A man who worked in food distribution and now shines on the big screens

Drivers along La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles may have recently noticed a tanned gentleman smiling at them from billboards.

This is Gerry Turner, an Indiana retiree who worked in the food distribution industry. But as a poster explains, that didn’t mean he became the star of “The Golden Bachelor,” the new spin-off show from “The Bachelor.”

“He’s gorgeous. It’s sexy. He is 72 years old.”

On previous spin-off shows of “The Bachelor,” the American dating series, most eligible bachelors were in their 20s and 30s and looking to get married for the first time. On “The Golden Bachelor,” the nearly two dozen women vying for Turner’s attention range in age from 60 to 75 and include divorcees, widows, mothers and grandmothers.

Bennett Graebner, one of the creators of the series, said that when the contestants arrived at the show’s mansion in Agoura Hills, California, in August, “they went down to the kitchen, they drank mimosas and they were making toasts, and we said, ‘Okay, This feels like ‘The Bachelor.’

“And then a woman said, ‘Let’s drink to Social Security!’” He hadn’t heard that one before.

In 2020, “Bachelor” producers began circulating ads to recruit “seniors looking for love.” But Covid left everything pending. (“This is not the show to do in the middle of a pandemic,” Graebner said.)

When producers revisited the concept earlier this year, they rediscovered Turner’s audition tape. In it he explains that he is ready to find another partner after losing his wife of 43 years to a sudden infection.

The women of “The Golden Bachelor” brought a grounded humor that comes with age, producers said. The cast spent days debating whether it was Susan’s meatballs or Edith’s guacamole that had caused the entire house to suffer from indigestion. And in the premiere episode, when one of the women greets Turner, she begins to tell him about one thing they have in common: hearing aids.

Previews of the show include a woman cleaning her glasses and another putting on pantyhose, to the tune of Cher’s “Believe.” But the producers tried to keep the age-related humor driven by the contestants themselves.

“We never laughed at them, but we definitely laughed in unison with them,” said Jason Ehrlich, one of the show’s creators.

Eileen Zurbriggen, a feminist social psychologist who has argued that dating shows are harming young viewers’ ability to enter into healthy relationships, said she saw potential in the show to combat gender clichés.

“It’s refreshing to see, in a culture that is still so obsessed with youth, older women presented as interested in sex and still sexually desirable,” she said.

By: Julia Jacobs
The New York Times

BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6931157, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-10-10 21:50:08

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