Vienna Girardi and Jake Pavelka
Although Ali Fetodowsky is the star of this season's Bachelorette, the breakup of last season's Bachelor couple, Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi, has taken center stage. In a reunion that got as heated as ABC previewed (you can watch the video below), Vienna called Jake a "fame whore," while Jake maintained he was constantly "undermined and emasculated" by his fiancée. Host Chris Harrison shared his thoughts with TVGuide.com and why he believes Jake has been burned by the fame flame. Plus: Harrison talks about Ali's choice to cut Ty and how her relationship with Chris L. is "normal" for her.
TVGuide.com: Did you think it would get so intense between Jake and Vienna?
Chris Harrison: No, not at all. Part of the reason I thought we should do it was because so much had gotten out about the breakup and I thought, "I know them really well, I'll be able to get them together and go through this." I knew it was contentious and it wasn't exactly an amicable split, but I didn't think it would get that heated.
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TVGuide.com: Were you surprised to hear their relationship was bad from almost the beginning?
Harrison: Yes and no. I knew that she didn't sign up for that life and for Jake to do Dancing [With the Stars]. Stuff like that is a mixed blessing because it's a great thing he got to do it, but then it set this path that she wasn't anticipating. And to a certain degree ... obviously he has gotten caught up in it. He wants that life and he does enjoy it. It doesn't surprise me they broke up — that happens a million times a day around the world. It's the way in which it happened, how quickly it dissolved into this is what really shocked me.
TVGuide.com: I didn't expect to come away with sympathy for Vienna.
Harrison: Not only was I fair to Vienna, but I think I even showed a better side. I don't think people could walk away saying that I or the show took Jake's side only. People are like, "It's pathetic you hammered her with these accusatory questions." She had more to say, she's the one who came out with the story, so naturally, as an interviewer, she's where the story was for me. Asking her questions isn't a mean thing; it's giving her a chance to explain. Instead of have Jake throw out accusations and put her on the defensive, I thought it was putting her on the offensive. Obviously, you're not going to make everybody happy, but I left there at least knowing that, in my mind, it was fair, open, and honest. It wasn't a proud moment for anybody — I don't think any of them came out looking great — but it was fair and I thought you saw Jake for who he is and you saw Vienna for who she is.
ABC: Vienna calls Jake a "fame whore" during taped interview
TVGuide.com: Do you really think this is the last time they'll talk about it?
Harrison: Jake's like, "I'm not a fame whore," she's like, "I'm not in it for the public," I'm like, "All right then, put your money where your mouth is. Are you done after this?" I don't think either of them are. I think both of them, her to a lesser degree, have enjoyed the fame. They both got caught up in it a little bit and I think they both changed a little bit. That can happen to people, you are pulled out of your normal every day life you're thrown onto this national stage, and if you're not careful you get burned by that flame. When we're doing an interview and he's talking about his team and his people and lawyer, I'm like, "Listen to what you're saying, no one talks like that."
TVGuide.com: Back to the Bachelorette, why do you think Ali chose Kirk over Ty?
Harrison: Kirk, I think, continues to amaze and surprise Ali because he's so positive, such a great guy to be around and he's got this energy about him. Ty is just too Southern for her. ... When a guy has to say to a girl, "I think it's cool that you work," it's almost like starting a sentence, "I'm not a racist, but ..." She thinks of herself as a very progressive, strong woman. Anything that's going to get in that way scares her a bit and I think she saw some of those signs with Ty.
TVGuide.com: What did you think when Chris L. gave Ali that bracelet?
Harrison: I love their relationship all together. He waited to talk about his parents and his mom dying, he waited on the bracelet. One thing [Ali and I] talked about that you didn't get to see is that her relationship with Chris L is a normal relationship she usually has. It starts with friendship, builds slowly, then you find there is chemistry and you move on from there.