It’s fall in New York, and reality TV is not exactly top of mind between art, new restaurants to try, old ones to revisit, and a general desire to be out enjoying a new season.
But as much as I love to go out, I admit a weakness for cringe-worthy television, like poor Jenna Lyons having to put up with those nasty New York housewives. Another show that got my attention is the premiere of The Golden Bachelor, starring a 72-year-old widower named Gary but spelled Gerry. Hailing from Indiana, Gary/Gerry is handsome, plays plenty of pickleball, and seems like a nice chap. But the opening scene of him installing his hearing aids while the sweetly sad sounds of Cat Stevens played in the background had me craving Metamucil. But according to the Hollywood Reporter, the show’s premiere hit a three-year high for viewership, with boomers presumably tuning in to network television. At the same time, the younger set tuned in on Hulu.
Next up, G meets his potential love interests, all 22 of which you can see here. Let the cringe begin.
No matter the age, any show in this franchise, like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, is cheesy. So why would the infamous entrances of potential paramours differ for a crowd of grown folks?
One by one, they rolled up. One even came on a Harley. As G waited outside the ubiquitous mansion, each lady yukked it up with stupid winky humor and syrupy vivaciousness. All the women looked great, if you like the generic ideal of what “old age” should look like now. Many were in peak form, in tight dresses and beach-wavy hair. Much like the original series, there are beaucoup blondes. And true to form, there was a gooey gaga-ness that I can’t relate to on any level, even with women closer to my age than the younger version of this show.
But one thing even my cold, cynical Gen X heart got warm and fuzzy over is that the women, even though meeting for the first time, seemed supportive and kind to each other. And I couldn’t help but think that although it might get catty and ugly as G Money hands out roses to a select few, maybe having years of experience in life and love will make this seem less imbecilic than seasons past. Don’t worry, just because all the women are over 60 doesn’t mean they show any restraint when throwing themselves at Gerry. And though he may be a granzaddy who is fit and fabulous, would you want to date 22 people to find love in front of a global audience at his age? I need a nap just thinking about it.
But despite all of the usual meshugas, what can we learn from these elders?
Maybe we’re all bored of young people with preventative Botox and hair extensions acting stupid on a public stage. Maybe we’re tired of the Kardashians being frozen in time, and the perpetual youth chase is near its finish line. And maybe we want to see people live and love who were living and loving long before gluten-free bread, cancel culture, and TikTok.
My take? I’ll probably check back in when I need some background TV I can half-watch while working. I am not a fan of this franchise because the cast of characters bore me to tears with their basicness. But shout outs to the beautiful and elegant Marina, who wore a sari and seemed more sophisticated than the others, while 75-year-old Sandra’s f-bombs had me at hello. I’m pretty sure this show isn’t going to reinvent our thoughts on aging, but maybe it’s just nice to see on network TV.
Truthfully, I’d rather watch The Golden Girls than The Golden Bachelor.
Or maybe it’s just a show where menopausal Gen X women are forced to deal with that weird media limbo where we are not yet quite golden but also not quite a Kardashian. I’d tune in to that one, for sure.