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‘The Golden Bachelor’ Finale: Theresa’s Paradise, Leslie’s Inferno

The winning woman has advice: ‘If you’re 40 or 50 or 60 or 90, tell them you love them!’


spinner image Gerry Turner holds a golden rose on the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

In the Nov. 30 finale of The Golden Bachelor, the unexpected breakout TV hit of 2023, Gerry Turner, 72, finally made up his mind about the two women who’ve been the objects of his affection for months. The final stretch in the race for his heart and rose and a diamond ring as big and square as he is was an epic emotional journey with tears of joy — and the other kind too.

But no matter how you feel about the wisdom of his decisions, the show concluded on a note of hope that everybody can use. Here’s how the night unfolded:

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Gerry told his family the choice he faced.

“On one hand, when I met Leslie, we kind of get lost in each other,” he told his two grown daughters. “It’s almost like words become unnecessary. We know what the other person is feeling. On the other hand, Theresa and I had a great one-on-one date at the beginning. And then it did go to a little lull, but after our overnight everything changed.” Another advantage to Theresa, who’s a businesswoman kind of like he’s a businessman: “She’s a professional, very logical in her thinking, very logical like I am.” Leslie, a dancer and physical therapist who ran with Prince's crew, is a bit different.

And on the third hand?

He’s in love with two women, and he told them both as much.

spinner image Gerry Turner sitting on a couch talking with his two daughters and two granddaughters on the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Gerry’s family had something they needed to know.

Did Gerry and Theresa “knock boots?” Hmm, that question was a bit more frank than the one from Leslie’s little granddaughter in an earlier episode, who asked Gerry, “How much girls have you kissed?” But it amounts to the same thing: How intimate have you gotten with the contestants?

Gerry’s family was of two minds, too.

“We had our hearts set on Theresa,” said his granddaughter. But once they met Leslie, they saw what he saw in her too. However, Leslie, a woman of acute emotional intelligence and massive experience with men who love and leave, was fretful about what seemed like Gerry’s ambivalence. “It’s gotten to the point where at times I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this!" She was about to find out.

spinner image Gerry Turner and Leslie smile at each outside near a pool on the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Things got weird fast with Leslie.

Nobody expected Janet Leigh to get killed in the first reel of Hitchcock’s Psycho, and it was almost as surprising to see Gerry and Leslie break up before the episode was half over. Pro tip: When you tell a guy you love him very, very, very much, “That’s such a special sentiment” is the incorrect answer.

Leslie did not go gentle into that goodbye.

After Gerry revealed that he would pursue a future with Theresa, Leslie brought out the heavy artillery. “Everything you told me the other night was a lie!” she said acidly. “Twelve hours later, you’ve changed your mind!” She saw it as yet another in her life’s whole experience of shattered romances, making her feel like nobody ever chooses her, and that now her personal brokenness was exposed for all the world to see.

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spinner image The studio audience watching the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Leslie suffered, then watched the playback of her worst nightmare.

In a bizarre moment only a reality show could provide, Leslie was interviewed about what it felt like for her to watch the humiliating scene we’d just witnessed. “In my mind I had this whole life planned for us,” she told host Jesse Palmer. Even weirder, several of the women she’d bested in the contest for Gerry’s heart were in the audience in the studio, nodding sympathetically. Female solidarity was rife, and some were heard to say, “That man’s a jerk!”

spinner image Leslie and Gerry Turner meet each other for the first time since the filming of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Then Gerry faced the music.

After Leslie was calm enough to recollect her tempestuous emotions in tranquility, she got a chance a lot of dumped people crave: to give the guy you feel trifled with your affections a piece of your mind.

She drew the line at revealing precisely what he told her to make her pick out a blue dress “the color of our eyes” and take the trouble to write their wedding vows — but noted sharply, “Those words gave me 100 percent certainty that I was your girl and we would get engaged.”

Gerry said what he usually says in a tight spot: At that moment, he believed what he said. He didn’t say it lightly. Then he said the words every girl most longs never to hear: “You were the person I believed was my person until I suddenly knew you weren’t.”

Leslie decided she didn’t regret that he’d told her he loved her — but she doesn’t exactly forgive him. She just understands him now. Men!

spinner image Gerry Turner standing out on a balcony on the season finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Gerry looked to a higher power.

He prayed to his late wife, Toni, for romance advice, feeling his prayers go straight to her, and she wouldn’t steer him wrong. But he found himself wanting a more palpable comfort: “I’m waiting for the moment of calm when I see Theresa’s face.”

Theresa voiced a fear that many others feel as well.

“I feel like the whole world thinks that love is only for the young,” Theresa said to Gerry just before the proposal in Costa Rica. “And quite honestly, at the age of 70, I was beginning to feel that myself.” Until Gerry.

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spinner image Gerry Turner gets down on one knee and holds out a ring during his proposal to Theresa on the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Gerry played a rather nasty verbal trick on Theresa while proposing.

“I came to the realization that you’re not the right person for me to live with,” he said, as Theresa’s sensitive, trembling face began to resemble the Hoover Dam about to crack and flood Arizona.

Then he added, with a showman’s flair, “You’re the person that I can’t live without!”

Theresa found it in her heart not to get too angry about his little heart-flipping trick, and accepted Gerry’s marriage proposal.

Theresa trusts her grandkids more than her sisters.

Back in the live portion of the show, Theresa prepared for her first public appearance with Gerry post-proposal. With a broad grin like the cat that ate the tall, handsome septuagenarian canary, she said, “My grandsons kept this secret this entire time — and I did not tell my sisters, so they’re in shock.”

spinner image Theresa holds a bouquet of flowers sitting next to Gerry Turner on the finale of "The Golden Bachelor."
John Fleenor/Disney

Theresa confirmed the crucial boots question.

After Gerry joined Theresa on stage, she brought up what everyone was thinking. “Well, if [Gerry’s] not going to tell you exactly what happened in the Fantasy Suite, I’ll tell you what happened — I knocked his boots off,” she said.

But seriously, folks, Theresa had an important point.

“If you’re 40 or 50 or 60 or 90, even if you have one day left to live, if you have love to give and if you have love in your heart and you love someone, tell them you love them. Don’t waste a day!”

spinner image Gerry Turner and Theresa raise their glass in the air after she accepted Gerry's marriage proposal.
John Fleenor/Disney

There’s one particular day you should be aware of.

Gerry and Theresa are getting married live on ABC Jan. 4. And you’re invited!

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