Chris Harrison on Why ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 16 Is (Truly!) the Most Dramatic Ever

After 24 seasons of "The Bachelor" and 15 seasons of "The Bachelorette," Chris Harrison has seen pretty much everything. But nothing could have prepared him for the 16th season of "The Bachelorette".
When the final season of the ABC dating series started filming in March as originally planned, production of COVID-19 was suspended and suspended the first night. Lead actress Clare Crawley was about to meet her male suitors, who were due to arrive in their limousines for the premiere episode when production stopped. The cameras stopped rolling for about four months when all production was confiscated at a La Quinta resort in Southern California. Essentially, the entire cast and crew have been quarantined in a bubble and kept away from their everyday lives at home almost forever for three months to safely close the season.
"I felt so bad for Clare," Harrison tells Variety. "We were all dressed and ready to go when we had to hit the pause button."
As if a pandemic wasn't enough, behind the scenes drama erupted when Crawley found love early on, according to production sources, and gave way to a new bachelorette that arrived mid-season with franchise alum Tayshia Adams. (ABC refused to comment on casting rumors or upcoming storylines. Harrison remained a mother when asked by Variety.)
"I didn't see these reports," jokes Harrison. "I was just kidding. I heard the rumors."
He added: "A lot of people feel they know exactly what is going to happen this season. You are not. It's an explosive season like we've never had before."
When "Bachelorette" resumed production in early summer, it was the first major series in the US to revert to shooting, meaning COVID-19 health and safety precautions were not yet widespread across the industry . Harrison remembers the first few days of shooting during the pandemic and describes the production time as wonderful.
“We were the first big production to lead the way, and we knew we had to set the bar high - and that bar moved every day, so a team that probably couldn't have made a herculean effort unless we've all been together for 19 years, ”explains Harrison. "I thought, 'How did we do it? "Sometimes it was really impossible. There was an attitude:" We're not going to stop. We're going to shoot this show. '”
In fact, the coronavirus protocols were so strict that when Harrison left the resort briefly to drop his son off at college, he even had to be quarantined before returning to the bladder. As a result, former "Bachelorette" star JoJo Fletcher acted as a presenter for a few episodes while Harrison could not be on the set.
"You will definitely see some familiar faces. I think some of them leaked out there," Harrison says, alluding to reports of Becca Kufrin, Rachel Lindsay, Hannah Ann Sluss and Wells Adams filming in La Quinta were.
One of the major changes in Season 16 will be the lack of travel, which means major episodes like the hometown dates will look very different.
"One of the things we had to do was be really creative because we were shooting at a resort in Palm Springs that is a bit cramped and restrictive - we're usually in 10 different countries, by comparison," notes Harrison. "We reinterpreted the show and had to be really creative."
While exaggerated romantic dates are missing in international locations, the host promises that the heart of the show will still be intact.
"Our main concern is that we really want this to feel like 'The Bachelorette,'" says Harrison, adding that the home audience needs a lighthearted distraction from the news, politics, and the pandemic. “People need a break. You want to watch TV and escape for a second, and The Bachelorette always has been. Ultimately, we want to entertain everyone, so I think you're going to see a great bachelorette season, and we had to be really creative with hometowns and fantasy suites. "
Harrison says the main motive of the season is for Crawley to find love.
“It was all about her trip and getting her there. She was so serious about "The Bachelorette," says Harrison. "She just wanted to find love, and for that purpose she was damned and determined to find love."
Is Crawley getting her happy ending?
"We'll see," teases Harrison. "It was unlike any other season we've seen - and I've seen a lot."
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