Critics love “UnReal,” the Lifetime dramedy set behind the scenes of a “Bachelor"-esque reality show. “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, however, does not find the show’s allusions to his own franchise so flattering.
“Really, the main difference that I’ve seen is that people watch ‘The Bachelor,'” Harrison told Variety. “It’s complete fiction. 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.”
For what it’s worth, "UnREAL" creator and Bachelor franchise alum Sarah Gertrude Shapiro has said the show isn’t meant to be a satire, telling attendees at a TCA panel that they "put a fatwa on spoofing," and "the genre's already so meta at this point that it's self-referential on its own. That really wasn't our interest or aim.”
Still, that didn’t stop Harrison from getting riled up over the little Lifetime show's lack of "respect" for the heaving beast that is the "Bachelor/ette" industrial complex. Saying there are some “Bachelor” parodies that he enjoys, such as those on “Saturday Night Live,” Harrison dismisses "UnREAL" as an irrelevant part of the conversation.
“You only do that when you are part of the vernacular,” Harrison continues. "Because if not, you can’t make a joke. It’s a sign of respect. 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.”
Harrison says he also liked Ben Stiller’s parody series “Burning Love." “I respected that because they used their skills to do that,” he went on. "But ‘UnReal’ is just a really bad attempt, and they got what they deserved, and that is no one is watching the show.”
Anybody who watches "The Bachelor/ette" or has read Harrison’s romance novel “The Perfect Letter” — author unfortunately included! — will know that the host takes THE SEARCH FOR TRUE LOVE very seriously, so it’s no surprise that he wouldn’t like UnReal, which lays bare reality TV’s manipulative behind-the-scenes tactics and tears down many of its tropes (and features a sleazy, sexually-exploitative host character to boot).
But Harrison’s histrionics over a show that (as he points out) gets around 700,000 viewers to the "Bachelor/ette’s" 7 or 8 million, feels a little over the top.