Even while The Golden Bachelor and the main Bachelor Nation dating shows have similar structures, it’s clear after just three weeks of the new spinoff’s inaugural season that they are very different from one another. The cast members of Gerry Turner’s voyage have so far been hopeful, kind, and occasionally tragic.

Many of them have previously had to deal with the loss of a spouse. Now, they are looking for someone to share their last years with. Another problem that hasn’t truly affected The Bachelor/Bachelorette was also encountered by The Golden Bachelor on Thursday’s show.

Due to her family’s need for her at home, Joan Vassos became the second lady in two weeks to have to self-eliminate. Joan was treated to a romantic meal with Gerry Turner, 72, and sparks flew as the widower awarded her the first rose of the week. Joan had broken out of her comfort zone with witty and sincere poetry on their group date talent show. The joy was short-lived, though, as her daughter sent a message the following morning informing her that she was required at home.

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After her daughter had given birth, Joan Vassos explained to Gerry Turner and the other women, through tears, why she had to leave. The cast was devastated, including the senior Bachelor who admitted to getting “out of bed dancing” the morning after their date. Kathy Swarts wept over how unjust it was, stating:

My heart’s breaking. I know how badly she wanted to be here. I can’t imagine, especially after having the date and getting the rose. It makes it even harder for her.

The most heartbreaking aspect of it all is that these women have probably been putting their families and children before themselves for many years, which is why Kathy Swarts and the others could relate to Joan Vassos’ predicament so strongly. It’s terrible to witness this opportunity being taken away from Joan, who even referred to her decision to participate in The Golden Bachelor as “selfish.” Joan had finally made the decision to take care of herself.

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Marina Perera had experienced the same incident a week earlier. Marina was forced to leave the competition after getting a rose on Night 1, telling Gerry Turner that she had to prioritize her family’s needs in an unaired moment that was uploaded to The Golden Bachelor’s Instagram account:

Although it was undoubtedly an unintentional problem, The Golden Bachelor is probably going to have to deal with it going forward. We’ve seen contestants on The Bachelor/Bachelorette occasionally have to leave the show due to family emergencies or to return to a young child, but even in those cases, another parent or grandparents are usually present to assist. These women don’t operate like that, and it’s unusual to witness this kind of self-elimination twice in three episodes. However, as Joan Vassos stated, being a mother never ends when your children grow up.

As always, Gerry Turner has stood by the women’s choices, and despite his disappointment at Joan Vassos’s passing, he acknowledged that dedication to one’s family comes first. It will be interesting to observe if this develops into a pattern for the first season of The Golden Bachelor. Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC; if you have a Hulu account, you may watch the episodes online the following day.

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