“The Bachelorette” makes history Monday night with two stars leading the franchise for the first time ever.
Well, that is if you’ve forgotten about Season 11, which aired in 2015, when the male contestants were tasked with choosing between Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson to become the leading lady of the season. Bachelor Nation knows that backlash ensued after that season with Bristowe, but things have changed in the years since.
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The franchise’s newest leading ladies, Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey, promise that their season does not pit women against each other, and instead, is a true display of girl power through a complicated journey of finding love (twice!). In fact, the women say that choosing two Bachelorettes was only fair.
“It’s like, how could they have chosen one?” Recchia tells Variety. She reminds viewers that earlier this year, both her and Windey were at the center of a double breakup on national television when they were runner-ups on “The Bachelor” with Clayton Echard, who broke their hearts at the same time.
“We did go through this crazy experience multiple times together, so I don’t think it even would’ve felt right for one or the other to be on their own,” Recchia adds.
Windey and Recchia understand that some viewers are concerned about the prospect of having two Bachelorettes, but they explain that their season is essentially two separate journeys with some extra support from a girlfriend.
“We’re not going to be competing against each other,” Windey says. “Naturally, given the history of what’s happened in the past, we can understand the questions and stuff, but we can assure you it’s much different.”
“No cat fights!” Recchia chimes in. “There is drama. That just comes with the show — but not with us.”
Here, Recchia and Windey talk to Variety about how they supported each other through their season, and what to expect in their dramatic journeys.
Viewers really gravitated toward the two of you and your friendship during “The Bachelor.” It seems like you two are really friends. It’s not just for TV, right?
Recchia: I think it’s so obvious!
Windey: We get this all the time and to us, it’s ridiculous, but of course everyone’s going to wonder… Really, I couldn’t ask for someone better.
Recchia: We try to talk about how it’s been done before with just one, because I just can’t imagine doing it without her.
I think a lot of people, including myself, admittedly, are a little confused on how exactly this will work. Can you just walk me through how it works, in terms of the format, with both of you dating at the same time?
Recchia: We have 32 guys and those are the guys that we start with and that go through the season with us, but we do have our own journeys, at some point.
Windey: Obviously, when you’re getting further and further, it’s impossible to share love interests because it’s not conducive to us or the men. So naturally, the goal is to find love and our person, and in order to do that, you have to, at some point, have your own journey and story. But like Rachel said, our friendship is the one thing that always remains solid and that’s consistent.
Are there any moments where you both were falling for the same man? And if so, how did you deal with that?
Windey: Because we’re such good friends and we wouldn’t want anything to jeopardize it, all it takes is communication. And women are good at that. We were always honest with each other and never hid anything. There were no secrets… Unfortunately, probably not the drama that people expected [laughs].
I would imagine dating and being vulnerable in front of cameras can be quite isolating. Did you feel like it helped your journey, for both of you individually, to have each other?
Windey: Absolutely. We talk about it a lot… how could we have possibly done it alone? A lot of times, the only person you have to lean on is yourself… Having someone going through the same thing alongside you, it’s quite validating to your feelings. And I don’t think we would’ve felt as empowered leaving without each other… Having Rachel by my side made it that much more secure in a very tumultuous environment.
Recchia: Exactly what she said. I think this is really tough. You’re dating and you’re having doubts and questions and, “What should I do?” … I would always be so excited to be able to have that conversation with Gabby because she would always be honest with me. She has my best interest in mind. To be able to have each other, it was really helpful.
Did you notice a difference, being the leads versus being a contestant? Did you have more creative input?
Recchia: I would like to think that we did have control. It really is a season of us being able to take this into our own hands together and make decisions that are outside the box…No matter what we decided, I feel like everyone was always so supportive of us, and we definitely did things a little bit differently.
Windey: It is different being in the driver’s seat, of course. But I think we were allowed a lot of flexibility because it was new for everybody.
Did you have any say over how you were edited, or will you be seeing the season for the first time when viewers see it?
Recchia: We’re going to be seeing everything for the first time. But I think Gabby and I are always just so true to who we are… I don’t really think we have to worry because we went through this journey and we get to share it with the world. I don’t think there was ever a time we strayed away from, really, who we are.
Watching back Clayton’s season, did you think it was an accurate representation of what really went down, particularly toward the end?
Recchia: I can’t really speak for him, but for me, watching it back, I really feel like the way I was portrayed was how I was feeling. I was definitely emotional and that showed and I think it definitely was an accurate portrayal, at least for me.
Windey: Yeah, I agree. I think after having been in the driver’s seat ourselves, we know that every love story has its own beginning, middle and end… I think we are who we were, unapologetically.
What can you each tease about how this journey ends for you?
Recchia: Well, it’s definitely a lot different from last season.
Windey: Yeah [laughs].
Recchia: I think we’re both extremely happy. We feel so lucky to be in the position we’re in. Like Gabby said, two different journeys, double the drama… It’s definitely not an easy road. There are going to be bumps in the road. We’re all figuring it out.
Windey: Love is messy, and we’re on a journey to find love.
So, you are both happy with how your journeys ended up?
Recchia: Yeah, we’re both really happy.
Windey: Yeah. It was really a great experience in so many ways and realms, so we’re both extremely grateful and happy for our opportunity.
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