Not so this season, which will see the return of Emily Maynard, the Southern Belle and one-time fiancee to past "Bachelor" Brad Womack. Maynard, a 26-year-old from North Carolina, won the sympathies of viewers during Womack's season after she revealed her high school sweetheart, a race car driver, had tragically died in a plane crash. Days after his death, she learned she was pregnant with their daughter, Ricki, now six.
Because she's a single mother, the show's producers agreed to film a portion of the upcoming season in Maynard's hometown, as opposed to the infamously gaudy Bachelor pad in Los Angeles. Contestants coming onto the show were also informed that they'd be vying for Emily's affections in an effort to weed out less serious-minded contestants. The result? A season "that's drastically different than anything we've ever done," says host Chris Harrison.
"Her being a single mom definitely changed the tone," Harrison said during a conference call with journalists Wednesday. "Throughout the show, there was always just that underlying issue of, she's a mom, and is the guy ready?"
There's also less of what Harrison described as "frat-house humor" that has popped up in season's past -- less of the "superficial drama," he said.
While that may be true, the show's producers have already come under fire for casting a race car driver, Arie -- which many view as a cheap shot to provoke feelings about her late fiance. Harrison insisted that while Arie is a race car driver, he does open-wheel racing -- a far different sport than NASCAR racing, which Maynard's ex took part in.
"First of all, people need to understand that Emily loves the track. She loves racing. That is a huge part of her life and her family," Harrison said, sounding somewhat defensive.
Harrison himself has been going through an emotional period of his own, just recently announcing he is divorcing his wife of 18 years. Asked if he would consider becoming the Bachelor himself, the host had this to say:
"Getting out of a 22-year relationship and having just announced my divorce to the world, I'm thinking I wouldn't exactly be a great candidate to be The Bachelor now, or anytime soon."
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Chris Harrison and Emily Maynard during the upcoming first episode of "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC