Like just about everything that was scheduled to take place in March, filming for Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette has been delayed indefinitely.
But unlike just about every other aspect of the global health crisis, this posptonement could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
As you’re probably aware, Clare is a bit older than the typical Bachelorette.
At 39, she’s not even middle-aged, but the sight of a more mature woman may come as a shock to newer fans of the increasingly youth-centric franchise, particularly coming on the heels of Peter Weber’s season, in which both finalists were 23.
And what does her age have to do with the delayed taping schedule?
Well, the contestants for Clare’s season were cast before she was selected as Bachelorette.
Which means, of course, that most of them were in their twenties.
Once Clare was chosen by producers, the casting team went back and replaced some of the men.
But even after the completion of that process, most of the guys are in their twenties, and the cast has an average age of 27.
Clare has said that she’s open to dating a younger man, but she’s probably not in the market for a guy in his early twenties, which is the case with several cast members.
Now, fans are begging ABC to cast some older men for Clare to choose from.
And the wild part is, Clare has added her voice to the chorus and is now encouraging the network to take advantage of this unexpected delay in filming.
"I’m not saying this personally — but I feel like since we have a break in the show right now, I don’t think it’s too late to submit people,"
"So, submit them, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?"
Clare certainly isn’t alone in her desire to see some crow’s feet and graying temples in this year’s cast.
In a recent op-ed, E! News columnist Natalie Finn compared Clare’s casting to the decision to tap Rachel Lindsay as the first black Bachelorette.
"Having a Bachelorette who’s on the edge of 40 is a whole lot more interesting than trying to get worked up yet again over a 25-year-old’s prospects," Finn wrote.
She goes on to say that Clare is "more representative" of the women viewing, describing them as "longtime or newer viewers in their 30s who may or may not be married but can identify with someone who not only hasn’t found Mr. Right yet, but who has also been thrown for a loop a few times by love and relationships."
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Rob Mills, ABC’s Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, admitted that Peter’s season — which many considered to be an abject disaster — has led execs to ask some hard questions about the future of the show.
"You see a lot of people talking about the age of contestants, I think that’s something we’d probably look at and say, ‘Does it need to be aged up? Are these girls ready?’" Mills told ET.
"This is a show about hopefully finding a life mate, and that has happened on this show," he added.
"I think just making sure everybody’s ready, and you can’t ignore the fact that, not even for the right reasons anymore, but are you there to be an influencer?"
The fact is, a lot has changed since The Bachelor debuted in 2002.
The average age of marriage has been steadily rising for years, and most 23-year-olds aren’t focused on finding their forever partners.
On top of that, a plethora of dating shows targeted at younger audiences — many of them found on MTV — have chipped away at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette’s core demo.
All of these factors are likely to come into play as the show’s producers spend their quarantine weighing options for the future of the franchise.