'The Bachelorette' Behind the Scenes: Host Chris Harrison Debunks Myths About Popular ABC Show
Go behind the scenes of the new season with Chris Harrison.
— -- For the past 11 seasons of "The Bachelorette" franchise, the show's formula has been that one woman, designated as "The Bachelorette," gets to choose one guy from about 25 contestants, and has the opportunity to fall in love with him and give him the "final rose."
But this season, show producers are adding a big twist: Season 11 of "The Bachelorette" will kick off on Monday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET, with not one, but two bachelorettes, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson.
Both will vie for the men's attention before one of them is sent home. Putting the two women head-to-head has set off a firestorm online, with many fans splitting into "Team Kaitlyn" and "Team Britt" camps, and some even calling the twist sexist. But Chris Harrison, the host and a producer on the show, denies those accusations, saying that years ago, back in Season 5 of "The Bachelor," they had a similar scenario with two competing men.
This season, he said, they decided to have both women on because producers were unsure who to choose, seeing that both Kaitlyn and Britt were huge fan favorites from "The Bachelor" with very different personalities. At the end of the day, he said, the women will be fully in charge.
"Kaitlyn and Britt will have 100 percent of the power," Harrison told "Nightline." "The duel bachelorette thing is going to last all of one night, and then she will be 100 percent in control the rest of the time and calling the shots."
Harrison, who has a new romance book, "The Perfect Letter," coming out May 19, talked about what the show is like behind the scenes and debunked some myths about how the show operates.
1. Myth #1 – The Show Gives Contestants Makeovers
Harrison said the show does not do the contestants' makeup or hair, nor do they provide them wardrobes, because producers want them to look like their natural selves as much as possible.
"We want you from northern California to look like you're from northern California. We want the girl from Texas to dress like she is from Texas," he said. "Because that's who this guy is going to have to fall in love with. He's not going to fall in love with an actress."
However, The Bachelorette or The Bachelor, who is the star of each season, does have the help of wardrobe stylists and makeup artists because they are considered the center of the show.
2. Myth #2 – Contestants Are Really Paid Actors
Harrison said contestants on the show are real people and they do casting from all over the United States and Canada.
"I wish there where that many good actors in the world, there's not," he said. "[Using actors] would come off very false and shallow."
And casting for "The Bachelorette," Harrison said, is about "bringing this guy from New York and this guy from Kansas and this guy from San Francisco all into one house and they have different religions, different backgrounds, different baggage, different history … They treat women differently and that is what's put on display."
3. Myth #3 – Show Producers Search for 'Crazy'
Harrison said casting for the show is based on a contestant's back story, and producers don't seek out "wild" people.
"I think people always believe that we go out to Kansas or Dallas or Chicago, wherever we're going, and look for the crazy person," Harrison said. "You can't cast that. You can't … a normal person pulled off the street is not a good enough actress to come in here for 12 weeks and pull something off."
4. Myth #4 – Contestants Don't Really Find Love
To critics who say that the love "Bachelor/Bachelorette" contestants find is fake, Harrison pointed to the five marriages that have come out of the show and said "there is no catch to this show."
"As much as you want to make fun of the show or make fun of the premise and say it's impossible, the fact is it's not impossible, it's happened, and it has worked many times over, and it continued to work," Harrison said. "I think what makes [the show] so successful and so believable is it's not 100 percent foolproof, because life isn't. No relationship is."
Harrison acknowledged that the show does put people together in very romantic settings, and create uncommon situations of grandeur, but the object of the show is for the contestants to find someone to have a relationship with.
"We, the producers, do a great job of creating this atmosphere and giving it time and giving them a way to really create a meaningful, lasting relationship," he said. "But as long as everybody understands, at the end of the day, we sincerely believe in this."
5. Myth #5 – The 'Fantasy Suite' Is a Joke
Harrison said the point of creating scenarios for contestants, such as being invited into the "Fantasy Suite" or going on a hot air balloon ride, is to provide opportunities to be authentic with one another.
Traditionally, no cameras have been allowed into the 'Fantasy Suite,' which causes many fans to speculate about what goes on there. "If it sparks debate, how bad can that be?" he said.
"I know people think that [the Fantasy Suite] is silly or it's a joke but it's really not," Harrison said. "What it does is that it pushes people to have this social issue. Nowhere in the world does it say you have to go or you have to do anything. That's completely up to you."
"I don't think people really take into account the genius of a lot of little subtle things that we do as producers," Harrison continued. "Just putting them in extreme situations, taking them out of their comfort zone, and you really get to see somebody and who they truly are, because when you strip them down, they're just reacting, and you see their true self."