Turns Out, It’s a Lot More Fun Watching Elderly People Find Love

The Golden Bachelor isn't breaking any new ground, but it's still an exciting new iteration of a very tired show.

Turns Out, It’s a Lot More Fun Watching Elderly People Find Love
Photo:ABC/Craig Sjodin

On Thursday night, 22 women stood before bachelor Gerry Turner. These women—who could all be my mother and a couple of whom I’d love for that to be the case—put their best foot, outfitted in orthopedic shoes, forward in the hopes of finding love on the premiere of ABC’s Golden Bachelor.

I abandoned the Bachelor franchise long ago, unable to stomach how deeply boring and desperate it had gotten. I couldn’t watch another 24-year-old sob about losing out on love when a man she’d known for two weeks didn’t ask her to go paintballing with him. But the latest iteration, with women all in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, vying for a man whose name is spelled “Gerry” but is pronounced “Gary,” has officially looped me back into saying things like, “They have a real connection” and screaming “Nooooo!” when two people who I don’t want to kiss, kiss, at my television screen.

The first episode of any Bachelor show is mostly footage of the contestants exiting a limo in increasingly eccentric ways in an effort to get the Bachelor to remember you. I’d garner that becomes even more difficult when the bachelor in question is 72. But right off the bat, we had some wonderfully quirky contestants: Sandra, a retired executive assistant from Atlanta, whose whole “thing” seems to be that she likes to say “fuck” and “shit” a lot. Theresa, a financial services professional from New Jersey, who teased Gerry with a fake-me-out strip-down that almost certainly gave him a heart attack. And then I personally had a penchant for Renee, a former cheerleader, whose matching warm-up sweat suit stood out amongst a sea of sequined mother-of-the-bride-esque looks. Unfortunately, that getup did not catch Gerry’s eye and Renee didn’t get a rose. At least she had a comfy outfit for the ride home.

I was hoping the elderly spin on the show would be revelatory, that these women would be draped in linen caftans and bring years of wisdom to the never-ending search for love. But one contestant telling Gerry she couldn’t breathe for two full hours after seeing a photo of him quickly made it clear we were going to get a lot of the same tropes as the original premise. That being said, there is something refreshing and fun about watching women whom society might deem “past their prime” looking for romance. Bravo dominates our current reality TV exposure to women of this age and while some of these women have the blowouts, fillers, and cattiness to slot into a Housewives franchise, not all of them do. Some seem like nice, normal older women hoping to find a man suitable to fill their free time up with. And I think that’s lovely! Watching these older women get dolled up and flirt for the chance of feeling butterflies is a fun watch and not something we’re gifted too often on TV.

Also wildly charming is Gerry’s genuine excitement at being on the show. That’s a huge pull, for sure. He’s so….pure. He cried giving away roses. It only gets harder from here, Gerry! But I weirdly feel as if he won’t settle for someone unless he feels a real connection. Something I’ve never felt with a single other man on that show. Perhaps I’m being naive and my judgment is clouded by his grandfatherly ways, but for now, it’s making me more invested in the premise.

Ultimately, no barriers are really being broken with the new twist on the franchise. Some women are getting a crazy edit (Kathy), while others seemed on the verge of tears within the first 30 minutes of meeting Gerry (Theresa, we’re worried about you), and certainly, some contestants will be exposed for being there for the wrong reasons. But like a Werther’s Original caramel in your nana’s candy bowl, even if the taste is ultimately pretty stale, it’s fun to indulge in.

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