Brian Bowen Smith/ABC
This story is part of NPR’s Main Character of the Day series, where we spotlight the people and things worth talking about — and the stories behind them.
For the first time in its 21-year run, ABC’s The Bachelor is looking to find love in his golden years. In a recent announcement, 71-year-old Gerry Turner was named the new leading man of the reality dating show franchise. This is new territory for the program, and could introduce audiences to what senior dating looks like.
Who is he? Turner — aka the “golden” bachelor — is the latest lead in the show that follows a pretty simple formula.
- It revolves around a group of 20 or more people vying for the heart of one person. There are plenty of tears, drama and roses along the way, and typically ends in an engagement.
- Turner is a retired restaurateur living in Indiana. He’ll be handing out roses to contestants that are 65 and older this fall.
- He is the first “golden” bachelor — meaning he’s not the typical 20- or 30-something looking to find love that the franchise became known for.
What’s the big deal? The Bachelor/ette is one of the most recognized dating franchises on TV.
- This decision to feature a lead in their “golden years” shines a light on a side of dating we don’t see very often.
- No doubt, the show producers will hope the fresh angle will bring in a new audience, including people who are older that are looking to see someone like them on screen searching for love.
- Ratings for the franchise have declined over the years. The Bachelor averaged 11.8 million viewers in its first season, according to Spotted Ratings, but by last season with bachelor Zachary Shallcross that had dropped to 3 million. And with the spinoff of Bachelor in Paradise and the Bachelorette, some people might feel exhausted keeping up with what’s going on in Bachelor Nation.
What are people saying?
Tom Blake runs a website called Finding Love After 50 and told NPR his advice for newly-single seniors is to start slowly but seize the moment when you feel a spark with someone:
For seniors who become single — maybe through a divorce, could be through a death — it’s a whole new ballgame. It’s a whole new challenge and they need to know what to avoid and how to start … You just don’t have that many opportunities, so be assertive.
Journalist Francine Russo is the author of Love After 50 and says senior dating has its perks, especially when it comes to learning from past relationships:
For most people, there’s not a lot of playing around or playing games. They’re serious. This is what they want.
Russo suggests writing down a checklist of what you’re looking for in a partner, and to not be afraid of rejection:
Anybody your age — who’s been widowed or divorced or lost a person you love — you’ve survived far worse than having somebody just dumped you after two dates.
For Blake, he and his readers — champs, as he likes to call them — would like to see something that resembles what dating is actually like outside of the reality TV space:
They want to know, ‘Hey, what happens when you get dumped? What happens when you get ghosted?’ Stuff like that. Real personal stuff around [Turner] that we all can learn from and not just be entertained by.
And for Russo, The Golden Bachelor can both send potentially the right and wrong message about what it is like to date past 50:
This picture of this guy, who’s incredibly hunky and has perfect hair might reinforce the beliefs … that you need to find a person like this to be happy, whereas most people don’t look like this.
But I do hope that it indicates to people that at 71, you’re available! You have what it takes.
So, what now?
- You can watch current bachelorette, Charity Lawson, on her journey to love before Turner takes the mantle this fall.
- If you are over 50 looking for dating advice, Blake sends out a weekly newsletter titled, On Life and Love After 50.