"Controversial" may be an overused word to describe The Bachelor, but with the heat Ben received for the women he cut (ahem, Emily), the one he kept around (eventual winner Courtney) and the decisions he made (skinny-dipping!), there is no better way to sum up this season. We checked in with Chris Harrison, who shares why he feels the hate went too far, if he thinks the engaged couple will last, and why Lindzi didn't seem too upset about her rejection. Plus: Harrison explains the new twist on Bachelor Pad and shares his cast wishlist.
Do you think Courtney had the proposal in the bag?
Chris Harrison: I thought she had it in the bag until Interlaken and then it really fell apart when the whole thing got to him. But she pretty much was one of his Top 2 the entire way. Ben liked the fact that Courtney questioned everything. He said that of all the women, she didn't take the "Ben pill" and just fall in love after Night 2 and assume that everything that was happening was perfect.
Are you surprised that Ben's family rooted for Courtney?
Harrison: Courtney is good, especially when she's not in the house. One-on-one, when she and Ben are together, it's pretty easy to see [their chemistry]. It's funny, during After the Final Rose, I think the most profound thing was when both of them said, "We're quirky, we're both little weird." I thought about it and I'm like, "You're right, you guys are just a little weird." They might just be weird enough to work. Ben is a very quirky guy — he's an acquired taste — [and] I don't think all of his charisma and charm came across TV. And she's a quirky woman, so when you put it like that, maybe they're perfect.
Why do you think Lindzi didn't cry after her rejection?
Harrison: I think she's not the emotional type of girl, which is partly what maybe lost [it for] her in the end. I'm also guessing that to a certain degree, maybe, she thought it was coming. But I talked to her the night before [and] I think she still thought there was a very good chance that it was her.
How come you didn't include Lindzi on After the Final Rose?
Harrison: It was important to get right into Courtney and Ben and once we handled the gravitas of that situation, how do you go back to Lindzi? I talked to Lindzi after because I felt bad — it's the first time I can remember we've ever done that — but it just didn't make sense.
Do you think Ben deserved the negative reaction he got this season?
Harrison: Every Bachelor or Bachelorette is going to take some heat — that's part of the job. He took a lot of heat and some of it was justified, but it went way too far. But that's the world we live in, where people can tweet and say what they want and there's no culpability for it.
At least the brunt of it was aimed at his hair.
Harrison: He deserves that. His hair needs a good cut. I think he'll make the world happy if he cuts his hair.
Do you think that Ben and Courtney will last?
Harrison: In the beginning, it really depends on how much time they're going to spend together. They're going to live separately, they're not ready to move in together, but it comes down to the effort they're going to put into this and I honestly don't know what that is. If they're true in what they say that they'll spend as much time as possible together, then they have a great chance — as good as anybody. But if they do this separately and they don't really see each other and grow apart and the tabloids continue, then they're done.
You also announced a twist with Bachelor Pad where anyone can be cast. Why the change?
Harrison: It really came from us visiting fan parties and the fan culture. People love these characters and want to be a part of it. Well, now you get that chance. We're going to try to find some uber-fans so that they're [star-struck]. It'll be hysterical. But the newbies are going to have to really up their game and can't get caught up in the fandom too long; they'll have to start playing.
Who would you like to see on the next season?
Harrison: Jamie, Jenna, Emily — we have a lot of girls this season I'd like to see. I'd like to see DeAnna Pappas come back, Ali [Fedotowsky], definitely Ed [Swiderski], maybe even Gia, who comes back every season.