Last January, the massively talented Taffy Brodesser-Akner profiled Chris Harrison, the longtime host of The Bachelor, for GQ. The brilliance of a Brodesser-Akner profile is in the way she treats her subjects: with steadfast humanity, even (and especially) in situations where a lesser writer might mock or ever so slightly sneer. Which is not to say that she sacrifices an ounce of humor in her refusal to condescend; the piece is often hilarious, but honestly so. To borrow a phrase from Bachelor parlance, she’s there for the right reasons. Anyway, as The Bachelor enters its 20th season, the time seems right to revisit her profile. A brief taste:
Later, when Chris and I meet up with Gwen for salad—amicable, amicable—she tells me that he was born knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. I can’t attest to how far back this skill of his stretches, but I can confirm that he’s still got it. Chris Harrison is one of the smoothest motherfuckers I’ve ever met. On-screen he is able to do something that I believe men are generally not wired for: He can sit there and listen to a woman, allow her to emote and cry, and never interrupt, never try to shut her down or clean her up. Sure, it’s good television to let the tears flow, but still, it’s rare to find a man who can allow himself to allow it. When it’s time to ask a contestant to leave, his face is the face you want: lips mashed mournfully together, eyebrows up, big sigh.
Even off-camera, he speaks in crisp sentences. He doesn’t stumble. He doesn’t stammer. You should see my interview transcript; it came back from the transcriber as if it had already been edited. Gwen says Harrison is just as he appears on TV, “but funnier. People don’t realize how funny he is.”