Chris Harrison on Why the Game Courtney Robertson Is Playing With Ben Flajnik Is Working
Rosemaster Chris Harrison was on the media conference call this week to talk about why he jumped into The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 6 to talk to Casey Shteamer about the guy she’s supposedly in love with back home. He also talked a lot about Courtney Robertson and he’s not just asking the “Is she just in it to win it?” question anymore — now he’s arguing that she does have real feelings for Ben Flajnik, but maybe she’s just going about things in the wrong way.
Chris said neither Casey S. nor Courtney are anything like “Bad News” Bentley Williams of The Bachelorette Season 7. Chris actually compares Courtney to Kasey Kahl, who apologized for how he behaved on Bachelor Pad Season 2. Chris expects an apology like that from Courtney — although it’s not clear if he expects the same from any of the other women. It’s not like the rest of the ladies in the house were angels while Courtney was the only one snarking to the cameras. Remember all the toxic tacky cougar hooker slut names Blakeley Shea was called? Or when Emily O'Brienreportedly called Courtney “autistic” and the show bleeped it out for her? And how about every diss that was hurled at Shawntel Newton during her brief surprise appearance? Is Courtney the official scapegoat for every insult this season?
Could you talk about your decision to pay a surprise visit to the bachelorettes and talk to Casey S. and how much of a role Bentley and his relationship with Ashley played in that? Yes. I'd love to pounce on that a little bit because I've heard this week, "Why did you do it if you didn't do that for Bentley or Wes [Hayden]?" And that's really the reason why we did it and why I did, because of those situations. I thought with Bentley, and I've said this several times before, that I should have gone a little further and I regret not going a little bit further and telling her even more. Yes, I warned Ashley and yes, we talked to her, but I think I could have gone a little bit further in protecting her. The Casey S. situation was completely different than the Bentley. I don't think she came on [the show] to deceive. I don't think she had any ulterior motives. In fact, her motives were actually quite innocent. She was just trying to move on from this guy whom she didn't want to end up with. But at the same time, it was definitely worth going in and talking to her.
It seems like Courtney is manipulating Ben this season, so where do you draw the line? How do you determine which situations are appropriate to jump into? That's another great point. Someone asked me about Courtney as well, and that is a completely and utterly different situation. That is Ben making his own decisions. I mean, Ben — say Bentley was there for the wrong reasons. Casey S., we had information as far as her background with a boyfriend or whatever. And Courtney, if I find out that Courtney has a boyfriend or she's married or whatever, then I would absolutely bring that to Ben's attention. But Ben is dating Courtney just like he's dating Lindzi [Cox] and Kacie [Boguskie] and everybody else. And so, yes I can give my opinion and I can say, "What do you see in this girl?" But as far as that goes, it's never been my position or job to go in and say, "Really? You like Kacie B. — that Tennessee accent?" What he's going through with Courtney is dating and if he chooses to date this girl, then that's up to him. I think it's a completely different situation and I know the way you phrased it is that she's "playing him," but you know, that's kind of in the eye of the beholder if she's playing him or not and we'll see. And again, that's one of the beauties of this show — is this guy has to choose, "Okay, this model is beautiful. Is she here for me or is she here just playing the game?" And is he going to get sucked in to just going for this beautiful model or is he going to try to go deeper and find if she's real? So again, that's part of the beauty of the show — is they have to figure that out, just like you do in real life.
Do you think Courtney has true feelings for Ben or is it just about winning in her eyes? Do you see good qualities in her? I think it's because I've been doing this for 10 years — I think it's just so easy for people to look at something and making things black or white. Nothing is that simple when it comes to anything, especially relationships. And the fact that Courtney is playing this game — and the thing is, love is a game. What you do at a bar on a Friday night or at church on Sunday or wherever you go to find love or meet somebody, there's a certain game element to it. If you don't think so, then you're probably not in the right game. This is the way that Courtney plays. This is the way — and again, it's not just to win, and I don't think it's just to play a game to her. I think she does have feelings for Ben. I think she very, very much cares for him. But I also think that from her experience in her life, this is the way she goes about it. Does it rub us the wrong way? Apparently. It's not popular. But is it working? Yeah. And so apparently, she's had success with this type of actions — this type of game — her whole life and it's working. She's gotten Ben's attention. She is affectionate. I'm guessing she's gotten attention and affection from guys for quite some time using this method. And so, it's hard to falter in many ways because it's working like a charm, but man, it's unpopular and she's not exactly going out of her way to ingratiate herself to the other women.
Do you know how Ben is handling all the news about Courtney? Ben's doing great. I mean, I've talked to him quite a bit and honestly, a lot of what we talk about is business. (Laughs) He's been so involved in launching this wine industry and he's done incredibly well. So, we really talk a lot about that more so than the show, because honestly, we lived the show and we know what's happened and what's going on, and I know what's going on in his life and vice versa. So [...] we really [don’t] talk about what's in the magazines or in the tabloids and all that. I really don't get involved in that either because I know the truth.
Do you see any similarities between Courtney and Bentley Williams? No. I don't, not at all. The whole Bentley deal — the funny thing about Bentley is I never, and I know this might sound weird to say because I don't want to stick up for the guy, but I don't really dislike the guy. I've never hated the guy. I wasn't real happy with the way he acted and I think if we ever get a chance to talk to him or if he ever comes up to one of these interview shows or whatever, I'm guessing he would apologize profusely for how he acted and regrets a lot of it. I think that Courtney's probably like Kasey on Bachelor Pad. I don't know if you remember this summer on Bachelor Pad when Kasey came back to the reunion show and he said, "Man, I've been watching and that's not me. I apologize for that." And I bet Courtney would be a little bit like Kasey in that I bet she regrets some of the things she's done or said. I think she's gotten caught up in the moment a few times and I think that the apology that Emily gave and the way she reacted to that is a great example. I mean last week, that was just uncalled for — the way she acted when Emily kind of extended the olive branch. I'm guessing that she's home and regrets a lot of this. I haven't talked to her, but I'm guessing that'll be the case.
Do you believe Courtney should apologize to Ben? Yeah, yeah. I think she'll — again, I hope to see her at Women Tell All and hopefully she'll come back — or any of these reunion shows. I'd love to talk to her, because again, I don't know if it's because I'm older and wiser and I've been doing this for 10 years, but I'm very slow to judge these people just as black and white like, "Okay. You're the evil person and you're bad or you're good." This show does strange things. It puts you in a very, very strange atmosphere and situation and environment that it's hard for people to understand. I do very much understand it, and so, the things Courtney has done to get attention from Ben, some of it I actually respect. I think she's done a good job of fighting for this guy, but I also think that she would admit — and hopefully admit — that she went a little too far and some of the things she said weren't appropriate and were rude. So, I don't think she owes him an apology, but I hope she would come up with a little bit of an apology to several people on the show.
Critics will say the very framework of The Bachelor will make women act in ways that are sort of demeaning to them or encourage them to act in ways you have described. Don't you think the way the show is set up and how it expects a woman to hang out with a guy for a week or a month and then fall in love with him encourages that type of behavior? I have a daughter and you bring up a great point. Here's the thing. What this show does, and it's why I love, love, love this show — I think it's just a great, phenomenal study of human behavior — because look at the women who have been on this show. Just take this season. Look at Kacie. Look at Lindzi and look at Emily. In no way do I feel like any of them have changed who they are. I feel they haven't compromised any of their virtues, any of their morals. I feel like, yes, Kacie B. went bikini skiing down a street in San Francisco, which was silly. But did that really compromise her morals? No. She had fun with it and it was funny and it was an experience of a lifetime. But this show will force you to question yourself and force you to really take a stand on what's really important to you. For Jamie, is it more important to try to win Ben by jumping on his lap and kissing him in a way that you would never do, or is it more important to not do that and leave with your morals and dignity and say, "You know what? This guy's not for me. It's not working," and move on? So, I like that this show forces you to make those decisions. I was trying to think of the guy that passed out on Night 1 with Ashley. Nobody told that guy, "Hey, come on the show and drink more than Seattle slew." That's up to you. Nobody tells you that you need to drink. Nobody tells you at a bar on Friday night or anywhere that you have to act like that, yet people do. I just think it forces great social issues and that it's up to you.
Did you expect that Courtney would get this far? Yeah, I mean, he was infatuated with her from the moment she stepped out of the limo. You can tell that he was taken by her and she for one reason or another definitely has his number. She knows how to excite him and draw him in and kind of play hard to get at times and he loves it. He loves the way she — again, you have to understand the audience and who you're playing to. Would this work on Brad Womack or Jake Pavelka? Maybe not, but Ben is a different kind of animal. He has his own baggage and his own way of thinking, and this appeals to him.
What should viewers expect for the remainder of the season in terms of big surprises? Wow. Well first and foremost, this week coming up is more of the fall out with Courtney. And after this week, we go to hometowns and so things are getting very, very serious. Ben is definitely starting to question — now that more people are speaking up about Courtney — and that definitely comes to a head. Really, from here on out, things are — it kind of goes to a different level. When you get to hometown dates and you start bringing the families into it, that changes everything. You will see frontrunners all of a sudden fall out of favor and then you'll see some of these dark horses start to emerge. This is the time when things really start to shake up, because at this point, those first impressions have gone a long way. But now, there has to be something else there and/or that relationship is going to fall by the wayside. So things definitely either start to heat up with these girls or you'll definitely see a drastic fall off.