Chris Harrison previews Bachelor best-of show, gives Bachelorette update
Just as Bachelor Nation was facing the prospect of a long, sad summer with no new season of The Bachelorette — which has been put on hold due to the Coronavirus — ABC swooped in with some temporary relief. On June 8, the network will debut The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable — Ever!, a 10-episode retrospective highlighting the best, craziest, and most "romantic" moments from The Bachelor franchise. EW called Bachelor Nation overlord Chris Harrison to grill him about which seasons we're likely to see on Most Unforgettable — and get the latest update on when (or if) The Bachelorette will start filming.
CHRIS HARRISON: As soon as we were quarantined and people were clamoring for content, Mike and Rob and I were talking, probably every day, like, “Okay, what can we do?” We really didn’t have anything immediate, but there is this appetite for our old seasons, for shows back in the day. Whether you weren’t watching or you’re maybe just young and you got on the train too late, you don’t know what made the show what it is today — and that is those classic seasons of Trista Rehn and Jason Mesnick and Bob Guiney and Sean Lowe. A lot of people missed those seasons, and so we wanted to go back and not just show the seasons.
Think of it more as a podcast, a tip of the cap to Bachelor Nation. It’s going to be one full season in one night. It’s not going to be this long, drawn-out, 10-week thing. It’s going to be one night [per season]. I’m going to be narrating and giving my opinions. We’re going to call the characters that were involved and talk to them. I think it’s a fascinating way to do it. It really will be more of a podcast, with categories – like the craziest moments, the most impactful people, or maybe who was the villain, what was the wildest thing that happened. And then we’ll go back and see where these people are now, and we’ll talk to them. Are they married? Did they have kids? I’ve lost touch with a lot of these people, so it’s going to be great for me to go back and watch this. There were some seasons that you’ve gotta see. You’ve got to see Trista Rehn’s season. That was the lightning bolt that legitimized this franchise. I know people talk about it and know who she is, and did she see it? You’re going to watch people dating and talking in 2002, 2003. It’s not the same. The show, the fashion, the makeup, it’s all very dated.
True. Your suits are very large in season 1.
[Laughs] I made a joke, I posted a picture from season one a long time ago and [the caption said], “I stole my dad’s suit.” My dad actually called me and said, “Was that really my suit?” I said, “No, dad, I was just saying it was super big. I wasn’t wearing your suit.”
Beyond season 18 of The Bachelor, which introduced future Bachelorette Clare Crawley, are there other seasons you definitely want to include?
There are a couple of seasons that you have to show. Trista, you’ve got to show the first Bachelorette. Sean Lowe’s season I think is unanimously a classic that everybody loves. Kaitlyn Bristowe was a great Bachelorette, and a lot of people came out of that show. There were some seasons that were pivotal for a lot of reasons. Out of Juan Pablo’s season, you had [season 10 Bachelorette] Andi Dorfman, and you had Clare. Those are the seasons that will definitely stand out. But we’re going to get a lot of them — we’re going to do 10 of these [episodes], if not more, so that’s a lot of seasons that we’ll be able to revisit.
Do you have a sleeper pick that you’d really like to include?
Man. There’s probably two of them. One would be Jillian Harris. I love Jillian, that was a really good season of The Bachelorette. Another would be, and this is just a sentimental moment for me, would be [season 2 Bachelor] Aaron Buerge, because that to me was a pivotal moment in the franchise. The first season of The Bachelor was in the spring of 2002, and Aaron Buerge was the fall. By fall 2002, my life had changed, and the show was the number one show on TV, there were 33 million viewers. That was the tipping point for The Bachelor. That would be an interesting season to go back and revisit.
Lieutenant Andy Baldwin — that was a huge season. I think Jake Pavelka’s a season that you’ve gotta see again.
Will we see any Bachelor Pad or Paradise?
Right now, no. Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise are not on the docket. But if this gets expanded, which I think it will, maybe we throw in a Bachelor Pad season 1. A lot of people don’t even know that show existed.
Or how about the Pad season 3 finale, when Nick kept the money instead of sharing it?
That was amazing. That was actually one of the greatest moments in the franchise’s history, with the prisoner’s dilemma — he just shook the world and took the money and ran.
What’s it been like putting all of this together under such challenging circumstances?
I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s been wild. It’s been life-changing. Everybody’s out of work. I know when people think of the show, they think of Hannah or Colton. But there are hundreds of people who I work with and have worked with for almost twenty years now. That’s a long time in your professional life. So I know that my makeup artist, Gina [Modica], and Cary [Fetman], who does wardrobe, they’re out of work. Our producers, and photographers, and audio and the art department — these people are just sitting at home out of work. So the best part about The Bachelor: Most Unforgettable is we’re going to put as many of them to work as we possibly can. It’s not everybody, but we’re going to do the best we can.
In terms of The Bachelorette, the tentative plan is to start shooting the season in June or July, for a possible fall launch?
Yeah, that’s the thought. Of course, who knows, but my thought is late June, July. This show that we’re doing, this greatest-hits show, is going to be a bit of a stop-gap, and that will fill that Bachelorette schedule in June and July, and then hopefully we’re shooting Clare’s season. And then that would get us into [production on season 25] of The Bachelor, and then we’d be kind of back on schedule. Will Paradise happen? Will it fall in the middle? That’ll totally dependent on where we are in the calendar when we can get back and shooting The Bachelorette. Maybe we get it all done — that would be great. But the way things are going, they don’t seem to be progressing very quickly.
I don’t know, maybe we have to get out of California. The politics of California are not helping anybody at this point. Maybe you have to go to a state where things are opening up quicker.
If you can’t start shooting anything until the fall, which is when production on The Bachelor usually begins, would you shoot The Bachelor first — even if you haven’t shot Clare’s season of The Bachelorette?
I’d hate to think of a world where we would we’d have to even contemplate that. That would mean things have gone so horribly wrong that we’re in a terrible situation as a nation. Our goal, first and foremost, is to shoot The Bachelorette, and if we can do that in the next three to four months, we’re still fine. We can push The Bachelor a little bit and get that done as well... The way we do it now, is we finish [production on The Bachelor] right before Thanksgiving. But in the past, when we were doing more [seasons], we would go into December. We could easily shift two or three months. Look, would it crush our post-production department, who's having to edit it? Yeah. But really the way we do it now is so everybody can enjoy Christmas and New Year's. [Pushing it later] would just destroy Christmas and New Year's for everybody — but we could get it done. [laughs]
Okay, now we must discuss the current Bachelor Nation drama happening on Monday nights: Listen to Your Heart.
I just watched episode four, and it is wild. The Brandon and Julia of it all — it is absolutely wild. I really do hope that more and more people start to find this show, because it is so damn good. Watching Julia and Brandon go through their relationship, break-ups — it is crazy! I don’t know if we’ve ever had a female character like Julia ever, in the history of any of our shows.
From a performance standpoint, Julia and Sheridan are frontrunners (along with Matt and Rudi). But Julia is clearly way more into Brandon than she is Sheridan. And yet she’s accusing Savannah of faking her feelings for Brandon! Who is being honest in this love triangle?
I don’t know if any of them are! I would say Savannah and Sheridan are definitely being honest. I think they’re definitely trying to be in those relationships. I think Brandon and Julia are either using people or being players, I don’t know. They’re absolutely amazing to watch, both of them. Maybe they deserve each other! It’s fascinating because Julia is clearly not into Sheridan. Clearly, she just wanted to stay, and now bizarrely, in a hypocritical way, she’s judging Savannah and Brandon for being there for the wrong reasons.
People, when they watch Monday night, are going to lose their minds. There are two or three scenes in particular with Brandon, with Sheridan, and with Julia — I stopped and rewound it four times. I was like, “There’s no way that just happened.”
Who do you think are the dark horse couples?
I think everybody can see that Chris and Bri are clearly falling for each other. But I think Matt and Rudi — I think Rudi might be the sleeper of it all. Her voice is insane, and I did not see that coming. And Matt has this very lovable way about him. I think they’re great together. Trevor is also very interesting. Who is he? Is he legit, or is he just this reality TV guy that’s trying to get over on everybody? Natascha and Ryan I’m just not sure to make of them yet. They’re great performers, but are they together? Do they have that chemistry? We’ll suss that out over the next few weeks.
Clearly there are couples in the house that are not sincere, and there are some people that have a wandering eye and maybe not the best of intentions. And [on Monday’s episode], I go in and push those situations. I will shake things up at the beginning of this next episode, and force some of these conversations. That is going to lead to — I can’t undersell this, it is wild what you’re going to see. I don’t know what people are going to think about Brandon and Julia after this, but just know that you’ll definitely have a very strong opinion.
The Bachelor: The Most Unforgettable — Ever! premieres Monday, June 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Listen to Your Heart airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
This romantic reality competition series follows a gaggle of women vying for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?