The Golden Bachelor is a groundbreaking show, the first in the franchise’s 20-plus year history to feature a cast from later years. The Bachelor And Bachelorette Typically these are well-groomed crowds of 20- and 30-somethings who dream of falling in love and starting a family. Filming hours are long and tempers are short, tempered by all the elements that make for “good” reality television: small communal spaces, high emotions, and limited access to books, music, movies, and cell phones.
The Golden BachelorIn contrast, it’s a series about a 72-year-old widower from Indiana named Gerry Turner. He speaks openly about his grief over the loss of his wife and how much he appreciates the support of his four daughters. Like Gerry, the 22 women vying for his affection are emotionally vulnerable and experienced in life. Many are widows themselves and are between 60 and 75 years old.
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For a franchise that has historically been slow to incorporate diversity in age, race, ethnicity, gender and ability, Golden Bachelor is a big step forward. But progress stops here. Instead of evaluating how the needs of older contestants might differ from those of a younger cast, the production failed to make age-appropriate accommodations or concessions for the new generation of stars.
Sleeping as golden bachelorettes
The franchise’s iconic mansion in Agoura Hills, California, has been used for production for decades. There are only seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms. In order to accommodate up to 35 participants per season, the bedrooms are equipped with bunk beds.
In 2018 Bachelorette Participant David Ravitz broke his nose and suffered other facial injuries after falling from his bunk in the middle of the night. In one News segment About the accident, a competitor is seen drilling wooden boards along the bunks to “David-proof the beds.”
The Golden Bachelor Bunks have safety rails but they are still in place Bunk bed. The accommodations are offensive, at least to 20 and 30 year olds. But for older people, bunks are downright cruel.
If that Golden Bachelor Participants discover the bunk beds – and realize they will sleep four or more people in one room – that’s them not shy about their shock and contempt. Sandra, 75, notes that she needs a lower bunk because she has had her knees replaced (“It’s a lot of climbing,” she says) and because it puts me “three steps closer to the toilet.” The show then begins with a discussion among her four housemates about who will get up in the middle of the night to use the facilities.
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As we get older, we tend to need to go to the toilet more often. Now imagine that urgency being heightened when you’re trying to get to the nearest restroom while climbing down from a bunk bed in the dark with a bad knee. The mansion is simply too small to accommodate so many older women.
It’s rare, but the franchise occasionally films in other locations, such as a resort in Pennsylvania for Season 25 of The bachelor in 2020. The show should have made a similar exception for this season, giving contestants the privacy they deserve and the access they need. Instead, they exploit the participant’s discomfort for entertainment.
Rough it up through the rose ceremony
Photo credit: ABC/John Fleenor
Natascha, 60, who was eliminated at the end of the second episode, walked up to a camera as she left the house to deliver a message. “There are people in there, 60, 70 and older,” she says, “doing the rose ceremony on chairs. They do chair yoga, chair exercises, chair aerobics…” [We need a] Chair Rose Ceremony.”
Former participants The bachelor have found that filming the rose ceremony can take hours, with filming sometimes extending into the early hours of the morning. The participants usually wear heels and the women of the women of the Golden Bachelor are no exception. This means they stand for hours in high heels, a feat for women of all ages.
Natasha’s comments were broadcast at the end of the second episode, but did not suggest the addition of chairs. In the third episode, the contestants were still standing during the rose ceremony.
In the second episode of the season, Golden Bachelor Gerry gets into a scary situation on the way to a date with candidate Theresa. On the highway, the headlights of his convertible go out and he and Theresa are literally in the dark. “I live in northern Indiana. This is my first time driving on a California highway and they are notoriously crazy,” he says in a confessional. “I don’t have any headlights in front of me, I don’t see any road markings, I don’t see all the signs because they’re dark.”
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Instead of pausing production to repair the car or install a new one, the series continues filming as Gerry becomes increasingly visually impaired, gripping the steering wheel and frowning as he drives slowly in the rightmost lane.
Theresa pats him on the back comfortingly, but feels the pressure herself. “Right now I’m scared to death,” she says.
The situation would be dangerous and potentially disastrous for a Bachelor of any age, and shows how careless the franchise can be when it comes to the safety of its stars.
Given this general lack of care for the show’s premiere, could we have expected anything else? Golden Season? Maybe not. But it would make the show that much sweeter if the Golden Bachelor and his bachelorettes could really shine without endangering their health.
How to watch: The Golden Bachelor is now streaming on Hulu.