Mild spoilers ahead.
Early on in Monday’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise, Ashley Iaconetti gave one of the show’s many, many confessional interviews. There wasn’t much for her to confess, though, since Ashley is not big on hiding her feelings: For her, she said, being in Mexico with her ex and his new girlfriend has been extremely un-fun. “This has actually turned into my greatest nightmare,” Ashley told the show’s camera, “and every day, the nightmare gets darker and darker. I’m getting to the point where I’m looking at the undertow over there, and thinking how desirable it would be to just let myself go into it.”
Casual talk of suicide: This is standard-issue stuff for a show that toys with big themes—violence, villainy, the perpetual mysteries of Love—and then, for the most part, brushes them aside so as to depict its contestants making out in its “rose palapa.” The glibness is also typical, however, for a show that treats its contestants as “tropes” as often as it treats them as “people”: Ashley is, per the longstanding convention of reality TV, “the crazy one.” Of course she’d blithely imply ending it all in the undertow.
Bachelor in Paradise, even more than its fellow shows in the Bachelor franchise, has perfected a style you might call deus-ex-camera: It bestows upon its production staff—producers and editors—a kind of narrative omnipotence. Editors in particular serve, within the show’s universe, as godlike arbiters of contestants’ fates via their assignments of recognizable identities. There’s the clown edit (Hayley and Emily, whose occupations the show lists, unironically, as “Twin,” and who enjoy swapping outfits to fool their fellow contestants). There’s the nerd edit (Evan—occupation: Erectile Dysfunction Specialist—eating a banana). There is, of course, the villain edit. But there is also a sub-category of villain in the show’s tropic taxonomy. Bachelor in Paradise, recently, has emphasized, via Lace but particularly via Ashley … the crazy edit.