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Tanner Tolbert Hopes ‘Bachelorette’ Producers Cast Men Closer to Clare Crawley’s Age During Quarantine (Exclusive)

Not holding back! Tanner Tolbert thinks Clare Crawley is a “great choice” for The Bachelorette, but doesn’t have the same feelings about the men chosen to win her heart.

Related: Former ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelorette’ Leads: Where Are They Now?

“I think she’s going to be good on TV because, let’s be honest, I don’t think Clare is going to take s–t from anybody,” Tolbert, 33, told Us Weekly exclusively while promoting a new partnership with Nutrisystem alongside his wife, Jade Roper. “Just speaking candidly, the original cast that they put out for her — not to be ageist, if that’s a thing — but there were not many guys close to her age.”

Tolbert, who competed on season 11 of The Bachelorette and later appeared on season 2 of Bachelor in Paradise, explained that he doesn’t think a big age difference is a complete “deal breaker.” However, he’s holding out hope “that the show uses this quarantine time to cast maybe some more close in age contestants.”

Tanner Tolbert Hopes Older Men Get Cast for Bachelorette Clare Crawley
Tanner Tolbert and Clare Crawley Shutterstock; ABC

Earlier this year, Crawley, 39, broke new ground when she was announced as the oldest lead of the ABC dating show in its history. When the contestants for season 16 were revealed in March, fans were quick to criticize the amount of men still in their 20s, despite the hairstylist’s desire for a more mature relationship. Though the network received backlash for their casting choices, ABC executive Rob Mills told Variety that he stood by the decision.

Related: Clare Crawley’s Most Dramatic Moments From the ‘Bachelor’ Franchise: Jacuzzis, Raccoons and More

“I think the world has changed and people are waiting more [to find love]. … I think that’s important to take into consideration,” he said at the time. “But certainly, you look at Hannah Brown last season who was 24, and she was poised, confident and ready.”

Filming for season 16 was put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, and even though the contestants vying for Crawley’s heart were already announced, she encouraged more men to apply for the reality series. “I feel like since we have a break in the show right now, I don’t think it’s too late to submit people,” she said during an Instagram livestream in March. “So, submit them, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”

Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert Us Interview
Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert

While fans were surprised that Crawley would take such a stand, host Chris Harrison supported her call to action. “It’s not such a bad idea, I mean it’s not out of the realm of possibility,” he admitted in an Instagram Live of his own shortly after Crawley’s comments. “Obviously, with this virus, who knows when this thing is going to blow through.”

Though the California native didn’t explicitly say that she wanted men closer to her age on the show, Tolbert thinks that there would be a “higher success rate” with a smaller age difference.

Related: Bachelor Nation Stars Who Found Best Friends on the Shows

“She may fall in love with a 23-year-old and they’ll live happily ever after too. I’m cool with it,” he told Us. “I’m not trying to be ageist or anything like that, but I’m hoping they use that time.”

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