Fresh off the latest season of The Bachelorette that yet again delivered some solid ratings (up from last year!), someone’s a little bizarrely defensive, and that someone is franchise host Chris Harrison.

As far as I’m aware, no one associated with The Bachelor has publicly commented on UnREAL until now, but this one was worth the wait. “It’s complete fiction,” Harrison told Variety of UnREAL, before going on to trash Lifetime/the producers of the new show:

“As much as they would love to jump on our coattails — they were begging for us to talk about it and for people to write about it — at the end of the day, no one is watching. I mean, absolutely nobody is watching that show. Why? It is terrible. It is really terrible.”

Harrison went on to complement parodies of The Bachelor, like those seen on SNL or Burning Love.

“You only do that when you are part of the vernacular. Because if not, you can’t make a joke. It’s a sign of respect,” he said. “The way that ‘UnREAL’ took it, it wasn’t a sign of respect. They were trying to take it another direction, but it doesn’t work that way.”

The major issue with Harrison’s argument is his labeling of UnREAL as a parody—it’s not meant to be one—and his argument that the creators have presented the show as non-fiction. As creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro told me and other interviewers, the show is inspired by shows like The Bachelor (Shapiro was formerly a Bachelor producer), but it is not meant to poke fun at them.

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“What we basically came to was a really rich way to set a show, because it’s a bunch of people trapped in a place looking for love and they can’t leave,” Shapiro told me of the reality show universe The Bachelor operates in.

But Harrison’s still got a chip on his shoulder. “I respected that because they used their skills to do that,” he told Variety of Burning Love. “But ‘UnREAL’ is just a really bad attempt, and they got what they deserved, and that is no one is watching the show.” He’s right about the ratings; they’re nothing like the ones The Bachelor and Bachelorette pull in; the 8.1 million The Bachelorette got last night blows UnREAL’s less than a million out of the park. But then again, UnREAL’s not meant to be a cash-cow like The Bachelor is (which is not to say the network wouldn’t love it if more people were watching) and the show, which has been a bit of an experiment for Lifetime, has already been renewed for season 2.

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Maybe Harrison’s just bitter about the critical success of UnREAL—it’s received raves across the board. Or maybe he—lover of romance that he is—is defensive about the fact that UnREAL makes The Bachelor look less like a way to find love and more like a gussied-up version of Bachelor in Paradise. Or maybe he’s mad about how the host of Everlasting is depicted as a cheesy, sleazy motherfucker who sleeps with the contestants he’s supposed to be ~guiding through this journey~, especially given Harrison’s rumored connections to previous castmembers of his own show.


Contact the author at dries@jezebel.com.

Images via ABC and Lifetime