The Golden Bachelor: Seniors Rewrite the Rules of Love on Reality TV

by Liz Keating '24 on November 9, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Recently, ABC has departed from the normal format of its well-known and fan-favorite reality dating franchise The Bachelor. This time, they’re focusing on a demographic often overlooked in the world of reality TV: seniors. Meet Gerry Turner, a retired 72-year-old with a newfound zest for life, who is about to embark on a journey to find love on The Golden Bachelor, a spinoff tailored for individuals aged 60 and above. Gerry, a widower of six years, is not your typical reality TV lead. His story is one of enduring love, having been married to his high-school sweetheart, Toni, for 43 years before her unfortunate passing from a bacterial infection in 2017. Gerry admitted he was only casually aware of the Bachelor franchise, but he was ultimately encouraged by his daughters to apply for the show. He was able to stand out among 30,000 applicants with his determination and sincerity shining through. Showrunner Bennett Graebner said, “We were really fortunate that he was, frankly, still single and still interested in 2023.” 

What makes The Golden Bachelor truly stand out is its departure from the typical drama-filled narrative. The contestants, all 60 or above, bring a different perspective to the show. With more life experiences and wisdom, their interactions are marked by maturity and a genuine quest for companionship. The showrunners have consciously steered away from the usual tropes, like catfights and sabotage, creating an atmosphere of authenticity and heartfelt connections. Gerry solidified this notion saying, “People in their 60s and 70s, we don’t care about being influencers…” adding, “We want to find a partner. We don’t care about finding a podcast.”

The show’s format has been tailored to cater to the unique needs and desires of its older contestants. Dates are thoughtful and intimate, focusing on emotional and intellectual compatibility rather than superficial attraction. The familiar “Fantasy Suites” concept has been approached with sensitivity, ensuring the comfort and consent of all involved parties.“I think at an older age, the priority of what you want to accomplish in a Fantasy Suite is a little different than when you’re 30.” Gerry said. The fan favorite “Hometown Visits” now features the contestants’ children and grandchildren. Despite the challenges, Gerry has approached this experience with grace and respect, showcasing the depth of his character. “There were no villains in that house,” Turner said. “There was nobody going rogue. So it was really hard to tell them to go home.”

ABC has taken some creative steps to ensure the show’s success. The Golden Bachelor is supporting watch parties in over 200 retirement communities by offering kits that include sparkling cider, Werther’s Original candies, and a bingo game themed around the show. Additionally, recognizing the beloved leisure activity of many senior citizens, the show is being promoted at USA Pickleball tournaments.

Gerry Turner’s journey is a reminder that romance, adventure, and the pursuit of companionship are timeless desires. As viewers tune in, on Thursdays on ABC, they’ll witness a heartwarming tale of second chances, genuine connections, and the beauty of love in its many forms.