How ABC Managed To Film 'The Bachelorette' This Season

The Bachelorette is finally back! Okay, so it premiered five months later than usual, and it’s on Tuesday nights (RIP Bachelorette Mondays), but this beloved reality TV favorite found a way to make things happen in 2020, and the network definitely gets credit for that. But how did ABC film this season of The Bachelorette? They had to make a few adjustments… and because of that, the show is going to be a little different this year.

Of all the reality shows out there, The Bachelorette (and other shows in the franchise) has to be one of the most COVID-unfriendly. People from all over the country gather in one house, there’s a ton of travel, and nobody is staying six feet apart—as well evidenced in Clare Crawley’s premiere. That means filming had to adapt to the circumstances, making this one of the most interesting seasons of the show ever.

Filming took place in a Bachelorette bubble.

As we saw on the premiere, there’s no Bachelor mansion this season—instead, Clare and her men are filming at the La Quinta Resort and Club in Palm Springs. They managed to form a bubble there, with everyone involved in filming needing to quarantine first, and then no one was able leave once they arrived… which means there’s no travel this season.

“Everyone was tested, so they could do everything they’d do on a normal season, like kissing and hugging and everything else,” ABC exec Robert Mills told Variety. “It will be acknowledged at the start, in terms of what everybody had to do—they had to quarantine and get tested—but then once you’re in the bubble, you’re in. There won’t be travel, but it looks like a regular season. It’s not socially distanced in any way, shape or form.”

After watching the first episode of the season, all I can think about is how much of a bummer it would be to do all that quarantining and then get sent home at the very first rose ceremony. Sucks!

There was a smaller crew than usual.

According to what a source close to filming told People when things first kicked off, there was a smaller crew filming the show this season, and the La Quinta Resort was chosen so they’d be able to do a lot of filming outdoors and spread out. Among the crew, there was reportedly a lot of social distancing and mask wearing, which can’t be easy when they have to work so closely together. They still made it happen!

It involved a lot of COVID testing.

While talking to The Hollywood Reporter about Clare’s season, host Chris Harrison said that while they learned to “trust the bubble” they were in, considering the fact that everyone had quarantined and followed safety protocols the show had put into place, there was very frequent re-testing going on.

“Just because you’re in, doesn’t mean you stop,” he said. “We were re-testing as we went along and you realize, ‘OK, this is working. And we’re not having any problems.’ When people would come, you realize, ‘If you follow this protocol, you are 100 percent effective and it’s safe.’”

Hometown dates required quarantine.

Hometown dates are usually all about visiting one of the final contestants’ hometowns—duh—and meeting their families. This year, that was impossible…but as Mills said, the contestants’ families were willing to fly out and quarantine in order to make the dates happen, so they’ll all be meeting at the resort.

This season is definitely much different than ones in the past, but with a show as long (and as formulaic) as The Bachelorette, that might be a good thing. Who knows? Maybe the format will change forever, but as long as there’s still Chris Harrison and rose ceremonies, it’ll still feel like the reality show we all know and love. And hate. And love to hate.

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