[WARNING: The following contains many juicy spoilers from the season finale of Bachelor in Paradise. Read at your own risk!]
Bachelor in Paradise wrapped up its freshman season with an ending even the producers couldn't have predicted at the start — an engagement!
By the end of Monday night, the remaining couples — Sarah and Robert, and Jackie and Zack, Tasos and Christy, Michelle and Cody, Graham andAshLee and Marcus and Lacy — were given their final instructions: After an overnight fantasy date, they must decide if they want to remain a couple upon leaving. No big prize — other than love of course. But when three couples ultimately split up, just Michelle and Cody, and Marcus and Lacy were left standing at the rose ceremony ready to take their relationship beyond Paradise. (Spoiler alert: Both pairs are still together!) Was host Chris Harrison shocked by the outcome and what does he hope to change for the recently announced Season 2? Plus: Who is Harrison's dream cast member for Season 2?
Congrats on Season 2! Were you pretty sure it would happen?
Chris Harrison: We were pretty confident, but usually it's understood but [not necessarily] written in stone until much later. To have a show picked up for next June is an insane vote of confidence from ABC and to have that much lead time will give us the ability to work for 10 months on location, cast ... so it'll be a much better show. It's really amazing to have three prime-time shows successfully rolling out. That's insane -- not only 12 or 13 years in to be even more popular and socially relevant than the day we started, but to be expanding and growing is unprecedented.
Was the finale the best outcome you could've imagined?
: It was probably the best two hours we've produced in the last five or six years. It had everything: the drama, the ridiculousness, but also the reality of a couple like Sarah and Robert. What happened there was emotionally so awkward and off. She was so spot-on in dumping him and getting out of the situation, but she wanted it so bad she second-guessed herself.
Robert seemed surprised by Sarah's reaction? Do you think he was clueless or just pretending he liked her for the cameras?
: The one bad thing about the show is that the network couldn't assure it would be a success so we didn't allow for a "Tell All" special. Unfortunately, there are so many things that I want to discuss — forget the audience, that I want to know! This is one of them. I want to know from Robert where this came from [because] guys don't wear jeans to bed. That's not normal. I talked to Sarah about it off-camera and she put herself out there. So was Robert just saying what he needed to say on-camera to look like the good guy? Or was he just leading her on? Honestly, for his sake, I hope that's the case because if it's a Weird Science moment where they're in the shower with Kelly Lebrock and their clothes on it's incredibly awkward for a grown adult man. And by the way this wasn't about sex. People will [say] Robert shouldn't have to have sex with her to validate it, but it was the intimacy; he wasn't emotionally available. Either he wasn't in to her or there's something wrong.
Do you think Graham knew AshLee wasn't the right one for him the whole time or not until Michelle made him aware?
: I think Graham knew Week 1 as soon as AshLee basically branded Grahan's backside as "you're mine." Right there, it was pretty much over. Maybe then he didn't fully realize it but there was just no way [it would work]. I don't believe the full act of AshLee's response, I found it a little disingenuous at times.
For the other two couples who "broke up," why do you think it didn't work?
: [Christy and Tasos] may have gone on more dates but they didn't have enough time to get to know each other. Jackie and Zack, I don't know. It was hard to put my finger on Jackie she was a little across the board and the Brooks situation was unfortunately out of our control because he just couldn't get enough time off of work to spend the time we wished he could in Paradise. He came in late but I would've liked to see him get a longer shot at Jackie. I think he might've won the battle and it could've been a different ending.
Was the bleeping over Michelle what it sounded like or added for comedy?
: That's my girl! I love her and I gave her a warning text yesterday, "Do not watch the finale with your mom — or your daughter." There wasn't another word to insert there. You know what was said.
I still can't believe their ending — I love it!
: I love Michelle to death and I love Cody. I'm getting to know him, and he's a good guy. It's such a surprise couple, but I talked to her yesterday. They're doing great: he's thinking of moving out to Salt Lake, they've spent time together as a family, it's really going well and it's awesome.
Did you know Marcus would propose? And were you shocked?
: I totally knew he had the ring. We talked about it all day. I wasn't shocked at all. I would've been shocked if he didn't propose; I could see it coming a mile away. He was really nervous; it was cute.
Do you think they'll last or fizzle like other franchise couples?
: It's too soon to tell, but if I were betting I'd definitely bet on them. They just became an old married couple right away and weren't bothered by the other people and the drama and did their thing. It was amazing to watch.
What was your favorite thing from the season?
: We took a bit of a risk in adding the purposeful comedy to the show and took it up a notch with the musical stings, some montages, the raccoon; we really went for it. It's a summer show, and I'm glad our fans allowed us to have a little fun. But the moment that will stick with me forever is Michelle K. and the audio guy. From how I found out and having to deal with it -- I spent an entire day outside of Michelle's room, maybe 5 or 6 hours, waiting -- it was so bizarre.
Anything you'd like to change for Season 2?
: Hopefully we won't mess with it too much. The one thing I loved was [not having] the game element. The people who came in to play immediately lost because there was nothing at stake other than trying to be sincere, and all of those people who weren't came off so flat, exactly how they are: insincere, rude. The only person they cheated was themselves. Ben, Kovacs and Lucy came off like they are and hopefully those people got a good look in the mirror. I also loved the final twist that everyone was waiting for wasn't a twist at all. I put the onus on them and we didn't have to force any situations, we left it up to them to figure it out for themselves.
Any dream cast member for next season?
: If he's still single I'd like to see Brooks back for longer. I think he's a sincere, good guy and I think fans would like to see him give it a shot. We were a little bit selfish in our casting with people like Jackie and Lacy who were people we really liked, but for some reason fell through the cracks and we thought they'd go far in the show and didn't. I like the fact that we can take people we like and give them another shot.
What did you think of Bachelor in Paradise?
The Bachelorette's Andi and Josh share the one moment they wish made it on air: