Sidelining Your Entire Life for a Reality Show is Surprisingly Complicated in Your 60s

A second contestant on The Golden Bachelor has self-eliminated because she has stuff to deal with back home.

Sidelining Your Entire Life for a Reality Show is Surprisingly Complicated in Your 60s
Photo:ABC/John Fleenor

It was a tense week for The Golden Bachelor, a dating show for folks looking to find love in their final act, and not just because the subreddit enacted a moratorium on discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this third episode of the inaugural season, alliances were formed, patience was tested, and really ugly earrings (that are a blatant product placement) were gifted on solo dates.

Two big “dramas” unfolded this week in the mansion, which is still housing the women in bunk beds. The more predictable of the two was that Kathy from Austin, Texas felt that tiny Theresa was showing off about her connection with bachelor Gerry and decided to tell him as much. “People aren’t necessarily very nice,” she told the unceasingly chipper bachelor. He responded with something along the lines of “my brain cannot comprehend how woman be mean?” in the most charming Midwestern accent you’ve ever heard.

But the more interesting hiccup in my opinion was Joan Vasso, 60, deciding to leave to be with her daughter who’d just given birth two weeks prior to the show starting. “As much as I don’t want to leave our journey,” Joan told Gerry on a bench in the driveway, “I gotta be a parent.” This isn’t the first time a contestant has left the dating competition on their own volition. In fact, it’s already happened this season.

Marina Perera bowed out of the show between the first and second episodes. When fans noticed her absence, she explained via an Instagram video that “I’m a single mom and I had to choose my family and, you know, support my family’s needs at this time.” She continued, “I am so sorry that I had to leave, but at the same time I had to get my priorities straight.”

Over thirty contestants in the franchise’s history have self-eliminated but the vast majority do so because they feel the connection between them and the bachelor or bachelorette isn’t there. Having two women already dip out because they have shit going on other than lounging around in sequin cocktail dresses adds some much-appreciated depth to the show, even if it is disappointing they can’t keep having a fun time on it. Their priorities also put the search for love that this show, and our culture, is so obsessed with, into a healthy perspective.

When Joan was leaving she told Gerry that their solo date was really affirming to her and her search for love and that she was grateful for how their budding relationship reminded her that love was possible after her husband’s death. How lovely! And also, how lovely to have that very civil and balanced perspective on a franchise whose younger counterparts often had me screaming at my TV, “he’s not worth it!!!!”

Stream The Golden Bachelor now on Hulu

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