Jesse Palmer has been with Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia through it all. He was the host when their hearts were broken in the shocking double breakup episode during Clayton Echard‘s season of The Bachelor. And now, he’s their “cheerleader” as the two make franchise history as the first women to jointly star in The Bachelorette.
Premiering Monday, July 11 on ABC, Gabby and Rachel’s search for love will dive straight into the unknown, Palmer tells TV Insider. “We did not know how this was going to work and what to expect, simply because we hadn’t done it before,” he admits.
After Clayton’s emotional betrayal of Gabby, Rachel, and Susie Evans (whom he ultimately ended up with) in the “Rose Ceremony From Hell,” as Palmer and Bachelor Nation now refer to it, suffice it to say fans have a vested interest in things working out for these leading ladies. But the franchise has a history of producing emotional turmoil. There was the unforgettable time Arie Luyendyk Jr. broke off his engagement with Becca Kufrin. The entire breakup was filmed and aired unedited live on ABC.
Some feared having two Bachelorettes was ABC’s way of manipulating more drama out of two women who have already been through the Bachelor ringer. Palmer says they’re not pitted against each other this season.
“They are not competing against one another,” he says. “What I can say is they absolutely need to support each other as friends to get through this.”
“It’s unprecedented, never had two Bachelorettes go the entire season alongside one another, so two love stories, but two completely different journeys,” the host continues. “We saw their unwavering support for one another during the Rose Ceremony From Hell back in Iceland during Clayton’s season finale. They absolutely need to rely on each other to navigate this.”
The former NFL star says they succeeded on that front, calling Rachel and Gabby “incredibly strong, incredibly intelligent, incredibly independent people who know what they want.” But how did the show figure out what having two leads would look like day-to-day? Well, they kind of didn’t.
“Rachel and Gabby are friends, but they’re different people and they want different things in relationships. So really, everything’s kind of out there,” he says. “Can they fall in love with the same guy? Could the same guy fall in love with both of them at the same time? How are they gonna date the men? Who’s going on dates, and where? These are all things we sort of didn’t know. We just went out and decided to ride the lightning and let the roses fall as they may, and magically, somehow this all worked out.”
Seeing Gabby and Rachel’s self-made support system solidified what Palmer saw brewing with Clayton last season: “There really could not be two more deserving people to have this opportunity to find love.”
Check out TV Insider’s full interview with Palmer, above.
The Bachelorette, Season 19 Premiere, Monday, July 11, 8/7c, ABC