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Golden Bachelor ended by illustrating how cruel this format is

Golden Bachelor ended by illustrating how cruel this format is
Gerry Turner reflects on how much The Bachelor format sucks on The Golden Bachelor's finale (Photo by John Fleenor/Disney)

Despite its refreshing casting that refreshed the series, The Golden Bachelor was always The Bachelor, from the limo arrivals to Gerry Turner’s final rejection.

And that means ending with a big dose of cruelty.

This isn’t new, of course. Besides all the inhumane, producer-created drama over the years, the format requires the star to string people along and then dump them so ABC can get its episodes and I can temporarily feel something in my empty soul. This is the way.

Many of the early eliminations went surprisingly well, with the women who were leaving sad but also hopeful about their future dating lives.

The finale’s final elimination did not go well, despite Gerry opting to do it in the most humane way possible.

Gerry isn’t the dick. The format is. Okay, Gerry may be a dick; earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter bent over backwards to give this season an off-camera scandal. Two reporters found—hold your breath!—”inconsistencies regarding both his work history and recent romantic entanglements,” including a secret ex-girlfriend so secret she is given a fake name.

As I wrote on Threads, “Decades of honesty and commitment, undone in a single article.”

A man in a suit stands on a decorated dais
Gerry waits to propose to Theresa on The Golden Bachelor’s finale (Photo by John Fleenor/Disney)

Host Jesse Palmer kept teasing: “An ending that is going to shock you to your core!” and “It’s truly an ending you will not see coming!”

I think the part we were supposed to be shocked by is that Gerry and Theresa will be getting married—and live on television. The Golden Wedding is scheduled for Jan. 4.

That’s a big gamble ABC is taking that they’ll both live for a month and a few days, considering how often the show made the point that they are practically mummies.

I kid, of course, but while their age brought with it life experience that made the show better, the show did not need reminders that death is on the way.

“We are going to do it as quickly as we can, because at our age, we don’t have a lot of time to waste,” Gerry, 72, said in the final seconds about his time with Theresa, 70.

By the way, if you want to know how much time you have left, enter your birthdate in this horrifying calculator. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Six people sit on a couch and talk and laugh
Gerry and Theresa (center) meet Gerry’s family on The Golden Bachelor’s finale (Photo by John Fleenor/Disney)

That Gerry was going to choose Theresa was obvious from the start. “I just want to remind you that I love you,” Gerry told Theresa. She told him, “I know there’s other woman, and it scares me” and he said, “that’s pretty binary situation, either you stay or you go, and it’s based on one name.”

That’s exactly the kind of reassurance Theresa was hoping for. But that is also what he is not allowed to give her.

The participants know this, of course. Theresa told us, “at the end of the day, one of us is going to get hurt.” Yet we have more than 20 years of evidence that, in The Bachelor bubble, feelings grow strong, rapidly.

Gerry and his family met with both women. Leslie’s interaction with them was fun. She shared with them that, “all of a sudden, he said the word fuck,” and Gerry jumped in: “I want to clarify the word had an exclamation point, not a question mark.”

Yep, old people fuck. Later, Theresa said, “If he’s not going to tell you what happened in the Fantasy Suite, I will. I knocked his boots off.”

Two people sitting in a diner booth, with a single glass of ice-less water on the table
Gerry and Theresa at their diner date, with their dinner of a single glass of water (Image from The Bachelor)

During the entire family visit, it was painfully obvious Gerry was not going to choose Leslie. Whether it was his detached demeanor or the t-shirt he was wearing that said “I’M CHOOSING THE OTHER ONE,” Leslie knew something was up.

After a lot of awkward sitting, Gerry told Leslie, “be happy.” Ah, yes, a man telling a woman how to feel: There’s our Bachelor star!

A weird, uncomfy crying hug followed, and then Leslie asked, “Is there something you want to tell me?” Of course there was, but Gerry just said, “no, just that I have a tough decision to make. It’s harder than I ever thought possible.”

Again, this is what The Bachelor producers require. But somehow, the producers’ hearts grew three sizes that day, and after Leslie and Gerry sobbed on either side of a hotel suite door, they let Gerry go in and crush her dreams.

Two people stand and look at each other; one has his hands on the other's arms, and she's holding a gift bag
Gerry and Leslie before their sad times in Costa Rica on The Golden Bachelor’s finale (Photo by John Fleenor/Disney)

Joking aside: This was a stand-up thing for Gerry to do. He didn’t make her show up to a proposal and leave alone in a limo of sadness. Theresa did eventually say she appreciated it: “That—thank you, I thank you for.”

But first, Gerry told her, “I have fallen in love with Theresa, and that’s the direction I’m going to take.”

Leslie’s response, at first, was typical Bachelor. “Everything you told me the other night was a lie?” she asked, repeating that.

Gerry attempted to tell her how to feel yet again, and she said, much to the delight of me and the studio audience, “I can think whatever the fuck I want.”

“I’m heartbroken once again,” she added. “But now I have to do it in front of the whole world, to see once again, how broken I am, because no one chooses me. You didn’t choose me, once again.”

This is devastating for her personally and a particularly pointed critique of this dating reality TV show’s format. Is it at all a surprise someone would end up heartbroken on TV? No. Is it almost always a surprise to the person who is? Yep.

That makes sense. What Leslie had been getting from Gerry—again, because Gerry has to go through the motions—was confirmation of her feelings. “The other night, you made it sound like you chose me. You said things to me that made me think that this was going to be it,” she said.

“He said he wanted to be with me, in so many words, that I was the one,” Leslie told us. “He is the man of my dreams, he really is.”

Gerry left; Leslie cried. In an interview later, she said, “I’m tired of putting myself out there. Time is running out. Time is running out.”

Outside, Gerry told Jesse Palmer, “I took a good person and broke their heart. I took a really good person and I fucking broke their heart. I hate myself and I hate everything right now. I think the only time I’ve ever felt worse in my whole life is when my wife passed away, and this is a goddamn close second.”

Wow, The Bachelor can really create milestones in people’s lives.

Jesse Palmer spent considerable time with Leslie, who talked a lot and said nothing, really. She’s clearly still hurt months later.

Gerry ultimately said, “The point is: I had to find that one person I couldn’t live without, and I did that.”

That is, of course, the point of the show, yet all this turned the studio audience against Gerry right before he proposed to Theresa, creating some emotional whiplash.

Gerry helped with that by making Theresa, and us, think he was going to reject her, too. “I came to the realization that you’re not the right person to live with,” he said. Then he paused long enough for all of us to faint and then recover fully, and completed his sentence: “…you’re the person I can’t live without.”

Okay, Gerry, dick move there, but good for you. I look forward to the next steps in your Bachelor journey: getting married live on TV, and then announcing your break-up in People.

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Happy discussing!

Philada

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

I didn't like Theresa but suspected from the get-go that Gerry was going to pick her. Gerry is a phony and a misogynist. They deserve one another. Leslie dodged a bullet.

Alan

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

@Philada, Right on Philada.....My sentiments exactly!!!

Jo

Friday 1st of December 2023

If people didn't love drama so much, this show wouldn't still be on the air. I have hated this show from day 1. It sickens me to see people hurt emotionally.

Eloise

Thursday 25th of January 2024

@Alan, Agreed totally!!!! He threw “I love you” around like peanuts. Led these women on..like an egotistical idiot. Therese admitted they knocked boots! Lol!! I think that was his deciding motive. Karma sucks ….

Alan

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

@Jo, My wife and I are 76 year olds and I have watched it from the start. You are 100% right!! I watched the 2 hour finale by myself and the closer I got to the end the more angry I got @&%$#@. My heart was broken for Leslie because, as she said she was blindsided by all the phony "I love you crap", lying etc. he gave her just 12 hours before when he was alone with her!!

It goes to prove that ABC and it's Probably 40 year old range of producers are heartless B------s to have put these senior age women through the emotional hell that they had to endure. Sure they signed up for the show, but I guarantee that they did not realize that the last remaining few would be put through hell and have their hearts ripped out! If this is what ABC has to do to boost their ratings they are sadder than sad.....They are sick cold hearted SOBs! I for one can live the rest of my life without ABC!

The 20 and 30 something aged women they have previously had on their regular Bachelor shows certainly do not take it so hard, if at all, when they are sent home. They just go out and find another guy next week. These are woman in their 60s and 70s, some of whom have lost their life mates! To build up their hopes only to smash them down is a form of the worst emotional abuse and misogyny that I have ever witnessed on life TV!!

Anyone who has a heart could feel the horrible pain that Leslie was put through! Gerry is a P-- Poor excuse for a man who truly deserves his comeuppance and I promise you he will get them down the road with his new bride....another ABC ratings extravaganza ! I'm a very sensitive man, but this guy make me want to puke with all his BS sentimentality and Tears!

I have to commend Leslie for showing a lot of class and coming back to the last show acting like a lady!!!! I would have Kicked Gerry in the crotch and spit in his face. She should be thankful that she got away from such a fraud!

Alan

Melissa

Friday 1st of December 2023

I quit watching after 3 or 4 episodes, and I do not regret it. I thought about watching the finale last night, but then DirecTV/Tegna blacked out my local ABC station. I read spoilers before it would have even aired in CA, and I'm glad I couldn't waste my time. I didn't like Theresa from the start, and I had a feeling he would pick her. I think the biggest problem with this show is the format. Once the bachelor or bachelorette has made a decision, just let the show be over and stop milking it for drama. And cruelly, the emotional devastation of the person who isn't chosen.

That they're getting married on live TV just goes to show that you're never too old to be an attention whore.

Chuck S.

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

@Andy Dehnart, Score one for @Melissa! I agree.

Andy Dehnart

Friday 1st of December 2023

never too old to be an attention whore.

😂😂😂 This should be the show's tagline.

Linda

Friday 1st of December 2023

Does all of his crying somehow justify how badly he behaved and treated some of these women? Does it make him less of a jerk? I don't think so!!! He tries to turn things and make them about his feelings and how bad he feels... Theresa seems really manipulative. They probably deserve each other... I think that Leslie dodged a bullet and deserves better!