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Sneaking in a Visit With “Welcome to Waverly”

From the notorious goodness of their typical Housewives drama to the steady unsteadiness of Below Deck‘s crazy, Bravo’s got the reality game down to an art. And while I will always be here for another city of grown women acting like toddlers (diapers and all), sometimes, I just feel like shaking things up.

Luckily for me, Bravo’s got me covered on that front too.

When Bravo dropped all four (yup, just four) Welcome to Waverly episodes during a single week in October, I’ll admit, I was skeptical.  Even knowing the show’s premise (put seven big city folks together in a house – that inexplicably has no washing machine – in small town America) I didn’t know what to expect.  But I sat down to test the waters with episode one, and before I knew it, I had laughed, cringed and cried my way through all three hours of this unexpectedly insightful show.  Below is just a little taste of what’s to come from your Waverly experience.

“I figured we might be flipping truck tires, so I could use a hand.  Just in case” – Andrew, on his real estate job

Each of “The Seven,” as the cast called themselves, was paired with a Waverly “host” of the same profession as their own (the L.A. hairdresser learns how to roll a perm! The farm-to-table pastry chef from Charlotte mass-produces pies!)

WELCOME TO WAVERLY — Pictured: Ann Marie Stefaney — (Photo by: Chuck France/Bravo)

To my overwhelming shock, these city-mouse-learns-country tasks storylines gave rise to some the show’s best relationships.  Ann Marie’s friendship with pie maker Wanda was every bit as sweet as chef Lamar’s bromance with his food truck host.  And don’t forget Minneapolis politician Aswar, who was lucky enough to be paired with the town’s longstanding leader.  “Mayor Craig is basically the Richard Gere to my Julia Roberts.  The only difference is, I’m not a prostitute,” Aswar succinctly explained during his first visit to a western clothing store.

“I wish people joked more about the things that make us uncomfortable.” – Aswar

In a town where, as Zachary observed, “everyone seems to be white and related,” discussions around race, religion and sexual orientation were bound to be stirred by The Seven.  Unsurprisingly, they did encounter a few individuals with some decidedly distasteful views.  But for all involved, the presence of The Seven seemed largely a learning experience for everyone involved.

For example, during an episode three poker game, a player informed Aswar that he would never be a successful Waverly politician because he looked “like a terrorist,” I instinctively cringed.    The situation- for me, for Aswar, and even Lamar (who was a mere bystander in all of it) – was just too much.  Sure, Aswar made light of the comment.  But it was difficult to tell if he was stoically trying to keep the peace (as Lamar had done during a particularly nasty rant during a Civil War reenactment) or if he was genuinely unaffected.

WELCOME TO WAVERLY — Pictured: Answar Rahman — (Photo by: Chuck France/Bravo)

As the poker night wore on, however, it became clear that Aswar’s relaxed reaction was not a front.  As he explained to the camera, he preferred the frank remarks of his poker buddies over the more subtle ways that people would discuss his race.  For example, he hated when his “big city” cohabitants would try to slide in comments about what things were like “in his culture.” “I grew up in Northeast Minneapolis.  What culture? Going to Target every time I need something?” he lamented.

“It’s taught me to be opend minded in ways that I didn’t even know my mind was closed” – Zachary

When the ever-so-slightly (ok, not so slightly) self righteous Brooklnite bar tender Melissa came in with her (metaphorical) guns a-blazin’, I was concerned.  But her attitude was the exception, not the rule. Yes, the cast clearly came in with preconceived notions of their new neighbors.  And sure, some of those fears were confirmed by some people.  But for the most part, the divides were overshadowed by the genuine relationships the cast developed during their time in Waverly. As Trenice tearfully observed on their final day, “We’re all cut from different cloth, but yet we’re all the same.  That’s what makes America beautiful.”

WELCOME TO WAVERLY — Pictured: Lamar Moore — (Photo by: Chuck France/Bravo)

Catch all four episodes of Welcome to Waverly on demand on Bravo.