Is guiding the love lives of reality show celebrities in front of millions of American viewers really all the fun and games it appears to be? It seems that way to us. On ABC’s hit series The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and most recently, The Bachelor Winter Games, Texan Chris Harrison broadcasts into America’s living rooms to officiate how one woman or man selects their perfect mate from a selection of 25 eligible singles. As the series wraps its 22nd season, he divulges a behind the scenes look at the show – and what it’s like to be a Texan who has made it big in Hollywood. (Photography courtesy of ABC)
The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise have taken America by storm – why do you think the series has become so popular?
We really seem to have struck a chord with the country. It gives our viewers at home a safe place to judge from their own couch in a safe environment. Also, the show really resonates with women – and men, too – because we all want a fairytale relationship in life. Unlike the other reality dating shows that have formats like ours, the twists are there to help. The shows give the participants the best chance for succeeding at a relationship.
The show is filmed over the course of ten to twelve weeks, the same pace as the show’s air time. Tell us about that accelerated pace of events.
In the show, everything that happens is happening in reality while the contestants are living in the house during that same amount of time. There is a painstaking attention and amount of work done by the producers and creators of the show. Many other reality dating shows shoot their entire run in just a couple of weeks, but ours is pretty much real time.
What about the camaraderie between the bachelorettes and bachelors – do they really get along or is there some rivalry?
The unique aspect of the show is that genuine friendships are formed onscreen and off. It’s almost like a fraternity, especially after each season ends. Because the house in which the people on the show live has no television, no phones, and no outside news, the friendships are intense. All they have to think about is the actual “act of dating” for the show, so after the show ends, they organize trips that are like mini reunions.
Is the “rose ceremony,” which signifies the choices the star makes for the next round of dating choices, all it appears to be? It looks really stressful on this side of the television screen.
The first rose ceremony is interesting – when contestants enter the ceremony in a group setting and many are elimited simultanously. From the second round forward it gets really serious as individuals are singled out and don’t make it to the next level. It becomes more intense and people feel the rejection on a much more personal level – and the viewers see that, too.
You bring your nice guy sensibility to the series – what is it about being raised a Texan that has helped in your success?
You know, I never really auditioned for the show. They wanted the role to be that of the Bachelor’s best friend. Because of the fact that I am a decent, down home guy, they thought I might be right for it.
Are there some perks of hosting such a popular show?
You bet – there are so many benefits. I am a big sports fan, so attending the ESPY awards was a treat. I also love to ski, so attending ski events is fun, too. I’ve also had a chance to meet some of my heroes like Barry Sanders and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
What is your favorite part of being a Texan in Hollywood – how do you “keep it real?”
Having most of my family in Dallas makes a difference. So everyone really keeps me grounded. I realize this can all go as quickly as it comes and I’ll enjoy it for as long as I can.