I’m trying to set aside my forebodings about the superannuated* meat market that is the Golden Bachelor to note one thing: 72-year-old Gerry Turner, the very first Bachelor in this new, senior version of the 21-year-old TV dating franchise, is a VERY nice-looking man!
* Don’t get all judgy: It doesn’t mean old; it means receiving a pension.
And he seems easygoing, open to whatever life will send his way. That said, I have a feeling he may be overwhelmed by the animal intensity being launched at him by the 22 women arrayed here, hoping to attract him as a mate.
As Brian Lowry, critic for CNN Entertainment, pointed out after previewing the show, the women follow the extroverted patterns of earlier, younger women wannabes. Edith, 60, steps from the show’s limousine wielding a pair of confetti party cannons that she and Gerry pop, releasing gold glitter everywhere. A gray-haired woman in a shapeless dress leaves the limo using a walker, only to toss the walker, wig, and dress aside to reveal Leslie, 64, and a LOT more woman than some of us expected. Faith, 60, a sinewy brunette, ditches the limo: She rides in on a motorcycle. April, 65, does the chicken dance, apparently going for the Miss Quirky crown, if such a thing exists.
(Lest we leave her out, Jimmy Kimmel’s 84-year-old Aunt Chippy makes a comic stunt appearance, “falling asleep” on the sofa and missing most of the action.)
It’s clear that these 22 candidates, aged 60 to 75, White, Black, and Asian, are fully formed females: They seem to know (and like) who they are, what their strengths are, and how they’re planning to stand out from the other contestants. Some of the women are divorced, and some are widowed after long marriages; they have children and grandchildren, jobs, and retirement packages. What they want, what a couple of them say they “crave,” is an emotional attachment, a partner in their ongoing “journey.” (Brian Lowry calls all this journey-talk “the reality-TV equivalent of white noise.”)
Maybe I’m underestimating the stamina and imperturbability of Gerry Turner, a retired restaurateur living in Indiana. He’s used to being surrounded by women. He was married to Toni, his high school sweetheart, for 43 years before she died suddenly in 2017. He has two grown daughters and two granddaughters. So estrogen is hardly a mystery to him (at least no more so than it is to the rest of us).
There’s a lot of hugging and a little bit of kissing in this first Golden Bachelor encounter. The women have to be assertive to get some one-on-one time with Gerry, and it seems that a few of them never achieve this. Predictably, I guess, the contestants who receive roses and will therefore be invited back next week are those we’ve been able to see in action (and I do mean action—dancing, stripping, even inviting Gerry to join her in a Zen chant to “ground” them).
Also predictable are the shows that lead into the Golden Bachelor, which will be seen on ABC every Thursday at 8 pm Eastern time: our Golden Guy follows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Both are favorites of American Boomers, the strongest cohort of network television watchers. Also calculated but a bit charming as well: In a montage of Gerry getting ready for the evening, we see him hook his hearing aid over his left ear. We get it, Ger!
The hour-long premiere ended, of course, with the predictably sad image of half a dozen women left gathered on one side of the main reception room of the Bachelor Mansion after not receiving a rose.
Many viewers found the elimination of 70-year-old Patty the most upsetting: As she revealed to Gerry, she was the mom of Bachelor Matt James and had her own group of fans, based on her appearances during her son’s season on The Bachelor.
Also cut the first week were 61-year-old Anna, a retired nutritionist from New Jersey; Maria, 60, a health-and-wellness director also from New Jersey (not to worry: there’s still one Jersey girl left); Pamela, 75, a retired salon owner from Illinois; Renee, 67, a former Chicago Honey Bear NFL cheerleader from Wisconsin, and 64-year-old Sylvia, a public affairs consultant from L.A.
Catch up on the action.