There will be two seasons of The Bachelorette on ABC this year, one airing this summer and another in the fall, the first starring Katie Thurston, and the second starring Michelle Young.
The Bachelorette season 17 star Katie is a 29-year-old marketing manager at a bank in Washington state, while The Bachelorette season 18 star Michelle is a 27-year-old teacher from Minnesota.
This is different than season 16, which had two leads, Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams, after Clare ended her journey early. but this will be two completely separate seasons.
All of this is according to reliable spoiler Steve Carbone, who wrote on his site RealitySteve.com that this “twist” will be announced on After the Final Rose Monday. The ATFR episode taped last Friday, so information has leaked out.
After the Final Rose will be hosted by Emmanuel Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, as Chris Harrison has exited the franchise for now. (It’s not yet clear who will host Katie’s season of The Bachelorette, which starts filming soon.)
Steve reported that:
-Katie will get her own full season of the “Bachelorette” that begins taping at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in New Mexico in a few weeks.
-“Bachelor in Paradise” will film per usual in June at a location that hasn’t been announced yet and will begin airing after Katie’s season is done airing, per usual.
-Michelle’s “Bachelorette” season will film sometime after BIP films (most likely all of July) and air later on in the fall.
There was other news about Katie’s season, which has already started pre-production: On a podcast, Rachel Lindsay said she “heard that there are several people of color who have removed themselves from the show, that were a part of casting for this current season” because “people who don’t feel included don’t want to be a part of it.”
Why ABC will have two seasons of The Bachelorette this year
If that schedule holds, this will be the first time in the franchise’s 19-year history that it has aired two seasons of The Bachelorette in the same calendar year. So why this year?
Steve wrote that “Michelle did not want to leave her class again to start filming in a few weeks (meaning she’d miss most of the remainder of her school year), hence the reason she is getting her own season this summer when she’s out of school. That’s the ‘twist’ or ‘curveball’ you’ll see announced on the ATFR on Monday.”
Michelle was one of five women to join the cast of The Bachelor 25 after several episodes, but quickly became a front-runner for Matt James’ affection.
Earlier this week, I was critical of ABC’s decision to choose Katie as the next Bachelorette—not because of Katie, but because of the continuation of the pattern that her selection represents.
I tweeted that “ABC has long made the argument that in order to create diversity in its leads, it needed to first diversify its casts. Now that it’s done that—it still scans down the list past all the Black women and chooses a white woman who placed 11th.”
But assuming everything plays out as Steve has outlined, this news offers a very logical explanation for why ABC skipped over the top-10 women on Matt James’ season and picked the 11th-place finisher, Katie, as their next star.
Michelle is one of the two remaining women on Matt’s season, which ends Monday (though it’s common knowledge by now that Matt chooses Rachael Kirkconnell, which is one reason why I think Chris Harrison defended her racist behavior).
Finalists who are rejected tend to make for good leads for the next season, because fans have been invested in their story for the entire season.
It seems at least possible, if not likely, that Katie was the network and production’s second choice, even though her season will film first.
When news that Katie was selected broke, she was defended by fans as a fan-favorite, though that’s in no small part because the producers gave her more attention.
Just look how much screen time Katie got versus Michelle and the other Bachelor cast members, and you can see why fans gravitate toward her: they’ve seen her a lot, much more than the final three on The Bachelor 25. And now they will see her even more: on her own season, followed months later by Michelle’s season.