There's one thing the Bachelor franchise never fails to do: keep Bachelor Nation on their toes at all times.
While Matt James' time as the beloved Bachelor is coming to an end, fans won't have to wait long for the next season of the ABC dating show, as the leading ladies for the upcoming seasons have already been selected — and both seasons are set to air this year!
According to Reality Steve, James' contestants Katie Thurston and Michelle Young will be announced as the next Bachelorettes for season 17 and 18, respectively, during The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special, which will be hosted by Emmanuel Acho, on Monday, March 15.
“Katie will get her own full season of The Bachelorette that begins taping at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya in New Mexico in a few weeks,” Reality Steve dished on Wednesday, March 10. "Michelle’s Bachelorette season will film sometime after [Bachelor in Paradise] films. Most likely all of July — and air later on in the fall."
Reality Steve added that Bachelor in Paradise "will film per usual in June at a location that hasn’t been announced yet and will begin airing after Katie’s season is done airing."
Young, who is an elementary school teacher, reportedly had difficulty finding the time to film due to her job.
"Michelle did not want to leave her class again to start filming in a few weeks — meaning she’d miss most of the remainder of her school year — hence the reason she is getting her own season this summer when she’s out of school," Reality Steve shared.
Thurston became a fan favorite — although Bachelor Nation was divided about her in the beginning after she introduced herself to James with a dildo in her hand — after she defended her fellow contestants who were on the receiving end of bullying by the other girls during filming. And while she gained the respect from viewers and James, Thurston was ultimately sent home during episode six of season 25.
As for Young, she was one of the later contestants to enter the house and instantly won over James' heart. She is currently competing for the final rose against controversial contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who was accused of “liking” racist social media posts, wearing a Native American costume, mocking a classmate’s attraction to Black men and attending an antebellum-themed party while in college in 2018.
As OK! previously reported, Kirkconnell has been the focal point of the scandal surrounding the Bachelor franchise after racially charged photos of her resurfaced online. To make matter worse, Chris Harrison failed to denounce Kirkconnell's actions — adding fuel to the fire of the racism scandal — during his shocking interview with Extra co-host and Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay.
And unfortunately for James, his journey to find love sadly ended with no one by his side. While he chose Kirkconnell as the winner during the finale, according to Life & Style, the couple is "no longer together," as James, 29, and the 24-year-old called it quits shortly after her highly publicized racism scandal.