‘The Bachelorette’: Meet the 5 Men to Watch

Bachelor Nation, Chris Harrison wants to apologize. Sort of.

“If we upset or offended anybody by ruining the outcome of a few rose ceremonies by announcing the next Bachelorette earlier than usual, I’m sorry for that,” the host tells Yahoo TV of the show’s decision to name Rachel Lindsay as the next rose giver while she was still in the running for Nick Viall’s heart on The Bachelor. “But in the end, it was a good decision. We felt we took a calculated risk in order to properly launch her season and guarantee that we would be able to cast a strong group of men who are specifically interested in dating Rachel. It allowed us to cast a more mature, professional crowd. They’re prepared to have a partner who is a little older, established in her career, and ready to settle down.” (Click through to see Harrison’s picks for the five guys to keep an eye on this season.)

Harrison adds that stacking the deck with winning cards is of particular importance when dealing with a “control freak” like the 31-year-old Dallas attorney.  “I can say that because I’m one too. Rachel is not used to not being the one in control,” says Harrison. “I think it stems from being raised by a judge and being an attorney herself, but she has a very hard time taking her hands off the wheel. She’s very cautious and methodical because it serves her well in her daily life.  She wants to have her hands on everything, which is just not possible when doing the show.”

It wasn’t even possible for Rachel to be in control before The Bachelorette started shooting: She was ambushed with surprise introductions to a handful of suitors at the last After The Final Rose special. “We debated the AFR move. We are always looking for ways to change it up and get people interested. I loved it because I love live TV moments,” says Harrison, adding that he doesn’t believe the early intros led to a leg up in the competition. “If it was an advantage, it was maybe an advantage for about 30 seconds. She didn’t hang out with them backstage or anything. When they came out of the limo, they might have been able to say, ‘We met a few nights ago, remember?’ But after that, there was no advantage.”

After several Southern California dates, the mass courtship will continue in Dallas, South Carolina, and European ports of call including Oslo and Copenhagen. “In my opinion, this might be the best year of travel we’ve ever had,” says Harrison. “We finally made it to Hilton Head Island after we were preempted by a hurricane during Nick’s season. We wanted to make up for that and it was worth the wait. It’s gorgeous.” Harrison confirms there will also be some impressive blow-ups. “There is one verbal tirade that will go down in the history books, as it went on for 20 minutes. Just one person talking,” he says. “You can’t expect to put that many type-A personalities in a room, especially when they are all trying to date the same girl, and expect them all to get along.”

Despite the drama, Harrison is positive that this season — the franchise’s first with an African-American lead — will also spark honest discussions about race. “One thing that our show is never given enough credit for is the social topics that pushes into homes and the workplaces the next day,” he says. “Any time you can raise the level of debate in this country or in society, it’s a good thing. And there is going to be positive and negative things, empowering things and probably even a few horrible things, that get said on the show and because of the show. But Rachel was ready to take that on and I am proud that the powers that be made this decision.”

But he stresses that the choice wasn’t only about the color of her skin. “It is not lost on me that there is an importance to choosing a black Bachelorette, but it’s also about finding the right Bachelorette. We found this amazing woman who is powerful, smart, educated, sweet, beautiful, and has a smile that can light up a room,” says Harrison. “These guys are lucky they have a chance to date someone who is the entire package.”

Season 13 of The Bachelorette premieres on Monday, May 22 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

The Bachelorette: First Look at Rachel and Her Guys

(FRONT) Milton, Bryce, Jedidiah, Jack, Fred, Iggy, Rachel Lindsay, Kyle, Jamey, Michael, Lee, Kenny, Blake E.; (MIDDLE) Matthew, Bryan, Peter, Josiah, Dean, Grant, Kenneth, Blake K., Eric Robert; (BACK) Jonathan, Will, Adam, Demario, Alex, Mohit, Lucas, Anthony, Brady in ABC’s The Bachelorette.

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Fred Johnson, 27

“This is a crazy story,” says Harrison. “Fred is an executive assistant who is from Rachel’s hometown. Fred and Rachel were at this camp together when they were teenagers. Rachel was his slightly older camp counselor. Fred had a crush on her and he has carried the torch for quite sometime. He has never really talked about it, but decided to come all this way and do the show so that he could tell her how he felt. He gets out of the limo and there is an awkward moment where they don’t really talk about it, but she realizes who he is. I believe they have kept in touch, but he has never told her how he felt as a kid. They eventually talk about it and he admits it all. It is a very interesting, awkward, and exciting story. I knew Bachelor Nation would be excited to know more because the minute I heard his backstory I had so many questions. It had the opportunity to be seen as the cutest story of how they met and could be a John Hughes movie, or it could be perceived as a creepy stalker move. But I promise he is a very sweet, good guy and there is nothing creepy about it.”

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Dean Unglert, 25

“Dean is on the younger side for this crew, but he plays older. He’s a professional, a recruiter, and a local boy out of Venice, California. He is one of the guys Rachel met on Nick’s After The Final Rose. He was the one who used the infamous line about being ready to go black and never go back. It was interesting because this was our first taste of how race will play into this season. There was a little bit of a backlash against Dean for saying that, but the thing is that Rachel found it funny. But it weighed on him for the few days between the finale and when they met again at the mansion in the driveway. They talked about it and she reassured him that she thought it was bold and charming. She said, ‘I thought it was cute. I liked it. And that’s the only thing that matters.’ He was worried, but she quickly put him at ease. They get along very well after that initial moment of concern.”

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Kenny Layne, 35

“This is a case of ‘don’t judge the book by its cover,’ because this cover is a whopper. Kenny is actually ‘Pretty Boy Pitbull Kenny King.’ That is his professional wrestler name. And as Rachel says, ‘That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I can’t even repeat that. What was that?’ He explains that is his ring personality. He is the playboy bachelor with swag and the whole thing, but it turns out that is not really accurate in real life. He’s a dad with a 10-year-old daughter. Once you get to know him, you can’t imagine any of that wrestling stuff. He is a tough-as-nails competitor, though, and you will see that competitive side flair up. He has some run-ins with other guys, one in particular. He is very proud and when push comes to shove, he is going to push back.”

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)

Bryan Abasolo, 37

“He is a very charming Colombian, Latin-lover type who swears he is ready to settle down with one woman, but we will see if he is really ready to take that big step in his life,” says Harrison of the Miami-based chiropractor. “He definitely catches Rachel’s eye immediately out of the limo. He is good-looking, eloquent, professional, which are all attributes Rachel is immediately drawn to, so you will see a lot of Bryan. And he can adjust her back as we travel all over the world. Actually, he could make adjustments on all of us. Now that I think about it, I should always argue that we cast at least one chiropractor or masseuse a season.”

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)

DeMario Jackson, 30

“DeMario was also on After the Final Rose. He was the one who booked plane tickets, bought a ring, was ready to propose and shut it down on AFR. He got out of the limo and she recognized him. She knew she had met him before and she really likes him. He made a good first impression. He was able to go into the house with a little momentum because she thought it was pretty clever how he introduced himself. He kept that boldness up. He’s a very confident guy, and he has that swagger even in the face of standing next to all the other guys. He knows he has a good shot with her and it turns out to be true.”

(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)