Last week, we explored the affluenza crisis that is Bravo’s Summer House. But with the characters and central conflicts (or lack thereof) laid out on the beachside table, the third episode was a chance to really get into this series. And this series is….boring. On mute, it’s beautiful; breezy weather, cute sundresses, attractive singles tucking into bowls of New England Clam Chowder. It could be an ad for a travel company that plays in between Jimmy Fallon headlines on the screen in your New York City cab. But it’s not. It’s a television show that airs on Bravo. And I’ve watched three hours of it, and counting.
The episode opens at 3:00a.m. on the heels of last week’s hot tub face-off. For those of you who have already forgotten, we saw housemates Everett and Kyle scream and splash water at each other over who knows what. (It would have been the highlight of the episode, honestly, had it not been shoehorned in to the last few moments.) Cut to noon, where our deathly hungover crew makes cocktails and decides to fight again.
Why Kyle and Everett are at each other’s throats isn’t immediately clear. Do they not like each other? Is Kyle envious of Everett’s relationship with fellow housemate Lindsay? In their talking heads, it’s still not explained. Everett describes himself as “a fighter,” while Kyle – so cartoonish, only a show like Workaholics could dream him up – lightly mocks Everett’s vocabulary and military background. Just whip ‘em out and measure ‘em already, boys.
Fortunately, things move quickly. The gang moves outdoors for a leisurely day of blended drinks and cornhole. It’s here that we’re formally introduced to Jaclyn, a professional fit model and self-described “cocktease.” Why? Why not, apparently. Core cast member Cristina had to spend this weekend working in Manhattan, but Jaclyn isn’t much of a replacement. Or maybe she’s too much. She was dropped into the house to flirt and stir up drama, but it’s too early in the series to be invested in that. In contrast, last week’s tension between Cristina and Lindsay – roommates in the summer house and back in NYC – is actually worth watching. The female cast members have too much self-confidence to be threatened by Jaclyn’s presence, and while she was initially summoned to the house by Kyle, they don’t even hook up.
Also, Jaclyn is terrible. She’s just terrible. Her job seems cool, and she’s probably fun to be around, but oh my god, her one-liners are a disaster. Why was she given a talking head at all? Is she joining the cast? Is she an alternative to Cristina? That certainly didn’t feel necessary. Jaclyn says thing like “I’m a cocktease, but that’s better than being a whore or a slut” and that’s when we first meet her. Later, the dudes branch off for a deep sea fishing trip, while the gals head to an intense yoga session. Jaclyn laments that she’d prefer to be out on the boat, but “had to be with the vaginas” at yoga instead. Oof. Until then, she didn’t come across as mean-spirited – just kind of dumb. The show doesn’t need a mean girl. And if it does, please don’t let it be Jaclyn.
That aside, we did see a few housemates make tangible emotional growth this week. “Married twin” Ashley struggles to accept that to begin her own business, she’ll need to be financially dependent on her spouse. Lindsay, constantly at odds with beau Everett, reveals that her abandonment issues often cause her to pick fights with him. She hasn’t spoken with her mother, for reasons left unknown to us, and her insecurity leads her to cling to Everett and misread the occasional situation. She has not seen a therapist. (See one, girl. They change your life.) Everett’s explosive temper, however, doesn’t exactly work in their favor. But they love each other, and want to make it work. It’s worth rooting for.
Back in the city, Kyle asks his ex-girlfriend and casual hookup to dinner. He firmly believes that “being in a relationship over the summer is like going to a buffet on a diet,” but “it’s easy to forget and have fun” at 3:00a.m. Eye roll-inducing, but insightful. Over full glasses of wine, Kyle explains to Amanda that he doesn’t want to hurt her, doesn’t know what he wants relationship-wide, and can’t express what he’s looking for or why he won’t commit to her, though he calls her at the end of every drunken night. From our perspective, he’s asked her out only to tell her he doesn’t want to date her – after hitting her up a few weekends in a row. They had a good relationship, or so it sounded, and their breakup wasn’t painful, but even “Ken Doll Kyle Cook” knows that you can’t rely on an ex for emotional support and late-night sex without impunity. Poor Amanda has to be dumped, again, this time on camera. Spoiler alert: This is not the last episode she appears in.
Toward the end of the episode, the Hamptons crew heads out to dinner. And, once again, the episode ends with a spat that developed out of nowhere. Essentially, a budding hookup between housemates Lauren and Carl has been threatened by Carl’s attending a Wisconsin wedding with a date. Since Lauren and Carl just got started, it shouldn’t surprise her that he wouldn’t bring her to a wedding. It is weird that he wouldn’t mention it to her, particularly when he’s texting photos of himself and the date to housemate Stephen – and only sending pictures of himself with his mom to Lauren. Carl messed up, and Lauren overreacted. So why are she and Stephen shouting at each other over cream-based soups?
If you were hungover and Bravo ran a marathon, you’d probably keep it on quietly in the background. Summer House isn’t a bad show at all, it’s just not particularly engaging. Maybe we’re just used to the larger-than-life personae of the Real Housewives, so the trials and tribulations of this gang just feel too boilerplate to hold our interest. And that should work in their favor, right? It’s a positive! “You’re too normal for reality television.” Everyone hooks up with their exes. Everyone fights with their roommates. Just seeing these issues transposed onto tall blondes duking it out in the Hamptons isn’t enough yet. But there’s always next week.