Reality Roundup: Pick of the Pairings

Eggplant Parmesan and tequila may be many things but at its core, it’s a terrible idea for a pairing. Just ask some recent Below Deck guests.

On the contrary (and luckily for all of our lives), reality TV has offered a number of pairings over the past week that aren’t nearly as much of a failure — at least for now. Here’s a few current favorites:

Models and Hashtags (Project Runway)

There’s nothing I love more than a pretty person on a power trip, and this week Project Runway delivered.

Kicking off the competition by forcing each contestant to have a not-at-all forced dialogue with their model in front of the same graffiti brick wall — during which one designer, with a totally straight face, told his muse that he was aiming for a “homeless look” — the race for “#ModelsDayOff” was on.  Each designer, guided by the suggestions (or demands) of their model, attempted to craft something that was as suited for an Instagram #OOTD as it was for Heidi Klum’s runway.

“Social media is the public’s own form of editorial,” Zac Posen remarked, letting loose on an unprompted lecture issued and half-speed, as if to emphasize his lack of confidence in the designers (but not slowly enough to explain how the steady supply of dogs in impossibly cute poses that litter my own Instagram feed is in any way more fashionable than what said designers produced).  And while the judges’ examination of a faux-Insta rendering of the models’ leaned a little America’s Next Top Model, I ultimately can’t fault them for permitting the internet to unleash itself upon the show.

New episodes of Project Runway air 9pm ET Thursday on Lifetime and are available the next day on-demand.

Brandi and Stephanie (Real Housewives of Dallas)

Watching my #1 favorite Housewives pairing (Tamra and Vicki of the OC, obvs) play an extended game of will they/won’t they (answer: they definitely won’t, at least, not as long as Vicki continues her conspiratorial shenanigans) is emotionally draining. But, over in Dallas, my name twin Stephanie is making it up to me by ensuring her reunion with formerly-codependent/current slightly-more-healthy friendship with Brandi sticks.

Though their current pairing power seems to be aimed pretty steadily at mean girl-ing castmate LeeAnne around, the thrill of having the two “Jesus Juice”-chuggers back together is new enough to keep their capers interesting. Their reunion has breathed new life into an already-lively season, proving once and for all that (platonic) love wins.

New episodes of The Real Housewives of Dallas air 10pm ET Monday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.

Teen Moms and Their Producers (Teen Mom 2)

With Teen Mom 2’s fourth wall firmly dropped, my longtime suspicions – that the producers on this show are basically saints – were finally confirmed.  No longer forced to find a friend to fill in the gaps of what would otherwise be a one-sided conversation (a recent scene featuring Leah’s ex, Jeremy, exchanging stilted monologues with an uncomfortable looking friend proves my point), the producers can jump into their own scene and perform what appears to be time-honored feature of their job description – nodding emphatically and saying ‘uh huh’ as the cast member across from them rants about their issue of the day typically aimed at their child’s other parent.

I often wonder if there are other shows that would benefit from scrapping pretense and acknowledging the truth – that the producers, spending untellable hours among the cast, play a larger role in the story they’re telling than the camera would otherwise catch (Bachelor franchise, I’m looking at you). But for now, I’ll take my fourth wall breaks where I can get it and at the moment, that’s Teen Mom 2.

New episodes of Teen Mom 2 air 9pm Monday on MTV and are available the next day on-demand.

A Family of Three and Two Hundred Square Feet (Tiny House Hunting)

My addiction to all things tiny house-related isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the approximately five million tiny home shows that reliably feed it.  Lately, I’ve been indulging my obsession with a steady hit of Tiny House Nation, whose mix of traditional tiny homes (think composting toilets, laddered lofts, and industrial chic styling) and homes that just happen to be small (or, in the case of some, REALLY small) offers a reliable means of keeping both my creepy obsession with other people’s lives and my real estate envy thriving.

This week, while watching a family three pick the tiniest option made available to them (two hundred square feet, featuring a board-sized kitchen table and a very fancy outhouse – but hey, at least it was on budget, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future of humanity. The couple seemed cheerful (almost crazily so), their daughter seemed happy, and nobody seemed bothered that their middle-of-night/need-to-pee moments required a field trip outside. Clearly, we’re all far tougher than we think.

New episodes of Tiny House Hunting air 9pm Saturday on fyi and are available the next day on-demand.

Kate and Hot Jesus (Below Deck)

With virtually all of the male cast fawning over second stew Brianna, all of the guests fawning over mostly-naked human sushi platter Bruno, and Bruno fawning obsessively over himself, the Valor has quickly become an excessively expensive floating bucket of sexual tension. It’s no wonder, then, that show veteran and head stew Kate jumped ship as quickly as she could and set her sights on a much loftier goal.

“Hot Jesus,” a Swedish sailor whose nickname is self-explanatory, offered a respite that I didn’t even know I was looking for.  After watching Kate entertain her soon-to-be ex-girlfriend last season (the breakup did not go well) and her struggles with a definition-of-self-sabotage British yacht chef prior to that, it was nice to see her giddy (even temporarily so) without the weight of an unshakeable sense of doom.

New episodes of Below Deck air 9pm ET Tuesday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.