On the Season 17 premiere, viewers were reintroduced to the sexy Texan as he began his search for the woman of his dreams. But while Sean was struck by some women almost instantly, others didn't make a good first impression despite their over-the-top entrances and personalities. Host Chris Harrison shares his thoughts on how Sean did Night 1, gives us a glimpse into who will be the season's villain and fan favorite, and explains why one familiar face got a rose, while the other one didn't.
How do you think Sean handled his first night?
Chris Harrison: First episodes are always tough. The arrivals alone is a really awkward and tough position to be in because there's nothing comfortable about meeting 26 women and trying to keep up conversation, but he pleasantly surprised all of us. He's a different man than the public has perceived him to be, in a good way.
This season features more race diversity than in the past. Did Sean ask for that?
Harrison: It was definitely done on purpose for our Bachelor. Sean has dated across the spectrum; that's something that very much doesn't matter to him and, in fact, he likes being diverse.
Sarah, who has one arm, received a rose. Will that ever become an issue?
Harrison: With Sarah, she's stunningly beautiful and you could definitely see on that first night they hit it off. It continues [to come up] but you get to that point where it's a non-issue, which is what you want. And the thing with her is she gets it. She's like, "Let's talk about it and then let's move on."
Was there more conversation about Sean's decision to hand out roses pre-ceremony than we saw?
Harrison: There was a part of the show you didn't see which is where he came in and talked to me before he gave the rose to Tierra. You missed a little bit of the explanation, but I liked the fact it shook up Night 1. You can tell how many of these girls memorize our show because Tierra walked in and they're like, "Oh that's the first-impression rose." They knew what that first rose meant. When the second girl came in they're like, "Wait there must be two [first-]impression roses" until they realized what he was doing. Then every conversation became, "Am I getting a rose?" Then when they didn't, it was crushing. It added a lot more drama and changed the dynamic of the first night, but also alleviated a very first long rose ceremony.
Was Tierra's rose solely based on looks? They barely spoke!
Harrison: He was just taken by her. For some reason when she came out, his shoulders dropped, he relaxed and smiled. So he thought she's definitely one to keep. There wasn't more to it than what you saw.
Which entrances stood out to you?
Harrison: The Fifty Shades thing. You're making a reference to a very female thing; it's like coming in and doing a Twilight reference. Know your audience! If the guy you're trying to impress mentions a rape whistle, that's never a good sign. The football thing, that was cute. The wedding dress was interesting because Lindsay was really cute and she had a great sense of humor, and he really liked it at first. And then she had a little too much to drink and pushed him over that grey area of less sense of humor and more a little bit creepy. So she almost blew that gag. She should've known the wedding dress was a big enough statement she shouldn't push it any further.
Why do you think Paige didn't receive a rose?
Harrison: Part of it was because she was on Bachelor Pad. Sean is very leery of anybody looking for their 15 minutes of fame. I don't think Paige was — she's pretty sincere, and we fell in love with her as a fan on Bachelor Pad. We really thought she was someone who would last awhile, but we were way off the mark. He was turned off that she was back coming from Bachelor Pad.
Then what about Kacie who was on Ben's season?
Harrison: We didn't really play much of it, but he was really wary of that. He was cautiously optimistic about her. They knew each other and hung out, and she really felt like there was something there enough that she called us. We thought that's fine, we're not going to tell Sean, but if you want to explain it, that's up to you and we'll see how it goes. At this point he's going to see if it goes anywhere, but he's wary of her being on the show before.
From previews it seems Tierra is the season's villain. How come?
Harrison: I think it's one of those situations where she captured his attention so you're already in the cross hairs and it's how you handle yourself, and she doesn't do a lot to ingratiate herself to the girls. She takes the whole, "I'm not here to make friends" route. Why bring that on yourself? That's her style, and it starts rubbing the women the wrong way, and the more Sean is taken with her the rougher it gets.
Who do you predict to be the fan favorite?
Harrison: I think Sarah will be a favorite, and I'm interested to see what people think of Desiree, who didn't get a lot of time last night as girls tend to not when they're going to go further. She has this very young Katie Holmes thing and she's very laidback. I also think people will get to know and love Lindsay. She might be a comeback girl. The dress bit and the fallout after put her behind the eightball a bit, but people will get to know her better and like her.
Watch our exclusive interview with Sean below! Plus: Ctach Chris Harrison hosting Miss America on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 9/8c on ABC.
The Bachelor airs on Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.