‘The Bachelor’: Why the Show Had to Bring in ‘Back-up’ Women for Matt James

Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette may be on our screens every Tuesday night, but Matt James’ season of  The Bachelor is right around the corner. James is currently filming and his season is set to air in the new year. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a lot of things about James’ season had to be done differently.

‘The Bachelor’ timing

This year, the Bachelor franchise took a hit. They had planned to film Bachelor in Paradise and a new show called Bachelor Summer Games to coincide with the summer Olympics. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a halt to both of those shows. It also pushed filming for The Bachelorette back a few months which threw off filming for The Bachelor as well. Anyone who has been a part of Bachelor nation for a while knows that the franchise is like a well-oiled machine, producing show after show with very few breaks in between. So, this schedule change presented a huge problem.

“Right before we started, around July 4, as excited as everyone was to get it started, we’d heard about other productions that had had outbreaks even in a bubble and had to shut down,” Rob Mills, SVP, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming at ABC told Deadline. “So, for us, starting was not the victory, it was the finish.”

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After production worked out the kinks in safely filming for The Bachelorette, they were able to move on to The Bachelor

Alternate women were brought in

A lot of precautionary measures had to be taken to ensure everyone’s safety while also keeping to the tight production schedule.

In order to ensure that there would be no more halts in production, extra women were brought to Pennsylvania (where the season is being filmed).

“We brought all these women out just in case any of them tested positive,” Mills told Variety. “You just never know, so we always have alternates. Maybe next time, we don’t have to bring in as many people.”

Though the people who tested positive could have theoretically quarantined until they tested negative, the franchise decided to send them home.

“The guys that tested positive were sent home,” Mills said of what they did for Crawley’s season. “When they tested positive, they obviously had to have a quarantine period, but then they went home. No one who tested positive is a contestant on the current season.”

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Casting for Matt James’ season

James did not take the normal route to becoming the Bachelor. Instead of competing on a season of The Bachelorette, people got to know James just by him being friends with Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron. So, since James has never dated on the show before, casting for him proved to be a bit more difficult.

“It was so interesting because Matt is not on the season of ‘The Bachelorette,’ and the reason why we take leads from a previous season is because you know them so well and we can predict which person he might like or not, but we just didn’t know at all, so it was really fun to watch him interact with everyone,” Mills said. “And the women were so fantastic. It couldn’t have gone better.”

Filming is currently set to wrap around Thanksgiving and premiere in January, which would put the franchise back on track for their normal programming.