We Watched “The Golden Bachelor” Premiere So You Don’t Have To

Although, you might want to after reading this.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

On Thursday night, ABC’s The Golden Bachelor premiered, and America met the septuagenarian here to usher America into a new era…of reality TV dating: Gerry Turner. In the uncharacteristically, blessedly short episode compared to The Bachelor’s usual two-plus-hour sagas, viewers got to learn more about Gerry and be introduced to the women competing to win his heart.

[Gossip Girl voice] And who am I? I’m a reality TV enthusiast who has never actually seen a full season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. (Yes, we exist.) After years of resistance, I decided it was time to dip my toes into the pond that is Bachelor Nation, for reasons I myself can’t fully identify. Maybe I finally wanted to be a part of the fandom and participate in the weekly discourse. Maybe I liked the idea of an older Bachelor, one who’s already had a career and thus probably isn’t looking to fake a romance to score some Instagram followers. (At the time of writing, Gerry has a respectable 37.5k followers and a whopping total of five posts, which is way less than many contestants on The Bachelor these days.) In any case, whether you’re watching The Golden Bachelor and want someone else’s take, you can’t be bothered to tune in but want to keep abreast of what’s happening, or you just want enough talking points to be able to keep up at the water cooler, I’ll be recapping the show, taking you through these episodes each week — and adding some commentary throughout to keep things interesting.

Who is Gerry Turner and has he been married before?

The show opens with Gerry in a bathroom, getting ready. The sound is inaudible, and I frantically turn up the volume on my TV until we’re shown Gerry putting in a hearing aid, when suddenly James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” bursts from the speakers, and I’m touched as the reason for the “issues” with the sound all becomes clear. It’s like the ending of The Sopranos, but in reverse and sweet.

Gerry puts on a black suit jacket and says, “I’m Gerry, and tonight is the first night of the rest of my life. How lucky would I be to find a second true love in my lifetime?” You can hear the sincerity in his voice. We learn Gerry was married to his high school sweetheart, Toni, for 43 years until she tragically passed away of a bacterial infection just weeks after they’d bought their dream home in 2017. I was not expecting to cry three minutes into the episode, but here we are.

After we get a brief glimpse of Gerry’s family and all of their assurances that whomever he chooses at the end is never going to replace Toni, we cut to the Bachelor mansion, outside of which host Jesse Palmer is waiting expectantly. A limo pulls up and Gerry gets out. He tells Jesse he’s feeling anxious and a little nervous because, he says, “I’m going to meet the woman of my dreams very shortly.” I only wish I could have gone into a single one of my Hinge dates with a fraction of this optimism.

Who are The Golden Bachelor contestants and how old are the women?

Despite some early concerns, these ladies are pretty age-appropriate, ranging from 60 to 75 years old. There are 22 women competing and they come from all across the country:

Anna, 61, a retired nutritionist from Summit, N.J.
April, 65, a therapist from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Christina, 73, a retired purchasing manager from Sierra Madre, Calif.
Edith, 60, a retired realtor from Downey, Calif.
Ellen, 71, a retired teacher from Delray Beach, Fla.
Faith, 60, a high school teacher from Benton City, Wash.
Jeanie, 65, a retired project manager from Estill Springs, Tenn.
Joan, 60, a private school administrator from Rockland, Md.
Kathy, 70, a retired educational consultant from Austin, Texas
Leslie, 64, a fitness instructor from Minneapolis, Minn.
Maria, 60, a health and wellness director from Teaneck, N.J.
Marina, 60, an educator from Los Angeles, Calif.
Nancy, 60, a retired interior designer from Alexandria, Va.
Natascha, 60, a pro-aging coach and midlife speaker from New York City, N.Y.
Pamela, 75, a retired salon owner from Aurora, Ill.
Patty, 70, a retired real estate professional from Durham, N.C.
Peggy, 69, a dental hygienist from East Haven, Conn.
Renee, 67, a former Chicago Honey Bear Cheerleader from Middleton, Wis.
Sandra, 75, a retired executive assistant from Doraville, Ga.
Susan, 66, a wedding officiant from Aston, Penn.
Sylvia, 64, a public affairs consultant from Los Angeles, Calif.
Theresa, 69, a financial services professional from Shrewsbury, N.J.

The contestant limo entrances

The entrances are a necessary part of every Bachelor or Bachelorette season, where the contestants hope to make a lasting first impression on the suitor (and the audience), usually by pulling some kind of stunt. We’ve seen contestants show up wearing animal costumes and holding live animals, arriving by helicopter and even by hearse. Keeping with the more mature vibe of the show, these entrances veer more toward charming than chaotic.

The first limo pulls up and out walks Edith in a glittery gold gown. She says to Gerry, “My heart has been waiting to meet you!” which is the kind of thing only someone 60 and above could say and have it be believable, not like some line producers fed to them in the limo. Edith is toting two confetti cannons and hands one to Gerry. They pop them and gold confetti rains down on them.

Although each contestant’s entrance is filmed, we don’t see extended footage of everyone — which makes sense, because there are 20 women to get through, and otherwise we’d be here all night. Here are some of the more memorable entrances:

Ellen emerges in a light blue gown and yells, “Roberta, we made it!” I was expecting a second person (a twin sister, maybe) to pop out of the limo behind her, but we quickly learn Roberta is Ellen’s best friend who’s currently battling cancer.

Next, Sandra does some guided breathing with Gerry because she’s nervous. She inhales, and on the exhale, instead of repeating a mantra like “om,” draws out a certain expletive. She sounds like my kind of lady.

Of course, there’s gotta be at least one person who shows up in a costume to try to get noticed. A lady donning what appears to be a Spirit Halloween costume for “old lady” — dressing gown, walker, and all — hobbles out of the limo before dramatically ripping off her dressing gown to reveal a sexy dress underneath. That’s Leslie, 64. “We’re all breaking the stereotypical view of what a senior looks like and acts like,” she says a few minutes later to the other women in the mansion so far.

Golden Bachelor contestant Leslie

Then, Theresa comes out of the limo in a robe and says that since it’s her birthday, she came in her birthday suit. She slowly opens her robe, and to Gerry’s visible relief, she’s wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit underneath.

Other notable entrances include April, who grew up on a farm and comes in with a basket of eggs in hand (“My eggs are still fresh,” she says), and Faith, who rides in on a motorcycle and says, “I’m proof that you can live fast and not die young.” There are also a few pseudo-celebrities in the mix: former Bachelor Matt James’s mom is here to find love, as is Jimmy Kimmel’s aunt.

Back in the house, where the contestants would usually be sizing each other up and throwing shade, all the women are extremely kind and complimentary. ABC said they were doing something different with this show, and just going by the tone, they really might be changing the formula. It’s refreshing. Even when the women get to talk to Gerry one-on-one, there’s no dramatic, “Can I steal you for a sec?” No one woman seems to be monopolizing his time and everyone’s getting a fair share of face time from what we can see. It gives the impression that the women have a lot of respect for each other and the producers actually are invested in helping to create a real relationship from this.

Gerry says, “Watching the women arrive today was the most fantastic experience I will ever have. Every door that opened was like the best Christmas ever.” This man is just too pure.

Who got alone time with Gerry on The Golden Bachelor premiere?

As with the limo entrances, some of the women use their alone time to make a splash — like by giving Gerry a gift or bringing a prop. Faith, for example, brings a white guitar and serenades him. April (the farm lady) gives Gerry a calendar filled with pictures of herself — only every month is April because, get it, it’s her name. When Theresa meets with Gerry, he gives her a cupcake with big 7-0 candles on it because it’s her birthday. Generously, she lets him take the first bite. That’s a sign of a serious relationship if I’ve ever seen one. In addition to sharing the cupcake, they also share a pretty impassioned kiss.

Natascha uses her alone time with Gerry to do some laughing yoga.

Who gets Gerry’s first impression rose on The Golden Bachelor premiere?

When all the one-on-one chats are finished, it’s time for the first impression rose to be given out. It goes to Faith, whom Gerry says “made me feel very special.” Then they have a spicy makeout!

Then it’s time for the rose ceremony. Daylight is peeking out of the windows, and I just hope everybody got to sleep before this — or else they’ve been up all night. Gerry’s got tears in his eyes as he talks about how difficult this decision is going to be, and again, it doesn’t come across as fake. We love a man who’s in touch with his emotions! Ellen gets the first rose, followed by:

  • Theresa
  • Joan
  • Natascha
  • Leslie
  • Christina
  • Edith
  • Nancy
  • April
  • Sandra
  • Jeannie
  • Kathy
  • Marina
  • Peggy

The final rose goes to…drumroll please…Susan.

Who got eliminated on The Golden Bachelor premiere?

That leaves Matt James’s mom Patty, Pamela, Renee, and Maria to say their goodbyes, a fact that actually brings tears to Gerry’s eyes. It’s only going to get harder from here on out, so I hope he’s ready to make some tough decisions. Noticeably absent this entire time has been Jimmy Kimmel’s aunt, who wasn’t at the rose ceremony. Jesse finds her sleeping on the couch and gently informs her it’s time to go. Honestly, I get it. I’m sure it was a long night, and I hope at least those couches are comfortable.

And that’s it for the first episode of The Golden Bachelor! To come this season, as shown in the look ahead, are lots of meaningful conversations, heartwarming moments, and plenty of tears. It’s only been one episode, but I’m already excited to watch this season play out — it seems like the show is leaning less into some of its more tired tropes (pitting women against each other for frivolous drama, casting aspiring models/influencers, etc.) and more into letting these people’s interesting stories and personalities shine through.

Can’t wait! Until next week…

Leave a Comment