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Golden Bachelor makes for better reality

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

You have tried to run. You have tried to hide. But it did not matter. All the buzz around "The Golden Bachelor" has found you. I mean it found me. I am glued to this show now.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOLDEN BACHELOR")

GERRY TURNER: Wow. How are you this evening?

EDITH AGUIRRE: I'm doing great, Gerry. My name is Edith, and my heart has just been waiting to meet you.

CHANG: Even for those of you who refuse to watch Gerry Turner looking for love, this show keeps giving off these feel-good vibes and inspiring all kinds of think pieces about what it means to find love later in life, even as this show is rounding the corner to the big finale.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOLDEN BACHELOR")

TURNER: We're in Costa Rica. Hope springs eternal. I'm in love with two women, but who would I be the happiest with for the rest of my life?

CHANG: Our next guest has "Bachelor" fever, for sure. Juliet Litman co-hosts the podcast "Bachelor Party" for The Ringer. Welcome.

JULIET LITMAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CHANG: Well, I want to talk about why "The Golden Bachelor" has felt so different from previous "Bachelors." I mean, obviously, age is the main factor. The bachelor and all these women are decades older than the usual group that we see on the show. How do you think that age factor has literally transformed the dynamic between all of these people - between the women and the guy, between the women themselves? What have you observed so far in the season?

LITMAN: There are certain tropes that we've all become really familiar with. And by we, I mean the "Bachelor" professional community - and the viewers, of course. And the tropes in some ways have just, like, fallen away. Because even though I can tell you tonight is fantasy suites, the structure is the same, but all of the content is actually different. And it's it's so refreshing. It's very hard to have a fresh take on a format that's been airing since 2002. So it's really, I think, captured people's attention because it's, like, disarmed them.

CHANG: The sincerity, the earnestness...

LITMAN: Yeah.

CHANG: And the women aren't as catty in this season as they are in usual seasons.

LITMAN: Yeah, they're catty in a different way. There was Kathy, who...

CHANG: Oh, yes, Kathy.

LITMAN: ...Was probably the cattiest. But in some ways, even she was refreshing 'cause she would just do it - she had issues with Theresa, who's now in the final two. But she brought it to Theresa and was, like, rude to her face. And there is something that's, like, refreshing and a relief about seeing her be direct about it versus only to the camera or behind a fellow contestant's back.

CHANG: Right - and be passive-aggressive instead. Right.

LITMAN: Yeah.

CHANG: When you're older, you just say what's on your mind.

LITMAN: Exactly. And I think I have just really loved seeing these older women come with the confidence of just having lived more life. And so, you know, last week on the reunion - the Women Tell All, as it's called in "Bachelor" Nation - they, like, talked a lot about flatulence...

CHANG: Yeah (laughter).

LITMAN: ...And they talked a lot about friendship. And so it doesn't come with the same self-consciousness of how this will impact your social media following or what are the career opportunities later.

CHANG: Well, do you think, given the success of this first season of "The Golden Bachelor," that dating shows or all these finding-your-love shows out there might be switching into a different gear? Like, what have we learned that might be applied to other kinds of shows like this?

LITMAN: One thing about Gerry that I think is hard to replicate - his kindness is incredibly appealing, and I think reality TV over the last two decades or so has skewed towards being a little bit more cynical and treating more - and, like, people being mean to each other and being cutthroat. And I think this show is a testament to the fact that people also really like to watch kindness and joy. And I...

CHANG: Decency.

LITMAN: Yeah.

CHANG: Yeah.

LITMAN: Absolutely.

CHANG: And maybe I'll consider dating someone in his 70s.

LITMAN: (Laughter).

CHANG: OK. The Ringer's Juliet Litman, thank you so much.

LITMAN: Yeah, thank you for having me. It was really fun to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TUPAC SHAKUR SONG, "CALIFORNIA LOVE (FEAT. DR. DRE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gurjit Kaur
Gurjit Kaur is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. A pop culture nerd, her work primarily focuses on television, film and music.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.