For obvious reasons, the entire Bachelor schedule — once as predictable as a last-minute two-on-one between enemies — has been thrown off-balance. This year’s season of The Bachelorette moved to the fall, The Bachelor finished filming months ago, and Matt James’ quest to find love will start just weeks after Tayshia’s ends. If scheduling then goes back to normal, the franchise’s casting process might continue as it has in the past: our next Bachelorette will be one of Matt’s frontrunners, and then, the next Bachelor will be one of hers.
It’s a reliable cycle, but it doesn’t bode well for viewers already hoping one of Tayshia’s finalists becomes the Bachelor lead after Matt: with next year’s influx of new guys, fan favorites like Ivan Hall (and, let's be honest, Ben Smith) might end up overlooked when it’s time for ABC to choose a Bachelor for 2021. The pattern doesn’t rule them out, though. When it comes to picking a lead, “it's a combination of not who everybody wants in the moment and thinking, ‘This is it,’ but also seeing, ‘Okay, who can really carry 20-22 hours on their back?’” Robert Mills, ABC’s Senior Vice President, told E! News last year.
Although the show leads are usually picked from the previous season, there have been several exceptions. Just this year, Clare Crawley — a Bachelor alum who first appeared on the show in 2014 — was chosen over all the women from Peter Weber’s season, presumably because his finalists skewed younger. And in 2018, Arie Luyendyk, Jr. was tapped to be the Bachelor six years after his Bachelorette elimination. Apparently, he had been in talks to lead a season for awhile, and the timing worked out when none of Rachel Lindsay’s contestants materialized as a clear Bachelor. (Rachel’s runner-up, the only somewhat-obvious choice, turned the show down.)
Ivan and whoever else gets the boot might end up on Bachelor in Paradise, but that still wouldn’t put them out of the running for Bachelor: more than once, the show has used its summer spin-off to suss out whether a contestant would be able to carry a season. Nick Viall, for instance, was announced as Bachelor while he was still on Paradise. And Colton Underwood, who finished fourth on his season of The Bachelorette, was chosen in part because creator Mike Fleiss found his arc on Paradise compelling.
Ultimately, it comes down to timing, and a lot could happen between this January and the next. Last year, Chris Harrison acknowledged that some people wanted Tyler Cameron to be the next Bachelor, but he wasn’t a viable option. “If Tyler’s bopping around town, dating Hadids and Hannah [Brown] and all this stuff, maybe he’s not going to be a great Bachelor. So, maybe he’s not our guy right now,” he told E! News. “A lot goes into when we make that decision and who we think is the best at that time.”
The show’s producers do take fan reactions into consideration, though. As Mills said, “We listen to what people want to see.” Hear that, everyone? If you want Ivan for Bachelor, start campaigning now.