“Is [this] just a physical thing? Is it more than that? Because I came here for love. I didn’t come here for just a hookup.” If anything easily sounds like the mission statement for a Bachelorette season, it’s those words. Yet, that statement didn’t come out of the mouth of a reigning Bachelorette lead. Instead, they are said by Clare Crawley in the finale of her 2014 Bachelor Nation introduction, The Bachelor season 18. Of course, Clare — who has only been tapped for The Bachelorette this year — is talking about her infamous horndog lead, season villain Juan Pablo Glavis.
As you watch Clare’s Bachelor finale unfold, as I recently did during my Bachelor 2014 rewatch, it becomes increasingly impossible to ignore the strength in Clare’s journey and the fire of her exit. While we should be thankful for Clare’s upcoming Bachelorette season — it will serve as the age reset the franchise desperately needs — it is obvious by the end of Juan Pablo’s “Week 10” that Clare should have been the Bachelorette six full years ago rather than eventual star Andi Dorfman. All the modern day markers are there when you really look for them — we just didn’t realize all of the behind-the-scenes drama that got in her way.
The exact contours of a possible Clare Bachelorette season come into focus during the second act of “Week 10.” At this point in Clare and Juan Pablo’s “love story,” they have already shared a passionate kiss in Vietnam (for which J.P. slut shamed and gaslit Clare), met each other's families, and experienced a Fantasy Suite together. Clare is ready for a proposal. But, as Clare disembarks from a helicopter on her last-ever Bachelor date with Juan Pablo, he takes a rare second of mic-free, unsupervised time with her to say something awful.
Over the remainder of the episode, Clare dances around repeating J.P.’s words verbatim. At first, she simply says, “He chose to tell me something that no woman wants to hear. That he doesn’t know me and [then] some sexual thing I don’t want to repeat. It was insulting and it was offensive.” According to an Us Weekly story published one day after the March 2014 finale aired, J.P. said, “I love fucking you, but I don’t know you.” Clare’s final confessional interview of the episode seems to confirm at least part of that report, as she complains of Juan Pablo, “Show me your feelings, but don’t tell me you love fucking me. That, to me, is not a man.”
This response, even in the heat of rage, is Bachelorette-ready — as is the way Clare immediately handles Juan Pablo’s hurtful comments. In the evening visit after the helicopter date, Clare hosts J.P. in her St. Lucia apartment. While J.P. immaturely requests “besitos,” or “little kisses,” multiple times, she sits him down and begins a tough conversation about expectations and honest feelings. Clare seems more like the lead of the series than Juan Pablo does, particularly when she asks him if he knows her “well enough to make his decision.” Clare is obviously demanding necessary discussions J.P. would have never broached without her.
“What I want in a relationship and for the future is something that yeah, if the physical is there, amazing. But for me, I want so much more than that. Like, so much more.” she begins telling Juan Pablo. In the corresponding confessional, Clare explains that she is “not the kind of woman who can sit unsure of something” and would be “out of here” if Juan Pablo admitted he was simply dating her due to a physical connection. “Because I have a lot more to offer a relationship than that,” she finishes in the interview. All together, it’s a perfect opening package for a Bachelorette premiere.
Clare’s finale exit all but cements her standing as the strongest Bachelorette contender. On the final day of filming, Juan Pablo gives Clare a strange and meandering speech that ends with, “I have to say goodbye to you.” She has lost the game. Juan Pablo leans in to give Clare a hug, and she blocks him with her hands and eviscerates him for planning a future with her days prior on their last date. When Juan Pablo tries to bait Clare by asking her if she knows “when he made his decision,” she offers the most devastating response: “It doesn’t matter to me.”
As Clare strides away from Juan Pablo, she serves up the best parting words in Bachelor franchise history. “I thought I knew what kind of man you were. What you just made me go through, I would never want my children having a father like you.” Clare’s farewell is so undeniably good, you half expect her to walk away from Juan Pablo and directly into her own Bachelorette season from there — she’s already wearing a dress worthy of the occasion. Clare then doubles down on the intent of her words in the subsequent “After the Final Rose” special, declining to have another conversation with Juan Pablo. “That was my closure, that was all that I needed,” she says of her St. Lucia exit after tearing up over how “liberated” she felt in the moment. “I don’t want to sit here on this couch and get fed anymore B.S.”
All together, it’s an “AFTR” appearance that feels like the natural foremother to Hannah Brown’s Bachelorette season of marketable feminism. Without Clare’s sex positivity and talk of empowerment, you probably don’t get Alabama Hannah, her pants-wearing promotional poster, or “I fucked in a windmill.”
Still, The Bachelorette producers tapped Clare’s co-star Andi as the 2014 lead. Although Andi had her own memorable exit — she told Juan Pablo off for the dismissive attitude of his maddening “It’s okay” catchphrase — you realize her candid “Week 9” farewell was the appetizer to Clare’s starmaking finale turn. So, what happened?
The best answer arrives in Clare’s shockingly open interview with fellow Bachelor Nation alum Olivia Caridi on the latter’s podcast, Mouthing Off. During the October 2018 conversation, Clare confirms she was actively in the running to be the 2014 Bachelorette. “We had definitely talked about it. I had interviews and I got flown down [to L.A.] a couple of times,” the Sacramento native said. “For me, I was not emotionally in a place [where I was] ready for that.”
There were two main reasons Clare wasn’t prepared to jump into a Bachelor Nation leading role at that time. First, Clare reveals her mom Lilia Crawley was “really, really, really sick” as The Bachelor season 18 was airing, and Clare weathered the backlash of her season “from the ICU.”
Then Clare claims that producers edited her time on the series to look particularly damning, asking, “Why would you guys make me look like this? Why would you guys edit things to look that way when that didn’t even happen.” She eventually called the editing “traumatizing” and said it “absolutely” inspired her hesitation to return to a production under the Bachelor umbrella. It feels likely Clare is referring to the Bachelor suggestion that Clare and Juan Pablo had sex in the ocean — which Clare still denies to this day.
Clare could have been the Bachelorette in 2014. We simply didn’t deserve her until now.