Starting Sept. 28, Bachelor Nation will be watching a season of the show unlike any prior. “The Golden Bachelor” will feature a 71-year-old widower named Gerry Turner — that’s Gerry pronounced with a hard g, like the snail on “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The show is in desperate need of a mixup. Ratings for season 20 of “The Bachelorette,” which concluded Aug. 21, were down almost 60% and averaged less than a million viewers per episode. Even I, a devout “Bachelor” follower of 15 years, didn’t bother tuning in for this most recent season, and I have no plans to watch “Bachelor in Paradise,” the one-time golden child of a poorly aging franchise.

“The Bachelor’s” target demo of 18- to 49-year-old viewers may no longer be interested in a program with an antiquated premise, wherein one young man or woman has 30 girlfriends/boyfriends at once, and a history of alleged sexism and racism.

“The Golden Bachelor” may be the program’s last hope. And I think it might actually work. An older demographic could be on board to watch their peers date on television, a novel concept in the reality TV universe. And I’m for sure going to be tuning in. Mostly because I have a morbid curiosity, but also because I feel less morally conflicted watching older people who have enough life experience to know the dangers of over-drinking. People who don’t need the show to make a career in podcasting or influencing. It feels less exploitative and more fun.

But I am not without concern.

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Gerry the Golden Bachelor has seemed nice enough in the teaser trailers, on his special appearance during “The Bachelorette Men Tell All,” and in an interview he gave to Variety. I did raise my eyebrows when I read that he told producers to keep casting within a general age range of 60 to 70, but instructed them to “feel free to blur the lines” which is reality television-speak for “Feel free to cast a few 25-year-olds.”

I’m not here to judge anyone’s age gap. Let a thousand blossoms bloom for all I care. But I will have a personal problem if women younger than me are put on a show to date a septuagenarian. That’s a glimpse into my own mortality I’m not quite ready to see.

Luckily, Entertainment Weekly announced the cast list this week, and I’m happy to report, everyone is 60 or over and they all look fabulous.

So, dating a much younger woman is not Gerry’s red flag.

Gerry’s red flag is his description of the kind of woman he hopes to find. During an interview on “Good Morning America,” he said he wants “someone who has high energy.”


I am still a few years from 40 and energy-wise, my gaslight is on. I am looking forward to being over the hill and then coasting down, with my foot hovering over the brake.

I’ve used my energy on my youth and on ushering my children through theirs, and I’m very much looking forward to relaxing in my golden years. I want nothing more than to spend my days watching my soaps, tending to my tomato plants, eating dinner at 5 p.m. and being in bed by 9. This is the future I have been promised by every piece of ageist media ever.

This morning I ran past an elderly gentleman who was sitting on his front porch, holding a beverage in his hand and looking lovingly at his perfectly manicured lawn. That man is living my dream.

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I want “The Golden Bachelor” to enable that dream. I want the small talk the first night in the mansion to be about the best multivitamins to ward off osteoporosis. I want the group dates to be mall walks. I absolutely do not want to hear about the fantasy suites. If the producers bring out one helicopter or bungee-jumping harness, I will take to the streets in protest.

Maybe Gerry is grading on the curve and by “high energy” he means awake. In which case, I’m back on board.

Or maybe the kind of people who choose to date on national television are a different breed than I am. That’s always been the case in Hollywood’s 20-plus years of filming dating on TV, so why would “The Golden Bachelor” be any different? If anything, the canyon between normal people and reality television people may widen with age.

Maybe by the time I am of Golden Bachelor age, society will be stratified into two layers: TV daters and the rest of us. The latter, those of us who are enjoying our golden years the way nature intended, will watch the former between caring for our tomatoes and dinner at 5:00. And we’ll say from the couch, “I’m so glad that’s not me.” Just like we always have.

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