'The Bachelorette': Chris Harrison discusses this season's drama

Tonight, Emily Maynard’s journey on The Bachelorette continues and, if the highlight reel we saw after last week’s season premiere is any indication, we’re in for another emotional ride. “The guys quickly fall for her, and when they realize she wants more — she wants a family and wants it pretty quickly — that changes everything,” host Chris Harrison says. “So when we get deeper into this — the breakups and the heartache — there’s so much more on the line than there normally would be, that the drama’s different. It almost doesn’t even do it justice to call it drama because it’s so much more heartfelt.”

As Harrison says in the video interview below, the show may have catered to Maynard, a single mother to 6-year-old daughter Ricki, by moving production to Charlotte and allowing her to stay in her own home for the start of the season, but one thing won’t change: She’ll still have to deal with fantasy suite cards. “Just like everybody else, she will have that dilemma. What she chooses to do in that moment, and who she chooses to do it with, is completely up to her,” Harrison says. “That, to me, is a great dynamic and a great social issue of our show. We all get to sit at home at the edge of our seat, and be like What’s she gonna do? Is she even gonna offer it to him? Where will it go? Ricki’s a big part of this show, on her mind and in her life. How do you want to be seen? How do you portray this? It was totally up to her.”

Harrison is looking forward to fans seeing different sides of Maynard. There’s the fairly predictable one, her choosing fashion over function: “Something that will always stick in my mind is Croatia. It was so cold at the rose ceremony, and we were trying to warn her, and she’s like, ‘I don’t care if I freeze to death. I’m gonna look good.’ That’s her, and I love that about her. It’s a very Southern thing,” Harrison says.

But there’s also the surprisingly fierce side we saw in that highlight reel when she learns one of her suitors referred to Ricki as “baggage”: “She will defend Ricki to the death and doesn’t mind telling a guy to get the eff out of here, if that is what the situation calls for,” Harrison says. “She doesn’t mind getting dirty.”

The move to Charlotte, which meant the crew couldn’t film the men in its usual Bachelor mansion, did have some drawbacks, Harrison admits. He had to find new places in the mansion to hide. But it made the show feel fresh, which is why he’d be up for relocating from L.A. again. “We were kinda treated like a rock group coming through town, and Emily was our lead man. Everyone was really excited. You’d show up at some great barbecue place, and they’d be like ‘Hey, dinner’s on me. Let’s have a beer,’” he says. “There’s something kinda cool about that. I wouldn’t mind doing that more often.”

As for the future of the franchise, can we expect Bachelorette creator Mike Fleiss to name Ricki as the Bachelorette in 20 years? “Genius he is, Fleiss has already locked Ricki and [former Bachelor Jason Mesnick's son] Ty up as a future Bachelorette and Bachelor. We’re gonna keep this in the family,” Harrison jokes. “It’s not just enough to keep it from season to season. We’re now generational. And I’ll still be there. I’ll be in my walker. ‘Alright, little Ricki, I remember when your mom was here…’”

Reporting by Kristen Baldwin

Read more:
‘The Bachelorette’ season premiere recap: Who’s Your (Daughter’s) Daddy?
Chris Harrison blogs ‘The Bachelorette’ season premiere
‘The Bachelorette’: Meet the Guys!

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