Entertainment TV Do we need a Bachelor for seniors?

Do we need a Bachelor for seniors?

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The US has started a casting call for a Bachelor spin-off for seniors – would it work in Australia? Maybe. Photo: Getty
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The Bachelor has been one of the most wildly successful reality TV shows in recent history.

So it’s little wonder that TV execs are toying with (more) spin-off models to milk the concept for all it is worth.

On Wednesday, Australia said G’day to its latest Bachie – Locky Gilbert, who you might recognise from the current season of Survivor: All Stars. 

The announcement left some reality TV fans wanting.

We’ve had The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

Overseas, studio heads are considering steering away from the spray-tanned 20-somethings and are considering something refreshingly different.

The ABC network in the US is testing the waters for a version of the show starring seniors.

Last week during an ad break in the regular Bachelor, an advertisement aired announcing a casting call for “seniors looking for love”.

The casting page says: “Are you entering your golden years and looking for romance? The producers of The Bachelor are looking for active and outgoing single men and women in their golden years for a new exciting dating show.”

After the announcement there was much joking on social media that in Bachelor speak “seniors” meant anyone over the age of 30.

But tweets from ABC reality chief Rob Mills clarified they are looking for people 65 and over.

The response to the concept has been largely enthusiastic:

US TV execs have reason to believe elderly people looking for love may prove to be ratings gold.

In 2019, the Netflix series Dating Around featured six New Yorkers going on a series of dinner dates with strangers.

One of the singles was an elderly widow named Leonard, and he quickly became a fan favourite.

The relative youth and immaturity of contestants on The Bachelor has drawn criticism in recent seasons – while sometimes it’s fun to see beautiful young people make twits of themselves, for plenty of viewers it’s wearing a bit thin.

So perhaps this new iteration is the perfect antidote.

It raises the question: Would a golden oldies version of The Bachelor fly in Australia?

TV commentator David Knox from TV Tonight sees no reason why it wouldn’t work locally.

“Senior Australians are grossly under-represented on Australian television and dating shows are notorious for focusing on the pretty people – that’s despite older viewers still watching free-to-air television in big numbers,” Knox said.

“Like any show, everything would come down to the casting and format.

“Given advertisers are focused on young demos, it might be a better concept for a public broadcaster.

“Shows like Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds prove you can get big crowds to cleverly packaged programs, and Love on the Spectrum is another example of looking at other sections of the community.”

Steve Molk from TV Blackbox agrees that it could certainly be a success Down Under.

In fact, he says it’s imperative The Bachelor remains agile if it wants to continue raking in the ratings.

“There’s the important reinvention of the franchise [to consider],” Molk said.

“The Australian versions are staring down season eight for The Bachelor, season six for The Bachelorette and season three for Bachelor in Paradise.

“They risk an audience shift away from the show if they maintain the course with no iterative development of the program (but not too far from the original premise, as we’ve seen this year with MKR).

“I can guarantee the producers of The Bachelor/ette Australia will be watching this [US seniors version] like a hawk,” he said.

“If it works in the US, expect an Aussie version shortly.

“If played correctly, I think there’s a lot of interest (even sympathy) for an ‘older’ Bachelor series, because broadly people are very open to supporting older people.”

He said it would have to be handled correctly, though.

“The challenge would be finding your (necessary) villain(s),” Molk said.

“Casting and production would need to be careful, as the audience would turn on the show if it perceived that the participants are being taken advantage of.”

Although the network will be able to control the tone in house, there’s not much they’ll be able to do about the inevitable jokes online (where it’s already been nicknamed “Boomer Bachelor”).

For us, the wobbliest part of this Golden Oldies Bachelor concept lies in watching a senior citizen get rejected.

As perfectly summed up by this gent named Brian:

If it were to work for us, everyone would have to be a winner. Nobody goes home alone, or we’re rioting.

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