The Golden Bachelorette, Joan Vassos, isn’t golden enough. – Slate

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It’s never too late to find love—or to go through the entire cycle of a relationship smack in the public eye. That was a core message of The Golden Bachelor, which followed a 72-year-old leading man, Gerry Turner, as he got engaged, married to, and then “divorced” from 70-year-old Theresa Nist, all within a year.

Now, we’re poised to do the whole thing again, with The Golden Bachelorette. This is, despite the reality-TV unseriousness of it all, exciting. The Bachelor is a long-running ratings juggernaut for a reason: It’s fun to watch—and to consume gossip about. The (gentle) twist of casting older leads and contestants breathed new life into the show’s decades-old format, bringing heartfelt conversations about death and grandkids into the usual mix of rose ceremonies and group dates and men who cannot seem to make up their goddamn minds. It was earnestly refreshing to see people—women!—with visible wrinkles and gray hair all glammed up on a dating show, even if the signs of aging were peeking out from behind dye jobs and Botox.

In our newly anointed Golden Bachelorette, we have the oldest woman in ABC’s history to be held up as a subject of desire of a room full of producer-picked suitors. Joan Vassos will vie for love at the ripe age of: 61.

Sixty-one! It’s not not a milestone to have a 61-year-old woman star in a dating show. It won’t not be interesting to watch. I have only high hopes for Vassos’ turn at the helm to be good trash-TV viewing. But Vassos is still four years away from being able to call herself a senior citizen. The average life span of a woman in the U.S. is about 80. Vassos doesn’t look like she’s really aging much at all. Even though she is a grandmother—she self-eliminated from The Golden Bachelor to support her daughter, who had recently given birth—you barely have to squint to mistake her for an original-recipe Bachelorette.


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Sure, none of the ladies on the show last season were really “old,” as Slate’s Michelle Herman contended. But there were absolutely older ladies for ABC to pick from (not to mention ones we know better as viewers, given their longer runs on the season). I personally was rooting for Leslie Fhima, who was brutally dumped on The Golden Bachelor, to get her redemption arc. Perhaps she was wise enough to say no to more time in the national spotlight in favor of just enjoying her life—she did, after all, spend her recent 65th birthday in the hospital for an unexpected surgery. Or what about Sandra Mason, who went on the show at 75 and was so committed that she missed her daughter’s wedding? She remains very committed to looking for love, cheerfully telling E! News last year that her DMs were quickly filled with “lots of sliders.”

In her early 60s, Vassos was firmly on the younger end of the spectrum of ladies cast on The Golden Bachelor. Which means that the crop of men that ABC selects for her to date are, at least mostly, going to be her age or older. It would have been nice if the show had held up its inaugural Golden Bachelorette as not just worthy of love but worthy of love from younger men, too.

It is, perhaps, way too much to ask of a show centered on the idea that you gotta get married, and fast, lest you be alone in this world. Even today, being over 30 on The Bachelor proper is to be considered over the hill. On the latest season, as with every season, most contestants were in their 20s. “For me to come here as a 31-year-old, I feel like my time is very limited,” one contestant lamented. “I really don’t have the time to waste.” Sure, this is a valid thing for an individual to feel about settling down and getting married, for any number of reasons. But it does vocalize a theme that runs throughout the series, which is that 30 is kind of old. And now, in Golden Bachelorette–land, maybe 70 is the new 30. Nist, 70, at “the Golden Wedding,” joked in her vows that she might have a single hour left on this planet.

Here is my solution/plea to all of this: ABC, just make more iterations of the Bachelor. Bachelor Middle Age. (Everyone can be in their 40s and 50s.) Bachelorette Nursing Home (held in a nursing home, and also therefore people will not break up due to geographical distance). Bachelorette Menopause. We’ll keep having quibbles over this show. And we’ll keep watching. But if we ever get another Golden Bachelorette, hopefully next time she’ll be someone who’s actually reached her golden years.

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