For the residents of The Village at Sherman Oaks, a boutique senior living community 15 miles north of Los Angeles, they thought Thursday night would be a fun, group viewing of “The Golden Bachelor” in the screening room.
Around 25 residents lined up to get a front row seat in the theater, which was decorated with gold streamers and balloons and filled with snacks, from sparkling cider and popcorn to Werther’s and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. In fact, “The Golden Bachelor” was screened at 200 retirement homes across the country on Thursday night, all of which were set up with similar decor and treats.
The excitement was palpable. Meryl, a 91-year-old resident, has watched many seasons of “The Bachelor” and feels it is “time” for the spinoff. “He’s very good looking,” she said of Gerry Turner. “I’m exactly 20 years older than he is. If I were 20 years younger, I would have gone on the show.”
When assured she could have gone on — age is just a number! — she quickly shared that she was married for 75(!) years and lost her husband two years ago, so she isn’t quite ready.
She also wasn’t ready for what happened next: Gerry Turner walked in the door.
“I heard you guys wanted to know a little bit about ‘The Golden Bachelor,’” the 72-year-old lead told the group as they loudly applauded. When they eventually settled down, he answered a few questions from the audience — which included 82-year-old Judy S., a resident who was hopeful that he’d date her daughter. When he laughed and asked if any one else wanted to set him up with their daughters, Meryl chimed in and asked if, instead, he could instead be set up with one of them.
The group did their best to get some spoilers — Meryl even asked whether he was in love and pointed out that he looked “very happy” — he played coy and told them they’d have to keep watching.
After chatting with the residents, Turner shared with Variety how this journey has been thus far and reflected on the toughest part of the first night — during which he kissed two women, Theresa and Faith.
“Hypothetically, if I found someone at the end of my journey and that wasn’t the person that I put a liplock on, hypothetically, what would that person think of that episode? That was my biggest concern,” Turner said.
Ahead of filming, his daughters told him not to kiss anyone on the first night. He warned them that he’d “failed” at that, but they still were uncomfortable watching the episode with him.
“I was shocked. They had an ick moment,” he said. “I had primed them for this… My youngest daughter was the worst. She was rolling her eyes back!”
During the first episode, Turner got emotional when sending home the first batch of women — something that, he says, only gets tougher as the weeks go on.
“The rose ceremonies, each and every time, got more difficult. By the end, I was having to walk out in front of the mansion doubled over. You could just feel the weight on your chest because you’ve developed such a connection. You really love them,” he said. “You know somebody’s heart is gonna get broken and I know the sacrifice that they made. So it was really tough.”
While he couldn’t give away too much, he promises that many of the “iconic moments that are attached to ‘The Bachelor’ still occur on ‘The Golden Bachelor’” — and yes, that means there are still fantasy suites.
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