January 26, 2021

It’s About Time The Bachelorette Picked a Leading Lady Like Clare Crawley

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Will you accept this reasonably aged rose? After 24 seasons, Bachelor Nation will finally get the chance to watch a woman in her late 30s hand out roses. (Progress!) As announced during Monday’s episode of Good Morning America, The Bachelorette’s next leading lady will be none other than Clare Crawley.

Crawley, a 38-year-old hairstylist from Sacramento, California, was introduced to Bachelor Nation way back in 2014 while competing for the heart of Juan “It’s Okay” Pablo, and has since popped up on both Bachelor in Paradise and the show’s short-lived The Bachelor Winter Games. Crawley was briefly engaged to fellow Winter Games contestant Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, but the two split in 2018.

Monday’s announcement was met with mixed reviews, as the show’s leads are normally picked from a pool of more recent front-runners—a group that, more often than not, is also made up of young twentysomethings. But the decision to go back to the show’s larger archive of contestants is not entirely unprecedented. Producers previously tapped race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. to star as the Bachelor five years after he appeared on The Bachelorette—a decision that initially shocked and befuddled fans, but ultimately lead to one of the show’s most dramatic seasons to date (really!).

More importantly, casting Crawley is a milestone moment that might enable this aging franchise to tell a new kind of story—without even necessarily launching the senior citizen–focused spin-off that producers are apparently now casting.

As Crawley herself told GMA, she views her age as an asset: “A lot of people put it out there as this negative thing. For me it’s more years under my belt, more learning and knowing what I want, what I don’t want and what I won’t settle for.”

Crawley—a blonde, attractive white woman—isn’t too far a cry from the show’s usual standard. Since its debut in 2002, The Bachelor has had only one black Bachelorette—Rachel Lindsay (season 13)—and no Bachelor leads of color at all. (Yes, Mike Johnson deserved better.) When it comes to age across The Bachelorette’s 15 seasons, only two leads—Trista Rehn (season one) and Lindsay—have been over the age of 30. What’s more, two-thirds of women who compete on The Bachelor, according to Insider, are ages 23 to 27; the average age of the contestants who competed for Peter Weber’s heart this season was 25. When “older” women appear on the franchise’s flagship show at all, they’re usually eliminated early in the season. There’s nothing wrong with looking for a serious relationship in your early 20s—but there’s also something refreshing about having the opportunity to watch an older, more independent woman be given the chance to look for love on such a public scale.

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