The Bachelors format is many things (chaotic, overwhelming and not dissimilar to three dollops of mayonnaise) but there is one particular element that helps this batshit production resemble real-life dating in a way it hasn’t before. Funnily enough, that surprising dose of reality is found somewhere within the idea to have three leads — a concept I was vehemently against when it was first announced by The Bachelor Australia.

Allow me to explain.

Last night’s episode of The Bachelors revealed that one of Felix Van Hofe’s top contenders, Jessica, is in an open relationship with someone else. Felix was taken aback by the information but tried to understand Jessica’s values — an effort that was immediately torpedoed when he told fellow lead Thomas Malucelli, “I love threesomes, just not with my wife!”

The following day Jessica felt an “energy shift” from Felix and turned to Thomas for support during a group date at Dreamworld (because Gold Coast).  “I was just wanting that feedback from your perspective about whether he’s still open to getting to know me,” Jessica probed Thomas.

Jessica continued to confide in Thomas about her overall relationship goals — whether that’s with Felix or someone else — before getting emotional. And do you know what it felt like? Normal bloody life.

The good (and realistic) thing about this season of The Bachelor Australia is that the contestants have the opportunity to discuss their relationship ups and downs as they happen with someone who’s not a producer or dating their boyfriend.

They have sounding boards who aren’t competing with them for a man, or for television ratings, because there is more than one Bachelor to speak to, and as a result they have roomies who aren’t dating the same person. It’s wild from a production standpoint but also important from a personal investment perspective — and to increase the relationships’ overall longevity.

Talking to others about developing relationships is actually a really normal process to go through when evaluating your feelings. Just talking about it also helps you take stock of your wider life goals and priorities when it comes to a partner. I fully believe that in the same moment Jessica was saying aloud what she wanted in a partner, she realised that Felix didn’t have them.

But considering contestants are cut off from any communication with the outside world in order to relay their feelings, it hasn’t really been a readily available conversation on the traditional seasons where there was only one lead. Unless they want to speak to a producer or fellow contestant who have different agendas, which’ll probably only mess with their heads even more.

In fact, producers likely rely on this isolation and controlled influence to ensure every contestant is laser-focused on the lead and winds up developing very serious feelings for them. Perhaps even falling in love based off a handful of dates and no alone time. I hear it’s a trend. 

The Bachelors format has upped the ante on the opportunity Becky and Elly Miles’ men were afforded during their season of The Bachelorette, where contestants could confide in the sister they weren’t pursuing for advice. Blood bias is real, though.

At least these three blindingly white mice — Felix, Thomas and Jed McIntosh — couldn’t have spent much more time together than press commitments before filming begun. Some would say it’s the perfect level of bro-code for their prospective partners to benefit — they know enough to impart advice, but not too much that they won’t take into account another perspective. Or 10.

By the same token, the men on the Miles sisters’ season could confide in each other — the other contestants on the show — because not all of them were dating the same woman, making it not that weird to talk about how well or badly your date went. To assess. To digest. It’s actually a very important step in understanding your feelings in the same way writing shit down helps you process things. 

It’s about time The Bachelor Australia‘s female contestants were afforded the same opportunity rather than fall into the usual producer trope of nasty and unhealthy competition. Once Tash leaves, I hope to sit back and watch the sisterhood support each other on their quests for a lifelong dick no one else is interested in. Because that’s how it should be.

Just like every detail of The Bachelor Australia previously worked to ensure the contestants fight over the lead and fall in love by the end of the eight-or-so weeks, every minor change has the ability to bring Channel Ten’s puppets back to reality and give them more control over their decisions.

And if you think back to the Miles sisters’ season, it didn’t last long with the chosen suitors Pete Mann and Frazer Neate after the cameras stopped rolling. Is that because they were able to speak to the other guys about their feelings and therefore not get as invested as previous contestants have? Is it because there were two women in the driver’s seat and it reminded them that they do in fact have a choice in the matter too?

Add one more lead to the mix with this season of The Bachelors and you’ve got even more of a mental snap back to reality that The Bachelor is not the only person you could possibly be happy with. There’s also a higher chance of genuinely being attracted to at least one of them, rather than the contestants convincing themselves they are because there’s… no one else around.

Honestly: more Bachelors might mean more control for the contestants, and less chance of them being manipulated into falling in love. But you know who else gets engaged after publicly making out with someone in the spa and going to a few theme parks? Literally no one.

So even if this shakeup means people don’t make it to The Bachelor finish line or beyond… whatever? At least that’s realistic.

Image: 10play