But this season is going to look *a little* different

The garbage fire that was Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor is thankfully over, and now, Bach Nation fans have a lead to *actually* look forward to. And it’s an exciting one.

On March 2 the franchise revealed the series’ next Bachelorette: Clare Crawley!

The announcement was made live on Good Morning America and was both a surprise (or as much of a surprise as anything can be with Reality Steve in the mix) and a welcome change. Because Crawley—who was first introduced to fans in 2014 on Juan Pablos Galavis’s season of The Bachelor, making it to the final two before telling him off—is a lovely 39-years-old, making her the oldest lead in the franchise’s history. And, honestly, Jessica from Love is Blind must be *livid* right now. Real talk, though: We’re seriously hoping this *isn’t* what the franchise was referring to when they put out a casting call for seniors looking for love—but we wouldn’t put it past them.

Read this next: Bachelor Peter Is Going To Ruin His Own Dang Season

Crawley—a hairstylist from Sacramento, California—also appeared on seasons 1 and 2 of Bachelor in Paradise, and season 1 of the short-lived Bachelor Winter Games (where she became briefly engaged to Canadian Benoit Beauséjour-Savard).

Per Reality Steve, initial casting for Crawley’s season featured gents that skewed towards older, more mature men (though there may be some recasting due to COVID—and a new call-out by Crawley herself). Which, honestly, is a very exciting switch up. After *years* of being subjected to contestants that aren’t nearly as emotionally mature as they need to be (we’re looking at you, ladies of Pilot Pete’s season), it’ll be super refreshing to see some adults with actual life experience navigate this bonkers experiment.

Not to mention the fact that in a series that pretty much sees 25 as elderly, it’s a pretty big step out of the franchise’s comfort zone to cast an older woman as a lead. I mean, it shouldn’t be, but here we are. Talking about the benefits of her age on GMA, Crawley said: “I feel like a lot of people put it out there as this negative thing, but for me it’s just more years under my belt, more learning, knowing what I want and what I don’t want and what I won’t settle for.”

Here, everything you need to know about the upcoming season.

Read this next: Bachelor Nation Is Officially Over Clare Crawley

When will season 16 of The Bachelorette start filming?

After a brief (and very necessary hiatus), season 16 of The Bachelorette is set to start filming ASAP! ICYMI, just hours before the latest season was supposed to start filming (seriously, the men were pretty much at the mansion and everything), on March 13, Warner Bros. Television announced that they were halting production on more than 70 shows and pilots, including season 16 of The Bachelorette, due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The show was set to begin filming later that day. In a post to Instagram after the announcement, Crawley shared her thoughts on the news, writing: “Well hello! Talk about most dramatic season ever! In all seriousness, Everyone’s health is the most important priority at this time, and as I’m sure you’ve heard, we are pressing pause for now on filming The Bachelorette.”

“We are taking it day by day and even hour by hour as this is so unpredictable,” she continued. “All I know for sure is that my heart is so full from all the love and support this far, and am still so excited for my journey to begin! I’ve waited 38 years for these moments, what’s a little bit longer, right! xoxo” And now her moment has finally come! In a June 17 interview on On Air With Ryan Seacrest, ABC’s vice president of alternative programming, Rob Mills, detailed the latest plan for the show—including the start date. “For Clare’s season, which is going to come first, that’s going to shoot in about a month,” Mills said. “Everybody is going to be at one location. Everybody is going to be tested a week before. Everybody comes back negative, we shoot and they’re inside that bubble.”

So Bach Nation fans, we can expect filming to start in mid July.

Where will the next season of The Bachelorette be filmed?

In the same interview, Mills also gave some BTS info on just exactly how filming would go—and where it will take place. And sorry, Bach fans, but we won’t be seeing the Bachelor Mansion in season 16. Instead, Crawley and her contestants will be isolated together at a resort. “They’ll be at some sort of resort, and we’ve scouted several of them, and all of them have been scouted for good date locations,” Mills told Seacrest. “We had incredible travel planned for Clare’s season. We were going to Italy—all these places that were going to be great—but there will be plenty of different date locations that will feel hopefully as close to The Bachelorette as possible.”

So picture more Bachelor in Paradise vibes than your typical Bach season.

When will season 16 of The Bachelorette air?

While there’s no 100% firm air date, the latest season will air sometime during the fall. But don’t expect to see the hit show in its usual time spot. Adweek reported that the show will be moving from Monday to Tuesday nights, to accommodate Dancing with the Stars (and Bach alum Kaitlyn Bristowe’s dancing debut!).

Will Matt James be on the next season of The Bachelorette?

For anyone who was hoping to see upcoming Bachelor Matt James on their screen x2, we’re sorry to disappoint. Matt—who’s BFFs with Bach alum Tyler Cameron—was initially cast as a contestant on Crawley’s season; but after a call from Bach Nation for more diversity in their leads, on June 12 Matt was announced as the season 25 Bachelor. Which means no, he will not still be competing for Crawley’s heart.





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