Why We’re Tuning In & Who We Love (Or Really, Really Don’t) On The Golden Bachelor. By Dish Stanley

Why We’re Tuning In & Who We Love (Or Really, Really Don’t) On The Golden Bachelor. By Dish Stanley

. 8 min read
Gerry Turner, the 'Golden Bachelor'. Photo from ABC/BRIAN BOWEN SMITH

There are well over 13 million of us watching The Golden Bachelor, the biggest debut in the bachelor franchise. When I asked a few friends recently if they were tuning in I got this: “O B S E S S E D.” Repeatedly. Then I turned to you, CRUSH Readers, to try to understand why we’re all so gripped.

Perhaps surprisingly, even though he is the center of all the action, Gerry isn’t the reason. That’s pretty clear. “[I]t’s not about Gerry,” said one female CRUSH Reader. “It’s the women. It’s really fun to see these women, who are anywhere from a few years older than us to ten+ years older, put themselves out there so boldly.” 

Of course some of the reason that we are tuning in to see the women more than the star is that the women are where all the drama resides. The women are the ones competing, Gerry is not. Even though they are (by and large) doing it with grace and class and immense support for each other, competition is inherently compelling. It requires putting your heart on the line, deploying a strategy and assuming the risk of loss. Gerry, on the other hand, is sitting in the cat seat and while it’s been mildly interesting (if not moving) to see how he handles his power, decision-making and ultimately, rejection, of so many women, his relative position of power means he has been subject to fewer forces that inevitably reveal character. At least so far, as we are only half-way through the season and things will heat up for him as the decisions get tougher.

Mild-mannered Gerry, it turns out, is the perfect “backdrop” against which the women‘s vibrancy stands out. One woman summed him up like this: He’s a nice guy from Indiana. Period.The humble, sensitive gentleman from Indiana is less a bee around whom all the women are buzzing and more like a plain vanilla bird feeder attracting colorful blue jays, cardinals and finches.

Then there’s the fact that the women by-and-large seem very authentic (although one male CRUSH Reader would disagree on that point, as it relates to Theresa, as you’ll see in his comments below). We truly identify with their very real feelings, as well as their personal histories of love and loss. Unlike other reality shows where all the players seem to be selling something, themselves, a product or both (the latest season of The Real Housewives of New York City being the most blatant example of this), we believe that The Golden Bachelor cast is actually truly looking for love, and deserves to find it. Here’s how one male CRUSH Reader put it:

“People sometimes scoff at the category moniker "reality TV" - not reality they say. True. It's TV. But the moniker came not because the genre claimed to be showing reality, but because it is more or less unscripted. Not professional actors professionally emoting by speaking professionally written lines. Instead, real people showing real emotions. The genre has over time morphed away from that and into a bit of an often highly entertaining if cringeworthy freak show. But The Golden Bachelor seems to have brought back that original idea of reality TV and done so very well. For the most part - the very most part - the contestants all strike us as being very real people, with real lives, with joys and bruises, highs and lows we can all identify with, and they seem to be showing real emotions. It’s compelling, and pleasantly surprising, even gripping in a way I suspect none of us expected.”

And finally, of course, for those of us CRUSH Readers who are single, The Golden Bachelor gives us hope that we too may find love, and encouragement to open up our hearts and minds to the journey.

Here is what you had to say about The Golden Bachelor, CRUSH Readers. I am always thrilled, and no longer surprised, by the depth and range of your insights. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.*

*One thing to note is that these comments came in prior to Episode 6, when Gerry visits the hometowns and families of the remaining three contestants.

How would you describe Gerry?

Sensitive, loving, inclined toward real emotional intimacy. Lonely. Emotionally overwhelmed processing all of the love, attention and feelings he is having, particularly on a quick, forced timeline. Doing his best to be honest and transparent.”

A nice guy from Indiana. Period.

“Nice. Also, perhaps dull. But a committed, good, loving partner.”

Handsome, fit, cheerful, soulful, vulnerable but also masculine.”

Thoughtful, kind, communicative, gentle, handsome enough (although not for me) but good for the show and to demonstrate that there’s always a possibility of partnership at my age. (I’m 73!)”

“A catch.”

“Looks like he did not foresee the emotional implications of his decision to go on the show? That he didn’t understand that it would be painful to be responsible for inflicting so much rejection. And that he might feel conflicted, develop feelings for more than one woman. Perhaps he has not dated AT ALL since his wife died, which means he has not dated in a really long time, so he had no touchpoint for the many facets of dating, particularly at this stage.”

Has anything surprised you about the women?

No - I know plenty of women like them - strong, heartful, cheerful but also a little sad, vibrant energy and passion for life, lonely but not defeated.” (From a male CRUSH Reader who has been dating.)

Their level of support, respect and love for each other given that they are all directly competing for the same (one) man.”

Some were selfish, some awesome, some insincere while others were charming with willingness to be vulnerable on national tv.”

“What surprises me the most is that the producers found 22 vibrant and dynamic women who would all (presumably) be willing to drop their families and well-developed communities to go live in Indiana? Even part time. In a home Gerry built and decorated with a late wife who he still mourns. This issue of where he and his chosen will live has not come up yet, but it is not as if he had sold the house he had planned to live in with his wife and attempted to move on.”

So  little competitive unpleasantness, inspiring that they identify and empathize with each other, while still playing to win.”

“All of them have experienced loss, which is of course to be expected given that they are dating at 60+. In order to find yourself single at that stage, you’ve gone through shit. But some of the women have had past healthy, sustained relationships and lost husbands through death, and others have experienced only a series of unhealthy relationships. Accordingly, some seem more grounded and emotionally stable than others. It will be interesting to see whether, or how, that plays out. Jerry does not seem to pause over the fact that some of the women have not been able to create emotionally healthy, sustained loving romantic relationships.”

Who do you love (or dislike)? Who is giving you all the feels?

Hated April.”

“Don’t like Theresa.” {There was a consensus against Theresa.} Here are some further comments on her:

“Theresa either lacks empathy or is manipulative or dense, or all three. Probably don’t like Kathy either. At this age we should all be able to forecast the drama queens and sidestep the mess, but Kathy didn’t.”

Definitely do not trust Theresa. She works way too hard at staring into his eyes and saying what I feel was very scripted by her. I find Faith the most attractive (I like “big full-bodied women.”) - “Larry”

Faith is my favorite, although Gerry seems to want to rescue the 64 year old aerobics instructor whose name I can’t remember {Leslie}. He has tremendous overlap with Faith and Theresa in terms of family devotion/love/grandchildren etc.’

“Frankly, I don’t love or hate Gerry. Meaning I don’t have strong feelings for him one way or the other, which is weird and bothersome considering he is at the nerve center. I think that says something about him, like he’s too plain vanilla.”

“Leslie is the most sensual for sure, and also the least emotionally calm and stable. She has had a rough history with love and seems less grounded (also most in need of being saved by Gerry - a powerful draw, for sure).

Why are we tuned in so obsessively?

“For the most part - the very most part - the contestants all strike us as being very real people, with real lives, with joys and bruises, highs and lows we can all identify with, and they seem to be showing real emotions.”

“I think it’s the car wreck thing. Can’t keep your eyes off of it because there but for the grace of god, it could be us. And also, there is this other element that I appreciate that’s playing out … about how different dating seems to be at this stage than it was when I met my husband. It’s not hormone driven. That’s there, but not driving the car. We are hearing a lot of ‘I’m lonely and I just want to find my person to grow old with.‘ It’s touching. They’ve all been through a lot of shit. You’re really rooting for them to not be lonely …” 

“It’s really fun to see these women, who are anywhere from a few years older than us to ten years older, put themselves out there so boldly. I enjoy their vibrancy. They are showing great courage, risking appearing foolish and going for what they want on a very large stage (even if it’s a strange stage and admittedly a misogynistic one). To a greater or lesser degree the stage represents a reality we all live in, a culture where the predominant narrative is that these women are ‘invisible.‘ Here they are, not giving a shit how embarrassing it might seem, or what anyone thinks. They are ambitious and going for what they want. It is fun to see their spirit, their emotions and even their strategies.”

“I am so impressed with the women putting themselves out there like that.”

The show is great for over 60 (or any age) singles, especially “seniors” to see how to play gracefully but with robust energy! We still have time …”  “Deena”

I love watching mature women being proud, open, vulnerable and honest in trying new relationships (bringing game and finding intimate language “quickly”)

“They all appear to be genuinely looking for love, as opposed to getting on a reality tv show in order to become a reality tv star, or to sell us something. In this way the show feels quite genuine.”

The Crush Letter
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