Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

This Season of The Bachelorette, There’s Only One Love Story I Want To See

After a long, drama-less drought from our favorite rose-petal-filled reality TV show, the 19th season of The Bachelorette is finally upon us. Following Clayton Echard’s disastrous season (one that actually lived up to being the most shocking and dramatic yet), we’re finally getting the journey to find love we really deserve. Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia are our two new bachelorettes who will co-lead the season over the course of the next several weeks. While the women’s joint journey to find love will turn its focus to the men vying for Windey and Recchia’s hearts, there’s only one love story I’m invested in — and it has nothing to do with this new crop of suitors.

First, let’s backtrack just a smidge. In March of this year, Bachelor Nation watched in shock as Clayton Echard broke up with both Windey and Recchia after they met his family. See, Echard said the quiet part out loud: he told both women he was in love with them (but just in different ways!) during the rose ceremony from hell and wanted them, nay pleaded with them to stay against what was probably a better call for each woman’s respective mental and emotional health, only to eventually dump them anyway. At the same time, he was also in love with Susie Evans, who self-eliminated after learning Echard was intimate with Windey and Recchia during fantasy suites.

But Windey and Recchia stayed after Echard’s pleading, knowing only one of them would accept the bachelor’s proposal in the end…or so they were led to believe. Turns out, Echard’s heart was always with Evans. The embattled bachelor dumped both Windey and Recchia together (with both offering different but incredibly valid and lucid reactions) and went after Evans, whom he is still with to this day.

Fast forward to the “After the Final Rose” episode, where Recchia and Windey not only had the opportunity to receive some semblance of closure, but learned they would lead the next season of The Bachelorette together. For longtime fans like myself, it felt like whiplash to be at once excited about and dreading the potential co-lead season. After all, Bachelor Nation has seen a dual Bachelorette season before — one that did not even come close to offering a hint of nuance.

Back in 2015, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson were slated as the season 11 bachelorettes, but only one would actually lead the season. Instead of the women having full autonomy over their respective journeys to find love, it was the men who voted on which woman would be the season’s official (and only) lead. Bristowe won the most votes, so the co-lead element was short-lived and cringe-worthy at best — at worst, it was a total mockery of the empowering dating experience The Bachelorette is meant to offer its leads.

But this time, things are different! Or so say the producers of the series and creator Mike Fleiss. During this season, neither Windey nor Recchia will be relegated to would’ve-been-bachelorette. Instead, both women will have the opportunity to go on their individual journeys to find love, along with 32 men of their choosing. For years, the bonds formed between contestants have been the love stories that audiences have come to cherish the most from these shows. But with Windey and Recchia in the proverbial driver’s seat, I’m hopeful that the love story between the two leads will be the one that’s ultimately worth watching.

Beyond the obvious step forward of not literally pitting these two women against each other, there’s reason to hope that Windey and Recchia’s joint journey could show something meaningful about the real-life experience of falling in love, and how the people around you help that journey happen. Windey and Recchia have a strong foundation to their relationship, having both been jilted with the same callousness by the former bachelor (not to mention at the same time). They’ve bonded over a shared trauma only they can wholly understand, and from the moment I saw the two women clasping hands on “After the Final Rose,” I wanted to believe that there was a real love story at play in this upcoming season of The Bachelorette after all.

We’ve seen enough seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to know that luck and good intentions aren’t enough in the world of reality TV: These women need an ally, a friend on the inside, guidance for how to get through. That’s why we see them consulting previous leads and hosts multiple times throughout their seasons, asking how they felt at each point in the process to gauge how their own feelings line up.

How much better might it be to see Windey and Recchia get to do that checking-in with each other, as they both experience the journey in real time? If these women can offer each other support as they search for love, through the thorns of production manipulation and here-for-the-wrong-reasons suitors, their bond — regardless of romantic outcomes — could be one of the best love stories this series has ever shown.

For decades, centuries, whatever measure of time you’d like to choose, women being pitted against one another has been a never-ending facet of both our reality and the entertainment we consume. It’s a pattern that we’d love to see denied a rose and forced to say its goodbyes. We saw it roughly seven years ago with Bristowe and Nilsson, and this next season is a chance to do more than just correct that mistake.

This is more than just the half-formed platitude of “women supporting women.” Windey and Recchia’s journey is a reclamation of what they were robbed of during their time on The Bachelor, and a chance to watch two women take back their agency in their own love stories, all with the steadiness of a friend to guide their hand as they pen each line. We never fall in love alone, and Windey and Recchia having each other on this journey could show that like no season ever has before.

If The Bachelorette wants us to believe in love, perhaps Windey and Recchia’s season will finally turn some fragile hearts back to the franchise. Their love story is the only one I care about, whether or not it’s (Jesse Palmer voice) the most dramatic season yet. Show us a relationship between two single women flourishing, and I promise — no one will care if anyone makes it down the aisle.

Before you go, click here to see the most dramatic splits in Bachelor and Bachelorette history.
Cassie Randolph, Colton Underwood

Leave a Comment