‘The Golden Bachelorette’ Team Was ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ by Senior Men’s Emotional Vulnerability During Casting

“I was a little concerned … we’d meet a bunch of guys who would want to just talk about golf,” EP Bennett Graebner tells TheWrap

Golden-Bachelor-Joan
Gerry and Joan on "The Golden Bachelor" Episode 3 (ABC/John Fleenor)

While casting a group of senior men to date the first ever “Golden Bachelorette” was initially a daunting task, the show’s EPs say they’ve been “pleasantly surprised” by the vulnerability displayed by potential suitors during the casting process.

“I love how emotionally vulnerable they’ve been,” EP and co-showrunner Claire Freeland told TheWrap in an interview conducted amid casting for “The Golden Bachelorette” earlier this spring. “I have been so pleasantly surprised to see them be so open and vulnerable with all of us.”

Like the women of “The Golden Bachelor,” who became instant hits in Bachelor Nation, Freeland noted that the potential male contestants were “talking about things that maybe they haven’t talked about openly in a long time, and it looks like it feels good.”

“I was a little concerned, going into it, that we’d meet a bunch of guys who would want to just talk about golf,” fellow EP and co-showrunner Bennett Graebner told TheWrap. “It turns out, like the women we met for ‘Golden Bachelor,’ these guys have really lived a life and they have so much to say.”

Graebner added that the team, alongside Freeland and third EP/co-showrunner Jason Ehrlich, has already had “some very intense, very emotional conversations” with the men, admitting, “I wasn’t ready for it.”

Since casting for the flagship series “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” marks a steep departure from the “Golden” iterations — which has only cast contestants in their 60s and 70s thus far — Ehrlich noted how the EPs used the framework they established while casting the first season of “The Golden Bachelor,” which centered on 71-year-old Gerry Turner.

“At this age, everyone has a story. Everyone’s been through stuff,” Ehrlich said. “It really is those that tell those stories and convey an emotion that you feel — whether it’s hope, resiliency, even sorrow, pain, sadness, joy, fun, all of those emotions … it’s those that can really tell those stories in ways that inspire you that usually get on the show.”

Since the interview was conducted in late March, the inaugural “Golden Bachelorette” was announced to be Joan Vassos, who was first introduced on “The Golden Bachelor” before she exited the reality dating show early to help take care of her daughter.

“The Golden Bachelorette” airs Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. EST this fall on ABC.

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