The new ‘Bachelorette’ star is Clare Crawley, and that’s a good thing

The next star of “The Bachelorette” is an old face – and the oldest Bachelorette yet: Clare Crawley will headline Season 16 this summer, “Good Morning America” announced on Monday.

The runner-up on Juan Pablo Galavais’ season of “The Bachelor” in 2014, Crawley was also on the first two seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise” and “The Bachelor Winter Games” two years ago. At 38, she’s the oldest woman to be the Bachelorette and will turn 39 on March 20, a week into production on the show. The series has only had two other thirtysomething Bachelorettes: inaugural star Trista Rehn, who was 30, and Rachel Lindsay, the first black lead, who was 32.

A hairstylist, Crawley was previously engaged to “The Bachelorette Canada’s” Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, who popped the question on “The Bachelor Winter Games: World Tells All.” They split two months later in April 2018.

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Crawley was one of the ladies rumored to be new Bachelorette, speculation that surged once “GMA” shared on Friday that the casting announcement will be on its show and not on the “After the Final Rose” special as usual. The last time the franchise made an early reveal was for Lindsay, who hadn’t even been eliminated on “The Bachelor” yet, as part of an effort to draw a more diverse pool of suitors for its first black star.

Just as it’s been criticized for its blindingly white casts, the “Bachelor” franchise has also taken flak for its age bias, as the majority of its stars and contestants are in their 20s or early 30s; 85 percent of women on “The Bachelor” are younger than 30, while it’s 60 percent for the men on “The Bachelorette.” (Peter Weber, 28, has two 23-year-olds and a 26-year-old in his final three on “The Bachelor” this season.)

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But with the dark horse casting of Crawley, who’s basically AARP in the “Bachelor” world, and the potential “Bachelor” spin-off for actual AARP-qualifying seniors, Bachelor Nation looks like it’s ready for some mature love. A soon-to-be 39-year-old with a career and some actual life experience (and yes, lots of “Bachelor” experience) is far more realistic and interesting to watch than the endless parade of 22-year-olds looking to nab some Instagram spon con when the show is over.

And like with Lindsay, Crawley’s casting will hopefully open the door for different kinds of men to apply and be selected as her suitors – older, probably, with established careers themselves, and some life experience. Maybe we’ll see some divorcés and/or fathers.

According to Reality Steve, who reported Crawley’s casting on Saturday, production on the season will start on Friday, March 13. He’s also learned the ages of 14 men in contention to be cast, with the oldest being 40 and the youngest being 23.

“The Bachelorette” will premiere on Monday, May 18 at 8/7c on ABC.

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