"You never know how America is going to react, and even during filming, I wouldn't have predicted they'd feel this way," Harrison tells TVGuide.com. "People say, 'Why haven't you warned him about her?' But he hears what she's saying and plenty of the women tried to caution him."
While much of the hate this season has been focused on Courtney, a model from Arizona, viewers are increasingly frustrated watching Ben melt in front of her while eliminating contestants such as Emily. Harrison says he was shocked by the epidemiologist's exit this week, but attributes it to two factors. "He was starting to see Emily as more of a sister," Harrison says. "She's perfect on paper — smart, beautiful, funny —but it wasn't there. She also couldn't redeem herself after talking to him about Courtney [in Episode 4]. That really bothered him and he saw it as a personality flaw."
Although Harrison understands the blame aimed towards Ben, he does say that he wished viewers could see the deliberations. "He and I spoke before he pulled Courtney aside, and I think if viewers saw that, they would've seen just how much I pushed him on it and why he ultimately started to question her," he says.
Harrison adds that next week's episode will include the taped deliberation and that it will be much different than people expect. "The pecking order changes after hometown dates, more so on this season than in the past," he says. "That week changes everything."
The highlights of those visits, according to Harrison: Watching Kacie B.'s dad giving Ben a hard time and meeting Courtney's mom. "I think everyone is dying to see where Courtney came from," Harrison says with a laugh.
With another season almost in the books, Harrison says he's relishing the fact that while people may be ripping on The Bachelor, they're still talking about it. Whether it's an auto-tuned mash-up, Kelly Ripa's spot-on Courtney impression ("She does Courtney better than Courtney does Courtney," Harrison jokes) or Fergie and her mom mentioning the show on the Grammys red carpet, the show is clearly still relevant in Season 16. "This season may not be a Trista and Ryan fairytale or an Ashley and J.P. situation where everyone's rooting for them ... but as long as people have opinions about it, that's what matters," Harrison says. "It's when they're indifferent that it's bad."
Watch this week's Bachelor: The Morning After