'The Bachelor' host Chris Harrison: We started taking the show for granted and had to loosen the reins
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/23/2015
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison thinks the franchise's currently-airing nineteenth season is better than ever due to its new direction.
Harrison said changes to the The Bachelor's format has increased ratings as well as chatter on social media. While many reality competition shows have been airing for around 10 years and are struggling to remain popular, Chris Soules' season of The Bachelor has pushed the show to a whole new level.
"There was a concerted effort that really started at the top. During Andi Dorfman's Bachelorette season, which we thought was a great season, but the ratings just didn't support it, Mike Fleiss sort of rallied everybody together, including myself, and reminded us that if we want to keep doing this, we've got to be better. We have to produce better, we have to host better, and we have to create better," Harrison told E! News.
"He really kind of refocused everybody like, 'Hey, we can't take this stuff for granted!' And I think everybody did. I think everybody kind of tightened it up a little bit, and gave a little better effort in finding the stories and trying things we haven't tried before."
Fleiss and fellow executive producers Martin Hilton and Alycia Rossiter, along with Harrison, decided it was necessary to ditch the show's strict 13-year-old format.
This season, Soules has been able to skip Rose Ceremonies and randomly eliminate girls when he sees fit. The Bachelor producers have also altered their editing approach in that every episode doesn't end with its typical Rose Ceremony and the behavior of "crazy" girls is highlighted. The changes have made the ABC reality dating series somewhat unpredictable, much unlike prior seasons.
"I think the show had become really formulaic," Harrison admitted to E! News.
"This season, we still follow the general recipe that's been so good and made the good secret sauce for 13 years, but we have been able to loosen the reins on everything. Not only me, but what [Chris Soules] does. He says, 'Hey, can I do this?' And before we might have said, 'You know, maybe not, let's wait until the Rose Ceremony and let's follow the formula.' But now we say, 'Let's do this! Just make sure that this is what's best for you and we will do it.' It has been freeing."
The long-standing program is undoubtedly corny and repetitive at times, but that's also what makes The Bachelor great. So while the show is still determined to find its stars true love, the tone has shifted and producers are allowing themselves to poke fun at things.
"Everything is looser now, because the audience kind of demands it now. I think everybody's in on what is fun and what can be taken as a joke, and we can go there," Harrison said, referencing talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's appearance as a prime example.
"And yet, we also haven't lost the sincerity. We really do want a couple and we really do want love. We want what happened with [Sean Lowe] and [Catherine Giudici] and [Trista Rehn] and [Ryan Sutter]. But, hey, we can still laugh at the trainwrecks along the way."
Harrison also suggested the casting for Season 19 was outstanding and made for very entertaining broadcasts. Ashley Salter was bizarre and strange, Ashley Iaconetti was an emotional wreck and Kelsey Poe came across as a villain because she had wanted to use her sob story to her advantage.
"The girls definitely have carried a large portion of the storyline," Harrison explained. "From the Ashleys to the Kelseys, there was a lot of crazy stuff. [Megan Bell] was just ice cream on a stick for me. I just love her to death. Her going to New Mexico and talking about sombreros and leaving the country. It's just unbelievable. I am not sure if she even knows now! I didn't want to break it to her."
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The next The Bachelor episode airs Monday, February 23 from 8-10PM ET/PT on ABC.