In reality shows like The Bachelorette, everyone tends to get up close and personal.
So, in the age of social distancing, how did this show manage to film amid the coronavirus pandemic?
Season Premiere Discusses the Coronavirus Pandemic
If you haven’t seen it yet, the premiere of The Bachelorette’s season 16 has finally aired — and that first half hour was dedicated to discussing the coronavirus pandemic, and the safety of the cast and crew.
Not to mention, the Bachelorette herself, Clare Crawley, and her lineup of eligible men all received their COVID-19 test results from Chris Harrison and not a certified physician. If that’s not a good way to start off a reality show during a pandemic, I don’t know what is.
Of course, a show about finding love, where the contestants are essentially on top of each other every waking moment, leaves us with plenty of questions. Are we still going to see steamy make outs? And how on earth did they film this during a global pandemic?
That’s exactly why The Bachelorette devoted the first half hour of the dramatic two-hour premiere to the virus. Don’t worry, they’ll get back to exploring sexier scenarios and backstories very soon.
Unexpectedly, the first few scenes felt more like a smart, reassuring news segment about the dangers of the virus than a dramatic reality series centered on finding love. They, of course, went through why precautions are so crucial — so wear a mask and practice social distancing, everyone!
Previous Footage of Clare Reacting to the Virus and Her Show Getting Postponed
But we also got to see Clare react to the virus’ damage. And, whether or not she’d ever get the chance to film her delayed season.
Fans likely remember that production for Clare’s season was originally scheduled to begin in March. It was obviously pushed back as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything.
Viewers get to see a scene filmed back in April, of Clare at home in Sacramento reflecting on her experience.
“This pandemic can literally crush people and it’s terrible,” she said. “If it’s not loneliness from being by yourself for so long, it’s going crazy because you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m 39 and I might not ever have the chance to meet my husband.”
We also get to see the reality TV star getting emotional, as she gears up to visit her mom, who lives at a care facility and is suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“I’m sure a lot of people are experiencing this as well, but it’s really hard for me to not be able to see her,” Clare admits. “To not be able to hug her, it’s hard.”
Later, we also get to see Clare waiting on her test results — the defining moment that could mean make or break for her Bachelorette season. After all, a positive test result means no filming.
“At any point I could have caught this disease and this would be over,” Clare said. “So waiting for my test result has not been an easy thing to go through. I really hope that I am COVID free because I’m really looking forward to meeting these guys.”
Bachelorette Testing Precautions
Clare wasn’t the only one getting tested.
In fact, all of her suitors had to quarantine, get tested, and wear masks on site. Viewers even got to watch the men submit to the test, with one bachelor proclaiming, “Doing this for you, Clare!”
It wasn’t just Clare and her eligible men who were tested, either. In fact, all of the crew and everyone involved has been tested as a safety precaution.
Beyond testing, everyone involved basically lived inside a quarantine bubble for the entirety of filming — from June until September. And if anyone had to leave, they had to come back and re-quarantine before being able to rejoin.
This season, there won’t be any travel, clearly because of the pandemic. But otherwise, the season promises to look like a regular season. Thanks to the quarantine bubble, “it’s not socially distanced in any way, shape or form” says Rob Mills, ABC Entertainment’s senior vice president of alternative series.
Mills is also optimistic about some unintentional positives that came out of the situation.
“It allowed us to get more creative,” he said. “I also think it kept people more focused. Without travel time and time zone change, the guys who really wanted to be there for the right reasons were able to focus and figure themselves out, as well as their chemistry with the lead. There is something to be said here because the guys were really focused on the task at hand, which is Clare.”