'The Bachelorette' Coronavirus Shutdown: How Clare Crawley's Season Is Already Unprecedented and Could Change


Production halted on Friday -- before Crawley got a chance to meet her cast.

Just days after an unprecedented Bachelor finale, in which the lead, Peter Weber, did not even know his own ending, the series’ sister show was put in similarly uncharted territory … and the men hadn’t even moved into the mansion yet.

On Friday, March 13, Warner Bros. announced the new season of one of its biggest hits, The Bachelorette, along with dozens of other shows, had halted production due to coronavirus concerns. 

Host Chris Harrison took to Instagram to explain that Friday was to be the first major night of filming: limo arrivals, when lead Clare Crawley’s guys would arrive at the famous Bachelor Mansion to meet her. He called the decision to stop production for two weeks “difficult,” but added: “It was not only the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do.”

Before stopping completely, production had already planned to scrap international filming destinations. But Friday, the longtime host seemed hopeful the show would ultimately go on. 

“To the men who had given up time in their lives to go on this adventure, I say, 'Thank you, thank you for understanding. Hopefully everything will work out and we can all be back together again,’” he said. “To my friend Clare, you’re still my Bachelorette and hopefully we’re still going to get the opportunity to find you love and make this work.” 

So, Crawley and her men were seemingly sent home, and that would mean one key, game-changing thing: everybody gets their phones back.

The cast had been revealed online to the public on March 11, at which point Crawley and the men had already been staying in hotels, largely cut off from the world as they prepared to film. But now, back out in the open and cell phone in hand, 38-year-old Crawley can Google and Insta stalk her men like any other singleton. Hey, she can even DM them. The Sacramento resident already took to Twitter to shut down her ex, former Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis, when he critiqued how young the cast was overall (the average age is 29, with some men as young as 23.)

Some of the cast members have kept their Instagram accounts set to "private," as the profiles were when they left for filming. But at press time, four had gone public again, and have even been posting. 

On last summer’s season of Bachelor in Paradise, drama began before filming did because some cast members had started talking and hooking up before they hit the set in Mexico. But this level of pre-production interaction has never been an option on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. ET reached out to Warner Bros. for comment on what kind of instructions, if any, the cast was given about reaching out to each other during the shutdown.

Importantly, what will Crawley think of what she sees online? Harrison acknowledged to ET in an interview on Feb. 20 that the decision to make Crawley the new Bachelorette was one of the most back-and-forth, down-to-the-minute discussions producers had had in years, meaning they were likely casting most of the men before they knew who their lead would be. But of course, the show also tries to cast people the lead will be attracted to. Now, with more time on their hands, will production recast?

While Harrison pointed out that Crawley has largely dated men younger than her during her time in the franchise (she’s appeared on The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Winter Games), he also jokingly acknowledged in a March 11 interview with ET that the 23-year-old cast member “might as well go home.” 

Crawley said in her debut Bachelorette interview on Good Morning America that she is drawn to men younger than her, but since the cast was revealed, some fans have cried out against it, saying the age group should lean older. 

So, with more time on their hands in the midst of a shutdown, will producers look to change things up? On Tuesday, Crawley took to Instagram and implored people to apply. 

“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?”

ET has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.