The Golden Bachelor Made Us Believe in Timeless Love … Then Took It Back

at .

If Gerry and Theresa are the blueprint for love in the Golden Years, then the future looks bleak as hell.

What The Golden Bachelor promised with a premise unlike anything else they have pushed on reality television is a certain theme of "hope."

The concept of The Golden Bachelor meant that in a country and a reality television realm that rarely makes space for people over 50, there was a genuine acknowledgment that love, desire, sex, and romance don't shrivel up and die once you're middle-aged.

Gerry Finds His Bride - The Bachelor

People are still vibrant and looking for love and romance, and it can exist and happen.

Hope isn't lost. It's a positive message for middle-aged individuals who are far too accustomed to the notion that they cease to exist as valuable, whole beings.

Golden Kiss - The Bachelor

But it's also inspiring for younger individuals as the narrative continues to shift and fears are assuaged regarding what aging actually means and what the future has in store.

One's life doesn't stop when they hit a milestone age. No, life goes on, and it's particularly inspiring to have that reminder for women when a superficial society often behaves as if a woman beyond the age of 50 must be put out to pasture.

Yes, The Golden Bachelor, as the latest introduction to this franchise, held such promise and hope for something new.

And that's how it succeeded at luring in so many people, including viewers like myself, who don't indulge in that series or franchise on a good day.

The Golden Bachelor Keyart - The Bachelor

While I'm by no means about tuning into reality TV and dating shows, and I'm more than familiar with the mess, drama, and blatant manufacturing that ensues with them, The Bachelor franchise was never my cup of tea.

In fact, prior to The Golden Bachelor, I only gave one season of The Bachelorette a whirl when they dared to expand their franchise beyond the status quo and delivered its first Black Bachelorette during its, check notes, thirteenth season.

When I'm not deluding myself into asserting that I'm not a romantic, deep down inside, where I hold all the squishy feelings, hostage, I can vocalize my appreciation for the more unorthodox love stories.

One of the most compelling is middle-aged love stories, second chances at love, and late-in-life tales are top-tier.

Canoodles - The Bachelor

It's why "It's Complicated" is on heavy rotation in a greatest romcoms list worth rewatching, and recent ventures into Married at First Sight Australia brought appeal by daring to feature couples over 40.

It's also why The Resident fans know that Kitbell is one of the series's greatest ships.

It's beautiful to see middle and senior-aged people find love again, take that leap of faith, and fall so hard. Mature love stories are compelling for several reasons and bring a different energy.

And it's safe to say that millions of other people feel the same, as the series brought the highest ratings of the entire franchise in years.

Smiling for the Camera - The Bachelor

The Golden Bachelor premiere garnered 13.9 million viewers and secured record-breaking streaming numbers on Hulu (the most-watched premiere of an unscripted reality series ever).

The finale and subsequent wedding special also raked in the ratings.

On top of that, The Golden Bachelor came at a time when the television season was a wasteland; as dual strikes raged on, there was very little to watch on broadcast television, and viewers flocked to something seemingly light, uplifting, and fun.

The Golden Bachelor presented itself as something different in a franchise marred by scandal, controversy, and inauthenticity.

Gerry Turner - The Golden Bachelor - The Bachelor

It felt like a beacon of hope and a light for the franchise and the reality television genre as a whole.

And they suckered us into it—even some skeptics and those with reservations or an aversion to The Bachelor's particular brand of cheesiness.

Gerry Turner was this charming, suave, handsome father, grandfather, and widow. His story about his late wife and the inability to find love again after her death reeled you in and made your heart ache for this man.

He was worth rooting for, and you longed for him to find happiness and romance within the series and the beautiful, diverse, vibrant batch of women.

Golden Bachelorettes - The Bachelor

With The Golden Bachelor, you were invested in the women as much as Gerry himself.

It was refreshing to see these established women with a lot of love partaking in this process, exuding a maturity that we don't typically witness but a vivacious energy that subverted expectations.

Related: Netflix Turnaround: Despite Layoffs The Streaming Giant's Future is Brighter

And while there were some snafus along the way, with Kathy Swarts emerging as the season's "Mean Girl" and villain, even that was handled and portrayed infinitely better than the traditional cattiness we've expected from the franchise and standard reality television fare.

Initially, it came across that these women were far too mature and self-composed to fall into the traditional tropes one expects from reality television and the drama that unfolds in the series.

Gerry's Final Three  - Tall - The Bachelor

The women were confident, self-aware, established, and authentic.

The reservations or fears that the cast was comprised of clout-chasers looking to launch careers as social media influencers and make a name for themselves didn't feel present.

Everyone felt above all that and removed from that point of their lives where things like that even mattered.

So there was this safeguard in the love story that felt as if The Golden Bachelor would be untouched by some of the orchestration, shenanigans, and foolery that one comes to expect from reality dating competitions or previous seasons of the franchise.

Rollercoaster Fun - tall - The Bachelor

We watched Gerry go on adorable dates with a series of beautiful women and connect with them on various levels. And while some of those bonds were better and stronger than others, exits were pleasantly emotional.

There weren't hard feelings when someone had to exit, for the most part, and there was this idea that some of these women walked away genuinely content with the experience and with a new approach to life and their potential for dating and romance.

Related: Love Is Blind Proves Its Premise, But Only If You're Straight, Hot, and Thin

Even if they didn't walk away with a man and love, they had self-love and a renewed hope for what's in store for their futures.

And that's not to say that many women didn't bring that attitude and their determination to "prove the world wrong" by challenging perceptions of senior-aged women.

Motorcycle Momma - tall - The Bachelor

We watched Gerry make multiple deep connections with some of the women, leading to a tough finale to witness as Faith, Theresa, and Leslie all vied for his heart.

As a Faith girl, seeing things not work out was particularly rough. But he chose Theresa after a whirlwind season that had him sticking by and constantly going back to her.

It seemed like the perfect match. It was a sweeping romance that also felt grounded in some realism, largely thanks to their respective ages as septuagenarians who have seen and experienced it all and could handle anything else that life threw at them to make this union work.

And we genuinely believed they could work through all the little details and succeed as a couple.

Gery on Bended Knee -  tall - The Bachelor

Hell, they'd arguably be one of the most secure pairings that the franchise may have produced, without any of the messiness and inexperience that comes with younger contestants embarking on this journey without fully knowing themselves, let alone the person they're choosing.

But maybe projecting onto them a certain level of wisdom and maturity solely due to their age and life experience is no less ageist than anything more unforgiving.

Age may introduce new issues that viewers weren't prepared to explore.

What started as something promising and genuinely refreshing, not to mention hopeful, dissolved into a colossal disappointment and a situation that some lament is a stain on the franchise.

Flowers for Theresa - tall - The Bachelor

Given that the franchise is what it is, those are big words to project on the seniors who, in hindsight, carried the weight of high expectations projected upon them to be something better, greater, and more inspiring.

But they're also a letdown.

Now, maybe it's a testament to their age and the fact that they have less time to waste than we're supposed to consider, but Gerry and Theresa gave us the shortest marriage in the entire franchise.

Some items in my refrigerator have lasted longer than this marriage. I still have leftover snacks I munched on while the season was airing.

Chatting on a Bench - tall - The Bachelor

It leaves one to wonder if they even tried to make it work.

The narrative is that the two had to tragically part ways because they couldn't work out their living situation. Both are stuck in their ways and too family-oriented enough to move away from their families.

Related: The Rookie: Does Chenford's Breakup Romanticize Sacrificing Love for Growth?

Gerry resides in Indiana, while Theresa lives in New Jersey. For whatever reason, the two spoke about finding a house in South Carolina to share, but that never came to fruition.

However, it's odd that they rushed to the altar but have yet to share a space since they departed the series.

Golden Wedding - The Bachelor

With little effort to find common ground, quite literally, it's nothing short of a headscratcher. Did Gerry and Theresa never speak about these things in all their time together? What did they talk about then?

How do you profess to love a person with whom you can't even discuss nor agree on where you'll reside? Theresa is unwilling to move away from her grandchildren and ailing father, which is understandable.

And Gerry isn't willing to move from his Indiana Lake House.

But it's understandable why news of this split and what supposedly tore them apart has viewers angry and speculating about matters.

Theresa Awaits a Rose - The Bachelor

There are rumors about discrepancies regarding Gerry's story, from his dating life before the series to his career status and history.

And there have been some allusions to Gerry not presenting himself as the guy that America has seen, something from some of the other contestants.

Related: Jeopardy & The Bachelor Have Become Springboards To Fame: Here's Why That's Bad For TV's Populist Genres

Nothing around this split makes sense, nor is the notion that they raced to get to the altar when they didn't need to and maintained a long-distance relationship that didn't get far.

Even their public interview announcing their divorce was confusing for fans, viewers, and the interviewer herself.

Eyes for Each Other - tall - The Bachelor

They both insist and keep saying how much they love one another, but apparently, not enough to make it work. It almost reeks of some pack not to throw one another under the bus and keep the real reason things didn't work out under wraps.

Worse yet, it could also be a sign that they constructed this whole thing for our entertainment, and after playing their respective roles, both are bowing out.

Little about the split made sense; it doesn't seem like this couple even tried to be with one another.

They may be just as fickle, obstinate, and non-committal as any other franchise contestants.

Hugged Up - Tall - The Bachelor

It certainly bursts the bubble of the illusion that we were told that was convincing enough to make people believe that somehow, Gerry and Theresa could be the exception to the rule and something real.

Nothing about this news and what has transpired in hindsight feels real anymore. If anything, it feels like we got duped.

Related: The Way Home Season 2 Finale: Is The Best Yet To Come?

Ironically, some of the same things people thought we could avoid with older contestants are happening, with individuals securing agents and launching projects and ventures from blogs to podcasts and everything under the sun.

No matter the age, the allure of the limelight doesn't dwindle.

Finding Love Again -tall - The Bachelor

And after dedication to this new venture, love story, and project, it all feels like a farce and a poorly constructed one. It's no wonder fans are pissed off and reeling from the divorce news.

Sure, the series capitalized on hope, second chances, and timeless love, and then they snatched it away, casting it aside.

The actual reality hit, and it's as ugly and bleak as ever.

Over to you, Bachelor Fanatics. How are you feeling about this sudden breakup? Were you rooting for Gerry and Theresa? Do you feel misled? Discuss it all below.

And feel free to stream the full season on Hulu.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

The Bachelor Quotes

I would definitely prefer not to be the first Bachelor rejected at the end of all of this.


This is not another season of The Bachelorette. Or Paradise. This is actually The Bachelor. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.