Monday, July 15, 2024

Times Insider provides an inside look at the inner workings of our journalism and explains who we are and what we do. Recently, one of our Culture reporters, Julia Jacobs, visited a Mediterranean-style mansion in Agoura Hills, Calif., which serves as the set for a new reality dating series called “The Golden Bachelor.” Unlike the traditional “Bachelor” franchise, this spinoff features participants who are at least 60 years old.

According to Jacobs, this show is tapping into the expanding sensibilities surrounding love and relationships on television. In the premiere episode, viewers were introduced to Gerry Turner, a 72-year-old widowed retiree from Indiana, and a group of women vying for his attention. The show airs every Thursday and has become a hit, drawing in a large audience and receiving positive feedback.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the show’s depiction of older women. Amanda Hess, a critic at large for The Times, wrote a column discussing how the series portrays these women. She noted that while it celebrates older individuals, it only highlights those who fit a certain image of youthful sexiness. Hess believes the show’s appeal lies in its multigenerational nature and its departure from previous seasons of “The Bachelor.”

When asked why The Times is covering a reality TV show, Hess explained that it provides insights into how we perceive ourselves, older individuals, and the concept of marriage and second marriages. It serves as a starting point for discussions that appeal to our readers. Jacobs also mentioned the show’s social media buzz and how it injects something new into a show that some believe has become repetitive.

In terms of what sets “The Golden Bachelor” apart from other versions of “The Bachelor,” Hess highlighted the higher stakes at play. Many of the women have been married before and have experienced loss, making their search for love more poignant. Additionally, the dynamics among the female contestants are different, with less drama and more focus on personal growth and introspection.

Both Hess and Jacobs believe that the show resonates with viewers of all generations because the conversations between Gerry and the women are more substantial. These women have lived fulfilling lives outside of the show, which allows for more open and honest dialogue. Hess drew a parallel to her experiences interviewing older individuals who have already gone through significant life experiences and can freely express their thoughts.

The age demographic of the show’s viewers is another significant factor. According to Jacobs’ article, the median viewer age for the network ABC, which airs the show, is 64. While it’s unclear why it took so long for a network to tap into dating shows for this demographic, the producers of “The Golden Bachelor” believe it aligns with a cultural shift toward empowerment in aging.

Hess and Jacobs acknowledged some aspects of the show that don’t sit well with them. Hess particularly dislikes seeing women of any age having to justify their appearance to men. She found the first episode to be sexist and ageist, with one woman performing an age-obsessed striptease. Jacobs expressed a desire to see more genuine interactions on the show, focusing on the everyday conversations and connections between the participants.

In closing, Hess expressed curiosity about the possibility of a “Golden Bachelorette” and watching a group of older men navigate a dating show. Jacobs agreed that it would be an interesting development to explore in future coverage.

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