This has hardly been the most dramatic season of Bachelor news. Not in a world where pulling a Mesnick still exists. But the past few social distancing- and mask-filled months have been quite the journey.
The bloom began falling off the rose, so to speak, back in March when we learned that Colton Underwood was among the very first celebrities to test positive for COVID-19. Since then, well, a lot has happened...
After quarantining with girlfriend and final rose recipient Cassie Randolph, the two announced the end of their year-and-a-half-long romance in May (and indulged in a brief public tiff about what details they can and cannot divulge).
Ben Higgins got engaged again, Vanessa Grimaldi too, while JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers, Astrid Loch and Kevin Wendt, Raven Gates and Adam Gottschalk, and Wells Adams and Sarah Hyland were all forced to push off their intended 2020 vows in the hopes that their loved ones would be able to carouse sans mask or anxiety at their eventual nuptials in 2021.
A number of new Bachelor Nation offspring made their entrance, Peter Weber castoff Victoria Fuller took her love hunt to Chris Soules' Iowa farm and Becca Kufrin—after revealing that she and fiancé Garrett Yrigoyen were "trying to work through" issues that arose after his "tone deaf" use of a pro-police slogan—called off their two-year engagement.
Then there's Clare Crawley.
TBH, we're still not 100 percent clear as to what went down on her Bachelorette journey. Forced to unpack her cocktail dresses and heels when it became clear that COVID would be a thorn in her season's side, she wasted no time when filming resumed this past June. And with one suitor stealing the hairdresser's heart before others even had a chance to drop the "falling for you" confession, Tayshia Adams was called into service.
While it remains to be seen exactly what the eff is going on at Palm Springs' La Quinta Resort—Kufrin and Hannah Ann Sluss' recent arrivals to the franchise's version of the NBA bubble sending Bachelor theorists spinning—it does seem as though Clare got her promised happily ever after.
Because while more Instagram followers, a podcast deal and the other trappings of that influencer lifestyle are tempting, a plain, old-fashioned love story is still quite the prize.
Just ask Ashley Iaconetti.
Any reasonable person would have (and did!) tell the often emotional Paradise and Winter Games vet to let her dream of forever with Jared Haibon go. No matter how many times she declared him her soulmate and her future husband, Jared appeared entirely uninterested in anything beyond a platonic situation.
"I had our mutual friends telling me that he is never going to like you," she would later share on their YouTube series The Story of Us, explaining their friends-to-forever transition, "that I am just obsessed, just infatuated and that you are never going to see me as anything more than a friend."
And then, in a please-kids-don't-try-this-at-home twist, once Jared realized he just might lose the former nanny for good, he woke up to what was in front of him the whole time, got the girl, proposed and, today, they're celebrating their first anniversary.
So, truly, who are we to question?
"I've always believed in the power of positive thinking. I think an ambitious attitude, a strong belief in oneself, and a positive outlook is incredibly important for achieving the life you desire," Ashley wrote on Instagram of accomplishing part one of her marriage-and-babies objective. "It may sound like an old fashioned goal, but remember, love may not make the world go 'round, but it's what the makes the ride worthwhile."
And they're not the only members of Bachelor Nation in the middle of one amazing journey. Check out the rest of the franchise vets whose outlooks on romance are still decidedly rosy.