Reality Roundup: Reality Fails

Television doesn’t always turn out the way you’d expect. But when things go wrong on reality tv, it’s usually a sign that things are about to get really, REALLY good.  Below is a look at this week’s reality fails – and an examination of the things that made them great.



What Happens at the Abbey

I’ve watched and re-watched certain scenes more than I care to share, and have come to the conclusion that What Happens at the Abbey employs some kind of visual dog whistle, making it impossible for anyone over thirty to fully follow the lighting-fast movements of the Abbey cast.  That’s the only even somewhat reasonable explanation for this week’s charity function blowout.

Triggered by Kyle’s refusal to grab her butt after grabbing Kim’s, Elizabeth’s rage at Kyle’s inexcusably gross behavior was as misdirected as it was confusing.  “Like my a** doesn’t deserve to be grabbed right now?” she implored, attempting (and failing) to reason with a dumbfounded Kyle while doggedly following him around the restaurant, refusing to disengage.

Obviously, there’s no excuse (least of all, Kyle’s lame proclamation of “I’m a fitness model…I judge fitness competitions!”) for unwanted touching.  But if Elizabeth’s insane reaction to not receiving any unwanted touching of her own is representative of the cast’s unwavering commitment to fight at any cost – and I can only hope that it is – then we’re in for a doozy of a season.

New episodes of What Happens at the Abbey air 10:00pm ET Sunday on E!.  Recent episodes are available on-demand.


The Real Housewives of the Potomac

From Karen Huger’s lament that Giselle’s potential love interest doesn’t “stand a chance in a snowball fight” to Ashley’s weariness following her ‘mind field’ of a day, the Potomac ladies have demonstrated a relationship with English language that is casual at best.  Luckily, it’s not their linguistic prowess (or lack thereof) that keeps us tuning in.  As long as they keep the rest of their dizzying dialogue coming – and it shows no sign of stopping – I’m willing to give them a pass on this one.

New episodes of The Real Housewives of the Potomac air 8:00pm ET Sunday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.

Dorinda’s Cake

The Real Housewives of New York City

In any other context, it would be ironic for a cake sporting the words “I made it nice” to end up cracked and misshapen before the party even started.  But in the world of the Real Housewives, it was all but expected.


Back in the Berkshires this week, in the very home that witnessed last year’s monumental mess (shown in dimly colored flashbacks, we are reminded of the disaster with scenes of Ramona screaming at Luann for her poor choice in boyfriends, Bethenny screaming at Luann for sleeping around, and Dorinda screaming at everyone for being useless), the sagging cake embodies the ladies’ shared experience.  And ultimately, it’s a problem that’s easily solved – as Dorinda cheerfully notes, “enough wine and the cake will be beautiful.”

New episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City air 9:00pm ET Wednesday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.


Married at First Sight: Second Chances

Apple orchards are all fun and games until Hamgelina shows up on the scene. David learned this lesson the hard way when he transitioned his group of daters from a relatively innocuous (and admittedly dull) frolic through an orchard to witness a pig race.

But the pig date fail was only beginning:  Bursting with pride at what he claimed to be some “pretty strong game” (or maybe just what passes for game in Georgia?), David was forced to forgo a romantic kiss when he stood up straight into a wooden beam.  Despite my concern for his overall health, I’m hopeful that the aftershock of a mild concussion may help to liven up David’s love life.

Not to be shown up by David’s fumble, fellow Second-Chancer Vanessa kicked off an African dance class by introducing introduced her date as “Zach” (his name is Myles).

I’m starting to think that poor David and Vanessa better hope there’s a third chance around the corner.

New episodes of Married at First Sight: Second Chances air 10:15pm ET Thursday on Lifetime and are available the next day on-demand.

Bae’s Wig

RuPaul’s Drag Race

The latest RuPaul episode, featuring cast makeovers of the show’s crew, was incredibly touching.  But of course, with novices tottering dangerously down the runway, there was more than enough room for a number of mishaps.

None stood out quite so much as ‘Bae Coulee’ (the newfound alter-ego of production assistant Josh), who suffered from a persistent wig malfunction.

I get that a lot of this was new to Josh – but I also have to believe that if your wig were on backwards, you’d know (and be able to fix it before sashaying your way onto national television).

New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race air 8:00pm ET Friday on VH1 and are available the next day on-demand.

Ducking the Camera

The Real Housewives of Potomac

In the middle of his second season on The Real Housewives of Potomac, and with hundreds of Housewives episodes to learn from, Michael Darby should have known better.  Buried deep in the boilerplate of every Bravo contract is a clause that conveys your eternal soul to Andy Cohen.  But even if Andy would have been willing to let Michael skate on this one – and I’m not saying that he would have been – Michael’s wife, Housewife Ashley Darby, certainly was not.

With Ashley determined to stay in the spotlight and her husband just as determined to hide from it, the couple’s fight arced across half an episode this week.  Michael hid in his car, behind a jeep and even (in one last desperate attempt) behind his sunglasses in an attempt to stop the camera crew from capturing his spat with Ashley.

Still, his vain attempts proved no match for the heroic resourcefulness of the show’s camera crew – or for the range of Ashley’s microphone.  Make no mistake, Michael – you’re in Housewife country now.

Naked Yoga

What Happens at the Abbey

Having nothing to do with anything, the Abbey cast went to a naked yoga class this week…and it is exactly what you would expect (if you knew to expect that yoga could be naked).  “I think I saw into the yoga teacher’s soul,” one participant reflected, promptly ruining the moment by adding, “through his butthole.”


Married at First Sight: Second Chances

I now understand why The Bachelorette is so invested in its tedious rose ceremonies, forcing the lead to stand in front of a cluster of suitors and slowly (slooowwwwllly) call out the names of everyone not getting dumped that week. It’s because the alternative is to visit the home of each soon-to-be dumpee, sitting on their sofa and gently letting them down one by one – and lord knows what you risk running into there.

This week on Second Chances, Vanessa dumped Howard in his living room, and I have no idea what her reasons were.  Not for lack of effort on her part – I’m pretty sure she spent at least five minutes of what may or may not have been an eloquently rehearsed speech giving her views on the now-terminated relationship – but because I couldn’t look away from the jumbo-sized laundry hamper that hovered just behind Howard’s head as she spoke.


Since Howard has now been dumped, we may never know the story behind that insanely large pile of clothes (I, for one, and convinced that little orphan Annie was hiding somewhere in there).  But it is just this kind of intrigue that keeps Second Chances on my radar – and you can bet I’ll be watching every low budget moment.