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After much build-up, ABC’s The Golden Bachelor finally premiered on Thursday with a jam-packed hour that left viewers emotional and wanting more.
The new leading man — 72-year-old father of two Gerry Turner — endured 22 arrivals that included a motorcycle, a “birthday suit,” some f-bombs and a little dancing. From there it was an action-filled cocktail party and a gut-wrenching rose ceremony where six women were sent home.
And then, it was over. Which ended up being a tough pill to swallow for some viewers, especially after the new season of Bachelor in Paradise kicked off a two-hour episode immediately following, and gave off very different vibes. Here’s a look at the highs and lows of The Golden Bachelor, night one.
The first-ever Golden Bachelor arrival was 60-year-old Edith, a retired realtor who was looking to “start the party” with her gold confetti poppers to match her gold dress.
Other highlights included a 64-year-old fitness instructor named Leslie, who approached Gerry wearing a nightgown, a wig and using a walker, before tossing the walker and shedding the cover-up to reveal a short black dress and long hair. Fun fact: Leslie said that she once dated the late musician Prince and even became the subject of his 1979 song, “Sexy Dancer.”
There was also Sandra, the 75-year-old retired executive assistant whose “awfully nervous” feelings gave way to some “Zen practice” she likes to use, inviting Gerry to join her in some deep breathing and calming saying the f-word.
Also making an immediate impression was 70-year-old Theresa, a financial services professional, who showed up in a robe and claimed to be wearing her “birthday suit” in honor of her birthday. It turned out to be a nude slip underneath — “I have six grandsons,” she exclaimed — but nonetheless Gerry was impressed.
Patty, a 70-year-old retired real estate professional, decided to do a little name-drop instead of any big antics. Upon meeting Gerry she mentioned that her son is Matt James, a former Bachelor who is still with his final pick — Rachael Kirkconell — two and a half years later.
Bringing a little comedy to the night came courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel, who sent his Aunt Chippy to the arrivals so she could meet Gerry for herself and make jokes with him like that he was “lying” about his age.
And finally, Faith, a 61-year-old high school teacher, bypassed the limo so she could roll up on a motorcycle instead. Her entrance came complete with the line, “I'm proof you can live fast and not die young. And if you leave here with me, it will be the ride of your life.”
A dance party with Gerry and the ladies was one highlight of the cocktail party, along with a trip to the basketball hoop and a few gifts, including a genie bottle from a woman named Jeanie.
Theresa continued her birthday celebration with a cupcake and make-out session during her alone time at the party, assuming afterward that the first impression rose would be a lock.
But then there was motorcycle-riding Faith, who added musician to her list of interests when she sang an original song for Gerry while playing the guitar. That was enough to earn the first impression rose, which was followed by another lengthy kissing moment for Gerry.
Gerry kicked off his first “dreaded” rose ceremony by telling the ladies how “grateful” he was and acknowledging that he “felt connections” with some of them before adding, “It’s difficult to look at women as wonderful as you and know that not all of you will be here tomorrow.”
Along with Bachelor Matt’s mom Patty, those who didn’t receive roses were Anna, Maria, Pamela, Renee and Sylvia, in what was a very emotional moment for Gerry.
And while people loving Gerry was a given, the most common thread from viewers was that one hour simply wasn’t enough, especially coming from a franchise that almost always opens with a two-hour episode, much like tonight’s season premiere of Bachelor in Paradise did. And along with that, going from what was perceived as a sweet and sentimental ending to The Golden Bachelor straight into the debauchery-themed spinoff was a bit jarring for viewers as well.
— Jess Baker (@jessa4746) September 29, 2023
From the best golden bachelor premiere to this 👉#bachelorinparadise oh brother. 🙄 Here we go. 🤦🏽♀️
— Hope (@HopeSahn) September 29, 2023
That whiplash from Golden Bachelor to Paradise though.
— Lela Von Schweetz (@chelsealela) September 29, 2023
— The Batchelor’s Wooden Hottub (@Wooden_hottub) September 29, 2023
— britney febreze✨🧚♀️ (@sighjklol) September 29, 2023
— Chrissy Parente (@ChrissyParente) September 29, 2023
The preview for the rest of the season promised plenty of drama and a lot more emotion, especially from Gerry, who can be seen walking out of a confessional and threatening with “I’m done.” He’s also seen crying while comparing the heartache he was experiencing on the show to the pain of losing his wife of 43 years.
There’s also going to be a choreographed musical number to the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” at some point as well.
The Golden Bachelor airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.