Say what you will about “The Golden Bachelor” being “overly scripted,” “superficial,” and “cringeworthy,” I happened to love it.
I thought it was endearing, and quite moving at times. Most of all, as a dating coach in the midlife space (who’s also a late bloomer and a big believer in self-improvement), I thought “The Golden Bachelor” hit the mark in showing love and aging in positive way.
Not everyone agrees with me. The New York Times article “Why ‘The Golden Bachelor’ Terrifies Me,” by Mireille Silcoff, has a totally different take.
Quick show summary: The Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner, is a good looking, fit 72-year-old widower from Indiana, looking for the next great love of his life. The woman he picked in the finale was Theresa Nist, an attractive 70-year-old widow, with a cute bod, no gray, few wrinkles, and a neck I wish I had.
All 22 contestants on the show (ages 60-75 years old) were definitely not your grandmother’s generation of grandmothers. They’re sexy, vibrant, and yes, some of them had some work. OK, maybe a lot of work. But who cares?
NYT: “As the contestants emerge from their limousines, one by one, near the start of the first episode, making grand entrances with their mermaid hair and Pilates abs and buns of steel and snatched cheekbones and pneumatic-looking lips, often all over Gerry within minutes, a truth seems to dawn on the septuagenarian widower: Older women are not what they used to be. They are nothing at all like what they used to be.”
And why is that a bad thing?
Where is it written that people over 50 should look a certain way? That they shouldn’t defy age? That they shouldn’t do everything in their power to stay vital? That they shouldn’t use whatever resources available to them to hold off decrepitude?
I tell that to my clients, and I personally stand by it. There should be no shame in wanting to achieve the best version of yourself, in fact, you owe it to yourself—especially if you’re single.
“It celebrates older people, but only if they fit a very narrow image of youthful sexiness.” Sorry, but there’s nothing stopping any older person from looking youthfully sexy.
I saw “The Golden Bachelor” as aspirational, the NYTs article saw it as detrimental; I saw it as an opportunity to redefine outdated notions of senior citizenship, they saw it as doing harm to the cause of getting older.
Apparently, a few people in the comment section of the article agreed with me:
I guess “aging gracefully” means different things to different people. To me, it means staying active, exercising, practicing self-care and keeping yourself looking good, even if that includes dying your hair and subjecting yourself to the occasional cosmetic laser treatment (wait, that’s me).
NYT: “Many of the women are beautiful and spirited and accomplished. Gerry seems like a lovely man. Still, there is something here that sends a chill down my spine. The show has received glowing coverage from predictable corners (USA Today) and scored huge ratings for ABC. But is any of this actually good? For older people? Or even for younger people?”
Assuming you’re not pathologically youth-obsessed, surgically enhanced beyond recognition, debilitatingly insecure, or totally self-absorbed (please refer to Instagram for examples of the aforementioned), seeing people looking damn good for their age is inspiring and motivating.
NYT: “This show — sold as a showcase for how fabulous and free growing old can be, and how “it’s never too late” to find love — actually negates aging, erases lateness.”
“Erases lateness?” ARRGH! I want to spit out my Geritol when I read this! (BTW, I also spit out my Geritol whenever I see a cringey commercial for older singles dating sites).
However, “it’s never too late to find love,” IS true. I got married for the first time at 51, so I can say with much certainty that it’s never too late and you’re never too old. That’s what the women on the show also discovered.
“First and foremost, thank you for making me feel like a princess. Thank you also from the bottom of my heart for giving me the ability, the confidence, and the self-esteem to move on to find love.”
“So I now realize that finding a gentleman in our generation is not just possible, it’s probable.”
“I went from wanting to find someone to craving it now. It’s such a good feeling and I’m working hard to find it. I’m not giving up.”
Golden Bachelor Gerry:
“…through our journey and experience, we’ve become more hopeful, we’ve become more optimistic. We’ve realized at our age that we’re not invisible, that we have meaning, and that we have many things to offer. It’s like we made history together, we have so much to be proud of.”
Despite how the media portrays them, and what cultural stereotypes might have you believe, women over 50 aren’t dried up and unlovable. They’re desirable, confident, smart, soulful, and hopeful. For the contestants, being on the show proved that they still have it, that love is still out there, and that they didn’t need to “win the bachelor” to feel like winners.
I’m crossing my fingers that there will be more Golden Bachelors/Bachelorettes and opportunities like this to show the world that looking fabulous and finding love later in life isn’t just possible, it’s probable.
Looking for some dating advice and guidance (with some true confessions and tough love thrown in)? Pick up my self-help memoir, “Done Being Single: A Late Bloomer’s Guide to Love,” now available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
If you need more hands-on dating help and want to work with me one-on-one, apply for a complimentary 45-minute discovery session here.
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