'The Bachelorette' host: Desiree Hartsock is "good" now, was hurt badly but is a "survivor"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/04/2013
The Bachelorette's ninth season starring Desiree Hartsock will conclude on Monday, August 5 with a two-hour broadcast and a live After the Final Rose special beginning at 8PM ET/PT on ABC.
The remaining portion of the two-part finale will begin with a crushed Desiree attempting to pick up the pieces of her journey on the show following the shocking and sudden departure of Brooks Forester, whom she admitted she had fallen madly in love with. However, Drew Kenney and Chris Siegfried are still in the picture, and both men have declared their love for and willingness to commit to Desiree.
During a Thursday conference call with reporters, The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison talked to Reality TV World about Brooks' decision to walk out on Desiree and what's to come in next week's finale, which promises to be the weirdest ending the franchise has ever seen. To read what he had to say, click here.
Below are some additional highlights from Chris' call. Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for more.
You know Desiree obviously at this point on the show is extremely upset in saying that she thought Brooks was the one. But on the other side of things, you have Chris and Drew who both think that they're the ones. So do you think Desiree has the right to feel the way she does when there are two other men that are expecting they're going to be the ones proposing?
Chris Harrison: Sure, yes, I mean, obviously you know you have the right to feel like, I guess, however you want heading into this. You know, I do think she felt Brooks would be the guy and obviously he needed to pull himself out. It kind of crushed her. And the interesting part too is that, you know, Drew and Chris have no idea that any of this went down.
And that's part of the problem we have to solve in the finale on Monday, is that you know we keep them separated usually for good reasons, positive reasons at this point, because we just want it to be about them dating and them getting to that ultimate happy proposal. We've kind of never run into a problem where now we have these two happy guys that have no idea that the Bachelorette just had her world rocked.
By this point, you must be feeling very close to Des and quite protective of her. Was any part of you angry with Brooks because of his decision?
Chris Harrison: No, you know, I wasn't. After I talked to him, you know, I usually probably could have been. But after I talked to him, he's not a bad guy. He didn't do this with, you know, malice or ill-intent. He didn't come on here to screw her over and be the bad guy. He was very sincere and very sweet and when I talked to him, you could tell that he was torn about this.
And he had really done his due diligence, and he had thought this out and talked to his family. And he just made sure that, you know, this wasn't right for him. I would have been disappointed and more upset with him if he had gone through with all of this and... [Des picked] him and he has this fake proposal and they just kind of go out for a few weeks and it doesn't mean anything and he breaks up with her. Like, I would have been disappointed with that guy.
You know, it kind of takes me back to Brad Womack when people were so upset with him for turning down [DeAnna Pappas] and [Jenni Croft]. When Brad turned down both girls at the end, you know, everybody was outraged.
Then I thought, "You know, why is it such a bad thing if he's not in love? What would be, you know, what would people be happier with? A fake proposal?" So you know, I thought he did the right thing, so I thought Brooks did the right thing. It just sucks to have to do that on national television.
Next week, we'll see you speaking with Des after Brooks dumped her. How did you approach that conversation? Were you going to try to persuade her to stay or what was your approach to it?
Chris Harrison: So the great thing about my job, especially now and how it's evolved, is I am not necessarily this, I guess, the impartial judge or referee or even a host. I just went in honestly as a friend. And you know, the cameras were rolling and I knew they were there, but I really just went in because she needed to talk to somebody and someone to really just listen to her.
And that was a lot of what I did, was just sit and listen -- kind of like what I did with Brooks -- and I let her tell me where she was. And then, you know, I asked a few questions and kind of let her guide me through what she wanted to do.
But it was really just an empathetic figure that was kind of there for her. And that is kind of the beauty of my job, is I can be that. I don't have to be impartial. I can care about her and care about how everybody is doing.
What can you tell me about Desiree's state of mind right now, you know, two months after Brooks walked out?
Chris Harrison: I mean, the last time I saw her it was at The Men Tell All a couple of weeks ago. And you know, she's good! The great thing about Des -- and I am assuming this comes from her background and the way she grew up -- is that she's a survivor and she's strong. When we started this thing, she said, "Look, I am going to go for it and I am going to allow myself to be very vulnerable."
And I said, "There's a good chance you could get hurt like that." She says, "I know, but that's the only way you can do this." And I was proud of the fact that that's how she went through it the entire time of just really putting herself out there. And unfortunately, she did get hurt, and she got hurt bad. But she has incredible resolve and she's a strong woman. So, you know, she bounced back and she seemed happy.
You mentioned a great thing about your job is you get to be a real friend. But part of you is also the host. Can you talk about how it was for you? Did you feel like, "Oh gosh this is happening." But then on the other hand, "Gosh, this is happening, this is pretty dramatic and will make for some great TV.
Chris Harrison: If I guess, you know, yes and no. When I heard about it, I think my first thought was for Des as a friend, and I thought, "This is going to suck and this is going to be brutal." Because at this point, you know, ratings-wise and drama-wise, usually we're done.
And we're really just trying to set up this really great happy ending and hopefully what would be a magic proposal, and that's going to be good enough. You know, a great proposal and ending like [Catherine Giudici] and [Sean Lowe] that will give us great ratings.
This was a little bit of a curve ball that was more of, I don't know, more of a hindrance and more of a pain for us as producers than the thought of, "This is going to be great drama." Just because we were kind of in that home stretch and thought this was going to be a great season with a great ending. And we're home free. And then, you know, the entire show was kind of dumped upside down in the final two weeks of shooting.
When Des told Brooks that she loves him and he said, "Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" And she said, "I can't," can you maybe talk about that a bit? Because the whole goal of the show is for the Bachelorette to find love, but at the same time, she's encouraged not to say her feelings or she's seemingly not allowed to say her feelings.
Chris Harrison: I guess a little bit of both. But I think that was a little bit of a defense mechanism for Brooks and a little bit of a cop out, if you will. You know, I think anybody could have seen that Des was falling for this guy, and Brooks had been around her enough to know unless he completely misread every signal she had ever put out.
It was pretty simple to see that she was falling for him. They even made up those silly, you know, whatever verbs they thought were adjectives. They were really verbs that described their love. She said, "I am running and I am close to the finish line," or whatever.
So, you know, I think again that was Brooks trying to be a good guy and come off as a good guy in front of everybody during the breakup. I really don't think it would have made any difference whatsoever if she had been on one knee begging for his hand in marriage three weeks ago.
How did you feel when Des told you that she loved Brooks pretty early on in this season? I am wondering if that's kind of common for the contestant to reveal so early on in the game and you guys let that appear on-camera too. Did you think that would bode well that she was already admitting love?
Chris Harrison: You know, it's funny too though that we did do that early, but you know, in the next sentence, she also said she loves Chris. And then in the next sentence, I don't think she actually used the "L word" with Drew, but she said she was like falling for him or falling in love or whatever.
But it is funny how everyone really picked up the Brooks thing and then they kind of just forgot about Chris and then forgot about Drew. But you know, I guess it was just the way she spoke about it or maybe the fact that he was first. But it was at the time, I think it was in Munich, when we showed that [conversation] when we were in Germany.
The next day, I was a bit surprised that people -- I said, "Well what about the next three sentences she said about the other guys?" And everyone just kind of forgot about that. But, you know, we knew what had happened too and we kind of knew this was coming.
And so, that way, we kind of needed to set up the fact that's how she felt about Brooks before we got to this point. Because you know, if there was really no context once we got to this point, you really wouldn't understand why she was so upset.
What do you attribute Brooks' decision to call everything off to? Is it perhaps the pressure of having to propose at the end of the show that was maybe too much for some of the guys?
Chris Harrison: I don't, you know, I don't know. I mean, I think it was two separate questions there. I am not sure what Brooks' issues were or are. They could be as simple as, "Des isn't the one," or the fact that I think he has a history of not quite being able to commit.
You know, I am not sure where that stems from his childhood or what's happened in his life, but I can't -- I don't know. I really couldn't pinpoint that. And he had a really tough time articulating to me what he was thinking and what he wanted to do and I found that very peculiar.
I kept almost having to treat him like a hostile witness on the stand. I didn't mean to beat him up, but I honestly for the life of me, I could not understand what the heck he was trying to say to me. And I thought, "My God, if he's going to act like this with me, how bad is he going to be with Des?"
And so, and I really thought maybe he didn't want to leave and maybe he wanted to just, you know, if he needs more time. And to your other point of the pressure of proposing or whatever, I wanted to make it clear that there is no pressure, and if he needs more time, if we need to extend this or they want to whatever, there's a ton of options beyond, "Hey there's a proposal next week."
So if that's the problem, let's work on that, if you really care about her and there's still a shot. I just found it very odd that he just could not articulate his feelings, which that probably goes to, you know, if we want to play psychiatrist, it probably goes to a deeper issue somewhere. Because he also had that same problem with Des.
I mean honestly, for the first 10 minutes of that talk with Des, if he had stopped, I think Des would have thought, "He might be about to propose to me." That's how odd that break-up was. He spent 10 minutes telling her how much he loved her and how great she was and, "Oh by the way, I am breaking up with you." And so it was just -- I found it all a little, a little peculiar.
How long did Des' crying scene on the dock actually last? Do we see you immediately kind of going after that or do you guys keep your space for a while?
Chris Harrison: So Brooks and her set up there for quite some time and talked and then they walked off. We were obviously on the beach kind of tucked away. And then, she afterwards kind of walked out there to kind of have alone time. And we let her sit for, I mean, I am guessing probably a good 10 minutes -- 10, 15 minutes to kind of just sit out there and be alone.
And then I did go out there and I talked to her, but you know, we were going to show that but we stopped this episode there. I think where we'll pick up though is where you'll see Des and I speaking back at her house, because we had another chat.
We kind of needed her to -- she just needed time to decompress, figure out what just happened, figure out where she is, give her a little time to pull herself back together. And then we had a chat back at her place where we had to kind of decide where we go from here and what we want to do and, "Oh by the way, there's Chris and Drew. What do we do with them?"
And you know, they know nothing about this. How else should they find out? And so, there were a lot of questions that we kind of needed to deal with. But that wasn't the time or place to hammer her with all of that after what had just happened.
Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for more from Chris Harrison's call with reporters.
(Photo credit ABC)
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