Against all odds: 'The Bachelorette' returns to prime time

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Kyla Brewer / TV Media
Clare Crawley is "The Bachelorette"

Clare Crawley is "The Bachelorette"

It's been a tumultuous year, to say the least. But as time goes by, people are finding ways to move forward in life and, apparently, in love. While the television industry has been hit hard by extensive shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, some shows have bounced back more quickly, finding innovative ways to get things up and running again. One of these shows is about to return to the screen, much to the delight of its fans, Bachelor Nation.

Clare Crawley begins what will be a romantic journey full of shocking twists and turns as she meets 31 potential suitors in the Season 16 premiere of "The Bachelorette," airing Tuesday, Oct. 13, on ABC. This marks the 16th season of the romance reality TV show, hosted, once again, by Chris Harrison.

A spinoff of ABC's "The Bachelor," the program has been titillating reality TV fans since its premiere in 2003. Typically, the chosen Bachelorette meets a variety of attractive and successful men in the hopes of making a lasting love connection. As the season progresses, cameras tag along as she dates each of the men and decides which ones she wants to get to know better. Those men receive roses during the Rose Ceremony at the end of each episode, while the other men are sent packing. The number of suitors dwindles over the course of the season until there are only two left and the Bachelorette must make her final choice.

That is how things are supposed to go, but this season has not exactly followed the script. Things started out in the usual way when ABC announced that Crawley would be the newest star of "The Bachelorette" on the March 2 edition of "Good Morning America." Viewers first met Crawley when she appeared as one of the potential love matches for Juan Pablo Galavis on Season 18 of "The Bachelor." She was all set to start work on "The Bachelorette" when Warner Bros. Television Group, which produces "The Bachelorette," announced on March 13 that it would be shutting down production on all of its shows due to COVID-19 concerns.

"Talk about the most dramatic season ever," Crawley wrote on her Instagram page at the time, seemingly undaunted. She went on to say: "We are taking it day by day and even hour by hour as this is so unpredictable."

Eventually, producers figured out how to safely get things running again, and the show became the first major TV program to restart production in the United States when it began filming in July. The cast and crew relocated everything to the lavish La Quinta Resort & Club in California, which was not open to the public at the time. They all faced a quarantine period of 14 days and were subjected to COVID-19 tests and temperature checks so that filming could continue as they all set up camp at the resort.

Host Harrison was no exception to the rules. He even had to quarantine again in August after dropping his son off in Texas for university. During that time, former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher (Season 12) took over as a temporary host.

Clare Crawley and Chris Harrison as seen on "The Bachelorette"

Clare Crawley and Chris Harrison as seen on "The Bachelorette"

But, believe it or not, a delay in filming, a guest host, global pandemic precautions and a new setting are not all that's new. This season promises to be like no other. Rumor has it that, for the first time in "Bachelorette" history, there will be a handover as a new Bachelorette steps in to replace Crawley sometime over the course of the season. As the story goes, one of Crawley's potential suitors contacted her during the shutdown and they started chatting. By the time the show was back up and running, they were reportedly already falling in love and none of the other participants stood a chance.

Bachelor Nation fans have been speculating that the "new" new Bachelorette will be Tayshia Adams, who appeared in Season 23 of "The Bachelor" opposite Colton Underwood in 2019. While there has been no official word on this from the production company or the network, plenty of entertainment news sources, including Us and People, have been buzzing about Adams showing up at the resort where this season was filmed.

This could be a banner year for the show's ratings as TV fans look for new content to watch. With so many conventional productions struggling to find footing and get up and running, "The Bachelorette" might have the edge, thanks to the fact that producers found a way to navigate the COVID-19 restrictions so quickly. That quick thinking could really pay off for the show, which has seen a slow decline in ratings over the past several seasons.

Regardless of what happens, this season of "The Bachelorette" is sure to be entertaining. Even those fans who've been with the show from the very beginning may be shocked by the 16th season's ups and downs. Don't miss the Season 16 premiere of "The Bachelorette," airing Tuesday, Oct. 13, on ABC.