Chris Harrison: It’s Really Not About Frank

Bachelorette Host Chris Harrison, in an interview about the upcoming Tahiti episode, tells Reality TV Magazine:

“Like with Justin, if you think you know everything, and you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t,” Chris Harrison hints. “That’s why we weren’t too worried about showing that something is coming because it’s something you have to see, something you’re going to want to hear and you have to experience to know what’s happened. It’s almost less about Frank and Ali and more about how it shapes the rest of our show.” (my emphasis)

So it’s not about Frank, it’s about the effect his leaving has on the outcome between Ali and the two guys still standing: Roberto and Chris. How many options are there? I see one. She ends up alone, either because she rejects the final two or one or both reject her. I think it’s a split decision: She rejects Chris, after which Roberto bows out. The only feasible alternative: Both bow out.

What we know: Ali has her Tahiti dates with Roberto and Chris. Then she goes for her date with Frank and before they get out the door, she gets dumped.

She’ll spend a day or two licking her wounds before heading on to Bora Bora to meet Chris and Roberto for the last chance dates and maybe introduce them to her parents (assuming either or both made the trip.) She’s probably going to tell both guys what happened with Frank. If they sense she’s upset, why on earth would they propose to her? If she’s not over Frank, isn’t it obvious she’s not ready to marry either one of them? One would think so, but as to Chris, he’s been portrayed as so lonely and ready for love, he might overlook this slight problem. Roberto? I think he’ll take more convincing, if he’s willing at all, which I doubt. (One caveat: the show could do something really underhanded like promise to promote him for a spot on DWTS if he proposes and Ali either declines, or if she accepts, they break up a few weeks later.)

I suspect Ali will tell Chris she’s not ready to choose him after what happened with Frank and let him go. We’re back to Roberto. Despite the unsupported and misleading tabloid headlines saying she’s engaged (and barring the sneaky possibility I mentioned above) don’t count on it. The only real surprise left is why she and Roberto don’t end up together: Did she decide to make Roberto her F1, but he rejected her and refused to propose, feeling like he was just Frank’s sloppy seconds? I think there’s really a decent likelihood that will happen.

If Roberto is moving to California (another unsubstantiated rumor, but unlike the engagement rumor, this one has a modicum of a factual basis) I still think it’s because he wants a shot at Dancing With the Stars, not to be with Ali. (Nor do I think he’ll be the next Bachelor, though Chris might be.)

Ali has been working the celebrity circuit hard. No lockdown in a safe house for her, with or without her number one, as has been the standard in past seasons. My guess: She’s not looking for a husband, she’s looking for fame, fortune and fun, and her P.R. rep will brand her as the new prototype of the modern, independent, self-reliant, young American woman. Since despite its ratings, most people don’t watch the show, the insecurities and self-doubt that plagued Ali all season as Bachelorette (“Will he think I’m pretty enough?”, “What if he doesn’t love me back?”, “Is he hotter than I am?”) will be swept under the rug. It might even work. But not for long. Ali really only has one thing going for her: She’s very telegenic. She lacks the charm, the spunk, the moxie and the confidence to take it further. I doubt she’ll make it to DWTS, or even to the red carpet as an interviewer. Sure, she can do paid charity events for a while, but without something witty to say, those too will dry up.

That said, I don’t think it was Ali’s insecurities or two-dimensional personality (giggling or whining/crying) that torpedoed this season. It was the guys. The casting was way sub-par. It was far too homogenous a group, for starters. Of the two cads, Justin’s episode seemed to be manufactured by the show while Frank is just physically unappealing to watch and a bad actor. Three or four of the other guys were odd to the point of teetering on looniness. While Roberto and Chris were her two best choices, Roberto and Ali didn’t have a single substantive conversation all season, at least none we were shown, and the only thing we heard Chris talk about was his mother’s illness and how much he loves his family and Cape Cod.

Ratings are up for The Bachelorette, but let’s face it, it had no competition this summer except re-runs and amateur talent shows. The franchise will continue to do fine in the short run, especially with the Bachelor Pad about to arrive to keep the brand in the limelight, but some re-tooling is in order. Maybe it’s time to clean house and bring in some new casting and production talent. The show lost its edge this season, falling short on both sparkle and drama. And while it all can’t be blamed on Ali, there’s nothing more likely to sink a reality show than becoming ho-hum.