If you’ve been watching The Bachelor this season — you have been watching, right? — you may have noticed that most of the “ladies” vying for 38-year-old Bachelor Brad Womack’s heart are considerably younger than he is. We’re talking anywhere from 8 to 14 years younger. (Exhibit A: Emily, 24, seen here with Old Man River.) Of course, the Bachelor has always chosen from a bevy of younger women — it’s not like he’s going to date someone his same age or GOD FORBID older — but usually we’re looking at a 5-7 year differential. If you’ve been reading our Bachelor coverage on — you have been reading my recaps, right? — then you know that The Age Issue is a hotly debated topic among the rose-loving population. Take this comment from trania: “On average the women are more than 10 years younger. It really seems that Brad was a last-minute replacement as I find it hard to believe that the producers didn’t cast anyone within 5 yrs of Brad’s age.”

So is it true? Did ABC cast this season of “ladies” based on the age of their first-choice Bachelor, 33-year-old Chris Lambton, who made it to the final two in last year’s season of The Bachelorette? Or does Brad Womack just like ’em young? According to a source close to the show/Brad’s libido, the answer is… a little of both. Some of the women appearing on the current season were in fact cast for Chris L., including 25-year-old Shawntel the funeral director (not to be confused with 28-year-old Chantal, the woman who slapped Brad on night 1). But then Chris L. wisely turned ABC down on the first day of casting, so Team Bachelor had to course-correct… a bit. According to the show source, they continued to cast young women once Brad was chosen as the Bachelor, because that’s what Mr. Womack wanted. To quote’s Mandi Bierly, it’s yet another reason to knee him in the nuts.

What say you, rose lovers? Are you surprised by this “news”?

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