Chris Harrison on How Quarantine May Affect the 'Bachelor' Franchise Forever (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
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The coronavirus pandemic changed a lot about how The Bachelor and The Bachelorette were filmed this year -- and some of the alterations weren't that bad. As host Chris Harrison told ET's Lauren Zima, there are actually a few aspects of quarantine filming he'd like the shows to keep around -- starting with the more intimate Tell All.
A total of nine men appeared on Tuesday's Men Tell All, about half the number that usually appear on each season's special. It was filmed without a live audience, and for the exception of one man, Riley, every contestant stayed in their designated seat, not invited into the "hot seat" next to Chris.
This, as Chris said, worked out quite well -- and is something he'd like to see implemented again in the future.
"I love the way we did the Tell All," he shared, but noted he wants his "audience back." "I love the vibe, I love the energy so I want people back. But I like the intimacy [of] having a few heavy hitters on the couch really having to face each other in this arena," he explained. "It made it more honest, it made it more open. You're hearing from the people that were really there when it mattered."
Tuesday's episode of The Bachelorette will see hometown dates, which of course did not actually occur in each man's hometown. Instead, Tayshia Adams' final four showed Tayshia what life would be like with them inside The Bachelorette bubble at the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, with their family members coming there to visit.
"I don't know about hometowns, people always do it like this, but bringing the mountain to Mohammed was interesting," Chris shared. "Families had to come to us, there was a level of intimacy and change in that as well. So, I think there's some things we may take out of this that we like."
The pandemic also affected The Bachelor, which was announced to be Matt James (a Bachelor Nation newbie) in June. Because filming and airing of The Bachelorette was delayed about five months, it would have been hard to cast a Bachelor from Clare Crawley and Tayshia's season of the show. So, as Chris explained, casting a newbie may not happen again.
"I think circumstances will dictate anything we do. I think we found the right note to hit and it made sense we would do it. I think there's a lot of things to be said for having that built-in story and rolling into the next season," he shared. "We would have loved to have done that with Matt, but obviously with the pandemic we had to reverse the two because The Bachelorette was so late.
"It's really running into almost the premiere of Matt, so we didn't have that luxury [of casting a Bachelor from Bachelorette]. But you know, never say never on this show," he added.
One thing that Chris is absolutely ready to get back to once quarantine ends? Travel. Both The Bachelorette and The Bachelor were filmed all in one location (the former at La Quinta and the latter at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania).
"The travel and getting people back is something I definitely want," Chris said.
Despite the lack of over-the-top, international dates, The Bachelorette is still delivering a season full of drama. Tayshia's season continues with the 30-year-old getting "vulnerable" as her finale approaches.
"Tayshia is in deep. She has unbelievably strong feelings, she is falling in love but is that going to be reciprocated fully in the way that she wants it to be?" Chris teased. "Maybe those scenes [of her crying] are telling in how this ends up."
The Bachelorette airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Matt James' season of The Bachelor premieres Monday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.