Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 16th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Clare Crawley’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.
Ordinarily, whenever Bachelor host Chris Harrison declares that this season is “the most dramatic season ever,” I roll my eyes and reach for my drink. But this season, Bachelor Nation, we really are in for maximum drama. From a 39-year-old female lead (unheard of) to new COVID-19 procedures (will they have to wear masks during fantasy suites?) to a second bachelorette entering partway through filming, I think Harrison might finally be right. And since I am far too invested in this vapid franchise, let me break down what we can expect from this coming season that will premiere Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. CDT.
First things first, Clare Crawley was announced as the Season 16 bachelorette on GMA March 2, right before the world fell apart. Clare is a veteran of the Bachelor franchise—she first appeared on Season 18 of “The Bachelor” and is known for telling certified assh*le Juan Pablo where he can stick it. She then appeared on not one, but two seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise,” which honestly just sounds exhausting. Her most recent shot at love was on the short-lived spin-off “The Bachelor Winter Games,” where she was introduced to French hottie Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, whom she got engaged to on the Tell-All special. Sadly, like most “Bachelor” couples, they split just two months later, and Clare is now really single and really ready to mingle. Expect lots of cougar jokes and Mrs. Robinson references—the season’s promo poster itself mimics “The Graduate”—because at age 39, Clare is basically a grandma in the eyes of the franchise, and a decent number of her 31 contestants are in their twenties. Pop off, Clare.
If you’ve watched literally any season in the “Bachelor” franchise ever, you know there’s always that one contestant who loves to stir the pot. This season, our resident drama queen is “Miss ‘Rona,” and she’s definitely not here for the right reasons. Shortly after Clare was crowned Bachelorette and her contestants were announced, the nationwide lockdown began and the season, which typically airs during late spring and early summer, was postponed. It will feature some of Clare’s original contestants as well as new additions to the cast, but instead of jet setting around the globe like usual (on past seasons, they’ve travelled to Scotland, New Zealand, Vietnam and in poor JoJo Fletcher’s case, the super exotic woods of Pennsylvania) ABC rented out La Quinta Resort & Club in California, where the entire season was filmed. In addition to a quarantine period at the resort for all cast and crew, there are also regular temperature checks and COVID testing. As you can see in the season preview, there’s all of the usual making out, but no word on whether masks will be required for fantasy suites…
This show is rarely predictable, but Season 16 is leaving Bachelor Nation more blindsided than ever before. Honestly, the whole season feels like when the lead cancels the cocktail party and dives straight into the rose ceremony. First, Bachelor Whisperer Chris Harrison, who has hosted every season of all the Bachelor franchise, left his post for the first time ever—temporarily—to move his son into college, so we’ll see former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher step in as host for a hot sec. JoJo, whose season featured the notoriously violent Chad, is one of the franchise’s few success stories given that she is still engaged to her season’s winner, Jordan Rodgers (yes, he’s Aaron’s brother, and no, they don’t have a healthy relationship because having daddy issues is a casting requirement). It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Chris Harrison making the revelatory observation that “this is the final rose tonight” when everyone can clearly see the singular rose left on the table, but I wish JoJo the best of luck on her hosting journey.
As if things couldn’t get any weirder, the infamous “Bachelor Mondays” have been moved to Tuesdays this season to avoid schedule conflicts with the approximately four humans who tune in to both The Bachelorette and Monday Night Football. It’s funny because I’ve always compared the two as they serve as an excuse to get together with friends, have a few drinks and snacks and if the conversation lulls, you have a common topic to fall back on. Plus, there’s always something to yell at the TV about—whether it’s a pass interference or Hannah B. choosing the cheater/dog food jingle writer/Jimmy Neutron look-alike Jed as her finalist.
Which brings me to the next big twist—possibly the most dramatic of all time. While the show will start with Clare as the headliner, it has been revealed that a second bachelorette, Tayshia Adams, will take over the title mid-season. We were first introduced to Tayshia when she criticized Colton’s kissing skills on Season 23 of “The Bachelor,” a.k.a. the season of the iconic fence jump, a.k.a. the season where they wouldn’t shut up about Colton being a virgin. I actually really like her, but what? Talk about being blindsided. While we’ve seen dramatic twists before—does Jason Mesnick and Arie Luyendyk Jr. dumping their seasons’ respective winners in favor of their runner-up ring a bell?—but having a lead get totally replaced mid-season is totally unprecedented. ABC is playing hard to get, so no one knows exactly what’s going on, but here’s what I’ve gathered from real news articles and sketchy conspiracy theory sites:
Sometime between the original cast announcement March 11 and the start of filming July 18, Clare googles her contestants (I mean fair, who doesn’t cyber-stalk potential significant others these days?). She begins talking to one of her contestants, ex-football player Dale Moss.
Clare and her contestants begin filming at the resort on July 18.
Less than two weeks later, producers reach out to backup contestants who had initially applied but not been cast. Rumors begin to circulate about Tayshia replacing Clare.
On Aug. 2, Clare liked (then promptly unliked) a tweet about Tayshia being her replacement. This is telling because A) she liked a tweet seemingly confirming the rumors, and B) she was on her phone, which she would not have been able to use if she were filming because the producers are heartless.
On Aug. 3, roughly two weeks after filming began, ET officially confirmed the rumors that Tayshia would be replacing Clare with an Instagram post from Lauren Zima, who is dating host Chris Harrison. So much for pillow talk confidentiality.
Later in August, the Daily Mail released photo evidence of Tayshia at the resort.
There have been several other “Bachelor” franchise alums spotted at the resort, including Hannah Ann Sluss, Becca Kufrin, Wells Adams and Ashley Iaconetti Haibon, leading to further speculation.
So this is what we know, but there are several puzzle pieces missing. Right now, the general consensus is that Clare left with Dale mid-season and Tayshia stepped in as the lead, with a few new contestants thrown in. What’s really suspicious about this situation is that there is no way this is the first time a lead has ever wanted to leave with one of their contestants before the finale (the people who go on this show are desperate for a relationship, which is a recipe for settling early and/or becoming a stage five clinger). Plus, everyone who goes on this show has to sign an insane contract—essentially, the “Bachelor” producers control your life for a year after you leave the show, so there’s no way that ditching filming mid-run is allowed under normal circumstances. So, what piece of the story are we missing? Is Clare really engaged to Dale? Does Tayshia find love with one of Clare’s sloppy seconds? These questions have been taking up way too much of my brain space for way too long, so thank goodness the show premieres this Tuesday.
“The Bachelor” franchise is truly never dull, from Corinne Olympios still having a nanny at age 24, to unending B-roll shots of Colton showering, to Pilot Pete’s questionable escapades. It’s going to be a wild ride, Bachelor Nation, and I hope you’ll follow Clare’s journey to find love along with me. Check back in every Wednesday for an episode recap, and make your picks in my Bachelorette Fantasy League every Tuesday before 7 p.m., because why not?