Ahead of The Bachelor Season 27’s premiere on January 23, former franchise host Chris Harrison addressed Bachelor Nation in his new iHeartRadio podcast, painfully titled, The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever… With Chris Harrison.
The longtime host memorably stepped back from his duties as Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise host in 2021 after he came under fire for excusing and defending historical racism to the first Black Bachelorette lead, Rachel Lindsay. After outrage from fans and alumni, Harrison revealed that he consulted with ABC and Warner Bros. and would be “stepping aside for a period of time.” The franchise welcomed several guest hosts in Harrison’s absence before naming Bachelor alum and former NFL quarterback-turned-host Jesse Palmer as permanent host in September 2021.
More than a year later, on December 19, 2022, Harrison announced he would be starting podcast and addressing his controversial departure from the franchise, and after listening to the first premiere, he’s not holding back. The first two episodes of The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever… — “It’s Time We Talk” and “It’s Time We Talk (part 2) with Lauren Zima” — dropped on January 9, 2023, so here are 21 things we learned.
1. The podcast will transform into a fun project down the line
Harrison described the podcast as “a very interesting endeavor” that he approaches with “a lot of trepidation and nerves,” but says that conversations about relationships will eventually be “the tentpole” of the show. “As we move forward, this show is going to transform and move into many different things, but if this is really going to be about relationships the most important part is communication. And if I’m going to ask you guys to believe in me, and open your heart, and bear your soul, I have to do the same…So I’m going to go first,” he said.
2. Wondering why Chris Harrison started a podcast in the first place? He’s got the answer.
If you’re one of many people wondering why the franchise’s former host decided to start a podcast or waited so long to speak out, he addressed those common questions. “I’ve gotten the question of, ‘When are you going to come back? What are you going to do? And why are you doing this podcast?’” he said. “The reason I’m doing this first — there are other exciting professional things that are going to happen later this year — but I felt like I owed you this, you deserve this, and I needed this. I need to have this talk. I have not spoken publicly since I left the Bachelor franchise. I have not made one comment.”
3. Harrison “stands by” the point he was trying to make in that “infamous” interview with Rachel Lindsay
Harrison reflected on his words in that highly-criticized interview with Rachel Lindsay and tried to reframe and emphasize one particular point. “To go back to the infamous interview, one point that I was trying to make — and did not make eloquently — was people need time to think. You need time to process. We must have grace and patience for people to think and process, or else you’re just getting this nonsensical reactive emotion from people,” he explained.
Later in the podcast, Harrison said, “…While the point I was trying to get across I stand by, the way I did it was messy, disappointing, and it’s just not me.”
4. Harrison has 19 years of Bachelor Franchise tea boiling in a kettle, and it sounds like he’s ready to spill some
While discussing why he chose to start his own podcast, Harrison bluntly admitted that he has a feeling his new project is making some people in Hollywood understandably anxious. HMMM…
“I am sure there are a lot of people — well, a few people — that are sitting in Hollywood right now nervous as hell that I am doing a podcast, and I guess I would say to those people, ‘If you’re nervous, maybe you should be. Because you probably know that I know,” he said. Know WHAT, sir?!
In Episode 2, Harrison’s fiancé Lauren Zima noted that “there are people at the show who are very problematic still.” While it seems there’s still a lot to unpack in that department, we’re not sure Harrison will actually dive that deep, considering he claims this is a podcast about relationships.
5. The former host’s biggest regret is not speaking out sooner
“If I had a regret, it would be that I didn’t do this — that I didn’t just come to you in the first place,” he told listeners. “And I have to give myself some grace, because when I went through this ordeal after the interview and everything subsequently, I kind of melted down. There was no template for this, there was no playbook. The playbook had been thrown out the window.”
Harrison said he’s still unsure if doing a podcast is the right move, but he ultimately feels he should have come to fans “unedited, unfiltered, and just talked” and explained how “sorry” and “heartbroken” he was from the start.
6. He lost 20 pounds, didn’t sleep, and didn’t eat for a stretch of time after the interview and backlash
“The toughest thing for me was where to turn, what to do…and I probably should have led with this, but I was heartbroken. I was gutted. I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed in myself. The last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was be an agent of anything negative, whether it had to do with race or anything,” Harrison explained. “The fact that I was involved in this and that I had a big part in this…I was sick. Sick to my stomach. I lost 20 pounds. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat…”
7. Harrison and the Bachelor team thought the controversy would quickly blow over
“Right after the interview — and I don’t want this to come off the wrong way — but really while I was sick to my stomach and I felt so disappointed that the interview went that way…out of that interview I wasn’t really too worried about my job or myself or the show,” Harrison explained. “As far as my standing in the community, it really didn’t register on the Richter scale. There were much more egregious things going on in the world and things that had happened, and so people really didn’t think it was going to amount to much, and it would — if I apologized — we would be able to move forward.”
8. Harrison thinks the timing of his interview with Lindsay was “very relevant”
Harrison admitted he thinks the timing of his controversy was “very relevant of where we were in the world,” explaining, “We were all coming out of two years of being locked up, and I think we were all very angry and frustrated. And then culturally what was going on in the world with civil rights…there was a lot of confusion, anger, resentment.”
Harrison also called the period “a very combustable moment in time,” but noted that his timing of “being sloppy, inappropriate, wrong in that moment” was on him.
9. He clarified his role and duties as franchise host
While Harrison was ready to hold himself accountable on the podcast, he also took time to explain that he alone does not hold sole responsibility for the flaws of the franchise. “Did I have say in the decisions that were made around there? I did not. I never once in the 19 years I was there hired or fired anybody. I never edited the show — meaning I didn’t decide what your storyline was, I didn’t decide who was on camera, what you were saying, none of that. I didn’t cast the show,” he said. “But I can’t absolve myself, because you can’t show up every day and make a big paycheck and just say I’m not a part of that. That’s not fair.”
10. Harrison and his family were “counseled” against speaking out or addressing the situation beyond Instagram apologies
At several points during the first two episodes, Harrison and his fiancé Lauren Zima shared that while they were fully able and tempted to speak out and respond to the controversy, they were strongly “counseled” to remain silent — advice that they both regret following so rigidly.
11. Harrison and Zima found comfort in a Harry and Meghan documentary
“I don’t know if any of you watched the Harry and Meghan thing last year — the documentary,” Harrison began. “Lauren and I watched that together and we were talking about it. We discussed it at length, being the journalists we are…and we really empathized with some of the things they were saying.”
“One of them was, when things go sideways, don’t speak. Because that is what everybody wants. The tabloids. The clickbait. Oddly, sadly, it’s a weird thing. When I counsel bachelors and bachelorettes when they’re going through things…I say, ‘Honestly? Shut up, don’t speak. And it’s so contrary to everything you’re brought up to believe,” he continued.
12. Harrison felt he was being used as a political pawn
As noted earlier, Harrison felt his harmful comments were further amplified because of all that was going on in the world at the time. “All of a sudden this moment and my name are synonymous with this political lightning in a bottle moment, and all of a sudden someone on CNN is talking about me for purposes of the left, and then Ben Shapiro and whoever on Fox is talking about me for conservatives…and so I was being used by the right,” he said.
“And so the leftwing, the rightwing, the middlewing — everybody was talking about me in this moment and I wasn’t speaking… Every day I woke up and there was something new.”
13. The controversy took a toll on Harrison and Zima’s relationship, but it ultimately made them stronger
“Lauren and I had a very difficult time getting through this together, because this happened to her as much as it happened to me,” Harrison said. In the second episode of the podcast, Zima came on as a guest to share more of her emotions and thoughts about the ordeal. She revealed that she was initially mad at Harrison for being so “messy” and not realizing how he sounded in that interview. But Harrison explained, “In the end it brought us together more and made me love her more.”
14. Harrison was kept in the loop after he left the show and was aware of everyone who made a play for his job
When talking about he always felt people wanted to steal his job from him, Harrison called out a group of cast members who tried to secretly step into his shoes after he left franchise. “I knew about it. I knew about certain cast members who were calling in. And the funny thing is, the people who were calling in I knew had no chance to get the job,” he explained. “But there was blood in the water…”
Harrison didn’t name names when dropping that initial bomb, but in Episode 2 of the podcast, he not so subtly implied that Bachelor alum and fellow podcaster Nick Viall was one of the people gunning for his job.
15. “Don’t use a crisis manager” – Chris Harrison
Harrison revealed that among the many people who advised him during the aftermath of his infamous interview was a crisis manager, and, let’s just say he likely won’t be using one again.
“I talked to a crisis manager. By the way, I hope and pray none of you go through anything like this, but don’t use a crisis manager,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re full of shit, but they’re not great. And to their credit, nothing prepared any of them for this.”
16. Harrison thinks he should teach “a MasterClass and talk to universities” about this “amazing study in human behavior”
One of the things that shocked Harrison the most during this whole ordeal was how everyone else responded, especially those he once thought were in his corner. “I was astonished at how many people had their hands out and wanted to get paid for this. It’s a bizarre thing,” he said. “I should teach a MasterClass and talk to universities about this, because if it wasn’t happening to me, it’s an amazing study in human behavior.”
“I am sure when you’re at war you will see a side of people that is real. This is them. Because when the shit hits the fan at that level you will find out what’s really inside somebody,” he explained. “When the bullets start flying you find out who’s really going to be in that foxhole with you. Your circle gets small.”
17. Harrison advised franchise alum and his own brother not to speak out for fear of them being “devoured”
“I told everyone, ‘Please don’t speak.’ It didn’t matter who it was or what you said, you were going to be devoured,” he said. “I didn’t want that for anybody else.”
Harrison shared that his brother “wrote amazingly eloquent open letter to the world” and defended him, but he called and told him to take it down. “That conversation with my brother, that might have been my low point,” Harrison said. He said in the moment he was trying to be loyal to the show, but in hindsight, both he and Zima regret encouraging his brother to pull the letter.
18. Harrison doesn’t watch The Bachelor, but he keeps an eye on the ratings 👀
“When people ask what I think of [the show] now, I don’t watch. The last thing I think I watched was [Hometowns] with Matt James,” Harrison revealed. “When I left, it was still the number one show on TV. Now, look. Do I keep an eye on the ratings? Do I know what’s happening now? I’m not going to say I’m not so humble or whatever to have not paid attention to the scoreboard. Yes, I do know. I realize the ratings are down 50 to 60 percent and the show has changed dramatically. That hurts me a little bit because it’s something I took pride in building.”
19. Harrison thought franchise alum and Paradise bartender Wells Adams was going to be named the new franchise host
“I thought, to be completely candid, that Wells was going to get the job,” Harrison revealed. The former host claims he even told Adams, “I really hope you get the job.” Same, Harrsion. Same.
20. Harrison and his family say they received death threats following the interview
When reflecting on what she wishes she’d done differently, Zima said she wishes she read fewer vicious comments online. “It wasn’t easy having people tell me or you to die, to kill ourselves, that we’re horrible,” she explained.
21. Harrison is a “faithful person” who ultimately feels this controversy happened for a reason
“While I’m not happy as I wrap this first episode up, I’ll say this: I’m not proud of how it went down. I’m not happy about how it went down. But I’m a faithful person. I believe in God. I pray to God. God gives us these blessings, and these prayers in our lives get answered,” he explained. “They don’t always come in a cute little box wrapped under the tree. Sometimes they come in brutal humbling, life altering, shocking moments. And that’s what this was. It was being slapped upside the head, stripped naked in front of all of you, humbled, taken to my knees…but it allowed me to have a better life with my kids. to fall in love, to be engaged to the woman I love…[and] to have a much better life than the one i was living.”