Mariah and Sydney's feud reflects an age-old Bachelor problem

Like chaotic limo arrivals and tearful rose ceremonies, drama at the mansion is part of any bachelor's journey. So it was no surprise when players Maria Georgas and Sydney Gordon clashed during the second week of Joey Graziadei's season. But the situation surrounding this particular beef reveals a long-standing franchise problem.

It started when Madina Alam, 31, opened up about her concerns about not having time to spend with Joey after a group date. "It feels like there's more risk as the oldest person here," she said in a confessional. She also told the other contestants that she felt her time was "limited" at only 31 years old.

Mariah, 29, doesn't think it's an "insecure" thing to do, noting in her confessional that she's also older than Joey. Sidney overhears Maria expressing these thoughts and immediately tells Medina. Soon, the entire group heard Sydney tell Mariah why her comments were "derogatory."

Maria told the camera that this was the "stupidest fight in Bachelor history." And, yes, the back and forth can be a little trivial. But the one who started it all—Medina feeling like she has no “time to waste” because she’s 31 (!!!)—is worth a second watch, because it speaks to the series’ longstanding age issues.

Disney/John Fleno

Thirties, flirty, and thriving?

The last Bachelor protagonist over 30 was Arie Luyendyk Jr. in 2018. So if you're a woman this age looking for love on the show, you might feel out of place among the 20-something competitors. — on top of the ageist pressures that already exist for women on and off screen.

The series also has a mixed history among women in their 30s. Elyse Dehlbom, who competed on Colton Underwood's season, was praised by a contestant as being "very brave" for revealing she was... 31 years old. Back in 2020, The Bachelorette teased Clare Crawley's season with a poster that referenced Mrs. Clare Crawley. Robinson in "The Graduate" is the archetypal "older woman" involved in an affair with a man about the same age as her daughter. Claire is 39 years old!


The Bachelor casting website even says it's looking for "girls" to join the show. While I also refer to myself and my friends as "girls," this seems like another little way the show favors younger contestants. While Medina is an excellent mental health therapist and the show is lucky to have her, it's easy to see why she might not feel 100% comfortable.

golden example

The success of "The Bachelor" proves that the series can show the compelling life stories of contestants into their 60s and 70s, respecting their journeys without giving up the occasional drama.

On top of that, its debut season led to marriage, which was (ostensibly) the point of it all. Now more than ever, the series should be looking for ways to refine its strategy to ensure its other shows, which have a rocky track record, can also succeed. Age diversity can help with this.

After all, in real-world dating, the number of potential suitors is already limited by the number of people a fleet of limousines can accommodate. If a lead wants to have a good chance of finding his forever love, then the pool should reflect a real-life dating scenario. People are getting married later than ever before. According to the latest census data, the median age at first marriage hovers around 30.

Plus, you only get to know yourself better as you get older—gaining the experience and insights you need to make big relationship decisions, even in an unorthodox environment like The Bachelor.