Season 17 of The Bachelorette will star Michelle’s Bachelor costar Katie Thurston and will air ahead of the 27-year-old teacher’s journey to find love. However, fans will not have to wait long to see the Minnesota native take up the mantle. Season 18 is expected to premiere later this year.
“I was a little nervous, but once I found out that it was two different seasons, I was here for it,” Michelle said. “I’m excited that I get to have somebody to bond over with this and share notes as we go.”
She added: “I really do think that this process works. When you can set down all these outside distractions and really dive in, I think you can learn a lot about somebody. I’m just excited. I’m ready to get started.”
Michelle arrived late to Matt James’ season of The Bachelor but quickly won over the 29-year-old. She advanced to the final two, but the real estate broker ultimately sent her home and chose Rachael Kirkconnell during the Monday night finale.
As for Katie’s season, former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams are set to cohost, stepping in for Chris Harrison after he took a break from the franchise due to his controversial interview in defense of Rachael. (The 24-year-old has apologized for allegations of past racism, including her attendance at an antebellum-themed party and “likes” of photos that featured the Confederate flag.)
Harrison, 49, initially asked fans to “have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for Rachael in a February Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay. He later apologized for his remarks and announced via Instagram that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.” Emmanuel Acho helmed the third hour of the finale instead.
The longtime franchise host signaled during a March 4 appearance on Good Morning America that his absence was merely temporary. “I plan to be back and I want to be back,” he said. “And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change. I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress. This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change.”
ABC and Warner Bros. announced on Friday, March 12, that Bristowe, 35, and Adams, 30, would take over for Harrison during season 17. “We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season,” a statement obtained by Us Weekly read. “As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within The Bachelor franchise, we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks. These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”