‘Golden Bachelor’ Brings Something New to the Mansion: Grief

If “The Golden Bachelor” raises the stakes for romantic gameplay, “FBoy Island” lowers them like a limbo stick. One contestant, Vince, jokes with one of the women that they have “shared trauma” because they have both entered into ill-fated engagements on previous reality shows. But “FBoy Island” is wise in its own way, and one of its insights is that being a nice guy is not everything. Many men are eliminated from the show not because the women suspect them of being FBoys but because they simply dislike them.

And then there is Gerry. On “The Golden Bachelor,” he plays the consummate nice guy — a father of daughters, a grandfather to granddaughters. As he bounces from date to date, he performs the work of seeing women. He holds their hands, compliments their outfits and listens to stories about their dead husbands. He kisses them and brings them flowers. But he is not there to make friends. If “The Golden Bachelor” believes that women over 60 are deserving of love, it also believes that some are more deserving than others.

After Joan leaves, drama brews between Theresa and Kathy, 70. Theresa tells a group of women that she and Gerry had a wonderful date and a strong connection, and that he spoke of a potential future with her. This rattles Kathy, who rats Theresa out to Gerry, accusing her of gloating.

In the real world, a woman tells her friends about her exciting date with a new boyfriend. But inside the mansion, her friends are also her rivals, and her boyfriend is their boyfriend, too. When natural social laws are suspended, the producers can meddle however they like. Nice Gerry sounds chilling as he parrots a longtime “Bachelor” catchphrase: Confronted with drama in the house, he tells the camera, “I’m not here for that.”

“The Golden Bachelor” is still “The Bachelor.” Its cast of older women manages to make the most artificial of shows feel deep and real, but this also makes it hard to watch. Gerry comforts Kathy and punishes Theresa. At that evening’s rose ceremony, he makes Theresa wait and wait for a rose, shaking in a little dress, before he finally saves her from the brink of elimination. For the crime of being excited, she is reminded that Gerry has the power to make her disappear.

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