South Africa’s first Bachelorette is Qiniso van Damme. Those of us who are not picky about our television consumption may remember Qiniso as the bubbly, attractive and often most compatible partner for Marc Buckner from #TheBachelorSA cycle two. Unfortunately Marc and Qiniso were not meant to be, but lucky for us Mnet were smart enough to snap her up to star in the Bachelorette South Africa 2021.
So yes, I have been a fan of Qiniso. She sashayed onto the screen at the right time for all of us. We were finding our footing with the hard lockdown, and then the Bachelor turned up in an ad on Youtube as I was scrolling to look for something to watch. The Bachelor’ Marc’s chest hair caught my attention. I didn’t think anyone but a Baldwin brother donned chest hair for fun.
Then I saw all the contestants and spotted Qiniso in a close-up. The rest of the ad was enough to pull me in. Looking back I wish I had established a standom for Qiniso. We could have been the van DAMMEites. Her stint on the show was not without its fair share of drama, but the most cringe was how even the bachelor still struggled up until her departure from the show to pronounce her name right. Small tip – ask how to pronounce someone’s name; it is endearing and thoughtful.
Back to the Bachelorette.
It is refreshing to see Mnet take the initiative with Qiniso’s star power; she is magnetic onscreen. She was breathtaking in the first episode, wearing a floor length gown. As the Bachelorette formula goes each gentleman meets Qiniso one on one. As custom each man arrives with a gift to appeal to Qiniso. At the risk of sounding superficial – and I probably am – Qiniso was not served with anyone that could be described as conventionally attractive, never mind handsome; except for Aviwe the 25 year-old model from Johannesburg.
Bradley in finance from Johannesburg asked Qiniso to beatbox as he rapped her a little rhyme – it did not rhyme. Dylan from Cape town rode in on a bike – another contestant arrived in a limo – then proceeded to tell Qiniso he is quirky and eccentric. I don’t think he really is, but being a peacock gets you noticed and a possible shot at a one on one date with Qiniso. Ruan from Bloemfontein likens himself to Jon Snow from the Game of Thrones television series, and his hair and beard certainly does live up to the ambition. He sounded snowed under when trying to flirt with Qiniso when arriving in a cape and carrying a teddy bear wolf.
Ten from Durban caught my eye with his flowing locks, and my sister would really like to know what leave-in conditioner he uses. He spoke to Qiniso in Spanish – she is fluent as well and I think they had the most authentic exchange. Justin, the professional athlete from Johannesburg, wrote Qiniso a letter and had it sealed with a stamp that had the letter “Q” on it. All very endearing and OTT but this is a show about winners and losers. And I think it was a clever move on Justin’s part to get Qiniso’s attention. The other men were mostly unforgettable because they were really boring in their approaches. But I never underestimate the quiet pedestrian ones. I can see many tricks up their sleeves from the teaser trailers.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day the Bachelorette SA debuted last night, and will air every Thursday at 19h30 on Mnet’s channel 101. Qiniso van Damme is on her quest for love. It is all very cheesy and staged down to the dates she will have with the guys. But it is dripping in the reality tv saccharine we live for.