Reality TV

Maria & Sydney’s Feud Reflects An Age-Old Problem On The Bachelor

There’s a surprising takeaway from “the dumbest fight on Bachelor history.”

Disney/John Fleenor

Like chaotic limo arrivals and tearful rose ceremonies, drama at the mansion is part of any Bachelor journey. Therefore, it wasn’t too surprising when contestants Maria Georgas and Sydney Gordon clashed during Week 2 of Joey Graziadei’s season. But the circumstances surrounding this particular beef illuminate a long-running franchise problem.

It started when 31-year-old Madina Alam candidly shared her concerns about not getting any time with Joey after a group date. “It just feels [like] higher stakes being the oldest person here,” she said in a confessional. She also told her fellow contenders that she felt like her time was “limited” being 31.

Maria, 29, didn’t think it was something to be “insecure” over, pointing out in a confessional that she, too, is older than Joey. Sydney overheard Maria voicing those thoughts, and promptly let Madina know. Soon enough, the whole group listened to Sydney tell Maria why her comments were “belittling.”

Maria told the camera it was “the dumbest fight on Bachelor history.” And, yes, the back-and-forth might be a little trivial. But the thing that started it all — Madina feeling like she didn’t have “time to waste” because she was 31 (!!!) — deserves a second look because it reflects the franchise’s long-running age problem.

Disney/John Fleenor

Thirties, Flirty, & Thriving?

The last Bachelor lead who was over 30 was Arie Luyendyk Jr. in 2018. So, if you’re a woman in that age bracket looking for love on the show, you could potentially feel out-of-place next to 20-something contenders — on top of the ageist pressure that already exists for women on screen and off.

The franchise also has an uneven history with women in their 30s. Elyse Dehlbom, who competed on Colton Underwood’s season, was praised by a fellow contestant for being “so brave” for revealing that she was... 31. And back in 2020, The Bachelorette teased Clare Crawley’s season with a poster that referenced Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate, the archetypal “older woman” who has an affair with a man her daughter’s age. Clare was 39!


The Bachelor’s casting website even says it’s looking for “girls” to join the show. Although I call myself and my friends “girls” too, it’s another small way the show seems to skew toward younger contestants. While Madina is an accomplished mental health therapist, and the show’s fortunate to have her, it’s easy to see why she might not feel 100% comfortable.

A Golden Example

The success of The Golden Bachelor proved that the franchise can showcase contestants’ compelling life stories well into their 60s and 70s, respecting their journeys without forsaking the occasional drama.

Most importantly, its debut season resulted in a marriage, which is (ostensibly) the point of all this. Now more than ever, the franchise should be looking for ways to refine its strategy to ensure its other shows — which have a bumpy track record — are set up for success, too. Age diversity can help with that.

After all, when it comes to reality dating, the pool of potential suitors is already limited to how many people can pack into a fleet of limos. If a lead is to have a good chance of finding their forever person, that pool should be reflective of the IRL dating scene. People are getting married later than ever. The median age for first marriage hovers around either side of 30, per the latest Census data.

Plus, as you get older, you only get to know yourself more — gaining the experience and insights needed to make major relationship decisions, even in an environment as unorthodox as The Bachelor.