As a fan of Bravo’s Summer House, I’m often in the tough position of having to sell my friends on what seems like an extremely pointless and uneventful reality series. “It’s like watching a Real Housewives cast trip but for an entire season!” “If you’re a stressed-out millennial living in New York, it’s kind of relatable.” “The men are hot!” “The cast is pretty progressive and inoffensive for the most part.” “There’s a guy named Carl, who’s one of the most fascinating antiheroes I’ve watched on television.” “I’m pretty sure they caused the espresso martini boom of 2021.”
I’ve had a much easier time converting non-viewers to its more diverse and drama-filled spin-off, Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard, which premiered earlier this year. However, when it comes to the franchise’s awkward (and seemingly unwanted) stepsibling, Winter House, I’ve officially run out of positive things to say. In fact, I can barely convince myself to watch the show anymore, which is currently in the middle of a third and dreadfully lackluster season.
What started off as a fun, frivolous crossover between the casts of Summer House and Southern Charm (with some memorable friend-ofs) has now turned into TV’s lamest dating show. It’s like watching the saddest mixer between C and D-list reality stars looking to cement a place in the ever-growing Bravosphere—plus a random blonde woman named Casey.
To be fair, Winter House has always been a scaled-down, less exciting Love Island in disguise. Cast members arrive at the Colorado (formerly Vermont) lodge anticipating hot people to hook up with and sometimes seriously date. If you don’t have someone to at least flirt with throughout the weeklong vacay, you don’t really have a purpose on the show. However, this season has a serious guy problem—which says a lot given the series once hosted Craig Conover, Austen Kroll, and newest fuckboy addition Kory Keefer at the same time.
Likewise, it’s been tough watching the Winter House’s mostly likable cast of women compete for the affection of a very dull and unimpressive gaggle of men. Among their potential suitors are Vanderpump Rules’ Tom Schwartz, who’s as unappealing as usual; Below Deck Sailing Yacht’s Alex Propson, whose Jared Leto locks have deceived several women into thinking he’s some sort of sex god; and an allegedly transphobic Southern Charm reject who unironically wears pearl jewelry (Keefer).
Coming late into the season, we also have Winter House alum Jason Cameron, who’s objectively the hottest guy in the house but, so far, has demonstrated the personality of a wood panel. He’s also somewhat taken by Real Housewives of Potomac star Gizelle Bryant and has the good sense (so far!) not to embarrass her on national TV. Lastly, there’s Family Karma’s Brian Benni, who’s also undeniably good-looking and the one of the few men on Bravo I feel safe describing as “good.” Unfortunately, he still has big mama’s boy energy (although, we love Dharma) and comes off a lot younger than his age. I also just don’t think men of color have a fair chance in this extremely white environment.
Unsurprisingly, the only guy who has a shred of charisma in this cursed season is Summer House’s Kyle Cooke, who’s unfortunately—only in the case of this series—married to Amanda Batula. (She’s also present for this and doesn’t seem to be having a great time.) As the default leader of both the Summer and Winter Houses, he seems to be aware the show is not producing the results it should.
In last week’s episode, he talks to Brian about his experience renting vacation houses over the past ten years, stating that it’s “rare to go this long without a blowout.” That’s another thing. No one’s fighting or breaking dishes on this show. No one’s really hooking up either. Schwartz and Below Deck Mediterranean cast member Katie Flood had a very frustrating, PG-rated flirtation that culminated in a bathroom-floor makeout before the VPR star returned to Los Angeles. Other than that, Summer House’s Danielle Olivera and Propson are the only housemates regularly getting it on.
Still, there are hardly any stakes in these two not-exactly-fan-favorites embarking on a potential relationship. That is, aside from Olivera embarrassing herself by coming off as too possessive. At the same time, Propson’s been aggressively hitting on Martha’s Vineyard star Jordan Emanuel. But even she knows he’s not worth getting in a full-blown life triangle with.
There’s also Keefer, who Bravo seems to think is the next Austen Kroll but has hardly gotten any action. (Although, Emanuel certainly shot her shot before weeping over his rejection of her.) I’m starting to think his “surprise” visit from his sort-of girlfriend, Summer House’s Sam Feher, towards the end of the season won’t cause any fireworks, like the trailer teased. I’m also starting to wonder if all these late-arriving guests, including Below Deck Down Under’s Aesha Scott and Below Deck’s Rhylee Gerber, were emergency calls.
While I can’t truthfully say Winter House has ever earned the title of Bravo excellence, the first two seasons at least served the purpose of creating dramatic relationships and conflicts that bled into other shows. For better or worse, Season 1 gave us “Craige” and the Austen-Ciara-Lindsay love triangle. (It also introduced many of us to the Italian Stallion himself, Andrea Denver.) This season, though, is rather shameless (and bad) in its attempts to create Page Six headlines and new Bravolebrity pairings for us to be invested in.
While this season was originally promoted as an experiment in crossover chaos, it mainly feels like a test to see what low-budget, thrown-together productions Bravoholics will tolerate.