A Senior Citizen Version of The Bachelor Might Be the Answer to All Our Problems | #dating | #elderly | #seniors
Dust off your mothballs and your highballs: Producers of ABC’s The Bachelor are looking to cast a new spinoff with members of the senior set. They’re seeking “active and outgoing single men and women age 65 and up for a new dating show,” according to an Instagram casting call posted by supervising producer Lindsay Liles. Love doesn’t have to be blind when cataracts will do just fine.
Unfair old-people jokes aside, we have questions, of course, about what it would mean to transplant seniors into a cutthroat world of competitive mate-seeking, the sort of environment usually dominated by hyper-symmetrical 20-somethings with energy and libido to spare—what writer Andrea Seigel once astutely called “this generation’s Stanford Prison Experiment.” Those questions range from the amused to the legitimately concerned.
To start: who doesn’t have a sweet, vivacious grandparent looking for a like-minded guy or gal to share grandkid pics and medical facts with? What audience wouldn’t kill to see a modern-day Blanche Devereaux sass it up in a hot tub? How many widowers are looking for a dead ringer for a dead ex?
But also: Do The Bachelor’s producers realize how booze mixes with medication in the aging body? Will those all-nighter rose ceremonies be broken up with naps? Is the fantasy suite ADA-compliant?
It’s not that older folks wouldn’t be able to keep up, so to speak, with the energy and drama of The Bachelor. If all the show has needed to keep it going for 24 seasons is an endless rotation of attractive, sexually voracious, over-disclosing binge-drinkers who are down to party like there’s no tomorrow, seniors already have this on lock.
For starters, they’re single and ready to mingle: The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since the 1990s. They can hold their own alongside promiscuous younguns in heavy drinking, weed-smoking, and STD-having. And they’re experienced daters: People over 60 say they’re having the best sex of their lives, even if their moves were last relevant during the Reagan administration.
There are even existential quirks unique to seniors that make them uniquely suited to the tension of dating shows: After four to five decades of dating and marriage, they will both accept the realities of aging and mate choice while remaining picky to a curmudgeonly degree about what they will and won’t tolerate. In other words: they’ve learned to no longer give a shit. For all these reasons, plus the sheer novelty of this concept, The Bachelor spinoff has the potential to give Netflix’s runaway success, Love is Blind, a run for its outrageously premised money. The new show could even offer something sweetly redemptive in that grimly watchable series’ place.
Still, this series faces one particular challenge that no show toiling in the idiocy of youth does: There is no getting around the fact that when you’re older, the stakes are simply higher. It’s not that previous Bachelors have been immune to tragic backstories; if anything, the flagship show has increasingly used suicides, plane crashes, and dark tales of assault to humanize contestants and deepen the drama.
But for seniors, the clock is running out. Issues of health, financial instability, grown children, and a veritable haunted house of exes mean that the naturally exploitative nature of reality TV looks particularly cruel when applied to vulnerable populations who’ve seen it all, done their time, and want—no, deserve — to ride out the last chapters of their lives under optimal conditions. Perhaps before moving to the senior population, producers should consider airing a divorced Bachelor edition, where contestants wrestle with blending families. That’s right after they give us the Black Bachelor we’ve long been asking for.
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