They wanted quality and quantity. Feathers across Bachelor Nation were ruffled this week when ABC broke from tradition and spoiled the current season of The Bachelor by announcing its next Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay.
The Dallas-based attorney, 31, was the clear and obvious choice for the coveted role for multiple reasons: After receiving Bachelor Nick Viall’s first-impression rose, Lindsay went on to wow viewers by navigating the oftentimes-tricky, emotional reality show with intelligence and grace. She’s also the first black lead to ever be featured in the franchise’s 15-year history, which encompasses 21 seasons of The Bachelor and 12 seasons of The Bachelorette.
She is, however, still in the running on Viall’s ongoing season, and with hometown dates looming next week, Lindsay’s remaining narrative on The Bachelor has now been exposed: She will be sent home.
“Bachelor Nation doesn’t know how it all goes down yet, but as you’ll surely see saying goodbye to Rachel was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life,” Viall wrote on Instagram, moments after Harrison introduced Lindsay on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The current Bachelor continued, “I have met very few people who possess as much beauty, grace, and charisma as Rachel and after hearing that she’ll be the next Bachelorette I couldn’t be more excited.”
The announcement caused such a hullabaloo this week that longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison apologized for the early announcement. “I’m sorry about the timing” he wrote on Valentine’s Day. “I hate that anything was ruined for #BachelorNation but I’m incredibly excited that @therachlindsay is our new #TheBachelorette A smart, strong, independent Texan who loves her @dallascowboys What more could a man want?”
Still, questions lingered regarding the decision. Why so soon?
The decision was finally answered by Us Weekly on Friday, February 17. A source told the magazine that producers wanted to share the news earlier in order to round up the best candidates and suitors for the next season. In other words, show-runners needed more time to carefully select season 13’s batch of men.
“They want to be able to cast guys specifically for her,” an inside source said. “There is almost no time between Bachelor ending and Bachelorette starting filming, so they wanted to have plenty of time to find the perfect guys for the next season.”
They knew the big news of Lindsay’s casting would leak—as it does every season. “It was going to get out anyway that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette,” the insider added. “So producers figured they might as well announce it now and make it official to make sure they get the most and best number of applicants for her season. It works better to have the next person as a definite as opposed to speculating on who it could be, in terms of casting.”
Lindsay, meanwhile, told People that this is all very new to her. “Obviously, I knew about the show and I was aware of it. I’ve attended watch parties because every single job I’ve been a part of has had watch parties,” she told People. “My coworkers actually signed me up for The Bachelor and were like, ‘You’ve got to go to this casting call.’ So once that process happened, I started to tune in more.”
Hometown dates will air on Monday, February 20.