Clare & Dale’s romance highlights the odd format of ‘The Bachelorette’

The real stars of the show’s 16th season have been the bromances

Clare wasn't a typical Bachelorette.
As the almighty Chris Harrison has stated many, many times, this season of The Bachelorette is “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.” 
The reality series’ latest season has not only contended with COVID-19, but with something practically unheard of in Bachelorette history: the lead falling in love with a single person well before the end of her season on the show.
Season 16 of The Bachelorette premiered on Oct. 13, featuring 39-year-old The Bachelor alumna Clare Crawley as the lead. It was originally supposed to premiere May 18, but was delayed due to the coronavirus’s impact on production.
Per Bachelorette tradition, the first episode saw Clare meet 31 potential husbands. Not per tradition, however, seconds after meeting the oh-so-tall ex-Party City model Dale Moss, Clare decided she’d met her husband. 
What followed was a whirlwind of constant Clare-and-Dale time—to the dismay of the 30 other contestants who’d lost two weeks of their lives quarantining before they could so much as meet Clare. 
Clare cancelled several group dates and time with the other guys because she only wanted to be with Dale, and didn’t seem to clue into the other guys’ frustration. And—spoiler—by the end of episode four, after two weeks of dating, Clare and Dale were engaged. 
Naturally, many viewers were outraged by Clare’s outright refusal to play the series’ game by its rules. And while Clare did seem to feel guilty about wasting the other guys’ time, she didn’t really see where she went wrong.
That being said, while Clare didn’t follow the traditional path of The Bachelorette lead, she probably followed the natural path of most human beings. Yes, her falling for Dale at first sight didn’t sit well with me as a fan of the show, but it’s unsurprising that dating 31 guys at once didn’t work out for her.Perhaps—and I’m sure this will come as a huge surprise—going on The Bachelorette is an odd, unnatural way to find a husband. But who knows, the show seems to have worked for Clare.
Honestly, I wasn’t mad at the turn of events in The Bachelorette’s season 16. I found the real stars of the season to be the remaining 30 guys, not Clare or Dale. For the most part, they seemed like genuinely good people who wanted to open up to Clare—they just weren’t given the chance.
As a product of missing out on time with Clare, the guys ended up spending a great deal of time with one another, and some beautiful bromances developed. They supported each other through this unprecedented shared experience, and it was lovely to watch.
Some standouts were Blake, a guy from Hamilton, Ontario, who my housemates declared has a “serial killer walk” and looks like a sad Frankenstein; the chef with “Soup Nuts” tattooed across his knuckles; and Kenny the boy band manager—yes, boy band manager.
My personal favourite was Bennett, the Harvard alum who rolled in with a scarf and a Bentley, looking perpetually on the verge of uttering the phrase “old sport.” 
On Tuesday, the producers brought in Tayshia, the new Bachelorette, to appease the remaining guys, and I’m glad they did. They were definitely cheated by Clare’s early departure from the show, and Tayshia seems genuinely interested in getting to know all of them. 
Somehow, this season of The Bachelorette proved that the show is both inorganic and effective; it demonstrated that most people probably can’t fall for 30 people at once, but that it’s possible to find love on the show—Clare seems to have done so. 
Who knows, maybe I should’ve expected things to take a weird turn this season—after all, it fits in with the rest of 2020’s absurdity.

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