Chris Harrison: Ben Flajnik is a different kind of 'Bachelor' animal
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/10/2012
Having past its halfway point, The Bachelor's sixteenth season has already been filled with drama and surprises from the aggressive behavior of controversial bachelorette Courtney Robertson to the seemingly random return and elimination of former fifteenth-season The Bachelor bachelorette Shawntel Newton.
The Bachelor's host Chris Harrison has not only been along for the ride but has felt the need to intercede at times, especially when he heard information that bachelorette Casey Shteamer was still dating and in love with a boyfriend from home while competing on the show to with Bachelor Ben Flajnik's heart.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Chris talked to Reality TV World about the season's most dramatic moments thus far and the ones still to come -- including whether he believed Courtney really liked Ben or was just obsessed with winning, how he said Ben has been taking all the news and rumors regarding Courtney and her dating motives, why he claimed Courtney might owe Ben an apology, and what viewers should expect to see for the remainder of the season.
Below is the second portion of Chris' interview. Click here to read the first half.
Do you think Courtney has true feelings for Ben or is it just about winning in her eyes? Do you see good qualities in her?
Chris Harrison: I think it's because I've been doing this for 10 years -- I think it's just so easy for people to look at something and making things black or white. Nothing is that simple when it comes to anything, especially relationships. And the fact that Courtney is playing this game -- and the thing is, love is a game.
What you do at a bar on a Friday night or at church on Sunday or wherever you go to find love or meet somebody, there's a certain game element to it. If you don't think so, then you're probably not in the right game. This is the way that Courtney plays. This is the way -- and again, it's not just to win, and I don't think it's just to play a game to her.
I think she does have feelings for Ben. I think she very, very much cares for him. But I also think that from her experience in her life, this is the way she goes about it. Does it rub us the wrong way? Apparently. It's not popular. But is it working? Yeah. And so apparently, she's had success with this type of actions -- this type of game -- her whole life and it's working.
She's gotten Ben's attention. She is affectionate. I'm guessing she's gotten attention and affection from guys for quite some time using this method. And so, it's hard to falter in many ways because it's working like a charm, but man, it's unpopular and she's not exactly going out of her way to ingratiate herself to the other women.
Do you know how Ben is handling all the news about Courtney?
Chris Harrison: Ben's doing great. I mean, I've talked to him quite a bit and honestly, a lot of what we talk about is business. (Laughs) He's been so involved in launching this wine industry and he's done incredibly well.
So, we really talk a lot about that more so than the show, because honestly, we lived the show and we know what's happened and what's going on, and I know what's going on in his life and vice versa.
So, we really talk about -- not to put anybody down on this call, but we really talk about what's in the magazines or in the tabloids and all that. I really don't get involved in that either because I know the truth. I know what's really going on, so that's not really where I go for my information.
Chris Harrison: No. I don't, not at all. The whole Bentley deal -- the funny thing about Bentley is I never, and I know this might sound weird to say because I don't want to stick up for the guy, but I don't really dislike the guy. I've never hated the guy.
I wasn't real happy with the way he acted and I think if we ever get a chance to talk to him or if he ever comes up to one of these interview shows or whatever, I'm guessing he would apologize profusely for how he acted and regrets a lot of it.
I think that Courtney's probably like [Kasey Kahl] on Bachelor Pad. I don't know if you remember this summer on Bachelor Pad when Kasey came back to the reunion show and he said, "Man, I've been watching and that's not me. I apologize for that."
And I bet Courtney would be a little bit like Kasey in that I bet she regrets some of the things she's done or said. I think she's gotten caught up in the moment a few times and I think that the apology that [Emily O'Brien] gave and the way she reacted to that is a great example.
I mean last week, that was just uncalled for -- the way she acted when Emily kind of extended the olive branch. I'm guessing that she's home and regrets a lot of this. I haven't talked to her, but I'm guessing that'll be the case.
Do you believe Courtney should apologize to Ben?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, yeah. I think she'll -- again, I hope to see her at Women Tell All and hopefully she'll come back -- or any of these reunion shows. I'd love to talk to her, because again, I don't know if it's because I'm older and wiser and I've been doing this for 10 years, but I'm very slow to judge these people just as black and white like, "Okay. You're the evil person and you're bad or you're good."
This show does strange things. It puts you in a very, very strange atmosphere and situation and environment that it's hard for people to understand. I do very much understand it, and so, the things Courtney has done to get attention from Ben, some of it I actually respect.
I think she's done a good job of fighting for this guy, but I also think that she would admit -- and hopefully admit -- that she went a little too far and some of the things she said weren't appropriate and were rude. So, I don't think she owes him an apology, but I hope she would come up with a little bit of an apology to several people on the show.
Jamie Otis admitted she was shy and prude and she's clearly not on the show anymore, while women like Courtney are aggressive and seem to be rewarded for that. Do you think a woman like Jamie could never make it to the end on a show like this?
Chris Harrison: Well, you know what? It depends on the guy. It totally depends on the guy and what they're looking for. This show's environment will really take you out of your element and make you do crazy things.
The thing is, Jamie being shy and being a prude isn't a negative, but what it forced her to do -- seeing Courtney and seeing some of these other girls get attention and get affection from Ben -- she felt like she had to all of a sudden become somebody else.
And now, this sweet girl who is beautiful and perfect in her own right absolutely did a 180 and acted like she would never act. I'm just guessing Jamie would never give anybody a lapdance. She would never jump in their face and try to kiss them like that. And so, it just took her out of her element.
So, it's not that a girl like that wouldn't go the whole way. She would just really have to be careful to stick to her guns and it takes the right guy. You never know what Ben's looking for or what anybody's looking for. If it's a different guy, then maybe that's exactly the type of woman he'd be attracted to.
Critics will say the very framework of The Bachelor will make women act in ways that are sort of demeaning to them or encourage them to act in ways you have described. Don't you think the way the show is set up and how it expects a woman to hang out with a guy for a week or a month and then fall in love with him encourages that type of behavior?
Chris Harrison: I have a daughter and you bring up a great point. Here's the thing. What this show does, and it's why I love, love, love this show -- I think it's just a great, phenomenal study of human behavior -- because look at the women who have been on this show.
Just take this season. Look at [Kacie Boguskie]. Look at [Lindzi Cox] and look at Emily. In no way do I feel like any of them have changed who they are. I feel they haven't compromised any of their virtues, any of their morals. I feel like, yes, Kacie B. went bikini skiing down a street in San Francisco, which was silly. But did that really compromise her morals? No.
She had fun with it and it was funny and it was an experience of a lifetime. But this show will force you to question yourself and force you to really take a stand on what's really important to you.
For Jamie, is it more important to try to win Ben by jumping on his lap and kissing him in a way that you would never do, or is it more important to not do that and leave with your morals and dignity and say, "You know what? This guy's not for me. It's not working," and move on?
So, I like that this show forces you to make those decisions. I was trying to think of the guy that passed out on Night 1 with Ashley. Nobody told that guy, "Hey, come on the show and drink more than Seattle slew." That's up to you.
Nobody tells you that you need to drink. Nobody tells you at a bar on Friday night or anywhere that you have to act like that, yet people do. I just think it forces great social issues and that it's up to you.
There are a lot of rumors out there that Courtney is being fake with Ben and she is a man-eater and such, so do you think there could be any truth to them?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, you know, the proof will be in how this plays out in the next few weeks, and the proof will be in the future and what happens and the decision he makes. But again, this show is -- one of the things I love is that it's up to Ben or whoever the Bachelor or Bachelorette is to figure out, "Are these people here for the right reasons?"
In any walk of life, you have to decide, "Is this person using me for my money? Are they using me for whatever?" In this case, "Do you think that Courtney's here to get her 15 minutes and become a model?" You have to decide those things and Ben is going through that right now with her. Coming up next week in Belize, we kind of have that "come to Jesus" meeting, so to speak, where they kind of have it out.
Because more than one girl now will be coming up and warning Ben about Courtney. But at the same time, what Ben has to figure out is, "Are these girls jealous of Courtney because she's getting so much attention and she's kind of dominating the game so far?" -- or are they really looking out for him? So, it's a lot of stuff for him to weigh.
Did you expect that Courtney would get this far?
Chris Harrison: Yeah, I mean, he was infatuated with her from the moment she stepped out of the limo. You can tell that he was taken by her and she for one reason or another definitely has his number. She knows how to excite him and draw him in and kind of play hard to get at times and he loves it.
He loves the way she -- again, you have to understand the audience and who you're playing to. Would this work on Brad Womack or Jake Pavelka? Maybe not, but Ben is a different kind of animal. He has his own baggage and his own way of thinking, and this appeals to him.
What should viewers expect for the remainder of the season in terms of big surprises?
Chris Harrison: Wow. Well first and foremost, this week coming up is more of the fall out with Courtney. And after this week, we go to hometowns and so things are getting very, very serious. Ben is definitely starting to question -- now that more people are speaking up about Courtney -- and that definitely comes to a head.
Really, from here on out, things are -- it kind of goes to a different level. When you get to hometown dates and you start bringing the families into it, that changes everything. You will see frontrunners all of a sudden fall out of favor and then you'll see some of these dark horses start to emerge.
This is the time when things really start to shake up, because at this point, those first impressions have gone a long way. But now, there has to be something else there and/or that relationship is going to fall by the wayside. So things definitely either start to heat up with these girls or you'll definitely see a drastic fall off.
Do you have any closing remarks?
Chris Harrison: Well, the only thing I'd love to say for this week is if anyone ever wants to do a great story on the rating system andThe Bachelor, first of all this week, against The Voice -- when everything went in the toilet this week with $50 billion in advertising and post-Super Bowl -- I think The Bachelor on Monday night was the only show that not only held its number, but went up in the ratings, which says a phenomenal amount about our core audience and how loyal they are.
But the other thing is we've been party crashing the last like two -- the last like four weeks -- when we've gone to Bachelor parties,The Bachelor viewing parties, and it's stunning -- and I don't think there's any other show on TV where it's really group-viewing. I don't know many people that watch this show alone.
There's really no way to quantify the fact that 10, 20 viewers, especially women, get together and watch this show on Monday nights. I think that definitely skews our viewership and ratings, because it's amazing how many people call or write or tweet or whatever, that they watch this show together. So someday, one of you will do some good investigative reporting into that. That's your homework for the week.