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The likelihood, at this point, that there are any members of Bachelor Nation who aren't at least a little bit aware of how different this season of The Bachelorette will be has to be pretty close to zero. Clare Crawley was all set to take the reins of the show back in March, but our pesky health crisis shut those plans down for months, and led to Clare, all of her suitors and production as a whole needing to hunker down at a resort in Palm Springs for quarantine filming. Now, host Chris Harrison is speaking out about why the show had to get so creative for its infamous fantasy suite dates in Season 16.
Lots of things will be very different about The Bachelorette when it finally debuts next week. For starters, the show has never been on in the fall before, seeing as how it's usually a late spring / summer event. This season also brought a rare instance of the series not filming at all in the Bachelor Mansion, as they had to make room for absolutely everyone involved in production to stay in one spot for the duration of filming, and there was, obviously, no traveling during the season allowed.
All of these very necessary changes led to even more new procedures and plans being put into place, and now Chris Harrison is talking about why the producers of The Bachelorette felt they needed to get so creative when it came to specific aspects of the show, like the fantasy suites. He told Variety:
Our main concern is we really want this to feel like The Bachelorette. People need a break. You want to watch TV and escape for a second, and that’s what The Bachelorette has always been. At the end of the day, we want to entertain everybody, so I think what you will see is a great Bachelorette season, and we had to be really creative with hometowns and fantasy suites.
Man, Chris Harrison did not lie when he said that the fans who tune in for The Bachelorette (and all of the franchise shows, for that matter) watch, in large part, to escape and have some fun when they sit down to enjoy some television in the evening. Even though the things that people do on the show can be positively maddening, the drama that goes down usually happens in such a way that you still find yourself enjoying the mess of it all. It's oddly cathartic, OK?
And, with that, the producers wanted to make sure that all of the wild changes they had to make this season didn't do too much to interrupt the fans' potential enjoyment of the series. Harrison also mentioned that, compared to how they typically film the seasons (with travel to around 10 countries for each), filming in one locations the whole time felt "a little confining and restrictive," meaning that the show had to be "reimagined" to accommodate not just the standard show structure, but also the creativity needed to make that structure fit the new setting.
So, what does this actually mean for the fantasy suites and the hometown dates, not to mention the one-on-one dates, group dates and everything else we tend to see on a season of The Bachelorette? Look, no one behind the show has even been willing to admit that Tayshia Adams is also the lead this year, so you know Harrison didn't spill any specifics on what the fantasy suites are going to be like, right?
I can imagine that making those dates seem special was probably a true challenge, when they were stuck in the location they'd been in for weeks. But, I wouldn't put it past the producers to have convinced some special guests to go to Palm Springs and quarantine so that they could appear, along with thinking up some intriguing new date ideas which could be carried out at the resort.
Time will reveal all soon, as The Bachelorette premieres next Tuesday, at 8 p.m. EST, on ABC. For more on what to watch in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our guide to fall TV!