“The Bachelor” franchise has had 40 seasons of its two flagship dating shows and spawned a number of spinoffs from “Bachelor in Paradise” to the raunchier “Bachelor Pad” to a romantic singing competition show and even a Winter Olympics-inspired series. All of those shows have one thing in common, which is the cast members are typically in their 20s. But that could all change with a new spinoff that Variety hears is a hot idea at the network: a senior citizens version of the long-running dating show.
Earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the entertainment industry and the world into quarantine, ABC teased a casting call, airing a promo that read, “Now casting seniors looking for love.”
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The prospect of “The Bachelor” for Baby Boomers gained a considerable amount of speculation online. But after that promo ran, no word has been spoken of the senior citizen spinoff. A few weeks after the casting call was announced, the coronavirus crisis halted most productions in Hollywood, including “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs.
While a pin has been put in this new version of “The Bachelor” for now, Variety has learned that the idea is very much alive and the series was further along than Bachelor Nation may have ever known.
Prior to the pandemic, the show was in serious consideration to air in the fall of 2020. It currently has no air date, but producers are confident that it will happen.
“Some of the casting interviews we got, they were just so touching,” says Rob Mills, ABC’s top unscripted executive, in an interview with Variety. “It’s such a different way of doing ‘The Bachelor’ because these people are just at a totally different place in their lives. There is an interesting thing about people who have hit the other end of the spectrum, who’ve lived their lives, they’ve raised their kids, some have been widowed or divorced and maybe some have never been in love. We thought that would be an interesting dynamic through the ‘Bachelor’ prism.”
Mills notes that one of the big changes with the show would be that hometown dates consist of meeting the children, rather than the parents. “It’s everything you love about ‘The Bachelor,’ but everybody loves senior citizens because they have different love stories to talk about,” Mills says. “It was really fascinating, so I have no doubt it will happen some day.”
In the midst of the pandemic, rather than developing spinoffs, ABC had to shift its focus to its crown jewels, “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” which was shut down in mid-March. Since then, coronavirus continued to spread across the United States, making it difficult to film potential couples holding hands and making out on TV.
“The most important thing is getting ‘Bachelorette’ done and ‘Bachelor’ done,” Mills says.
Clare Crawley’s season of “Bachelorette” is currently heading back into production by quarantining the cast and crew in an isolated Southern California location with pandemic-proof safety restrictions, marking the first major U.S. production to get back up-and-running in the midst of the industry-wide shutdown. The season is set to air this fall on Tuesday nights (potentially, when a senior citizens season might have aired).
When production on “Bachelorette” was halted, the entire franchise hit a domino-effect delay, as “Bachelorette” typically films in spring and airs in early summer, while “Bachelor” goes into production in the fall and debuts at the start of the new year. “The Bachelor” is currently on track to make its January 2021 premiere with its first-ever Black star, Matt James. Meanwhile, fan-favorite summer series “Bachelor in Paradise” was completely scrapped for its 2020 season in order to ensure the new seasons of “Bachelorette” and “Bachelor” can be completed.
If all plans for “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” move forward without further delays, the network’s next priority would be “Bachelor in Paradise,” ahead of the senior citizens edition.
“God willing, we return to some sort of normalcy in the world; we will obviously want to get back to ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ because that will have been off for a year, but then I think we will absolutely want to get back to this,” Mills says of the senior citizen spinoff. “We absolutely want to get it done, but we want to do it right, do it safely and not at the expense of the other ‘Bachelor’ cycles. So, it’s on hold, but I have to say, we had never seen a response like we’d seen here.”
Mills says the public’s reaction to the initial casting call was rabid, and the casting entries were so impressive that the team behind “The Bachelor” knew they had a potential hit on their hands.
While plans are on hold, for now, should the pandemic continue on for the foreseeable future, coronavirus would not necessarily put a stop to the spinoff, even though older adults have been classified as high-risk individuals by the Center for Disease Control. (However, health officials have warned that the virus can impact people of all ages.)
Just like “The Bachelorette” is essentially going to be filming in a bubble — with no one, other than the cast and crew, going in or out — the senior citizen show could theoretically operate the same way, with health and safety made as the number one priority. For that matter, pending the state of the world later this year, the new season of “The Bachelor” may very like have to be produced on a quarantined set as well.
“We could test people and quarantine them, so we’ll see,” Mills says. “But, I think it probably wouldn’t be until the 2021-2022 TV season, and we’re all hoping the world has returned to some sort of normalcy by then.”
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