From the first episode of ABC’s “The Golden Bachelor,” the stakes were instantly higher than in all the other versions of the dating competition. Gerry Turner, the 72-year-old retired widower, would pick a partner from contestants in their 60s and 70s, many of whom had already had one “love of their life.”
These weren’t 20-somethings vying for Instagram followers. “The Golden Bachelor” contestants have lived through some things and weren’t looking to waste time in their search for love.
As Gerry whittled down the contestants, he frequently grew weepy throughout the episodes — at remembering his deceased wife, at having to break hearts — and he got teary again in Thursday night’s finale before getting down on one knee to propose to Theresa Nist, 70, a financial services professional from Shrewsbury, N.J.
Here are five takeaways from the live finale.
Theresa ‘knocked Gerry’s boots off’ in the fantasy suites.
It was pretty apparent during last week’s episode that something shifted with Gerry and Theresa after their overnight date. The night before, he had told Leslie Fhima, 64, that she was “the one” but whatever went down in the fantasy suite was seemingly better with Theresa.
When the former Bachelor and finale host Jesse Palmer asked about the date, Gerry dodged by asking if Jesse would talk to his parents about what they did in the bedroom. Theresa quickly jumped in to make a “knocking boots” joke — a euphemism that Gerry had used throughout the season. After the camera panned to his embarrassed looking children and grandchildren seated in the audience, Theresa clarified, “with my kisses — I am an amazing kisser.”
Gerry said a clumsy and awkward goodbye to Leslie.
Leslie had been among the most memorable contestants from the start. The fitness instructor from Minneapolis introduced herself as a former paramour of Prince (she said he wrote “Sexy Dancer” about her) and told Gerry she had been divorced twice along her search for love. The two active seniors — Gerry’s a pickleballer; Leslie ran marathons — had fast chemistry and easy banter.
But in the finale, Gerry seemed less excited than usual and Leslie was quick to call out his shift in energy. At the evening portion of the date, Leslie gave Gerry a scrapbook of all their memories together but things still seemed awkward and tense. Leslie and the live studio audience, displayed simultaneously on the screen, knew that things were headed south when she told him she loved him so much and he didn’t say anything back — despite having previously said it before and after the fantasy suite date.
The two were about to leave things at an awkward hug and a confusing moment of “did they break up or didn’t they?” but Gerry cried in a stairwell for a few minutes and decided to return and formally ended things with Leslie, who cried over another heartbreak. After Gerry tried to smooth things over, Leslie drew audience applause for asserting “I can think whatever the [expletive] I want, Gerry.”
On her portion of “After the Final Rose” she hinted at a reason for her shock and anger, saying Gerry said something in the fantasy suite that led her to, without a doubt, think that he was choosing her.
Gerry and Theresa are getting married in less than two months — and on TV.
Jesse teased a big announcement throughout the entire show and with a few minutes to spare, Gerry announced that they would be getting married as quickly as they could come up with wedding plans. That date will be Jan. 4, 2024, when ABC plans to air the first televised “Bachelor” wedding since Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici said “I do” in front of the cameras in 2014.
There was no mention of the Hollywood Reporter exposé.
A huge part of Gerry’s back story was that he hadn’t dated in more than 40 years, not since he met his wife, Toni, who died in 2017. He said he hadn’t kissed anyone in six years. But on Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an article outlining a long-term relationship Gerry had with a woman shortly after Toni’s death.
Over the years, the live “After the Finale Rose” segment has addressed events that happened after the series production wrapped. Most recently, Jesse spoke to the Bachelorette Gabby Windey’s then-fiancé Erich Schwer about a claim that he had ended a different relationship in order to go on the show. So it was surprising that there was no mention of Gerry’s potentially questionable dating history, and he doubled down on his story in the proposal to Theresa, who he said made him fall in love again “for the first time since 1968.”
The women of “The Golden Bachelor” will be back.
Joey Graziadei, our next Bachelor, was in the studio audience when the first preview of his upcoming season aired. The best part? It showed some of the ladies from this season helping Joey host a date.