Zealand character that it bordered on parody.

Our second Bachelor, 32-year-old filmmaker and actor Jordan Mauger, is similarly happy to revel in the Kiwi way. We meet him with his shirt unbuttoned just one too many, warbling on about stubbies and swannies before sitting in a dinghy and speeding off to presumably rescue a beached-as whale with a piece of number eight wire.

He’s about as different from Art Green as a bag of wizened paleo bites is from a hot fudge sundae. He works in a hip (empty) office where he talks about “waiting for the crew” and taps his pen hurriedly on a table. For some reason, he also owns a DeLorean.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already charmed. My heart swelled as he cradled a dog, then later a baby. Not for too long though. As the Bachelor, he is required by law to take a very intense slow motion shower and then board a chopper bound for Pohuehue to greet his beloveds. 

The 23 women vying for Jordan’s affections seem more mature this time around, and have enjoyed the luxury of watching season one’s mistakes from the comfort of their couch. They have travelled from all across New Zealand – and the world. That’s what Mike Puru says anyway, but who knows how long he’s been swaying quietly on that mansion stoop. Could be weeks; could be months.

The new mansion looks stunning, practically ablaze with fairy lights and tealight candles. The same can be said for the women. One by one, they prance out in confusingly similar sequin dresses to meet their forever love. “Wow” says Jordan. “Brilliant” says Jordan. “Fantastic” says Jordan. Their first encounters are awkward, fumbling and repetitive, perhaps so similar to real life that I found my teeth starting to gently curl.

At least this year we’ve got another pretty diverse bunch – although there are already a few top ten blondes who I assure you we’ll be getting to know very well. Other legends in the house include Metz, the Samoan Princess who just “needs a man.” Her requirements for love are only one notch broader than Alicia’s, who simply asks for “good teeth and good feet.” Incidentally, that’s also her requirement when purchasing miniature ponies.

Hats off to early frontrunner Rebecca for making a Star Wars joke during their first meeting and, drumroll please, receiving the coveted first impression rose. Tune in next week when she probably wears a Princess Leia bikini poolside and they get married on the spot to the tunes of the Star Wars cantina band.

With 23 introductions and 1000 crappy gifts to get through, wasn’t a lot of room for tension. Any shred of drama was amplified by the repeated use of a sound effect best described as ‘gong being dropped down an elevator shaft’. Naz, one to watch, swanned in and stole Jordan’s time more than once. Cue gong. Lara wedged her way uncomfortably between Jordan and Ceri as Ceri divulged the details of her abusive relationship. Cue very loud, very long gong.

Dramatic gongs aside, the highlight of the episode was Harmony, the rogue who appeared to drink a Mauger amount of alcohol. The exact opposite of her name, she threw cushions around poolside and flounced out of the mansion like she had wandered there by accident. She will be missed.

I’m hungrier for the rest of the season than I am for a jar of Claudia’s scary homemade bliss balls. To return to The Bachelor NZ thesaurus, I think Amanda summed up the first episode best. When describing her experience so far, she claimed it had been “good, different, interesting, and fun.” Honestly, I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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