“The Bachelorette” is back on the air after production was shut down for four months earlier this year due to COVID-19. The season was shot entirely in quarantine at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California, where the cast and crew lived on site to abide by safety regulations.
Clare Crawley, 39, is the lead, making her the oldest Bachelorette the show’s ever had. Suffice it to say, there were many, many age jokes — some coming from ABC itself.
In the official promotional poster for season 16, Clare is posed against a wall holding a rose, as an extended, sock-covered foot plagues the foreground. It’s an obvious reference to the poster for the 1967 film “The Graduate.”Clare stands in for Dustin Hoffman, a 21-year-old man seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson. Except in this scenario, Clare would be Robinson.
Fans on Twitter expressed their disdain for the poster and the tasteless age reference. Some of the show’s younger audience missed the reference altogether, noting the odd placement of the foot and their discomfort.
Despite the show’s unconventional production process, the premiere was a strong start, featuring a shockingly diverse cast of men vying for Clare’s heart.
The episode kicks off with a flashback to February when host Chris Harrison asks Clare to be the Bachelorette. Fans then take a walk down memory lane, looking back at her history as runner-up on Juan Pablo Galavis’ season of “The Bachelor” and her various stints on “Bachelor in Paradise,” but the show fails to mention her previous engagement to Benoit Beauséjour-Savard on “Bachelor: Winter Games.”
Then, there’s a dramatic montage of COVID-19 news clips followed by Clare — in quarantine — griping that the pandemic might ruin her last chance to find a husband.
Fast forward to June, and the men have finally arrived at the resort, but they must have multiple negative COVID-19 tests before they can meet Clare. More complaining ensues as they tearfully undergo testing. The men finally learn they’re cleared to meet Clare, which prompts one contestant to gleefully run around the resort screaming and another to jump in the pool.
After the introduction that felt like an eternity, the first limo finally arrives. Ben is the first to step out, using the cliche, overused “deep breath” move as his introduction to Clare. Jason recreates Clare’s “Bachelor” first impression by pretending he’s pregnant. In true Andy Bernard fashion, Bennett mentions he’s a Harvard grad in his first minute of screen time, then proceeds to show up in a Rolls Royce wearing a tuxedo and a white scarf.
Eazy jumps through a poster labeled “Your Future Husband,” and Jay shows up in a straightjacket, which he wears for the rest of the night and into the rose ceremony.
No man makes a greater impression on Clare than Dale, the 31-year-old former pro football player from Brandon, South Dakota. He lifts Clare off the ground in a hug and leaves her in a daze as she remarks to producers, “I definitely feel like I just met my husband.”
Chris Harrison swoops in, encouraging her to continue meeting the rest of the men, though it’s clear who’s on her mind for the rest of the night.
Unnecessary drama ensues between Tyler C. and Yosef, when Tyler accuses Yosef of sending flirty messages to an acquaintance before production started. Yosef doesn’t deny it, but Clare quickly dismisses it in a refreshing turn of events.
Blake Moynes makes a great first impression, as it’s revealed he was the only one who broke the no-contact rule and reached out to Clare over quarantine to make sure she was OK. However, it’s not enough to earn him the first impression rose, and Clare — shockingly — gives it to Dale.
The rose ceremony is fairly uneventful, as Clare makes questionable choices and gives roses to men who haven’t even gotten screen time yet. She shuts down drama by sending Tyler C. home but opts to keep Yosef around, which may be a catalyst for future conflict.
The episode concludes with a montage of future events. Clare applauds herself for “showing up.” Something scandalous happens in the near future involving Clare and Dale, with Chris Harrison saying, “You’ve just blown up ‘The Bachelorette.’” The possibility of a new Bachelorette is brought up, and the men even discuss walking away from the show.
With numerous rumors swirling as to what this all means for the fate of Clare’s season, one thing is clear: Host Chris Harrison could finally be telling the truth when he calls this “the most shocking season ever.”
Contact Amy Needham at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.