The new season of The Bachelorette premieres Tuesday night, but it was a long, winding road to get here. First, the pandemic forced production to shut down and postponed the season by months. Then, news broke that Bachelorette Clare Crawley had found love almost immediately and had refused to continue filming—forcing ABC to bring in Tayshia Adams as the backup Bachelorette to finish out the season. Take a deep breath—we know that’s a lot to process.
How will it fundamentally change the show? And can The Bachelorette ever top this level of drama? Fans of the show answer those questions and more below.
1. First question: Will this be, literally, the most dramatic season of The Bachelorette ever?
Ben Lindbergh: Of course. Would Chris Harrison mislead us about that?
Amelia Wedemeyer: Even though we get this line every single year from host Chris Harrison, I truly believe that this season of The Bachelorette will be the Most Dramatic Season Ever™. Why? Because Chris Harrison’s own girlfriend, Entertainment Tonight host Lauren Zima, has confirmed that the rumors setting Bachelor Nation abuzz are true—Clare leaves halfway through her journey to be with one of her contestants, Dale Moss, leaving the door open for a new Bachelorette, Tayshia Adams. But instead of tantalizing us with footage of the switch—remember how Colton’s season teased his fence jump from the beginning?—ABC is just waiting for the season to unfold. As in, I’m pretty sure they haven’t even fully acknowledged that they’re switching Bachelorettes! They’re just letting the rumors build, which is chaotic, messy, and the perfect groundwork for the Most Dramatic Season Ever™.
Jonathan Tjarks: As someone who only started watching during Colton’s season, it definitely feels like they have ratcheted up the drama every season since. Why stop now when it seems like it has made the show more popular than ever?
Alyssa Bereznak: No—unless Clare or Tayshia (A) fall for an enterprising country musician with a secret girlfriend, (B) disappear into the Portuguese wilderness, or (C) choose one person but, after receiving an IG DM, change their mind and film the breakup on national television.
Andrew Gruttadaro: The Bachelorette—who’s spent years vying for the position—decides she wants to stop being the Bachelorette two weeks into filming. This is absolutely unprecedented, seemingly show-breaking stuff. This franchise has had highly dramatic moments, but this may be the most dramatic full season by a long shot.
2. Which Bachelorette are you more excited for: Clare or Tayshia?
Bereznak: Clare! She has a temper and isn’t afraid to say what she feels. I love Tayshia but she was always exceedingly composed and private—let’s not forget that she was the one who suggested the camera crew disappear when Colton was breaking up with her so the two of them could cry in private. (I know complaining about this makes me sound like a vulture, but she’s the one who decided to put her love life on television for other people’s entertainment!)
Lindbergh: Tayshia. I’ve been out on Clare since she snubbed future fiancé/ex-fiancé Benoit for Jacuzzi Christian on The Bachelor Winter Games.
Gruttadaro: You’d think Clare would be the pick due to her slightly chaotic energy and penchant for classic reality TV moments, but the fact that I already know the endpoint of her journey is bugging me a little bit. So I have to go Tayshia, for the element of the unexpected.
Wedemeyer: The fact that they’re hiding Tayshia from us means we have no expectations or preconceived ideas about what to expect from her part of this season. I’m all about being surprised, and Tayshia as the Bachelorette will be as much of a surprise as the internet allows these days.
Tjarks: Clare. I’m here for the Bachelorette breaking the rules of the game. It’s all made up, folks.
3. How will this year’s special circumstances change the show? What are the pros and cons?
Lindbergh: Pros: less Clare, more iconic Chris reactions, a legitimate chance to achieve record drama, and the potential to find twice as much love. Cons: Actually, I can think of only one—it’s airing on Tuesday, so I have to wait one additional day to see it.
Tjarks: Their inability to go anywhere or leave the property should be interesting, even if only to make the contestants even more sick of each other. The downside is that it could make the viewers sick of them, too.
- Contestants probably went a little stir-crazy quarantining by themselves for a couple weeks, so they’ll be raw, which means more chances that someone will let their emotions get the best of them, which in turn means more drama!
- There’s no chance they recast the group of men for Tayshia given the CDC guidelines and production timing, which means we’re gonna get an amazing scene of the men freaking out that Clare has abandoned them and that they must adjust to a new Bachelorette.
- Given that they’ll only be at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Palm Springs, there won’t be as much of a chance for any cultural insensitivity abroad, which has plagued many a past season.
- The same scenery for the entire season, which could get a little monotonous for viewers.
Bereznak: The show has spent the past few years adapting to the shifting whims of the leads. Now that they know they can break the rules a little bit, they’re all doing it on their own terms. Generally this is good for the lead—they’re no longer forced into a romantic captivity that would make them, say, attempt to escape the show by vaulting themselves over a fence. But it’s bad for the show, because there’s less intrigue over who the “winner” of a season will be. Either way, it will be fun to see Clare convinced that she was able to fall in love with someone in even less time than the two months it takes to film an entire season of The Bachelorette.
Gruttadaro: The pros are no trips to Cleveland. The cons are no shots of the disappointed cast after they find out they’re going to Cleveland.
4. Who’s this year’s front-runner (aside from the guy Clare picks)?
Lindbergh: I’m coming in cold to preserve the suspense of this season, so I’m reserving judgment on front-runners until Tuesday night.
Wedemeyer: I mean, even before all of the stories broke about Clare picking him, Dale was CLEARLY the front-runner from his photos and bio alone. In fact, he’s so much the front-runner that I haven’t even considered any of the other guys yet.
Tjarks: I live an unspoiled life, so I am going with my gut: The front-runner is for sure Zach J.
Bereznak: For Tayshia, not sure. Mike Tobin, though, is not only attractive, but 38 and from Canada, which means he might be polite and emotionally mature?
Gruttadaro: Eazy. He’s athletic, he seems fun, and he already lives in California—which is ideal, because there’s no way Tayshia is leaving L.A.
5. Who’s this year’s villain?
Lindbergh: The coronavirus?
Bereznak: I’m gonna go with Austin Bouzigard, the chiropractor from L.A. who, according to Instagram, already appears to have a girlfriend post-show.
Wedemeyer: From what Chris Harrison said during this year’s introduction of the men, I’m gonna say Yosef. My man Chris let out an exasperated sigh when he introduced Yosef, and went on to say that the single dad has “zero filter.” For this franchise, saying someone has “zero filter” usually means they’re a complete dick.
Gruttadaro: I’m sorry what’s this?
Can we zoom in a little more?
This guy—the 39-year-old man with a visible chest tattoo who allegedly manages boy bands. He’s the villain. There’s no way he’s not.
6. After a streak of wild, formula-busting seasons, do you crave the normalcy of past years, or do you think the show has leveled up?
Tjarks: It does feel like the show might be reaching a breaking point where it’s losing its identity in order to expand beyond its core audience—but hey, I’ve enjoyed it so far.
Gruttadaro: I’m giddy with anticipation to see what happens when the main character in this show deliberately breaks it. That said, where do we go from here? The seasons have been growing increasingly chaotic, but I’m not sure how you get more chaotic than this. Eventually we’re going to have to return to a baseline, if only so that wild seasons in the future can feel dramatic by comparison.
Bereznak: Yes, I would like to see a season reach its originally intended completion (Matt James, I’m counting on you). That being said, it will be funny to watch this batch of suitors first hype Clare up, then subsequently perform verbal gymnastics to declare Tayshia the woman of their dreams. All part of the game!
Wedemeyer: I am all in on amping up the absurdity factor! I don’t need to see another one-on-one date stretched over 45 minutes. (The consummate question: Why is this show two hours when Survivor is only an hour?) Personally, the more drama in Bachelor Nation, the better.
Lindbergh: I think the show is as entertaining as ever, but I worry that the ever-escalating pursuit of unprecedented drama will eventually remove any pretense of this series representing a serious attempt to find love. I’d be up for a reset season where the tagline is like, “You know what? This is not the most dramatic season ever. And that’s OK.”