But at the center of season 16, so far, is the romance between Clare and her day-one frontrunner, Dale Moss. The Bachelorette had an instant connection with the former NFL player, telling host Chris Harrison after his limo entrance, "I definitely feel like I just met my husband!"
The chemistry between Clare and Dale has been obvious to anyone watching -- including the rest of her hopeful suitors -- and tensions reached a new boiling point on Tuesday's episode, when Clare snuck off with Dale for nearly an hour during a group date, and later scolded another group of her men for poking fun at her "fiancé" during their comedy roast.
When ET's Lauren Zima spoke with Bachelor Nation host Chris Harrison this week, he said that next week's episode -- which will be held on a special night, Thursday, Nov. 5, due to election coverage -- will be "very enlightening" as to how everything shakes out for Clare and her men.
"I definitely am not disappointed in Clare," Harrison assured fans. "I'm not mad at Clare, none of this is a bad thing. If Clare's falling for somebody, and that's where this goes, then great. The whole purpose of this is to help Clare find love... If I do it in record time, that should go on my record. That should be a good thing. There shouldn't be a negative to this."
At the same time, Harrison admitted, "The guys aren't dumb. If you're dating somebody and you're trying to get to know somebody and you feel brushed off, you feel like they're kind of ignoring you, you feel like she's bringing up another guy nonstop... they're going to notice this, and so it was a little off-putting."
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‘Bachelorette' Clare Crawley on Her 'Electric' Connection With Dale and If She's Engaged (Exclusive)
"I don't blame them for being frustrated in this situation. They came for what they thought was a certain journey and they're not getting that experience, and so I understand their frustration as well."
Harrison addressed one moment from Tuesday's episode in particular, when Clare declined to give any of the men on her group date a rose after spending her time at the cocktail party grilling them all on their roast jokes about Dale. Instead, Clare decided to award herself the rose -- another franchise first.
"That wasn't a great look, I will admit," the host noted. "She was on the group date, had talked about Dale ad nauseam, and these guys just wanted a chance."
"Maybe she didn't know they needed a token to say, 'Hey, I'm still here, you still have a shot.' But these guys were looking for any sign. If she had given it to anybody, if she had given it to one of her producers at that moment, it would've been a good sign. But instead she walked away -- and they didn't see this, but we did, when she kind of laughingly said, 'I'm giving myself the rose tonight.'"
Harrison said that he could tell the guys were frustrated with the experience during filming. "These are good men, and they really are putting their hearts in this... They were trying to lean into this. And you have to take a leap of faith. It's a lot."
And while it is ultimately Clare's season of The Bachelorette, he admitted, every suitor on the show has made sacrifices to try and find love on the show -- especially given the mandatory quarantining and pandemic restrictions.
"These guys have also really given up a lot to be here and I respect that too," Harrison added. "I just wanted them to have a fair shot and you can very clearly see on that date, they're not getting that shot anymore."
So, will they get that shot with another Bachelorette -- Tayshia Adams, perhaps? A promo at the end of the episode teased that Clare's time as the Bachelorette may be coming to a close, and ended with a stunning shot of Tayshia emerging from a pool. ET learned on Aug. 3 that Tayshia stepped in as lead for Clare this season, and Tuesday's promo was the first time ABC and Warner Bros. came close to confirming the news.
"Things might be turning around soon," Harrison teased to ET. "We thought this may take a turn pretty early on."
According to the longtime Bachelor franchise host, there wasn't really a "lightbulb moment" that alerted producers to the fact they may have to make adjustments as Clare expressed her feelings for Dale -- it was a "culmination of things."
"We thought, 'Wow, this is really coming to a head quickly,'" he recalled. "I think our first thought was, 'Well, this will continue on and it'll ebb and flow like normal seasons,' but when we realized there was only ebb and no flow, we thought, 'We need to look at what we are gonna have to do.'"
Chris wouldn't outwardly confirm whether Tayshia does in fact step in as the new lead, but did admit she was "always on the table" for the role.
"She's incredible," he raved of the 30-year-old Orange County, California, native. "Not only is she stunningly beautiful, but she's kind, giving, she's an unbelievably sweet girl. She's somebody I've actually gotten to know and gotten to be friends with over the last couple of years."
Tayshia is the kind of woman "the show is predicated on," Chris explained. "[She] is this amazing woman who seemingly has it all, except she can't find love. She really wants to find love and she's dated and she's trying and it's just not happening," he added. "She is that diamond in the rough that any guy would be lucky to fall in love with."
In the meantime, Chris is celebrating his new collection with Manly Bands. The partnership was a "no-brainer" for the host, given how it aligns with his love of good love stories.
"I do love love. I love weddings. I love when people get engaged. I have seen so many amazing love stories and engagements and I know how hard it is and how special it is to find that," he explained. "When Manly Bands came to me and asked if I would be a part of this... I was just excited because they really allowed me to be really involved in creating these rings."
"They are truly incredible quality, you will feel that when you get them, but they really allowed me to create this spectrum where you can find that ring that speaks to you," he added.
The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Due to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3, next week's episode will air on Thursday, Nov. 5. See more in the video below.