Like countless other shows, both reality-based and scripted, The Bachelorette has halted filming this spring for obvious reasons.
It's a real shame, because had all gone according to plan, we could have been looking at a season premiere on ABC very soon.
Clare Crawley was going to be a refreshing choice for leading lady in this franchise, too, in part due to her age and maturity.
Especially after watching that f--k boi Peter Weber play mind games with 20-somethings, this was going to be a welcome shift.
But now, as ABC debates plans to film in containment, some fans are upset and feel the season should be canceled altogether.
Are they just opportunists using the pandemic as an excuse to sack Clare as the lead, or do they kind of have a point?
Let's break it down.
2020 was supposed to be Clare's year
Clare Crawley is 39 years old. She's a favorite within the Bachelor Nation and has been part of the Bachelor Fam for years.
Clare's claim to fame is telling off Juan Pablo
She made it nearly to the end of Juan Pablo's season. The dude was infamously the worst Bachelor in history, but it made for an entertaining season -- and Clare was seen as a real hero.
That wasn't the end of her story
Since then, Clare has appeared on Bachelor in Paradise, but she didn't fare much better there -- unless befriending a raccoon counts, in which case she had an AMAZING time.
Then there was 2018
Clare was one of the contestants on The Bachelor: Winter Games, where she ALMOST got her happily ever after. Alas, it was not to be.
Her announcement was thrilling
Leaked at the last minute via email (surprising even Reality Steve), Clare's casting was seen as a breath of fresh air.
It's not just about her age, but ...
After Peter's hot mess of a season and the way that Hannah Brown's season was derailed by a cheater, viewers were looking for stability and maturity. A 39-year-old who is serious about finding not just love, but an actual husband, was the answer that people wanted.
There was just one hitch
Contestants are generally cast before the lead (thus why Bekah Martinez's application photos expressed thirst for Peter Krause even though Arie ended up being the Bachelor, to the world's everlasting regret), so most of the men in Clare's season were going to be in their 20s - a decade younger or MORE.
The fandom was divided
Some demanded that ABC recast Clare's dudes to make them more age-appropriate. Others have watched men like Arie (who happens to be Clare's age, though he looks considerably older) date women considerably younger than themselves on this franchise and found it refreshing that Clare was potentially going into a season where she could be making out with some 24-year-old himbos.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head. So much of the world has ground to a halt. And, thanks to the dissolution of the pandemic preparedness team and aggressive mismanagement perpetrated by the current administration, the US has slim hopes of safely ending social distancing guidelines any time soon.
Is that it for Clare's season?
Maybe not. Fans suggested early in the outbreak that, in lieu of exotic locales, ABC could rent a compound or even an unoccupied resort, screen all contestants and production, and essentially have a few dozen folks quarantine in place in order to film Clare's season.
In fact, that's the plan
The isolation season is set to film in July, when it would normally be airing. According to reports, the entire season will take place at an undisclosed site for a matter of weeks, with regular tests and guidelines in place to ensure the safety of the cast.
But is that the best?
Some fans feel that would be a creative workaround given the circumstances, and we all need the content right now. Others believe that the tone of filming at all would be... well, tone-deaf. COVID-19 has claimed hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, and we all know that the short supply of tests in countries like the US means that the real figures are considerably higher.
It would be weird, to say the least
It could all go according to plan, sure. But it could also lead to some bizarre fallout. Imagine the contestants filming and getting calls about people whom they know testing positive for COVID-19, or a business that can't operate during a world-wide plague run by their friend closing down. Imagine people who see news reports of overwhelmed hospitals and overflowing morgues then watching a group of people living it up like a Masque of the Red Death party (except that everyone has been tested).
So many things have been canceled this year
With testing still as rare as it is - we've come a long way in a month, but having started from zero, there's still an inordinate amount of catching up to do - critics fear that it may be an overly ostentatious display of wealth for a network to film a season in quarantine. After all, "filming a woman date some dudes" is not an essential activity by any standard. Should the show just close up shop indefinitely under these circumstances?
There is another consideration
Is this what Clare signed up for? We can almost guarantee that it is not. Sure, it's still an all-expenses paid trip somewhere to watch men fawn all over you, but still. It's less than ideal for countless reasons.
Doesn't she deserve a real season?
It's not that people tune in to the show for the travel, but giving Clare a "bottle episode" of a season while the whole world is in flames (even more so than it has been for these past three years) seems insulting to some viewers, and it's easy to see why.
For now, they're moving forward
But we imagine that, come June or July, ABC will test the waters and figure out if filming the show will be worth the backlash. Depending on the mood of the country in another month or two, that decision may be made for them.
That said ...
There is a lot to be said for the desire that people have for a distraction from the pandemic and the rest of the horrors of the world. Maybe The Bachelorette is exactly what some people need right now, and worth a couple dozen test kits. Also? If we were ABC, we'd make a big show of doing some kind of COVID-19 benefit before and during the show to deflect criticism. Some people are going to be critical no matter what, but this could be a huge platform to make a real difference.