Chris Harrison has hosted more than 40 seasons of The Bachelor franchise, including those Bachelor in Paradise and Winter Games spinoffs, and he has seen it all. In a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the longtime Bachelor host revealed one thing has remained constant over the 16-year history of the ABC reality franchise: A proposal is not required at the end of the show. In fact, Chris says he doesn’t care if the Bachelor or Bachelorette lead pops the question or not at the end of their two-month journey to find love.
“I think in recent history, there have been a lot of proposals,” Harrison said of the Bachelor franchise.
“I don’t mean this to be callous, but I don’t care. I really don’t. Because you may think, ‘Oh you need that for TV.’ I don’t. That’s what we try to tell the Bachelors and Bachelorettes: ‘Don’t do anything for us. You going through this is what we need. The rest is up to you.'”
Chris went on to reveal that The Bachelor and Bachelorette stars, including the most recent leads Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Becca Kufrin, are told they don’t owe production anything at the end of their seasons.
“We told Becca the same thing we told Arie: You don’t owe us anything at the end of this. Do what you want. If you want to accept a proposal, great. If you don’t, walk away. We’re going to shoot it, by the way.”
Harrison explained that there is “no contract and there isn’t pressure from the cast or crew” for a proposal at the end of filming, despite the fact that high-end jeweler Neil Lane is brought in every season with a suitcase full of diamond sparklers for the male leads and runner-ups to shop from.
“We ask nothing and we promise nothing,” Harrison said. “It’s free will. It’s a scary way to produce a show. All shows have a beginning, middle, and end. Well, our show doesn’t promise that. You don’t have to. You can walk away.”
But Harrison’s comments are in stark contrast to what Luyendyk said about the show. The pro race car driver has very vocal about the fact that he felt pressure to propose to one of his contestants by the end of his Bachelor season. Arie proposed to Becca Kufrin, then later regretted it and dumped her on camera a few weeks later. Arie ultimately became engaged to his runner-up, Lauren Burnham.
“I felt an immense amount of pressure,” Luyendyk told People of his Bachelor finale. “There is a set schedule, and The Bachelor ends on this day, and this is the day to propose. I felt like I needed more time. I wasn’t 100 percent sure…I felt the enormous pressure and the enormity of the show and production, and I felt I should lead with my head and go through with it.”
Indeed, past Bachelor contestants have weighed in on the pressure to propose. According to USA Today, in her scathing tell-all Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, writer Amy Kaufman revealed that nearly every Bachelor contestant she interviewed with who made it to the finals said they felt “they had no choice but to get engaged at the end.”
Bachelorette Season 4 “winner” Jesse Csincsak, who was previously engaged to Bachelorette DeAnna Pappas back in 2009, told Kaufman male contestants on the female-led seasons don’t really have a choice if they make it to that final rose ceremony.
“There is no ‘What if I don’t propose’ option. ‘It’s just ‘Here’s the ring. Go give it to her.'”
Kaufman also wrote about Bachelorette Season 3 star Jen Schefft, who actually made history in 2005 by not picking one of her final men to be her husband at the end of her season. But producers allegedly pressured Schefft to at least pick one of the guys to “continue dating.”
“The producers basically told me that I was coming across as a horrible person on television — a really cold, (expletive) person,” Schefft told Kaufman. “I always felt like I wanted to give them what they wanted, without being crazy.”
Incidentally, fresh off of her Arie heartbreak, Becca Kufrin has already revealed that her season of The Bachelorette ends with a proposal.
The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 28 at 8 p.m. on ABC.