The Bachelorette is about to premiere, but this isn't a typical season. There's a major twist in store and we've never been so excited to be back in Bachelor Nation.
If this year has proven anything, it's that all plans are a joke.
Back in March, the production team of The Bachelorette planned to film a season starring Clare Crawley. They planned to start filming a couple of weeks after Clare was announced as the new star, and they planned for us to be able to watch it just a couple of months later. They had probably also planned on us all falling in love with then-contestant (and BFF of Tyler Cameron) Matt James, so he could be a shoe-in for the next Bachelor.
Then, a global pandemic hit, and filming had to be delayed indefinitely. The season couldn't film in time to air when it normally would. Some of the planned contestants had to drop out. A massive civil rights movement gained traction and viewers began calling for the show to cast a Black Bachelor and fix its diversity problem, so Matt was announced as the next star without ever having appeared on the franchise before.
Plans were then made to film The Bachelorette in quarantine, at a resort in Palm Springs. The cast and crew settled in for the long haul, planning to film a whole season with Clare. Two weeks in, Clare apparently found the love of her life, forcing yet another change of plans.
Sources tell E! News that there will be two Bachelorettes this season. Clare will begin and end her short but apparently successful journey to find love, and then Tayshia Adams, 29, will replace her in a true first for the franchise. (ABC and WBTV have yet to confirm the reports.)
This is all without even mentioning the mess that was Bachelor Peter Weber, who proposed to Hannah Ann Sluss, broke up with her over feelings for Madison Prewett, then broke up with her and got together with his fourth-place finisher, Kelley Flanagan, after the season had already concluded.
It has truly been a roller coaster year to be a fan of this franchise, and there were times when it was a ride we wanted to get off. But all signs now feel like they're pointing in the right direction to the point where we've never been quite this excited to watch a new season of The Bachelorette.
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Clare herself was already a draw. At 39, she's the oldest star of the franchise ever, and as much as we loved watching 24 year-old Hannah Brown hunt unsuccessfully for love, we truly could not wait to see what happened when a woman who was 15 years older got the same chance.
There was some side-eye to be given when Clare's initial cast list was announced and only one contestant was definitively older than her, but we still had high hopes that she might find the perfect guy somewhere in that group, and apparently we were right. We couldn't be more thrilled to hear that Clare found someone so great that she doesn't even need to finish the rest of the season, because as much as we love drama, we love love more. Or at least we love it slightly more.
The addition of Tayshia as the new Bachelorette is just the icing on the cake. She'll be the second Black female star of the franchise, and while we do have questions about her brief relationship with John Paul Jones on and after Bachelor in Paradise, she's proven herself to be delightful on television, and was at the top of many lists of potential stars before Clare was chosen.
Not only is Tayshia perfect for the job, but a midseason switch is a fun surprise in and of itself. We've had seven months to prepare to watch Clare's season, and many of the guys who were cast had five months to do their research. A new Bachelorette is a twist for us all, a bright spot to look forward to in these strange times, proof that this franchise can continue to surprise and entertain us 18 years in.
We don't know how exactly the whole season will shake out, but we do know we're more excited to find out than ever.
For a full list of Bachelor franchise firsts, scroll down!
Alex Michel headlined the first season of The Bachelor in 2002.
After coming in second on the first season of The Bachelor, Trista went on to headline the first season of The Bachelorette in 2003.
Trista and Ryan Sutter said "I do" in front of millions viewers as part of a three-episode series in December 2003.
Trista and Ryan Sutter, the first couple to come out of The Bachelorette, were also the first Bachelor Nation couple to welcome a child in 2007.
Brad Womack headlined season 11 of The Bachelor in 2007, but didn't propose to anybody. So, he came back to hand out the roses in season 15.
After winning Brad Womack's second season of The Bachelor (and later breaking up), Emily Maynard went on to hand out her own roses in 2012's The Bachelorette season eight. Emily was the first single mother to star as The Bachelorette.
Jason Mesnick proposed to and became engaged to Melissa Rycroft at the end of The Bachelor season 13 (2008)…until the finale when he asked for a second chance with Molly Malaney. They eventually wed.
Season 11 of The Bachelorette (2015) was the first to begin with two stars, Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe. It was up to the male contestants to decide which would be the one handing out roses.
Kaitlyn Bristowe, star of The Bachelorette season 11 (2015), was one of the first to talk about sex on the show. She and Nick Viall had sex in week six after she invited him into her hotel room in Ireland.
In 2017, Rachel Lindsay became the franchise's first-ever Black lead as the star of The Bachelorette. In 2019 she married the winner of her season, Bryan Abasolo.
Nick Viall is now synonymous with Bachelor Nation. He first appeared in The Bachelorette season 10 in 2014 and tried to win Andi Dorfman's heart. He was runner-up. In 2015, he returned to the show to compete for Kaitlyn Bristowe's love and made it to the finale. That didn't work. So in 2016 he went to Bachelor in Paradise. When that didn't work out, he was given his shot at handing out the roses as the star of The Bachelor season 21.
At the end of The Bachelor season 22 (winter 2018), Arie Luyendyk Jr. made his choice: Becca Kufrin. But then he changed his mind. So, with cameras by his side, he broke up with Becca and informed her of his feelings for the show's runner-up, Lauren Burnham. Arie and Lauren are still married.
Season 23 (winter 2019) of The Bachelor introduced viewers to the show's first virgin star, Colton Underwood. The virginity aspect was played up throughout his season. Colton was also the first Bachelor star to jump a fence. That happened after Cassie, who would go on to become his girlfriend, said she was leaving the competition.
In season 15 of The Bachelorette (spring of 2019), Hannah Brown got candid about sex and relationships. It culminated in an argument with Luke Parker after he tried to sex shame her and repeatedly tried to cut her off while she explained her stance on sex.
Demi Burnett appeared on Bachelor in Paradise in the summer of 2019 and came out as bisexual. Her then-girlfriend Kristian Haggerty joined Demi on the series and they became the franchise's first same-sex couple.
On Friday, June 12, 2020 ABC announced Matt James would be the franchise's first Black male lead of The Bachelor.
Clare Crawley was announced as the season 16 Bachelorette in March 2020, and then waited all the way until July to begin filming, thanks to a global pandemic that delayed all productions. Then, a couple of weeks into filming her season, sources tell E! News that she fell so in love that she asked to quit, and will be replaced by Tayshia Adams in a true franchise first.
The Bachelorette premieres Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
A version of this article was first published on Aug. 3, 2020.
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