Engaging and Aging on ‘The Golden Bachelor’

Engaging and Aging on 'The Golden Bachelor'

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In August, Julia Jacobs visited a Mediterranean-style mansion in Agoura Hills, Calif., set against the backdrop of “The Golden Bachelor.” The show is a spinoff of the popular “Bachelor” reality TV franchise, with a surprising twist: contestants have to be at least 60 years old.

Jacobs, a culture reporter for The New York Times who visited the set for an article about the reality dating series, said, “This show comes at a time when there is a growing sensitivity about who is worthy of falling in love on television. “

At the show’s premiere on September 28, viewers met Geri Turner (pronounced Gary), a 72-year-old widowed retiree from Indiana who was looking for romance, and nearly two dozen women hoping to court him on national television. Was doing. Their relationship goes on-air every Thursday.

Audiences are liking it: The series premiere was Most-watched debut for a “Bachelor” franchise season From 2021 onwards Most watched of any “Bachelor” premiere On streaming platform Hulu.

But it’s not all rosy: Amanda Hayes, critic at large for The Times, wrote in a recent column about how the show portrays older women. That said, contestants engage in stunts such as driving motorcycles onto the set and performing “ridiculous” striptease involving a walker.

He said, “It celebrates older people, but only when they fit a very narrow image of youthful sexuality.”

In a recent conversation, Jacobs and Hayes discussed the series’ multi-generational appeal and the ways it differs from previous “Bachelor” seasons. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are you a fan of “The Bachelor”?

Amanda Hayes I’ve watched several seasons, and I’ve been saying for years that they should make a “Bachelor” with widows and divorcees. So I was excited to see this version.

julia jacobs I’m not a dedicated viewer, but I really love writing about dating shows.

Some readers may ask: Why is The Times covering this reality TV show?

hess It tells a story about how we view ourselves and how we view older people, how we view marriage and second marriage. It becomes an entry point for conversations I think our readers are interested in engaging in.

yakub It was a huge topic of interest on social media and even at a senior center in New Jersey where I went to see the first episode. To some people, the “Bachelor” franchise seems like the same old show — season after season — and this twist was something new and worth talking about.

Besides the age of the contestants, what makes this show different from other versions of “The Bachelor”?

hess The stakes are so high because many of the women have been married before. Many lost their spouses. They know what marriage is like. To me, this makes the show more fascinating and difficult to watch.

yakub There is not that much drama between women. Usually you have a lot of women teasing each other during the date like, “Can I hold him for a second?” But that doesn’t actually happen here.

hess The drama is happening within every person.

Why do you think this show is appealing to audiences across generations?

yakub The discussions between Gerry and the women he is dating are more concrete. These women have already lived six or seven decades. They have careers and families. This show doesn’t define his life. And I think that’s allowed them to be a little more free in their communication.

hess I have created many profiles of artists and celebrities who are in their 70s and 80s. People in their 20s are building their careers and their personalities, but if you interview older people, they’ve already done that; They can tell you what they really think about how it all happened. And I think it’s the same for the women of “The Golden Bachelor.”

Julia, one statistic that stood out to me from your article was that the average age of viewers of ABC, the network that airs the show, is 64 years old. Why has it taken so long for networks to tap into dating shows for this demographic?

yakub The makers said that the show was in the works for 10 years. He didn’t have a clear answer as to why it took so long, but said he felt like it was happening at a time when he was seeing a lot of messages about empowerment in aging. He mentioned Martha Stewart appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated and John Stamos posting a nude photo on Instagram on his 60th birthday.

hess Baby Boomers are a culturally influential generation.

yakub They’re certainly impressive in terms of cable viewership.

We’ve talked a lot about the successes of the show, but what’s one thing that doesn’t work for you?

hess I don’t like to see women at any age justifying the way they look to men. If you’ve never watched “The Bachelor,” the first episode of “The Golden Bachelor” will seem like the most sexist, ageist thing you’ve ever seen; One of the women did this age-drama striptease involving an “old” wig and costume, as if to say, Don’t worry, I’m not like those other old people!

yakub I’d like to see more unfiltered interactions. You often hear Gerry and the women talk about their relationship, but you don’t often see it in action. I’m interested in general conversation about who they are, where they grew up and what their families are like.

Anything else you want to add?

hess I’m curious if there’s going to be a “Golden Bachelorette.” I would love to see a group of older men.

yakub It’s something we’ll definitely keep an eye on. Maybe this should be our next story.

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