Reality TV dating shows have been a staple of entertainment for years, offering viewers a glimpse into the world of love and relationships. However, the latest addition to the US reality show franchise, “The Golden Bachelor,” has taken an unexpected turn, capturing the hearts of audiences despite its unconventional premise.
In the opening moments of the show, we are introduced to Gerry, a dapper man in his late 50s, who adjusts his tie and discreetly fits a hearing aid behind his ear. Gerry’s backstory is one of heartbreak, having lost his wife several years ago. At 72, he becomes the first pensioner to lead America’s most prominent dating show. His question, “How lucky would I be to find a second true love in my lifetime?” sets the stage for a unique dating experience.
Dating shows often reflect the times in which they are set, highlighting societal norms and expectations. In the US, “The Bachelor,” a long-running series where a single man dates a pool of women with the aim of choosing a wife, only introduced its first Black male lead in 2021. “The Golden Bachelor” challenges these norms by featuring older contestants, breaking away from the typical youthful dynamics of dating shows.
The show presents Gerry, who looks remarkably youthful, alongside women who are generally a decade younger. The contestants are racially diverse but share a common thread of being thin and well-dressed in traditional feminine style. Despite the genre’s knack for drama, the contestants genuinely believe in the show’s mission.
Gerry, with his suave and boyish charm, raises a glass of orange juice to the 22 women on the first night. This subtle nod hints at a possible history with alcohol that could unfold during the season, adding a layer of complexity to the narrative.
Despite the inherent artifice in reality TV, “The Golden Bachelor” manages to touch the audience’s hearts. As the women arrive in the Bachelor limo one by one to meet Gerry, the interactions are filled with warmth and sincerity. The older contestants, having lived rich lives, share their stories and aspirations with a level of authenticity that is endearing.
The show doesn’t shy away from drama, with some contestants expressing their reservations about age, but it ultimately showcases these individuals’ willingness to open themselves up to the possibility of love.
In a genre often criticized for its humorless tone, Gerry adds a touch of wit when he remarks, “I’ll be the first Bachelor who’s on social security.” Despite its quirks, “The Golden Bachelor” has its own unique charm.
Surprisingly, the show has garnered strong ratings, drawing 7.7 million viewers across all platforms, marking the highest opening ratings in the Bachelor franchise in the last three years. The contestants, although not genuinely “old,” are older relative to the typical participants in such shows, lending the series a sense of calm, wisdom, and generosity.
What sets “The Golden Bachelor” apart from its counterparts is the introduction of a 23rd contestant in the first episode. This contestant is not thin, doesn’t wear a silk dress and heels, and, shockingly, is 84 years old. This twist, courtesy of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy, injects humor and uniqueness into the show, making Aunt Chippy the most attractive person within a 10-mile radius of the set.
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