Chris Harrison gave one of his most candid interviews yet about Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams’s split season of The Bachelorette, defending how production handled this “unprecedented” year — and he’s not just talking about the coronavirus.
After Crawley fell in love with contestant Dale Moss on night one, Harrison knew the show was in jeopardy. However, he’s adamant that producers and ABC let things take “its natural course” before bringing in Crawley’s replacement, despite rumors to the contrary.
“There was never that aha moment,” Harrison explained on The Ben and Ashley I. Almost Famous podcast. “There was never the lightbulb, like, ‘Oh my gosh… we have to make a change.’”
Harrison explained it “was a gradual thing,” but that there were whispers early on about how the season was going “in a very interesting direction.”
ABC executive Rob Mills recently said the moment they knew Crawley had to be replaced was when she didn’t give out a group date rose after the roast. But Harrison said “that’s just not the case at all.”
“There was an issue earlier than that. You know, is Rob right that maybe it came to a head?” Harrison replied. “That was maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back. … Obviously, the rock was already rolling downhill by that point.”
Harrison, who has hosted all Bachelor iterations since the 2002 premiere, said he knew Crawley’s head “was not there anymore” after meeting Moss.
“And clearly she was not even remotely giving anyone else a chance, which is not bad,” Harrison shared. “Again, I am not mad at Clare,” he continued, adding that the show’s “biggest priority” was making sure Crawley and Moss got their happy ending.
Harrison also squashed any notion that “this whole thing was planned from the beginning.”
“I hear some crazy outlandish ideas and conspiracies,” Harrison stated. “I thought that might be the dumbest sentence uttered by any human being… We would have had to guarantee that Clare was going to fall in love in a certain amount of time!”
Harrison also said it’s not true that anyone is upset with how Crawley handled things.
“No one is mad at Clare, at least on the show side, the producers,” he shared. “We embraced it. And I sat down with her and said, ‘Clare, my only issue is this isn’t fair anymore. Let’s just figure out what’s going on with you and Dale. Let’s stop the show.’”
While Harrison admitted he thinks leads do themselves “a disservice by not exploring” all relationships in the house, he knew that wasn’t the case with Crawley.
“Nobody has ever looked at me dead in the eye and said, ‘My husband just walked in, this is over,’” he noted.
“She was difficult, not in a bad way, but just — I know her well. I know there are some serious insecurities,” Harrison added. “Even after Dale had really exposed himself and explained how much he loved her and was ready to take that next step, she just couldn’t believe this was going to happen.”
Going back to the topic of when he knew Crawley had to be replaced, Harrison said he wasn’t even sure during her one-on-one date with Moss how things would go.
“I wasn’t so sure that she was going to be so strong in her convictions that she was going to be willing to shut things down. And that’s where that dinner came from,” he explained. “And even that dinner, I wasn’t so sure that we wouldn’t just put Dale back in the house and pick back up again.”
Here’s where things get a little murky, though. During the one-on-one date, Harrison admitted that Adams was already in the quarantine bubble in La Quinta, Calif.
“There was no definitive set answer to ‘Tayshia’s our new Bachelorette.’ By this point, I will tell you, we had already called her and she was on property. But that didn’t mean she was the Bachelorette yet. That just means she took a leap of faith, and if things kept going that direction ... then she would be,” Harrison said. “Clare had to lead us down that road.”
Ultimately, that road ended in an engagement.
“And when we got to the point where that show ends… there’s a proposal,” Harrison said. “That’s it. That’s ballgame. We move on. Clare took us to that point, Dale took us to that point. … But Tayshia was there.”
Rumors swirled that Crawley wasn’t happy with production after she liked some tweets insinuating she was forced her out. While Harrison said he hasn’t heard directly from Crawley that she was upset, he emphasized she had control of the season.
“It was all in her hands,” he hit back. “In unprecedented fashion, we stopped the show and gave her a bizarre, kind of overnight fantasy suite in the middle of the show. So not only did she have control, but we also moved mountains to make things happen! … Yes, we pushed things along because that’s also how the show goes.”
Harrison said fans will still see Moss and Crawley’s journey.
“We’re still going to keep up with them as things along, but there is no more show,” he said of their relationship. “She’s not dating anyone anymore…. Things took its natural order.”
Back to Adams, Harrison defended lining up a replacement.
“Yeah, we started making arrangements just in case something went absolutely bonkers — which it did — but it was still about Clare facilitating her relationship, making sure she was happy, making sure she got engaged, pushing pause, creating this bizarre moment and relationship with Dale and then it can become about Tayshia and moving on,” he explained.
“When it gets down to Clare and Dale as a show, we said ‘OK, now what?’” Harrison added. “Well, we’re not just gonna watch Clare and Dale go to the movies every night. We were at the point where, after this moment in the show, there is a decision to be made. What do you guys want to do? And it was very clear the more we talked to them, they were head over heels in love. So we proposed the idea of them proposing, and Dale said, ‘Sure. I’m in, I love this woman. Let’s do this.’ So that’s where we ended up.”
When asked if Moss had any hesitation about proposing, Harrison replied, “None. I mean, not to me anyway.”
Harrison also defended Crawley, explaining he believes that she wasn’t in contact with Moss before production.
“I had immediate suspicions,” he admitted, but added, “Nothing felt familiar to me. Nothing felt rehearsed, it didn’t feel like they were faking it.”
As for criticism the couple has received following their engagement, he also had Crawley’s back.
“There is nothing that Clare has done that deserves anger and for her to be vilified,” he stated. “Why are you mad that this woman found the love of her life and got engaged? I just want to ask everybody to have a little bit of grace and understanding.”
Adams will make her debut as the Bachelorette on Tuesday’s episode.
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