If there is one guy who really knows what goes on when the cameras are off on The Bachelor, it’s Chris Harrison. And sitting down with him to talk to him about The Bachelor Season 20 and how the series has changed over the last 15 years was fascinating. Although Chris Harrison was quick to point out how the show has evolved successfully to deal with changes such as social media, he also pointed out that the foundation of the show has never changed.
It’s these two people. There’s this man and this woman, scared to death, hoping that they found true love. And as cheesy as that may sound, it is that one thing that no matter where you go in the world, kind of connects us all. It’s companionship, it’s that hope, that dream of finding somebody. I think that is why the show has just been so relatable. It’s probably I think more social relevant now, more popular than it ever has been.
The Bachelor Season 20 Chris Harrison Interview
Chris Harrison talked about The Bachelor Season 20, Ben H and what we can expect from the newest Bachelor.
Ben was an easy choice for us. It’s always nice when you have options, and we did this season, but it was a bit of a no brainer. He’s just such a genuine sweet humble good guy but as you see, he also has something that as a producer, is nice because there is that fragility and there’s that vulnerable side to him where he does have some issues to deal with and some things to get over. And I know, it’s hard to believe with a guy that looks like that has issues.
Ben [has] trouble [believing] that he can be loved and finding love. And it’s an arching theme you’ll see throughout the season that he deals with. And inevitably, there’s that bottom out. This always happens. There’s a point in the season when everybody just gets gutted. Not to be related to alcoholism or some kind of addiction. You know there is that bottom that you reach.
The great thing about how we produce this show and this process that people probably outside the show don’t understand is it really does strip you down naked and then you start new, and you start to build. You can’t fake your way through this. Whether you’re one of the 25, or 28 this season, or if the guy or girl himself, you can’t fake your way through it, you just can’t. The first, maybe the second night. But you will be found out.
Eventually, you show up, your real self and that is kind of the duty of this show and you know, we yell at our TV screens and, “Oh my God, why, get rid of that person? Don’t you see what’s going on?” Well first of all, they don’t. They don’t get to see everything we do. But eventually they do get found out. You get shown for who you are. Kudos to the producers and the process that we created that kind of exposes that.
My God there will be a mother of all tell-alls some day. “What happened to that guy?” I’ll be on some island away from drone attacks in space, and I will write this incredible, bizarre tell-all of this franchise that has changed my life dramatically.
We started 15 years ago. And it was this crazy concept and reality was very new, very edgy. Survivor had just come on the air, and then we were next. And I remember running into Jeff Probst at an event and I said, “What is it?” I was a sportscaster and I knew how to host but this was very different. There was no template, there was no playbook for this is how you host a reality show.
Jeff actually just said, “You’re gonna have to figure it out. I had to figure it out on Survivor. Your thing is gonna be so different. You’re just gonna have to find your space.”
Early on I was a bit of just a talking head and I almost did have a script per se. I didn’t really think too much out of the box. I was just trying to keep my job honestly at the time. I was scared to death, my first network show, and we picked up with six one-hour episodes. That was it. That was the original concept. No Bachelorette. That was never intended to happen. This is just kind of a one-time deal that we thought we would do.
What you see now is so uniform that my daughter could produce the show. She knows what it looks like. You all have seen the show so many times, but back then we didn’t know what a Rose Ceremony was. This is a Rose Ceremony. No, everyone move over here, sit on a couch. No, everyone stand over there… Figuring this out as we went. Literally figuring it out.
We shot so much stuff because we didn’t know what we would use and so we just shot for days and then now we’ve honed it into we know exactly what we’re going to use and what we won’t use. People think, “Oh, you have cameras going 24/7 at the house. How did you not catch this?” Well we don’t because we know we’re not going to use that and so sometimes we’ll miss things because something crazy will happen. But for the most part we know, and so it’s just interesting.
Back then I hung out at the house because we had no rules. I would go play Poker with the guys and stop by and have a beer, we’d shoot some pool and play poker and hang out.
Now that doesn’t happen. It’s very professional, but back then we were just kind of throwing it against the wall and seeing if it stuck.
Yes and No. It’s interesting I think obviously with age comes wisdom and obviously, this job, is giving me an amazing amount of experience. And if I’m like, that guy you’re dating is a complete jack ass. You’re immediately gonna get defensive.
And I think a lot of times, it’s interesting. The women will make that right choice. Guys often don’t. They’re not smart animals. You can quote that, that’s true, if you haven’t already figured that out. They’re not smart animals.
Are there any big shenanigans or drama going on this season that you can tell us about?
This season is interesting because the drama is more Ben induced and caused because of who he is and how he carries himself throughout the show, which is extraordinarily well, and he’s very open. The best way to go through with this is to really just wear your heart on your sleeve and give yourself up to the process.
And because he really just gave himself and threw himself into the fire, the drama will follow like that happens. We don’t have to produce that. And I know people think, “Oh, you cast it crazy and you kept this girl.” You don’t have to. If I lock these doors right now, I promise you, half this room are crazy.
So it’s a dramatic season, but I think in a very different way than what we’re gonna be used to.
Isn’t that what’s great about the show? I mean this show really does push social questions and standards. When we first did The Bachelorette, “Krista’s gonna be a slut.” She’s gonna do what Aaron Buerge and these guys did, but when a girl does it? Nah.”
And you know what’s funny? When I’m in a room predominantly filled with women, and women predominantly watch our show, you would think women would acknowledge that and often you will hear that all, “Go Women, Yay Women.” But the reality is that’s not what happens. That’s not how it happens on social media. There’s slut shaming, there’s body shaming.
There have been things that have been said about the people on our show by women about women that’s horrifying to me.
Women don’t wish other women well often times. And that is a very sad state of affairs in our society but it’s very true.
The Bachelor pushes these social issues. Agree with her choices? That’s up to you. It’s her body, her life, her morals, her faith, her whatever, that she chose to do. And she owned [that] and that’s why we really ever needed like whether you agree with what she did, I really respect and honor how she handled it because I knew she was gonna get buried. And I even told her, I said, “You’re going to get buried for the way you’re acting. And I don’t think you’re acting inappropriately per se but you know, public opinion is very strong.”
But as much as we love to tear people down, people live a comeback story. People love redemption, and she may be now our most beloved Bachelorette because she stood through it all and faced it all, took it all, owned it, and then threw it back at everybody and said “Look, I love this guy, we’re engaged. Suck it.”
I love that we kind of expose those issues.
Are there things that are put in the place to cause drama?
Our main goal is to end up with a couple, a happy couple and so if you mess with Ben too much and say keep girls or make certain things happen, it might be to the detriment of the ultimate goal. But do we produce the show? Of course, it’s not a documentary. We don’t just follow those people around.
We know there are certain issues that we will push the envelope, and we’ll push those situations. And that is because we have this finite amount of time to make this happen. And so we do accelerate everything. It’s like you put this dating process over a Bunsen burner and it boils. And it boils quickly.
What we’re looking for is not crazy, not drama, not the thing that you would think of. We’re looking for a good story, we really are.
That’s the show. That’s the genius. You don’t know what you’re going to get, and that’s why you bring in this woman from New York and San Francisco, and Iowa, and Alabama. And we don’t dress them. And we don’t do their hair and makeup because we want you to dress how you look, and you to dress how you look.
You get the people that are there for their 15 minutes or whatever, that’s inevitable. It’s just this generation. But the great thing is our show’s never been predicated on the fact that there’s 28 people there all 100% sincere.
Dating is not perfect, and if our show was, it would be insincere and it wouldn’t work. The reason our show is [successful] is because it can fail. It has its issues, just like the dating process, it’s not perfect.
And that’s what we all empathize with. We’ve all been dumped. We’ve all fallen for the wrong guy or girl. We’ve all made mistakes. But we all want that thing at the end.
What if one of your kids wanted to be on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette?
If one of my kids wanted to do it, I’d be 100% fine with it. My son would never do it, but I can see my daughter taking my job. In 10 years, when I’m coming out in a walker and my daughter’s like I got this. My hope is that I have instilled in my children the things that mean the most to them, their family, their faith, how to carry themselves and what they’re responsible for. If they choose to then go do it on The Bachelor or whatever, as long as they still know that they have to come home and see their family and answer to it, that’s fine with me.
This Chris Harrison interview about The Bachelor Season 20 was part of my Disney press trip that included Star Wars. Don’t miss all of the coverage:
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