‘Bachelor’ Producers on Whether They’ll Ever Cast a Gay Lead and Hoping to Make ‘Golden Paradise’: ‘How Fun Would It Be?!’

“The Bachelor” franchise is continuing to grow, with “The Golden Bachelorette” currently casting its lead and suitors — but that may not be the only spinoff in the works.

With “The Golden Bachelor” proving that a very large older audience is watching, would the flagship — which usually casts men and women in their 20s and early 30s — consider aging up? Executive producers Claire Freeland, Bennett Graebner and Jason Ehrlich wouldn’t count it out.

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“We’ve talked a lot about like what a Bachelor or Bachelorette looks like in their 30s or 40s as opposed to someone in their 20s. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility,” Freeland tells Variety. Graebner, who has worked on the franchise for 16 years, adds, “We have talked about it and we’re open to anything… But not all the 23-year-olds are equal. There are 23-year-olds who really have their shit together, and are ready to settle down.”

Right now, the executive producers are extremely busy. While Season 28 of “The Bachelor” is in post-production, they are currently casting for Season 21 of “The Bachelorette,” set to air in the summer, and the first season of “The Golden Bachelorette,” set for the fall. While a lead has not yet been chosen for either, Freeland knows that “the country is pretty invested in the women they met on Gerry Turner’s season.”

“The Golden Bachelor” hit a ratings high for the franchise, with the finale reaching more than six million viewers — the biggest “Bachelor” episode in nearly three years.

“I think you just go into it trying to make the best show that you can and tell the best story that you can, have the best people on the show that connect with people who are watching the show. And then hope for the best when it comes to ratings,” says Ehrlich. “We’ve been really surprised and really happy with the way the ratings have gone and we’re seeing it with Joey — in just one year, ‘Bachelor’ is up year-over-year.”

Graebner added, “I think if you focus on ratings first, you can get yourself into real trouble.”

This year, the franchise will celebrate 10 years of “Bachelor in Paradise” — something they’ve previously said they’d also like to do a “Golden” edition of. With “Golden Bachelorette” officially coming, it could be closer than people think.

2024 TCA WINTER PRESS TOUR - ABC Winter TCA Press Tour panels featured in-person Q&As with the stars and executive producers of new and returning series on Saturday, Feb. 10. (Disney/PictureGroup)
Jason Ehrlich, Clarie Freeland and Bennett Graebner

“We’d love to do that eventually. I mean, how fun would it be to see single men and women in their 60s and 70s on the beach or in the Bachelor pad or somewhere, hanging out and falling in love? We’d love to do that and hope we get the opportunity,” Ehrlich says, with Graebner admitting there have been “a number of conversations with the network and the studio” and while they don’t know when or where it will take place, they know the audience is there.

While “Bachelor in Paradise” has featured members of the LGBTQ+ community, the flagship series has yet to have a gay lead. But the producers do want to explore it, Ehrlich says.

“We hope to get the opportunity to do that,” he says. “The most wonderful thing is that love is universal and so is the frustration of not finding love. We’d love the opportunity to tell all kinds of people’s stories.”

Graebner adds, “During my tenure on the show, the two spinoffs that have been pitched to be the most frequently are a Bachelor for older people and a gay Bachelor. We checked one of those boxes. We’re talking about checking out the other box.”

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