The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 14, and host Chris Harrison joined members of the media on a conference call yesterday to discuss how Emily Maynard’s journey will be “drastically different” from past seasons.
Before you lose it — don’t worry. There will be steamy hot tubs.
Of course, anyone who followed Emily on The Bachelor two seasons ago, in which she got engaged to Brad Womack only to break things off months later, knows that hers is a backstory both tragic and inspiring. In 2004, her fiance Ricky Hendrick, a NASCAR driver, died in a plane crash on his way to a race; then just days later, Emily discovered she was pregnant with their daughter, Ricki. Now Emily is eager to move into the next step of her life, and find the husband to complete her otherwise happy life as a loving mother.
Chris Harrison explained how Emily’s role as a mother will play into this season of The Bachelorette — but its many of her other incredible qualities that he thinks will have America, and her 25 suitors, falling in love with Emily all over again.
But first, watch this 3-minute video from ABC, a sneak peek at all the drama and romance to come for Emily. And OH BOY, there will be drama. You won’t believe the words that come out of this protective mother’s mouth when one scummy bachelor refers to her daughter as “baggage.” OK, I’ll just tell you: She tells him to “get the f*** OUT!” WATCH:
Highlights from Chris Harrison’s interview:
On how the vibe of this season is different from past Bachelorette seasons:
Yeah I mean, the great thing about the show is that every season has a different vibe. You take cues from The Bachelor or Bachelorette. Emily’s season is drastically different. Her being a single mom changed the tone from night one. The guys all came in knowing it was Emily and wanting it to be Emily. They had to know that she’s looking at this through a very different light, as a parent. That changes everything. Throughout the show, there was always just that underlying aspect that she’s a mom and is this guy ready? It’s not just finding love and a husband, but hopefully finding a father.
On the drama we’ll see this season:
It’s just a very different season with very different drama. You don’t have the frat house humor and drama that maybe you’ve seen in seasons past with younger contestants. I liken it to Jason Mesnick’s season. There’s a much more serious tone. Calling it drama almost doesn’t do it justice. Emily’s trying to figure out if these guys are right to start a family with. I think it’s not the superficial drama that maybe you’ve seen. It’s much deeper.
There’s surprises along the way and there’s drama she has to deal with, but I think what people will love, especially single moms out there, is Emily is holding that banner high and she will do everybody proud. There are moments where everybody’s gonna say, ‘Damn, girl. Well done. Way to handle it.’ You think Emily’s this delicate little flower and she is, right up until the time where she needs to handle her business and she handles it well.
On how the dates and locations this season are tailored for Emily’s tastes and needs:
Hot tubs always mysteriously appear. That’s in the contract, that we always have blow-up hot tubs on call 24/7. [Laughs] No, the season is very different. The thing about Emily is she’s not the “crazy, bungee jumping, sky diving” type of woman. She is a southern gem who likes to wear high heels and dresses. So, we absolutely cater and accommodate who our Bachelor and Bachelorette is. That doesn’t mean we don’t like to take them out of their comfort zone a little bit. Like in Charlotte earlier on, there’s kind of a building that we scale. But it’s very tame compared to things we’ve done before, like bungee jumping off a bridge in New Zealand, which were in seasons past. […] But at the same time, there are some dates where she’s pushed to the limit and it says a lot about her. It also says a lot about the guy she’s with — how he handles it and how he takes care of her and if he takes care of her.
On how the producers accommodated and integrated Emily’s daughter Ricki into filming:
Not only did we start the show in Charlotte [North Carolina, Emily’s hometown], but you’ll see that we kept Emily in her home with Ricki, and she continued her daily life of taking her to school and soccer practice. She didn’t have to jump out of her world to start the show for the first month or so, and that was huge. She knew we would still travel. And then Ricki would come along with us from time to time. What people don’t understand is, I know you see the Bachelors and the Bachelorettes, but we also behind the scenes have this incredible traveling family. It’s like a circus. We’ve all had kids and our kids will travel with us from time to time. […] We all know each others’ kids and Ricki became part of the family. She jumps around and plays with my kids from time to time, so it’s been fun having her with us when she’s on the road.
On why he’s glad they didn’t ask Bentley Williams to come back:
The whole point of this show was not to pull a fast one on Emily. To do that the first night, especially if he comes back — or whenever, any night, if he had shown up — it would’ve been about that joke and that surprise and pulling a fast one on her. And that’s not at all how this season goes, and it’s not the tone of this season at all. She is vulnerable, and she had her insecurities, and to mess with her just to be messing with her, I think would’ve been pretty uncool of us.
On Kalon, the gentleman on night one who arrives in his private helicopter:
I don’t know to Kalon what that meant or how he pulled it off, but he did, and it definitely caused a stir on Night One. […] Jef, I remember, came in kind of Back to the Future-style on a skateboard, which was kind of cool. And then we had the helicopter. So for Emily, these guys definitely had to raise the bar a little bit in trying to get her attention, because there’s 25 pretty fantastic, successful, good looking guys in that room. They were all kind of clamoring to make a difference, and the helicopter was definitely different.
On Emily’s response to Kalon’s entrance:
Here’s one thing about Emily that you will quickly learn when you watch the show, is that she’s very sweet, very southern, and she will sometimes tell you [something] and be very courteous and nice — but it’s not exactly how she feels deep down inside. So, I don’t know if she loved him making that big of a deal of himself and standing out like that. And then the other guys, definitely that put a target on his back, immediately. You walk in and you show everybody up like that, I mean, of course it’s going to put a target on your back.
On Arie, the racecar driver (who has other documented ties to The Bachelor…):
People need to understand that Emily loves the track. She loves racing and that is a huge part of her life. Not to go into the history of what happened, Ricky died on a racetrack but she has very fond memories of racing. People also need to understand that NASCAR and open wheel racing might as well be two different sports. You really can’t compare what Arie does for a living to the NASCAR world. She embraces that and she loves it.
On what Emily is looking for in a partner:
Emily is a very Southern, traditional woman but very independent and strong. She really needs someone to help her out and drive the ship for a while. She’s been doing it all for so long and she needs a strong man who can come in and help take control and take care of her and Ricki. She’s been used to controlling everything. Someone that will love her, someone who will love Ricki, and meld into their life.
Tune in for the premiere of The Bachelorette at a special time — 9:30 to 11pm — on Monday, May 14 on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)