"The Golden Bachelor:" Age-Old Dating Tricks Get Silver-Tinted

By James Wilson September 28, 2023

The television industry finally acknowledges ageism with "The Golden Bachelor," where familiar romance realities meet silver-haired singles - but with little divergence from routine.

In an era when pharmaceutical commercials and early-bird dinner deals are the butt-end of aging-jokes, the forthcoming reality TV show “The Golden Bachelor” initially promises to act as a counter-measure against ageism in the media and entertainment industry. However, after the show premieres, it seems to miss the chance to truly revolutionize the genre. Instead, it simply spins the well-trodden formula of dating shows but with participants who have a few more wrinkles.

The emotional groundwork of the show is laid by Gerry Turner, a 72-year-old who emotionally discusses his 43-year marriage to his high-school lover, tragically passing away in 2017 after a long illness. The sentimental chord of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” subtly underscores the whole segment, further proving the level of manipulation that fuels this franchise.

The series transitions into the tried-and-true format with 22 women, between the ages of 60-75, vying for Turner’s attention. These women, including Patty, the mother of a previous contestant, follow the extroverted approach typically elicited on these shows, delivering flamboyant entrances and hammed-up expressions.

Moments of the participants' life experiences trickle through the theatrical façade, serving as reminders of the contrast between this show and the junior version. In one memorable instance, Leslie, a 64-year-old fitness instructor from Minneapolis, casually mentions her past relationship with the iconic pop star, Prince.

“We’re all breaking the stereotypical view of what a senior looks like or acts like,” one woman remarks. However, this notion doesn’t play out in reality. Most of the well-known hallmarks from "The Bachelor” remain - the forced small talk, grimaces, and tailored suspense infiltrate the ceremonious proceedings.

Turner, despite his earnest and occasionally goofy demeanor, doesn’t offer any profound divergence from his younger contemporaries regarding his outlook on the role he is to play in the show, perhaps making it a bit more emotionally taxing than some of his predecessors.

In the end, whether "The Golden Bachelor" will turn out to be just another gimmick in the vast sea of reality television offerings or it will inject some much-needed enthusiasm into an otherwise ho-hum fall TV season will soon be revealed. As it stands now, however, "The Golden Bachelor" appears to be just another spin on the old dance of love. You can catch the premiere on September 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and the replay the following day on Hulu.