No matter what, this is going to be a season of The Bachelorette unlike any other.
Season 16, starring Clare Crawley as a woman on the hunt for love, is mere weeks away from beginning to film, in the middle of a pandemic. That, in itself, is weird. Contestants and crew will have to quarantine for two weeks before filming begins and test negative for COVID-19 regularly, while also having their temperature checked. Instead of starting at the Bachelor Mansion outside of LA and eventually traveling all over the world, the entire season will be shot at one resort in Southern California. Dates are going to be different. Private horseback riding is probably in, while country concerts surrounded by awkward fans are definitely out.
But maybe all of these restrictions could be a good thing, and a way for the show to take full advantage of the opportunity it has right now to essentially start over and figure out what needs to happen to move forward, both in terms of addressing the diversity problem it promised to fix, and in terms of getting better in other ways, starting with doing right by Clare.
Clare, at 39, is the oldest lead The Bachelorette has ever had, and only one Bachelor, season six’s Byron Velvick, was older, at 40. Rachel Lindsay was previously the oldest lead, at 32. Hannah Brown is the youngest at 24. The youngest Bachelor ever is Jesse Palmer, who was 25. More recently, Nick Viall and Arie Luyendyk Jr. were both 36.
While things have likely changed, the initial announcement of Clare’s cast was a little worrisome. Ages ranged from 23 to 42, and that 42 year-old is the only person older than Clare among the cast.