On the penultimate episode of the ABC reality series, viewers were left wondering if Desiree would continue on after Brooks decided to exit, leaving her devastated. Harrison says he and the producers were fully ready to shut down production until Des decided to give her remaining men, Chris and Drew, a final shot. Almost immediately into their date, Des decided to let Drew go and spent the remainder of her time realizing that the man she loved was there all along. Although it seemed like she'd never get there, Desiree's journey ended with a proposal. Keep reading as Harrison reflects on the season, the bumpy ratings, Des and Chris's relationship and the new Bachelor, Juan Pablo.
I for sure thought Brooks would come back. Was there ever a chance he would?
Chris Harrison: Our fans probably had more of that perspective than I did. This time, I had no thought he would come back. He was pretty definite, and she was done as well.
How long was it before you knew Des would stick it out?
Harrison: There was a conversation I had with her immediately on the dock that we cut out because it was more just like a friend talking to her. At that point, it was still very much up in the air. I thought we'd be done. Then, we took the next day off and she had time to relax and get herself together. In the beginning of our next conversation, I was still 50-50. The good thing was that the producers told me to let her decide what to do, and we had decided we'd embrace whatever happened. If she left and we had to shut the show down, we still had some content with the guys finding out. So, the finale would've been wrapping up the show. But say what you will, she's very resilient and always had a positive outlook and she moved on.
From there, did you ever think she'd actually get engaged?
Harrison: I thought there was no way we'd get a proposal. Again, we weren't worried about it because I assumed it would be over, and if not, she'd go on the dates and maybe want to see someone again after the show ended. The one thing that was kind of glossed over was that she really cared for Chris and really loved him all along. The same night she said, "I love you" to Brooks she said also said, "I love Chris." I knew Drew wasn't the guy, but I knew she had strong feelings for Chris and that date was going to be pivotal. He stepped up, and she was reassured that this was all meant to be.
What about her feelings for Brooks?
Harrison: I never saw whatever she saw in Brooks. I didn't see the chemistry, the attraction, and I definitely didn't see the reciprocation. I just never understood the relationship and it was almost like Brooks was an odd distraction that she got focused on. Chris thankfully was there all along and never wavered because to me, he was easily the right choice.
How do you think they'll fare as a couple?
Harrison: Since the show finished taping, they've done really well. She doesn't want a dancing career or to be on television, and obviously she's not going to be a host. So, I think they'll disappear and live their life. Seattle is like the retirement place for Bachelor couples. As far as weddings, I have no idea, but I think they're starting off as strong as any of our other coupes have. And not to cheapen anyone else's proposals, but I think because the way they got there was so stressful and rough, it just felt more sincere; they really earned it.
Looking back, how would you rate the season?
Harrison: It was an OK season. It wasn't great, and I put that on us. I don't think we performed our best. All I can take my cue from is the ratings, and the ratings weren't great. To put it in sports terms, it's not a good game, but you score a couple of runs in the bottom of the ninth. It's not one of those wins you celebrate, you just go straight to the bus and go home. But we've been doing this for 11 years and you're not going to be spectacular every time. The fact is, you can have an off season, but the ending was phenomenal, so we ended in a high note. Again, you don't always have you're A-game, but it doesn't mean you lose and it doesn't mean you're done. We're far from being irrelevant.
When did Juan Pablo become the front-runner as the new Bachelor?
Harrison: It was probably the episode where he was saying goodbye when we realized this guy is a home run. Maybe we missed the mark and buried him in our stories. and I don't know why because Des liked him. He was so popular after his exit and usually that will wane, but we put him in the hot seat at "Men Tell All," which we never would've done, but the fans wanted it. I think Drew would've been a great Bachelor, and probably any other season he would've been our guy. But we couldn't deny Juan Pablo. When I introduced him the other night, I've never gotten a reaction like that.
The show has been slammed for never having an ethnic Bachelor. Did that weigh into the decision?
Harrison: I'm glad he's Latino, but [we didn't] aim to pick a Latino bachelor or an African-American bachelor. We just wanted to pick the best one, and we picked the best one. I'm glad it happened naturally because we picked the best person for the job and he also happens to be a minority.
How do you think the season will be different?
Harrison: He wears his heart on his sleeve and he's just a regular guy. He's not a sound-bite machine, and you're not going to feel like he's saying the right thing at the right time.
And the language barrier?
Harrison: There's not much of a language barrier. Maybe we'll need subtitles every now and then when he gets excited and talks fast.
What did you think of this season of The Bachelorette?