Everyone is hoping that 2021 will bring a return to normalcy, and The Bachelor is doing its part by bringing back one of the franchise's staples. According to blogger Reality Steve, Matt James' Bachelor season is getting an After the Final Rose special, even though ABC skipped the traditional finale format for Tayshia Adams' Bachelorette season in December.
However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the special will not be live, but will instead be taped in late February — a few weeks before Matt's finale is scheduled to air — without a studio audience present. Per Reality Steve, pre-taping the special will also allow producers enough time to travel to Canada, where the next Bachelorette season will be filmed, and quarantine so they can begin filming the new season on schedule.
"I've been told cast & crew will leave for Canada (production/crew probably a week or so earlier than cast like they did for Matt's season) at the end of February/beginning of March," Steve wrote. "[They'll] quarantine for two weeks in Canada, so they can begin filming the week [that] Matt's finale airs, which looks to be March 15th or 16th, depending on if they're gonna do a one or two-night finale." It's unclear whether or not the next Bachelorette, who will likely be one of Matt's contestants, will be announced during the AFTR special, or if producers will wait to reveal their new lead.
Typically, the ATFR special airs during the Bachelor or Bachelorette finale to allow the lead and their final two contestants to reflect on the experience live, and to update fans on the couple's current relationship status. Of course, AFTR has also hosted some of the franchise's most memorable moments, including last-minute switcheroos, dramatic breakups, tearful confrontations, and even the start of some potential new romances.
However, due to pandemic filming restrictions and scheduling conflicts, there was no AFTR special after Tayshia's finale, which aired on Dec. 22. "It pains me there's no AFR live special this #TheBachelorette season," host Chris Harrison wrote on Twitter after fans complained about the special's absence.
He continued, "Due to being pushed into the holidays and difficulty of bringing people safely together during this time it just wasn't possible. But hopefully we'll be back for #TheBachelor." Producers were, however, able to film a Men Tell All special with about half of the contestants present and no studio audience; per Reality Steve, they plan to film Women Tell All in a similar fashion in early February.
The return of AFTR is particularly exciting, as Matt's best friend Tyler Cameron recently teased that the Bachelor does, indeed, get engaged at the end of his season. "Matt seems genuinely happy, and you know, I think we're going to get the end that we all want and have been missing for a little while," Tyler said in a vlog posted shortly after the new year. If Matt and his final choice manage to stay together until AFTR, he will be the first Bachelor in four seasons to have done so — and if not, at least fans will get one more entertaining finale special out of it.