Booth Tarkington on “The Golden Bachelor”

This weekend, it came to my attention that ABC is making a change in its long-running dating show The Bachelor. A 71 year old man will be the first “golden bachelor” in the upcoming 28th season. I don’t have much of an opinion on the show generally or the new season particularly, but I couldn’t help but think of Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Magnificent Ambersons.

Youth cannot imagine romance apart from youth. That is why the roles of the heroes and heroines of plays are given by the managers to the most youthful actors they can find among the competent. Both middle-aged people and young people enjoy a play about young lovers; but only middle-aged people will tolerate a play about middle-aged lovers; young people will not come to see such a play, because, for them, middle-aged lovers are a joke—not a very funny one. Therefore, to bring both the middle-aged people and the young people into his house, the manager makes his romance as young as he can. Youth will indeed be served, and its profound instinct is to be not only scornfully amused but vaguely angered by middle-age romance.

Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons

In an interesting coincidence, both Tarkington and the “Golden Bachelor” are from Indiana. At any rate, I suppose ratings will tell if Tarkington was right or not.