Thursday, 9/28, 5:30 pm, before the show.
Is the whole Internet talking about The Golden Bachelor? Or are these constant ads and promotions targeted at me because of my age? If the latter, they’re doing a good job for once. Much better than the ads for pee panties and “mature” fashion that will change my life (“not to be overly dramatic”). I admit I’m curious. Ignoring the unrealistic premise that a 72-year-old widower will find meaningful love on a reality TV show, will the interactions be genuine? Will we see the vulnerability of seniors putting their wrinkled selves in front of a camera that catches every move and word as they try to date in a society that brands them as undateable? (No, spellcheck, do not change that to “uneatable”!) Or will it be bravado, strutting, catfights? (Oh, please, no.)
I read that Gerry will be given a supply of condoms. That’s good, but if this is really a “reality” show and his potential partners are in their 60s and 70s, they’d better supply him with lube, too!
Here’s my plan. I’ll watch the show, making notes on my laptop as I watch. Afterwards, I’ll post my reactions. I’m posting this much now so that you can join me by adding your own comments.
Know that I’m on the West Coast, so I’ll likely be late to the party, as the show is already airing if you’re on Eastern Time. Go ahead and start without me!
Thursday, 9/28, 10:30 pm, after the show.
The show opens with Gerry putting on his hearing aids – cool! He’s a good-looking guy, though I’d like him better clean-shaven than scruffy-faced, just my preference. Bristles are not pleasant against the tender skin of an aging face or more sensitive areas. Sorry (not sorry), that’s where my mind goes.
The first limo arrives filled with women screaming like junior high girls. Were they told to do that? I can’t imagine that’s how senior women arrive at a first date that’s also a competition.
There’s my problem. I have to remind myself, no, this isn’t reality – this is entertainment (or someone’s version of it). These women signed on for a competition where the last one standing supposedly will find love with this eligible widower. That means they all have to fall in love with him first, or that won’t work. Long before the end of the first episode, they all have a crush on him. “He’s perfect!” one says after knowing him for a minute.
The 22 women, age 60- 75, are all attractive, some conventionally and others uniquely. They’re all dressed in gowns – except for Renee, 67, in a track suit – and professionally coiffed and made up. From the get-go, the women try to stand out from each other with tricks, gimmicks, and sexual innuendos:
- “See these heels?” Susan, 66, asks Gerry. “I’m very comfortable with 6 inches.”
- Sandra, 75, calms herself with deep breathing while chanting the word “fuck” bleeped out.
- Leslie, 64, comes out wearing a robe and grey wig and using a walker. She throws off her robe and wig to reveal a low-cut black corset dress. She’s a fitness instructor and dancer who once dated Prince.
- Faith, 61, arrives by motorcycle. Later she plays guitar and sings to him. She gets the “first impression rose” because she makes him feel “very special.” Lots of kissing follows.
- April, 65, presents Gerry with eggs from her chickens and does a chicken dance, clucking and slapping herself on the butt. She’s a therapist.
If I seem to be picking on April, I was offended by her comment, “I am 65 and I hate to say that because aging sucks!” No it doesn’t! I have 15 years on her, and the “aging sucks” attitude… uh… sucks. Oops, there I go again, trying to impose authenticity on a reality show. But she’s a therapist!
I personally found the few natural looking women the most interesting and attractive – faces that move, foreheads that wrinkle, eyes that crinkle when they laugh, silver hair, diverse body types.
The most entertaining woman wasn’t really in the competition. Jimmy Kimmel’s aunt Concetta (“Chippy”), 84, crashed the party. She slept through the rose ceremony, where 6 of the 22 contestants were eliminated.
Would I watch this if the people weren’t seniors? No. Is this realistic about how seniors fall in lust and fall in love? No! Is it offensive? No, Gerry and the women are treated with respect so far. The show doesn’t fall into the “Oh, aren’t they cute?” trap, thank goodness.
Will it hold my interest as a series? Not likely, but if you want to keep reading or talking about it, I’m open to that. I’d love to know your views.
Friday, 9/29/23, 3 pm
Was I too dismissive and snarky in last night’s post? I’m reading comments on social media from people who love seeing self-confident women over 60 and 70 affirming that life isn’t over and it’s never too late for love. I support that! And Gerry’s story is moving. Part of my problem was that the way the women presented themselves to get Gerry’s (and the show’s) attention was usually silly. But when I look at the list of their professions, these are accomplished women. I hope we’ll get to know their stories with more depth and authenticity and fewer party tricks.
Yes, I’ll continue to watch. Whether I continue to blog about the show depends on how much interaction I get with you, readers!
Saturday, 9/30/23, 12pm
I’m thinking back on a promo I saw before the show aired, in which Gerry was asked, “What makes you the most nervous about dating?” Gerry answered, “The woman might ask me back to her place. That makes me really nervous. Ha ha ha!”
Gerry, you do seem really nervous. Let me help you with this. Please read my book, Sex After Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved.
Thursday, 10/5, 2023
Thank you all for the thoughtful comments and your encouragement to continue blogging about The Golden Bachelor. I’ll keep blogging here (rather than start a new one) for episode 2. Keep those comments coming!
Thursday, 10/5, 10:30 pm, after the show.
Episode 2 opens with the women moving into the mansion. Though they’re still screaming like preteens, they look, act, and speak more like real women of our age. They wear normal daytime clothes, more subdued makeup, careless hair. When they learn that some will be sleeping in bunk beds (seriously?), they decide who gets the bottom bunks on the basis of needing to pee at night and knee replacements that can’t climb ladders. This is enjoyably realistic.
The first date with Gerry goes to Theresa on her 70th birthday. She is widowed and tells a moving story about her husband of 42 years, who wished her love again after he died. We should all convey these wishes to our mates while we have each other.
Gerry is nervous about his date. “I’m a bit scared because I’m out of practice. There are many things that could go right and a lot that could go wrong.” In fact, what goes wrong is expecting this Indiana driver to navigate a LA freeway at night with headlights that aren’t working. He can’t see the road markings in front of him. Not good, people.
It’s also not a good idea to drive a convertible on the freeway with the top down when your companion had her hair styled for this date. The hairstyle blows into to streaming, shredded strands in the wind.
After this harrowing drive, Gerry takes Theresa to a ‘50s style diner for her birthday dinner! Fries and a chocolate shake.
Theresa’s birthday is saved from being totally kitschy when she recounts the story of her husband dying. Being a widow myself, the realism of comparing losses with a new person speaks to me. I was hoping the show would have moments like this. “I was talking to someone who understood the loss of a spouse,” says Gerry.
Just in case this show is getting too realistic and the emotions too authentic, a flash mob erupts through the diner and out into the parking lot, dancing to “Don’t Stop Believing.” For some reason, the dancers are all young. In case you don’t know, I’ve been teaching line dancing for more than 25 years, and most of my dancers are wild seniors. ABC, you could have flown us to LA for the dance scene.
“Theresa could be the person I spend the rest of my days with. She could be my life partner,” says Gerry after one date.
Then comes the extremely odd group date with 12 women for a “romance novel cover photo shoot.” The women are given clothes of different themes and time periods. They pose with Gerry, who changes outfits and sometimes hair. Aside from the photographer Franco’s suit and Natascha rocking her ’70s colors, most of the scenes were forgettable.
Authenticity again seeps through when Nancy, wearing a wedding dress as a costume, keeps breaking into tears. Nancy tells Gerry, “I haven’t had a wedding dress on since I got married” 36 years ago to her husband, who died 12 years ago. She remains teary but toughs it out. Gerry, who is compassionate, gives her a rose because they share loss and histories and connect emotionally.
I feel that giving a widow a wedding dress costume is a cruel attempt at manipulating emotions. Could they have guessed that this would be hard for her? Of course they could. Did they care, or did they consider it just good TV?
My favorite lines of the evening:
- Theresa: “At this age, we don’t want to waste time.”
- Nancy: “There’s joy in remembering [my past great love], and I still have hope moving forward.”
- Leslie: “If you ever want to whisper sweet nothings in my ear, I’ll be able to hear you,” as she shows him her hearing aids.
- Gerry’s conversation with his wife before she died: “When one of us passes away, the other should go find happiness.”
- Jeannie: “My mama found love in her 70s – I can do it, too.”
- Natascha: “Guys, do the rose ceremony in chairs! You’ve got people 60, 70, and above. Chair Rose Ceremony!”
Wed, Oct. 11, 2023
I won’t do extensive commentary on every episode from now on, but I’ll likely check in with short comments. I’ll be out of the country for 3 weeks, so I won’t be able to stay up to date for a while. Meanwhile, a rose for you via Gerry. Do keep your marvelous comments coming!
Sat., Dec. 2, 2023
I watched every episode. I thought I would have a lot to say about the finale, but to be honest, so much is available online that you don’t need me to weigh in. But I do want to say a few things.
- Yeah, I know — it’s a show, it’s entertainment, everything is staged, not reality. But still! If Gerry is “in love with” (in quotes because you can’t be “in love” when your meetings have all been in front of cameras) two women, and they feel the same about him, he should date both of them until they get to know each other much better. How absurd that he’s supposed to choose, propose, plan a televised wedding in another month. How absurd that an intelligent, experienced woman would go along with that.
- It’s all been about what Gerry likes (“loves”) about these women, how he sees them as fitting into his life. But what about their lives? What is he offering them, exactly?
- Even as the contenders narrowed to three, then two, here’s the conversation I kept wanting them to have with each other: “Tell me what sexual expression means to you, what you need, what’s off the table.” That always needs to be a long conversation, whatever our age, before we can move into intimacy and especially into commitment.
- His treatment of Leslie in the last episode and his inadequate comforting of her made me angry on her behalf. Good for her for asserting, after he told her not to think that way, “I’ll think whatever I fucking want!” (Correct me if I’m misremembering.) Leslie, you can do better.
- The Hollywood Reporter broke a story shortly before the finale: “The Golden Bachelor’s Not-So-Golden Past.” Read it. So much of what we were led to believe about Gerry’s recent past and personality was fake or exaggerated. He described himself as a “retired restaurateur” — he owned a drive-in burger franchise and had many jobs after that. He hid his three-year live-in relationship with Carolyn after his wife’s death, and that he kicked her out of his house after she gained 10 pounds. There’s more, lots more. Did he deceive the show? With the thorough background checks they do, it’s doubtful. Was the show complicit? I hope that comes out.
I welcome your comments.