“The Bachelorette” was forced to shut down production the day it was scheduled to start filming last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, and while there are still tons of things up in the air in regards to when and how Season 16 will unfold, there has been one silver lining to the postponement: The show can recast some of her suitors.
“That is one of the things about the delay that’s really good about this that we can do — is that we can get more guys, hopefully, that will come out,” Robert Mills, ABC’s head of alternative programming, said on the “Chicks in the Office” podcast. “There’s been a lot of guys applying, so that’s been the one positive about this whole thing.”
Recasting rumors started last month after Bachelorette Clare Crawley encouraged more guys to apply shortly following the production suspension. Host Chris Harrison later confirmed that the show was “still casting” because it’d be unrealistic to expect all previously cast 32 men to be available/put their lives on hold again whenever they’re able to shoot.
Bachelor Nation was all for recasting as it was unimpressed by the overwhelmingly young cast — 23 of the guys are in their 20s — the series had assembled for 39-year-old Crawley, the oldest Bachelorette. Mills attributed that largely to the small window of time producers had after Crawley’s casting was announced; she was revealed as the lead on “Good Morning America” on March 2, with production set to start on March 13.
“I don’t think she’s dated anyone older than her, by the way. She’s only dated younger. So this wasn’t a horrible cast for her by any means,” Mills said. “But one of the problems was, we met with Clare, made the decision and announced her within the space of like four days, and then we had two weeks before we were gonna start filming, so there’s just so much time you can get. There’s a whole rigorous thing with background [checks], medical testing and everything.”
Plus, men had already applied under the assumption that the next Bachelorette would be someone from Peter Weber‘s season of “The Bachelor,” many of whom were in their 20s, not a franchise veteran who first competed on “The Bachelor” six years ago. Mills confirmed that the show met with some women from Weber’s installment, along with Tia Booth from Arie Luyendyk Jr.‘s season and some of Colton Underwood‘s ladies. “Clare was literally the last person we met with,” he said.
They did not meet with Weber’s runner-up Hannah Ann Sluss because the couple had just ended their engagement so he could (briefly) reunite with Madison Prewett. “It was really late. I don’t know that she was ready to jump into anything. We might’ve had Clare not gone so well, maybe, because it would’ve been close,” Mills explained. “But I feel like if we ever made Hannah Ann the Bachelorette, you want to really do right by her because she got the short end of the stick this season.”
Sluss herself has said that she was “not ready” to do “The Bachelorette” yet.
As for Crawley’s season, everything is still in limbo, but TPTB “talk about it every day,” according to Mills. “Look, I’ll be honest: We will do it as soon as it’s safe. We want to get it on the first minute we possibly can. So there’s a lot of different discussions,” he shared. “Hopefully pretty soon it’s gonna get to where you can start testing people easier and quicker, so if we get everyone tested, do we have them all in one location? Is it going to be safe to travel? Is it just traveling on the road? When are we gonna be able to fly? A lot of that, obviously, changes daily, but we will figure out how to get some version that reflects the world we’re in as quickly as possible.”