‘The Golden Bachelorette’ would like to clarify a few things about aging

May 15, 2024, 4:13 PM

On “The Golden Bachelor,” Joan Vassos, who has four grown children and two grandchildren, was a...

On “The Golden Bachelor,” Joan Vassos, who has four grown children and two grandchildren, was a fan-favorite. Mandatory Credit: Michael Le Brecht/Disney/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — A longtime viewer of “The Bachelor” franchise and a true believer in the show’s ability to help people find and meet their match, newly minted Golden Bachelorette Joan Vassos saw an ad seeking contestants for “The Golden Bachelor” as a sign she should apply.

“I would love to say one of my kids did it and they thought it’d be perfect, but I did it on my own,” Vassos told CNN in her first interview, recalling when she filled out her application form for “The Golden Bachelor,” which starred 72-year-old widower Gerry Turner, who dated more than 20 women on national TV – including Vassos.

Vassos, a 61-year-old Maryland school administrator, remembers the night she applied for the show. Her husband of 32 years had passed away two years prior, and she had not yet been ready to date again. She was at a restaurant with a friend, and realized she wanted to put herself out there.

“I did not want to spend my life alone, so I knew that I had to take action, but my heart wasn’t there at all,” Vassos said. “I was saying to my friend, ‘How in the world do you date now? Look around this restaurant. Everybody here is a couple. Everybody my age is married. All my friends are married.”

When Vassos got home from dinner, she saw the casting call on TV for the new reality series about finding love in the second part of your life.

“I was like, ‘The universe is talking to me,’” Vassos said.

On “The Golden Bachelor,” Vassos, who has four grown children and two grandchildren, was a fan-favorite who formed an early connection with Turner. But her time on the inaugural season was cut short when she made the decision to leave the show to return home to her family.

Now, Vassos has been selected to star in the first season of “The Golden Bachelorette,” a female-fronted spinoff that will feature Vassos dating men in their fifties through seventies.

With nothing to lose and ready for love after healing from loss, Vassos told CNN about what she hopes to achieve on her televised journey when “The Golden Bachelorette” premieres this fall on ABC.

From life in “The Bachelor” mansion to debunking ageist tropes – and her thoughts on Turner’s three-month marriage and subsequent divorce – here are key takeaways from CNN’s conversation with Vassos.

The women of “The Golden Bachelor” formed a sisterhood

“I remember the first night I walked into the mansion, and I was really nervous because I didn’t really know how Bachelor Nation was going to portray us – we’re going to look like foolish older people dating – I was just a little apprehensive. I walked into this room and I met all these lovely women and it was the first time since my husband had passed away that I felt like I was in a room with people that were just like me. They were single women in their sixties and seventies, and we all were looking for love. It’s not necessarily like a very dignified thing that you’re doing at this age. It’s kind of awkward honestly, so it was so comforting to be like – we were instant friends.”

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist’s split after a three-month marriage surprised Vassos

“I loved watching their journey. I saw them fall in love. I believed just, like – they did that. They were like the perfect couple. I applaud that they jumped into this process with both feet and they were ready to find love and they knew what true love was. They both had it in their previous lives. So, I applaud them for doing that and I also applaud them when they discovered it wasn’t perfect. That they called it quits and it’s not the end of the world, and we have to let them live their journey and follow their hearts and it wasn’t right for them.

I did not see it coming. They’re still good friends. I’m good friends with both of them.”

Her four kids all want her to find love. Making out on TV, not so much

“My first and third children are very into this. They think it’s really fun and like, what a cool experience for mom. My daughter Erica and my son Luke are a little, like a little cringey. Like, ‘Don’t kiss a guy on TV. This is gonna be really embarrassing. My friends are watching.’ But overall, all of them want me to find love.”

She wants to redefine what it means to be in your sixties

“I think there’s cultures in the world that revere the older people and they think that they have knowledge and they have this experience of life, and I don’t think that’s super true in our society.

So, I think (“The Golden Bachelor”) showed the side of, we’re not old. We don’t have canes. Some people on the show had hearing aids, but nobody could even see they had them. Growing old now is very different. We were all very fit, we exercised, we shared great stories about raising our kids and we learned so much from each other. There’s a lot of knowledge that we have inside of us because we’ve lived life. In our culture, I feel like growing old is not a dignified thing. You’re just supposed to kind of fade in the back, take a backseat to the next generation. I’m hoping that we change that a little bit. We’re still fun and energetic and we know how to use our phones.”

She will never move away from her family for a man

“That was actually the first question that Gary asked me. We sat down for the first time together and he said, ‘You live in Maryland, I live in Indiana. How do you see something like this working?’ … My answer to him was – and it still is my answer – I think you almost have to live a dual life.

I’ll never leave my family. They are the most important people in the world to me obviously, and I would expect that to be the same for the person that I end up with because family is so important to me, that would have to be a key part of their personality.

You have to be willing to … travel and be with that person and maybe spend a couple of months or a couple of weeks at a time … and then maybe eventually, you figure out a destination that would work for you and your families or have another house where everybody gets together.”

She wants ABC to greenlight “Golden Bachelor in Paradise”

“Oh, my gosh. I want to be on it! Hopefully, I’ll have a husband and not (be) eligible.

I would love it. And I know the women that I was on the season with would be so much fun on ‘Bachelor In Paradise.’

I think if it does happen that Susan (Noles) should be the bartender. She should step in. She’s Wells (Adams), right? That’d be great. But I think she’s going to want to be on it as a contestant. I don’t think that’s what’s going to work. Maybe I’ll be the Wells! I’ve got to take a bartending lesson.”

She’s hoping to find her life partner on “The Golden Bachelorette” – but isn’t rushing into marriage

“If it ends up in engagement, I’m open to that. I do believe this process works. I’ve seen it work for so many couples on ‘The Bachelor,’ so I believe in the process. If it ends up in engagement, that’s great. If it ends up in, you and I are going to get to know each other better in the outside world, that’s perfect also. I probably won’t rush into a marriage right away – and not only because of what happened with Gerry and Theresa. I think it takes some time to really get to know somebody. Out in the wild, in the real world, you need to spend some time there.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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‘The Golden Bachelorette’ would like to clarify a few things about aging