The 25th season of ABC’s The Bachelor will make (long overdue) history with its first Black male lead, Matt James. The big announcement was made on June 12 on Good Morning America after years of fans calling for more diversity in the franchise, and a more recent campaign amid protests across America for racial justice.
When asked if it was “too little, too late,” James said, “I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing. We can’t have change until we put that first foot forward.” (He had previously been cast as one of the suitors for The Bachelorette with Clare Crawley.)
“Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this, but I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap,” ABC executive Rob Mills told Variety. “We know this is a few grains of sand in a very big hourglass. It’s taken a while to get where we are, and we will continue to go further, and I acknowledge it may not be enough. In the last few years, I believe it’s gotten better, and with the announcement of [Matt James], I hope it keeps getting better. We are very excited about Matt.”
Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming season of The Bachelor.
The premiere date: ABC confirmed in November that the premiere of James’s season of The Bachelor is January 4.
The suitors: ABC released photos of the 43 women competing for James’s heart on Tuesday, October 6. See all the pics here. It appears we may have a Kelley Flanagan situation on our hands. According to Reality Steve, one of the contestants, Madison, “was dating Matt last summer when Tyler [Cameron] was seeing GiGi [Hadid].”
What he’s looking for: It sounds as though James (and his mom) have high hopes for a happy ending. “I think the grandkid counter for my mom started when the announcement was made,” he said. “She wants a basketball team. I’ll have a minivan, as many as we can fit.”
The location: Toward the end of August, Reality Steve reported James’s season will film at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania starting at the end of September—a location that has some Bachelor Nation history.
It looks very nice.
On September 22, James tagged the resort in his farewell Instagram Stories psot.
Will Matt’s season be as dramatic as Clare Crawley’s? Only time will tell, but night one “couldn’t have gone better,” according to ABC Entertainment executive Rob Mills.
“It was so interesting because Matt is not on the season of The Bachelorette, and the reason why we take leads from a previous season is because you know them so well and we can predict which person he might like or not, but we just didn’t know at all, so it was really fun to watch him interact with everyone,” Mills told Variety in an interview. “And the women were so fantastic. It couldn’t have gone better.”
That being said, something “crazy” did go down that first night. “Matt did something on night one that we’ve never had happen before…. It’s not what you think, though; it’s really crazy,” ABC exec Robert Mills said on Nick Viall’s podcast, according to Us Weekly. “[But] I feel confident saying Matt James will be the only Bachelor this season.”
A dramatic new teaser trailer dropped before Thanksgiving. Watch, below:
This post may be updated as new information becomes available.
Originally Appeared on Glamour