WTF Is "The Cheese" On Bachelor In Paradise?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
ABC's Bachelor In Paradise is show made up of margarita make outs and hormones. But, it’s also a series built off of metaphors and euphemisms. There are the obvious ones like the oft-used “connection” — just say “relationship,” people! — and the more bizarre ones, like Jordan Underwood’s extended “briefcase of passion” conversation.
But no term has become more of a capital-T Thing during this season of Paradise than “the cheese.” While the enigmatic running joke reached its peak with with Tuesday night’s “Week 4, Part 2,” when Eric Bigger is gifted an entire cheese cart, it’s actually been popping up throughout Paradise conversations for weeks. So, let’s figure out what it means — because there’s actually a pretty thoughtful philosophy hiding under all the, well, reality TV cheese.
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Many think “the cheese” first came up during Monday night’s end-of-episode comedy button, where the men of the Paradise described which cheese they would be (sweet, beautiful John Graham describes himself as soft, delicious brie. He is perfect). Those people would be wrong.
Rather, “the cheese” first came up during “Week 2, Part 2” in response to Kenny King’s breakup with fully redeemed former Bachelor villain Krystal Nielson. The pair struck up a flirtationship following a lucha libre-themed date, and then continued to hit it off at the Paradise beach resort. So, ever the romantic, Kenny set up a sweet oceanside second date for the pair, complete with candles, a blanket, and a cocktails, all contained in a heart-shaped line in the sand. When Kenny asked if Krystal would be interested in moving their relationship a few “steps forward,” the fitness trainer responded by saying she would rather be friends. Ouch.
Kenny then goes for a heart-to-heart with former Bachelorette co-star Eric Bigger, notably the only other Black man on Paradise. Eric asks Kenny if he believes Krystal will come back to him if she doesn’t find a “connection” with anyone else, which, considering the fact men are in charge of handing out roses that week, would spell trouble for her. This is where the cheese comes in, because Kenny isn’t out here waiting to see if Krystal will come back.
“If you look at it like lab animals that know specifically where to go to get the cheddar,” Kenny begins, “but when [the scientists] move it, one says, ‘I got to move with the cheese.’ And the other says, ‘Imma keep going [back] until the cheese shows back up.’”
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The former lab animal survives another day, while the latter one might just die of starvation. This is the smartest way to play the game of Paradise, where “connections” and attractions change by the minute. So, “the cheese,” in Paradise terms, is essentially someone’s returned interest in one of the sexy Bachelor Nation singles around them; “moving with the cheese” is a willingness to evolve as the romantic landscape shifts around you.
So, for example, Kenny moved with the cheese following the Krystal dumping and struck up a relationship with Annalise Puccini. Fan-favorite Grocery Store Joe Amabile did not at all move with the cheese during Kendall Long’s lengthy consideration of going all-in on late-in-the-season addition Leo Dottavio. Thankfully for everyone's beloved Chicago foodie prince, the cheese returned after realizing the competing lab rat in this situation was a Tarzan look alike with anger issues and a penchant for lying and kissing Chelsea Roy. Sometimes the cheese does come back!
All of this cheese talk brings us to the aforementioned “Week 4, Part 1” conversation, where Eric explains what “the cheese” is to willing acolytes including John “The Smooth, Calming Brie” Graham, Colton “Cottage Cheese Gives Me Gas” Underwood, Chris “The Goose Or Goat Cheese?” Randone, and Jordan “Mild Cheddar Goes With Everything” Kimball. Eric adds to his cheese theory, saying, “Moving with the cheese is changing for progress.”
Finally, in Tuesday night’s “Week 4, Part 2,” Eric lives his full cheese dreams during a luxe date with Angela Amezcua, when Paradise producers send the couple a massive cart of over-the-top fancy cheese. The spread includes emmental cheese, dry goat cheese, and ripesheep cheese; it's jealousy-inducing.
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When Eric, of “it’s miracle season” fame and a known self-branding genius, sees the cart, he naturally yells, “You got to move with the cheese.” At this point, can someone just hand me a piece of cheese?
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