Chris Harrison sees and hears everything. As the host of the Bachelor franchise, Harrison has read a lot of rumors about ABC’s hit reality TV shows, which include The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Some of them are true. Some of them aren’t. But regardless, Harrison is happy to hear Bachelor Nation talking.
“I’ll hear about a lot of them. Especially this season because we were a captive audience,” Harrison tells StyleCaster of Clare Crawley’s quarantine season of The Bachelorette. “Typically, when we’re crushing it around the world, we’re like a rock band going from city to city, country to country. You really don’t have much time to deal with everything back in the United States, but this one, we were pretty captive because we were in one resort and didn’t have much to do. We heard a lot of it. My first thought was, ‘This is amazing.’ For about a month, during production, our show, which isn’t even on TV, is easily the most talked about TV show in the country. That’s phenomenal. That says a lot about how socially relevant it is right now. There is no show on TV that even remotely comes close to the social relevance of the Bachelor franchise.”
However, the pandemic didn’t just affect the news that leaked from the set of The Bachelorette set, which was filmed at a Southern California resort in July and August. Harrison also reveals that ABC had to cancel Bachelor in Paradise this summer, though there was a time when the network considered filming a quarantine version too.
“Early on, we thought, ‘Hey. If this only lasts a couple weeks, we could still cram The Bachelorette in all in and make it all work and push Bachelor in Paradise,’” Harrison says. “Quickly, we realized this is a much bigger problem and everything was going to have to take a back seat. We thought we might be lucky to just get The Bachelorette done. We realized Bachelor in Paradise was just going to go away for the summer. Unfortunately. It was just a casualty of this pandemic. Now we’re going to get into Matt James doing The Bachelor. That will put us back on schedule and hopefully, knock on wood, next summer, things will open. We’ll have the vaccine and we can get back to our regular calendar.”
Despite his busy schedule as the host of Bachelor Nation, Harrison isn’t slowing down. As the father of two teenagers (and young drivers), Harrison is always on the go. “Our cars are so vital, yet we know so little about them,” Harrison says. This is one of the reasons he partnered with Kelley Blue Book to promote the brand’s new Auto Repair Guide, a resource that provides price information for car maintenance and repairs. “Kelly Blue Book has jumped in to create the Auto Repair Guide to make things easy and mindless for people like us,” says Harrison, who doesn’t consider himself a “car guy.” “For a father of two, with two used cars, there’s a lot to be said for that peace of mind.”
Ahead, Harrison talked to StyleCaster about how ABC chose Matt James as the season 25 Bachelor, what Bachelor Nation can expect from Clare’s season and the TV moment that still makes him cringe to this day.
On how Clare’s season is different than any Bachelorette season in the past
“Just the fact that we got to the point where we could shoot. Being the first production back and shooting again during the pandemic. All the obstacles and what it took to get La Quinta and even roll on this season was miraculous. That’s where we shot this show, and it gave it such a different feel. But in a good way—very intimate, very intense and very different. Something we might try to blend into a season when we come back and everything is wide open again. It gives you such a great result, and it was so intense. We didn’t want this to feel like, ‘Oh. They tried hard. It was the COVID version.’ That’s not what we wanted. I want you to sit down October 13 and quickly feel like, ‘I’m back, I’m watching The Bachelorette and this feels good. This is the escape I needed right now.’”
On how ABC chose Matt James as the next Bachelor
“There’s always this idea of how the decision is made as to who the Bachelor and the Bachelorette is. It’s always this ongoing debate. We bring on new people, old people. People from the last season. We throw everything against the wall and see if it sticks. Matt James is someone we loved a lot before we were heading into Clare’s original season last spring. We thought, ‘OK. This guy could be a potential Bachelor. Let’s put him on the show. If Clare doesn’t choose him, maybe he’s our guy if it all works out.’ Circumstances really changed the game when we had to slide Clare to the end of the summer, which would take us right into The Bachelor.’ That was the wonderful thing of already having this discussion about Matt James and having a diamond in the rough. It took us old school and forced our hand because we don’t have the luxury of waiting. The Bachelorette will be airing while we’re shooting The Bachelor, so obviously, we couldn’t do it the way normally we do. It turned out to be a fortuitous balance that there was a silver lining to all this craziness. We ended up with a great Bachelor that we’re lucky to have and these women are going to be lucky to have a chance to fall in love with.”
On the TV moment that made him cringe
“Jason, Molly and Melissa. The first switch ever. We just did The Greatest of All Time lookback this summer. It was hard for me to watch that again. Being there in that moment was difficult, but watching it back I always want to crawl under my desk. It gets me every time.”
On the TV moment people reference the most when they meet him
“I don’t know if there is one moment. I think it has to do with what is in the forefront. What is in the zeitgeist right now. For the longest time, it was Colton jumping the fence, but then it turned into Barb with Peter’s season. There will be something that happens with Clare I’m sure that everyone will be talking about. Hannah B., it was the windmill and it was Luke P. It really changes from season to season.”
On the TV moment that didn’t air but he wish did
“We’re pretty good at really showing everything. I think it would be something from back in the day. I don’t have anything specific There were moments, for one reason or another, where we weren’t as organic back then. We were more formulaic. That’s just the way reality TV was done in the past, and now people are so savvy and so smart, they demand more reality out of their reality TV, shockingly enough. Now you do see everything, warts and all. You see in Clare’s season, you see the awkward conversations, you see the rough parts. That’s what I love about the show now. We embrace everything that happens. Back in the day, there were things we gloss over or move past, and I can’t think of anything specifically. It would probably be something selfish where I thought I was funny and they didn’t include it.”
On what he didn’t realize about reality TV before he was on it
“I’ve learned so much. It’s been 20 years. I’ve seen so many shows come and go. We don’t have all the answers as producers of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. It’s not like we have everything figured out, but we have our show figured out. We know the secret formula. We know the secret sauce. Everyone tries to emulate it. It’s probably the most copied and tried-to-be ripped-off franchise in all of television, and you just can’t replicate it. You can’t do it. We know how to do it. But that doesn’t mean we can go off and do Duck Dynasty or the Kardashians. We’re good at what we do. The people that do Survivor, the people who do Dancing With the Stars are great at what they do. I feel the same way about hosts. We all kind of found our thing, whether it was Seacrest, Bergeron, Keoghan. W all found our niche, and it works for us. That doesn’t mean we’re interchangeable.”
On the other show he would host
“Selfishly, I would steal Guy Fieri’s job and do Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I’m a foodie and I watch that show more than I admit. I think driving around, going to all these great places and eating would be awesome. Except for the super spicy stuff. I watch him sweat, and it’s painful.”
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