Review: After one episode of “The Bachelorette,” it is clear Season 16 will be unprecedented in many ways

This+being+her+fifth+season+with+the+Bachelor%2C+Clare+Crawly+returns+as+the+Bachelorette+to+find+love+once+and+for+all.+

photo courtesy of ABC

This being her fifth season with the Bachelor, Clare Crawly returns as the Bachelorette to find love once and for all.

Jessica Gallo, Opinion Editor

Having been the runner-up of season 18 of “The Bachelor,” a participant on seasons one and two of “Bachelor in Paradise” and getting engaged in season one of “The Bachelor Winter Games,” new Bachelorette Clare Crawley is no unfamiliar face. Although she is 39 and filming her season amidst a global pandemic, Crawley is still determined to find love this season.

The highly anticipated season premiere of “The Bachelorette” aired Tuesday night, with the first half of the episode highlighting the effect the coronavirus had taken on Crawley and the contestants and how the producers prepared for safe filming of the new season.

Back in early March, ABC announced Crawley as their next Bachelorette and was prepared to film the new season. But following the state of California’s stay-at-home order soon, Crawley and all the contestants had to return home and postpone filming immediately.

The coronavirus left Crawley, the contestants and the rest of Bachelor Nation with many questions about how the show would continue. During normal seasons, the contestants are living together, closely interacting, getting intimate and traveling the world. All of these things seemed impossible to do while keeping everyone safe. 

Yet, many months later, Crawley’s quest to find love persevered and the producers made sure it happened safely with just as much magic and spice. 

In June, Crawley and the contestants were flown back to California to start filming. But before meeting everyone, she and all her dates had to self-isolate on the filming grounds for two weeks and go through multiple rounds of COVID-19 testing. Once passing those tests, Crawley was finally able to meet the men, and they were more than ready to meet her.

As mentioned multiple times throughout the episode, Crawley and the eligible suitors felt very lucky to have been able to hug and kiss each other without having to worry about getting COVID or passing it on to a loved one. In just the first episode, all of the contestants were very grateful that they were able to date in ways that the rest of the world is currently unable to. 

Additionally, the season was filmed in only one location, the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California instead of the infamous Bachelor Mansion in Agora Hills. The resort is definitely big enough to hold an entire season of the Bachelorette, but being stuck in a “COVID safety bubble” and not getting the typical exotic vacations might be cause for even more drama as the season goes on.

Aside from the coronavirus, this Bachelorette season is different in multiple ways.

Crawley is 39, the oldest Bachelorette to ever go on the show. Her age itself doesn’t raise any concern, but rather the fact that the oldest suitor is 36 and the others range from 26-34, most of them still in their twenties. Though Crawley says age is just a number, Bachelor Nation will remain eager to find out how things play out. 

That said, her age and past experiences with the Bachelor Franchise put her in a unique position compared to any other past Bachelorette. As she mentions throughout the episode, Crawley knows what she wants and doesn’t want to waste any time with any guy who isn’t going to meet her needs. 

Information leakages about future episodes reveal a lot of drama is coming our way, as well as the addition of a new Bachelorette. Whether this change happens due to Crawley knowing who she wants or because none of the contestants can meet her needs is currently unknown to the public, but somewhere in the near future, new Bachelorette Tayshia Adams will come in and shake things up all over again. 

Get ready, Bachelor nation. This is about to be one heck of a season.