It's official: The masterminds behind America’s true favorite pastime known as hate-watching The Bachelor(ette)—sorry, baseball!—have crowned a new leading lady. Yes, yet another Bachelorette will have the opportunity to dig through a bro-ish gaggle of conventionally attractive sales guys, fitness instructors, and aspiring country music stars named Bryce or Ty to find a husband, and this time, her name is Clare Crawley!
With the finale of the 24th season of The Bachelor coming next week, finally giving us an end to the national nightmare that was the romantic fumblings of 28-year-old Peter Weber (a horny pilot who had a GED's worth of emotional intelligence all season), fans of ABC’s mostly unsuccessful marriage game show have been filling their draft cards to decipher who’d be named the next Bachelorette. Considering the offerings from Weber’s season, which included Virginia Beach's (alleged!) marriage ruiner and "White Lives Matter" pinup Victoria Fuller; crying drunk girl Kelsey Weier, who learned the hard way that a shaken bottle of Champagne will spray you in the face with pornographic effect; and über-Christian Madison Prewett, who dared to make the Fantasy Suites a sexless slumber party for all; it seemed producers were going to have to think outside of the box a bit—and they did, choosing Crawley, a Bachelor season 18 vet and the oldest Bachelorette in the show’s history.
So, who in Nicki Minaj's freeform fury chamber known as the internet is Clare Crawley?
In addition to being in the minority of Clares worldwide who wander the earth with no i in their name, the 38-year-old hairstylist from Sacramento is best known for her first appearance in the Bachelor universe back in 2014, when she vied for the affections of Juan Pablo Galavis, a Venezuelan soccer player and notorious homophobe, on the show's 18th season.
What was the deal with that season again?
Galavis was an absolute nightmare. Peter Weber might be a cute ding-dong who conflates constant bickering with romantic passion, but at least he hasn't called gay people "perverts" (as far as we know). Galavis was also notorious for breaking the code all Bachelors tacitly agree to: at least pretending to be on this televised matchmaking show for "the right reasons," meaning the pursuit of actual love. While plenty of past contestants have been accused of appearing on the series to further their social media followings or country music careers, no one (especially not a lead) has been so clearly uninterested in finding love as Galavis, who seemingly just went on the show to get laid. His bad intentions were especially evident in his relationship with Crawley, who got served a shit sandwich in the form of a slut-shamey edit after falling for—and having consensual sex with—the kind of dude we'd all warn our friends is a trash-ass monster not to be trusted.
So what ended up happening to Crawley on The Bachelor? Wasn't it something extremely dramatic?
Yes—Crawley made it to the final two after being showered with attention from Galavis for weeks. In one infamous episode, she decided to make a bold move by showing up to his hotel room at 4 a.m. to invite him to take a sexy dip in the ocean. They ended up having sex—an act rarely initiated by women on the show and typically reserved for the Fantasy Suites, wherein the final three contestants are invited by the Bachelor to enjoy a night away from the cameras . Because the setup is awash with puritanical, patriarchal bullshit, the women who have taken the Bach to pound town before the Fantasy Suites have historically been ruthlessly slut-shamed by the general public and even the producers of the show. Crawley was no exception.
The day after their sensual rendezvous, she made a toast "to finding love, being loved, and making love" with other contestants present. Galavis immediately shot her down, saying he "hope[d] nobody knows" what happened and expressed regret that his daughter would see the encounter, immediately shaming her for the consensual sexual encounter on the shores of the Vietnamese coast that they had both consented to mere hours before. This left Crawley crying and mortified, as a person she was ostensibly "seriously" dating was now treating her like a hoe.
To make matters worse, on their final one-on-one date before the finale, Crawley and Galavis went on a helicopter ride, where he whispered into her ear the sweet nothings every girl longs to hear: "I love fucking you, but I don't know you." Woof!
She confronted him at the final rose ceremony, saying, "I thought I knew what kind of man you were. What you made me just go through, I would never want my children having a father like you." Galavis just stood there, saying "OK" in that unbothered way that makes you want to punch a dude in the face, until she stormed off into the arms of Chris Harrison.
Since then, Crawley has hit the beaches again on seasons 1 and 2 of Bachelor in Paradise, and found herself in a love triangle on a Bachelor Winter Games. She left the latter, an Olympic-themed version of The Bachelor, engaged to Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, a contestant from season 1 of The Bachelorette Canada, but they broke up shortly after the ring went on. While some would take all these failed attempts at finding love on national television as a sign to maybe just hit up the happy hour at Sacramento's Natomas Marketplace Applebee's and meet a recently divorced AT&T employee, Crawley has instead taken up the producers' offer to step into the lead, making her the oldest Bachelorette in the show's history.
But she's 38. That's not old!
In The Bachelor universe, where most contestants are barely able to rent a car, being 38 is on par with being geriatric. The average age for female Bachelor contestants is about 26, with 79 percent of the Laurens cast being 28 or younger, per Insider. The manicured beard-sporting Chads seeking the final rose from a former pageant contestant are typically around 29, with 48 percent being 28 or younger.
What will that mean for her season?
Previously, the oldest Bachelorette was Rachel Lindsay, who was 32 at the time of her season. (She recently married her finale pick, Bryan Abasolo, who was 37 when they met on the show.) The women who have been the Bachelorette have fared far better than the men who handed out roses as the Bachelor when it comes to enduring relationships and actual marriage, namely because they are typically not dummies who only think with their doing-it parts and seem better at navigating the pool of contestants and identifying the more established and mature men. The Bachelors, on the other hand, tend to gravitate toward options that are incredibly young, often baby-voiced, and with questionable readiness for marriage (even though they themselves chose their 23-year-old paramours). Unsurprisingly, this has more often than not resulted in break-ups, because duh.
In May 2019, I made the exceptionally rational and well-argued point (don't @ me) that no one under 30 should be on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. And now, producers have started casting for a 65+ version of the series targeted at seniors looking for love, so it seems like they're finally aging up. In other words, you're welcome.
While being over 30 doesn't necessarily assure that someone is mature or capable of making smarter life decisions, age certainly makes you better equipped to choose a partner based on qualities that lead to a sustainable relationship. Clare is out here representing us, the fine, semi-aged red wines of ladies, and that will hopefully lead to more progressive messages from the show that challenge outdates views about dating for women of all ages.
But rest assured: As every past season of The Bachelorette has shown us, there will be plenty of stupid boys, young and old, to make the coming season a glorious hate-watch.
Alex Zaragoza is a senior staff writer at VICE covering culture. You can follow her on Twitter.