The Bachelor franchise’s latest spinoff premieres in just two weeks, but how will it stack up against The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise? According to Chris Harrison, there's no comparison.
“It was really reinventing the wheel and doing something brand new,” the Bachelor host told reporters during a conference call on Thursday. “We had the name of the show, but that was it. It was really just us, as producers, on the road trying to figure out what the show looked like, [and] how close was it going to be to Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Paradise and all the different incarnations of the show that we've done.”
To many, Winter Games feels like a mashup of Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise, mixing competition with a group of former Bachelor contestants shipped off on a vacation to find love. The similarities are evident to Harrison, though he admitted that producers tried to take the best elements from both shows -- and lower their expectations.
“The show has a very different feel than Paradise. Paradise is maybe about redemption, everybody having second chances… whereas Bachelor Winter Games is about lifting the lid and kind of blowing the top off this thing and bringing everybody to the table,” he said. “It’s about bringing people back for a second shot at love, but it’s not just our people, it’s everybody.”
“One thing we have learned [from Bachelor Pad], and we did quickly all agree upon, is this show cannot be about competition. It's never about competition. That was the fatal flaw with Bachelor Pad,” he confessed. “Bachelor Winter Games has to be about relationships.”
But with a matter of weeks of filming in Manchester, Vermont, with international contestants, versus Paradise’s nearly a month with those living in the U.S., how many relationships (or proposals) can fans really expect?
“We thought [Winter Games] had the potential [for successful relationships like Paradise], but the difference is the time frame. Our hope was that we would at least have a relationship,” Harrison conceded. “We dialed our expectations back just a little bit… but I think we exceeded our expectations.”
“You’ll see more than one couple come out of this,” he added, confirming that Dean Unglert and Lesley Murphy made a love connection. “I wanted to see if we could cross borders… we did that.”
The shortened time frame of the show even brought out a new side of Ben Higgins.
“I ended up having probably the most emotional conversation I’ve ever had on [a Bachelor franchise] show,” shared the former Bachelor, who admittedly got emotional about his breakup from Lauren Bushnell -- but wouldn’t reveal if he finds love on Winter Games. “I would imagine it made for very raw, very emotional television because it was a very raw, emotional moment for me personally.”
“I’m glad I got to share that because it’s real,” he continued.
As for whether Winter Games is in it for the long haul, Harrison joked that they might have to do it every year -- in addition to the shows they already have.
“Look, Paradise isn’t going anywhere…[and] The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are successful because it’s always about relationships,” he expressed. “I just think it feels so different than everything we’ve ever done.”
The Bachelor Winter Games premieres on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, and will air Thursday, Feb. 15 and Tuesday Feb. 20, before holding its finale on Thursday, Feb. 22.