Posted on September 14, 2020 6:20 am

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If, like me, you’re up to your neck in the 2020 election cycle, watching cities and forests on fire thanks to rioters and gender reveal parties run amok, and endlessly facing the scowly eyes of the mask-shamers, yet wondering why your life feels strangely drama-free, maybe that’s because you’re also going through “Bachelor” withdrawal. That’s right: while “The Bachelorette” should have just wrapped up with a weepy “Tell All” last month, this season won’t be airing until next, thanks to the pesky China virus, and I’m feeling its absence.

This 16th season of “The Bachelorette,” which resumes Oct. 13, has generated quite the buzz, not only because its lead, Clare Crawley, is older than the typical bachelorette at 39 years old, and not only because filming occurred amid a global pandemic, but because it will feature two leading ladies. While Crawley kicks off the season, another Bachelor Nation star, Tayshia Adams, will finish it. All the hubbub over the last six months has created quite the confusion, so here’s what went down in Bachelor Nation and what to expect from this season of “The Bachelorette.”

Rewind to March, when Crawley, a contestant from Juan Pablo Galavis’s run as “The Bachelor,” was officially declared the bachelorette. Thanks to the pandemic, however, her season’s production halted and didn’t pick back up again until July. With strict coronavirus restrictions still in effect, the cast and crew had no choice but to forego their typical global journey and instead quarantine here in the states for the duration of production. The season 16 troupe filmed in a lockdown bubble in the Palm Springs area of Los Angeles, according to Entertainment Tonight.

Shortly into filming, however, things changed. While it’s become quite normal for Bachelor Nation leads to conclude their seasons without having fully committed to one of the contestants or to break off an engagement shortly after, Crawley seems to have fallen in love in record time. About two weeks was all it took for the bachelorette to pair off with one of her men. Whether the 39-year-old received a ring has yet to be revealed.

“Maybe [Clare] was like, ‘There is no top two, there’s a top one, and I know it right now, and I’m done.’ And I think that is so awesome, not only that she figured that out — if that’s the case — but I think it’s awesome of the show to let that happen,” said Ali Fedotowsky, the season six bachelorette.

Meanwhile, Adams, originally featured on Colton Underwood’s season of “The Bachelor” but more recently known for her fling with John Paul Jones on “Bachelor in Paradise,” became noticeably absent from social media and began quarantining with this season’s cast.

Sources confirmed to E! News that Adams would be replacing Crawley as the bachelorette. “The producers have told her that the season will still lead with Clare and her short-lived journey and will show Clare falling in love with one of her suitors,” a source told E! News. “Clare will then conclude her journey and announce that Tayshia is the lead.”

Adams returned to Instagram Sept. 10, indicating filming has wrapped for what’s shaping up to be a whirlwind of a season.

“Different in the best way possible” is how Crawley described the upcoming season to longtime host Chris Harrison prior to filming. “I want somebody who’s not excited about the wonderful locations — which is great, and it’s awesome to be able to go do those things, which I’ve done before — but this is more of what I’m looking for, just real one-on-one connection or multiple connections and just having the time to get to know each other way better and not having to focus on anything greater or bigger than that. It’s the most important thing.”

Bachelor fans have speculated about whether Crawley’s “time to get to know each other” started before filming. The franchise’s pool of contestants has become a certain type of incestuous in the era of Instagram and Stagecoach as they bounce around, dating within the Bachelor Nation singlesphere (like a Chinese fire drill with sexual tension).

These reality TV stars have been known to interact with the bachelor or bachelorette, online or in person, prior to stepping out of the iconic limousine on night one. Ask Blake Horstmann or Kelley Flanagan. Crawley apparently was in quarantine for months before she began filming, so is it possible she struck up some conversations with her suitors to avoid going stir-crazy on lockdown?

“She admitted she Googled ’em on a podcast, but did she DM them?” asked Entertainment Tonight’s Lauren Zima.

Either way, it seems Crawley has found what she’s looking for. Has Adams? We’re about to find out on what’s sure to be “the most dramatic season yet.” They always are.

“The Bachelorette” returns Oct. 13 to ABC.

READ FULL STORY @ The Federalist