(LOS ANGELES) — After all the starts and stops, season 16 of ABC’s The Bachelorette, which kicked off on Tuesday, will go down as the craziest in franchise history, but if host Chris Harrison’s hunch is correct, “It doesn’t end well.”
The new season almost never got off the ground, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which, like many other shows, saw production come to a halt in March. So how did reality dating show ensure that Clare Crawley found her soulmate in spite of the pandemic?
Harrison says much careful planning went into taping the show in accordance with California’s strict COVID-19 protocols. The franchise, known for sending contestants to exotic locations, limited filming to just one location this time: La Quinta, California.
Prior to shooting the series, all the contestants, including Clare, were required to spend time in isolation, and tested regularly for the virus. The entire season was shot in a bubble, so that Crawley and the men could kiss and hug, just as they would in a regular season.
Finally, it was time for Clare to meet her suitors, each of whom pulled out all the stops, using clever opening lines and even elaborate props, to make a memorable first impression on her.
She was impressed by them all, but Dale, the 31-year-old former pro football player from San Diego, became the early frontrunner. Dale literally had Clare, 39, from “Hello,” making her gush into the camera “I think I may have just met my husband.” Their conversation at the cocktail hour later on seemed to seal the deal, and he walked off with the first impression rose.
Another potential suitor, Blake Moynes, a 29-year-old wildlife manager from Ontario, Canada, made an impression on Clare, even before the two met face-to-face.
Upon hearing that Crawley’s mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was injured in a fall, Moynes — in a blatant violation of the rules — contacted Crawley to send his best wishes. While acknowledging that it was wrong, Clare was genuinely touched by Blake’s willingness to risk getting tossed from the show in order to check up on her.
As Clare, who put Juan Pablo in his place on the memorable, 18th season finale of The Bachelor, tells Harrison, “I’m a woman who knows what I want and I follow my gut.” That became evident than when Tyler C., a 27-year-old lawyer, had some “dirt” on 30-year-old medical device salesman Yosef, whom Tyler claimed had sent a flirtatious video message to a woman while quarantining.
Clare sat both men down and listened patiently to both men’s stories, before declaring, “There’s still a lot of men that I haven’t talked with…I’m gonna continue chatting.”
Later, at the rose ceremony, Clare delivered swift justice, sending Tyler C. packing, along with eight other guys.
Here are the remaining men:
Ben, 29, an Army Ranger veteran from Venice, Calif.
Bennett, 36, a wealth management consultant from New York City, N.Y.
Blake Monar, 31, a male grooming specialist from Phoenix, Ariz.
Blake Moynes, 29, a wildlife manager from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Brandon, 28, a real estate agent from Cleveland, Ohio
Brendan, 30, a commercial roofer from Milford, Mass.
Chasen, 31, an IT account executive from San Diego, Calif.
Dale, 31, a former pro football receiver from Brandon, S.D.
Demar, 26, a spin cycling instructor from Scottsdale, Ariz.
Eazy, 29, a sports marketing agent from Newport Beach, Calif.
Ed, 36, a health care salesman from Miami, Fla.
Garin, 34, a professor of journalism from North Hollywood, Calif.
Ivan, 28, an aeronautical engineer from Dallas, Texas
Jason, 31, a former pro football lineman from Arlington, Va.
Jay, 30, a fitness director from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Joe, 36, an anesthesiologist from New York City, N.Y.
Kenny, 39, a boy band manager from Chicago, Ill.
Riley, 30, an attorney from Long Island City, N.Y.
Tyler S.,36, Music Manager from Georgetown, Texas
Yosef, 30, a medical device salesman from Daphne, Ala.
Zac C., 36, an addiction specialist from Haddonfield, N.J.
Zach J., 37, a cleaning service owner from St. George, Utah
The Bachelorette returns Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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