‘The Bachelor’ Host Chris Harrison: ‘I Know Why You’re All Single’
Chris Harrison Credit Pej Behdarvand for The New York Times
You’ve been hosting “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” for a combined 27 seasons. Are you surprised how long the show has lasted?
Absolutely. It started back in 2002, when there was hardly any reality television. “Survivor” had just started. My hope and dream was that “The Bachelor” would last one or two nights on network TV, so I might meet somebody in the network and then I could get a real job.
Would you ever be the Bachelor?
Now that I’m divorced, it’s feasible. But there needs to be a level of innocence and naïveté when you come in to be the Bachelor, and I have none. I have seen how the sausage has been made for 12 years now, and I helped make that sausage and so it just wouldn’t work.
What if your ex-wife wanted to be the Bachelorette?
That would be amazing. She’s beautiful. I think she would love that. I would not only host that, I’d produce it.
How do you get the women to say mean things about one another? There are cameras in their faces. Does alcohol lower their inhibitions?
No, I think too much on our show has been blamed on alcohol. There’s not that much. If you want to drink, you can. This season especially, Juan Pablo didn’t drink at all, and he really impressed upon the girls not to drink, and they didn’t.
But there’s nothing else to do. It’s like total sensory deprivation: They can’t read, they can’t watch TV, they can’t listen to music.
Right, they would have cocktails — but we truly try to avoid sloppy-drunk moments, honestly. It doesn’t really help us. It isn’t good television, it’s really not. It’s a funny novelty once in a while, but if you saw that week in and week out, over and over, that wouldn’t be a good show.
Do the contestants request alcohol?
We shop for them. They can have whatever they want. With the guys, we go through 9,000 eggs in a season, because apparently the modern-day guy doesn’t have a hair on his body and eats 40 egg whites a meal. Once I told them: “I know why you’re all single. You’re too busy eating egg whites and working out.”
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Back to Juan Pablo. He made comments deriding homosexuality and saying there should not be a gay Bachelor. What do you think?
The question is: Is it a good business decision? I just spoke at U.S.C. the other night, and I explained it like this: Look, if you’ve been making pizzas for 12 years and you’ve made millions of dollars and everybody loves your pizzas and someone comes and says, “Hey, you should make hamburgers.” Why? I have a great business model, and I don’t know if hamburgers are going to sell.
People are asking because they would like to see themselves represented.
They do, and that, to me, is a different topic. Is our job to break barriers, or is it a business? That’s not for me to answer. If you want to talk about that with me on a philosophical level, I’m happy to: I am 100 percent for equality and gay marriage.
Has hosting “The Bachelor” taught you anything about competition?
Love is a competition. If you don’t think so, then you’re crazy, because why are you dressing up, why are you wearing those heels, why are you wearing that $400 perfume? Why are you shaving your chest and eating 40,000 egg whites?
Have you considered a less hunky bachelor, like maybe a chubby guy?
No. You know why? Because that’s not attractive, and television is a very visual medium, and I know that sounds horrible to say, but I know that at 42, in the eyes of television, I’m old and unattractive. Sure, I can put a suit and tie on, but I have hair on my chest and I don’t have a 12-pack. I live a healthy life, but I don’t do eight hours in the gym, nor do I want to. And I don’t eat 50,000 egg whites.
By using it so much, do you worry that “The Bachelor” has made the word “journey” meaningless?
What about “amazing”? “Incredible,” “amazing,” “beautiful.” All of them. How do you describe the 90th mountaintop or beach that you’ve been on? Yeah, it’s amazing, it’s incredible, it’s beautiful. You go down the list and you start recycling them, and now it’s just become a joke.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.
A version of this interview appears in print on March 2, 2014, on Page MM12 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: ‘Love Is a Competition’. Today’s Paper | Subscribe