Plus: The host opens up about Emily, spoilers, fantasy dates and more

By Carrie Bell
Updated January 29, 2011 07:00 PM

On a break from declaring, "this final rose of the night," The Bachelor host Chris Harrison took to time to speak with reporters about the current season of ABC’s hit show, which he calls “the modern-day soap opera.” Harrison answered questions about “crazy” Michelle, Emily’s controversial NASCAR date, which woman is right for Brad Womack and more.

What is it with contestants named Michelle?
We’ve had a run of them that are controversial. Some people use the ‘C’-word and call them crazy, but I don’t find this season’s Michelle that crazy. I find her entertaining and funny to listen to. The way she acts and the things she says are pretty abrupt and she has some issues, but she’s playing him extremely well. She’s aggressive and really knows how to push his buttons and keep him on edge, but keep him interested.

On Monday’s show, Emily goes on a NASCAR date with Brad. Some have said that’s cruel, considering her late fiancé was a racer.
This date and season were set up before Emily was cast. She ended up on the NASCAR date by happenstance. But we’re not stupid. We knew her story by that point so we had a choice to make. We could have told Brad or warned Emily. We chose to let the real-life drama play out … It forced Emily to face demons I don’t think she’s dealt with. It also forced Brad to learn the rest of the story … It was either going to blow up in their face with Brad realizing, “I can’t handle this. I can’t replace this guy,” and Emily realizing she’s not quite ready, or they would move through it.

Who decides who goes on what dates?
It’s a mix between producers and the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Sometimes we ask Brad, “Who do you want to spend time with? Who has been slighted?” Sometimes it’s someone he really wants to put on the spot or wants to go home. He definitely had a say in who went on the two-on-one date [in the next episode].

Do spoilers affect the show?
If people are so crazed that the show becomes such tabloid and Internet fodder, you have to be flattered. In this day and age, things are going to get out, but be careful what you read. And no matter what you hear about next Monday’s NASCAR date or two-on-one, it won’t do them justice until you see and feel for yourself.

Every season the show ups the ante when it comes to fantasy dates and travel. Does this help or hinder chances of building a realistic, lasting relationship?
If we showed them going to Pizza Hut and the movies, that’s not good TV. The bottom line is that we are delivering entertainment. As much as our show is about finding love, it is also about escapism. Upping the ante and creating these surreal moments are fantastic entertainment, but what’s happening inside them is very real. I don’t think it hurts the final outcome as far as a real relationship.

Who is right for Brad?
What he finds attractive about Emily is different from what he finds in Michelle or Chantal. But the attraction is sincere with all of them. They all give him something different and he will find love with multiple people. It’s his job to figure out who really completes the picture.

How satisfied will fans be at the end?
Brad is satisfied. He’s in love. Whether our fans will be satisfied is always the million-dollar question.