‘The Bachelorette’: ABC’s New Leading Lady Revealed With Groundbreaking Pick

THE BACHELORette
ABC

The finale for the current season of “The Bachelor” is still one week away, but the new star of “The Bachelorette” has already been revealed.

Clare Crawley, a 38-year-old hair stylist from Sacramento, Calif., will lead “The Bachelorette” franchise during its 16th season. Crawley, announcing the news on “Good Morning America,” said she just found out this past weekend that she would be the reality show’s new leading lady.

Crawley is no stranger to the franchise, having first appeared during Juan Pablo Galavis’ season of “The Bachelor” in 2014. Although she was the runner-up, another contestant Andi Dorfman was selected from Galavis’ season as the next “Bachelorette.” Crawley then appeared on the first two seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise” and the global spinoff entitled, “Bachelor Winter Games.”

Crawley can vouch that she’s found love on TV before, after leaving “Bachelor Winter Games” with an engagement with Frenchman Benoit Beauséjour-Savard. The two had a relationship during filming and he proposed during the “Tell All” special before they eventually called off their engagement in April 2018.

Crawley’s resurrection could be a reaction to the recent backlash that contestants are too young. Most of the cast has been in their early 20s, which seems outdated to some viewers since current societal dating habits that see many partners meeting later in life, after they’ve become established in their own careers, independently. She dethrones Rachel Lindsay, who was 32-years-old during filming, as the oldest Bachelorette in the franchise’s history. When Crawley was first introduced to viewers on “The Bachelor” in 2014, she was one of the older contestants at 32-years-old.

“I feel like I could be their mom, almost,” Crawley cracked on “GMA,” offering her opinion on the current season of “The Bachelor,” which has many contestants around the age of 25. “I feel like a lot of people put it out there as this negative thing,” she said of her age, “But for me, it’s just more years under my belt, more years of knowing what I want and what I don’t want, and what I won’t settle for.”

Crawley’s casting indicates that the contestant pool might age up, as well. Though, she says she’s open to dating men of any age.

“I have been known to date young guys, so that’s not a problem for me. The thing is, I’m wondering if they’re ready for me with my age, so I feel like that would be more of an issue than me with them,” Crawley said. “I feel so much younger at heart than my actual age — I’m proud of my age, but I just feel younger, and that, to me, is what’s important.”

Aside from the franchise being criticized for its unrealistic age standards, “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” has received much backlash for their lack of diversity. Lindsay is the only star, male or female, of color to lead the franchise in its nearly 20 year history.

Several others were in consideration for the Season 16 gig, including “Bachelor” alums Tia Booth, Tayshia Adams and Kelsey Weier, who was a runner-up in the current season with Peter Weber.

The archival pick is atypical for ABC, since leads are typically selected from the previous batch of contestants from recent seasons. However, the network has gone out-of-order in selecting its stars, for instance, with Bachelors Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Nick Viall. Crawley will break up the continuous storyline of the most seasons of “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette,” which have played like an ongoing sequel.

“It feels like all of the seasons recently have been really good — it feels like one built off of another,” ABC reality chief Rob Mills told Variety of the through-line among the seasons, ahead of the current season of “The Bachelor,” adding, “After Rachel’s season when we went to Arie, it felt like we were starting over. Even though it’s ‘The Bachelor’ and you have everything that you love like Chris Harrison and roses, you’re still starting that timeline over fresh.”

Crawley, one of the franchise’s most-seen stars, will freshen up the current storyline, while also providing a familiarity for viewers in Bachelor Nation.

Filming for “The Bachelorette” is scheduled to begin next week and premiere in May. “The Bachelor” finale airs next week, and the “Women Tell All” special airs Monday.

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