The Bachelorette almost didn’t happen. Filming was set to begin on Clare Crawley’s season, but at the last minute, the production was shut down due to stay-at-home orders.
Chris Harrison sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss how after weeks of isolation and brain-storming, they pulled it off. Gone is the Bachelor Mansion and travels, and instead, viewers will find quarantines, COVID tests and filming in a bubble at La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs, California.
Harrison said: "It just took this Herculean effort and this dedication on behalf of everybody to do this. The bar kept moving; the state of California kept moving the bar. Our goal was, 'Let’s just get and start rolling and create this bubble.' And it worked. It was 100-percent successful. And now we have a blueprint moving forward."
He said the model may have actually created an extra layer of drama: “There are some things that maybe we take out of this. That is, the intimacy and the pressure-cooker in that fishbowl environment. There’s not the release-valve of, ‘We’re going to Bora Bora and have two days of travel and an off day.’ That takes you out of the element a little bit. Instead, being there at the La Quinta resort the whole time, there’s no off switch. It was just about dating and falling in love, and there’s really something to that.”
On rumors that Tayshia Adams, who is Black, is taking over mid-season and that Matt James became the franchise’s first Black Bachelor: “We made a concerted effort, before the pandemic, to make better strides for diversity and let people see themselves and their love represented on the show. That’s the great thing that you want in The Bachelorette: is for everyone to feel like, ‘Wow, I belong here and this is my love story, too.’ You saw that with Peter [Weber]’s season; we had a much better diverse cast. And you’re definitely going to see it Night 1 with Clare. Obviously, with Matt James — he's a historic pick as our Bachelor and I can’t wait to go start shooting with him — we’re going to have a great group of ladies as well. This summer during the pandemic, I didn’t want to talk about it and say what we were doing. I want you to see. I’m a big believer in actions, not words. But there are also a lot of changes you are not going to see. Changes behind the camera; more diverse hirings within our staff, within our producers and our crew. Things that I’m extraordinarily proud of, in moving people along and being better at promoting those [people]. I think the best thing we ever did was realizing and admitting there was an issue, and then saying, ‘Let’s get to work and let’s do better.’”