Ask any Bravo head you know and they'll tell you that Summer House is the new Vanderpump Rules. Should those words mean nothing to you, you obviously exist in a part of our universe where people are not being forced to stay in their house for days on end, or you just haven't experienced life's full thrills yet.
Currently in its fourth season, the finale and reunion of which will air tonight, Summer House purports to, per a press release from its premiere in 2016, cover "a group of nine friends who work hard during the week, but on the weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day... share a summer house to let loose in a big way that speaks to their exclusive, high-end lifestyle." East Coasters, and particularly New Yorkers, will be familiar with this type of basic: the finance bro, the woman in HR or sales. Men who wear collared blue button downs and salmon shorts. Women who love brunch and the East Village. Well-off young people who participate in the time-honored tradition of paying an exorbitant amount of money for a "summer share" aka renting a house in the Hamptons and its surrounding areas with a group of friends and acquaintances to party outside the confines of the five boroughs every weekend from June to September.
The first two seasons of Summer House were mediocre. Though the show was painfully, unnecessarily and unconvincingly spun off from Vanderpump Rules—_a trick that may have worked for that show when it was spun-off from _The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but was about 3,000 miles away from successful this time—the cast never quite gelled. It felt too much like a house you might find yourself having committed to spending your summer in only to wish after the first weekend that you could renege on your deposit. (The most entertaining drama came after Season 1, as Page Six gleefully and repeatedly reported on the town of Montauk and East Hampton's successful picketing against the show returning to film.) But with a slight cast refresh—the only remaining cast members from Season 1 are Kyle Cooke, Lindsay Hubbard, and Carl Radke—the show has found its energy.
Join along as they pick up their rental cars, drive out for the weekend and immediately admit to "finger-banging" their fellow housemates. (Carl and Lindsay.) Watch gleefully for the _Real World_-style cameras in the corners of every room of the house, the footage from which the producers piece together as a grid, as everyone gets ready for a night on the town, one insane crop top at a time (Paige). Enjoy your friends resorting to classic strategies like making out in pantries, crying in the bathroom, or throwing a shirt over a camera when they want privacy. Take a seat as they gather around a table at a highly overrated restaurant and all inexplicably order espresso martinis. (I guess it's the caffeine hit? They literally look like shit.) Groove along to blurry footage of them at the club, and then take in the timestamps as they toddle home to their house to drunk eat pizza, make out in the hot tub (Luke and Hannah), unsuccessfully attempt to have sex in the pool (Jules and Jordan), or argue about whether they should have sex at all (Kyle and his long-suffering fiancée Amanda). Witness the wake up the next morning, as the girls and boys each have separate confabs about what the goss is from the night prior, yet somehow still find the energy to go to Barry's Bootcamp, where someone (Carl) will ask out the instructor in front of their "best friend" (Lindsay) mere days after deciding to be "just friends" with said "best friend." Follow that with hours of day-drinking at a winery. Stumble back to the house for a "chill" dinner at home that will end in screaming about who actually isn't exclusive but it's totally fine!!! (Everyone.)
Or maybe it'll be another weekend when they're throwing a large, idiotically themed party, the pool so full of massive floats you can barely see the water, the house full of friends and hangers on, quite possibly including the men of Southern Charm, one of whom will cross-pollinate with a Summer House cast member (Craig and Jules). The costumes will be unflattering, and Kyle's disgusting mullet wig will make an appearance, as will piles upon piles of cans of his spiked seltzer company Loverboy, but the festive vibe will remain strong.
In between these weekends, we will see our friends briefly in the city. But it is the weekends in the Hamptons we know they—and by extension us, because we are living through them—crave. It is here that we will, without fail, see Carl, a softboi dying to be a fuckboy, become romantically entangled with yet another women in the house despite the fact that they have absolutely just witnessed him already crash and burn with someone who is probably a close friend. Is it because he's tall? Whatever the case, his shorts are too short, your parents getting a divorce is no excuse for a 35-year-old man to have commitment issues, and when Jules asked him to tell her about his foursome (???) on a recent episode, his response was "Fivesome."
There are so many reasons reality television can be bad or good, but the reality aspect of it is key: however much there's drama, some part of it, however minute, has to feel real. The friends of Summer House are unabashedly in each other's business, to the point where the only real code of conduct they seem to believe in is you are absolutely allowed to ask deeply personal questions about what sexual activities someone got into with someone else, preferably when they're both present. This somehow allows them to remain messy in an exaggerated but deeply accurate way, and also keep liking each other? Such a dynamic prompts them to ask each other important questions like "Have you ever smelled a weird dick?" or "Why can’t she be eaten out for an hour and a half and everyone be happy for her?" It allows for them to say things like "I was balls deep in tacos last night and I wanted her taco" or "I thought Jules was getting railed with the door open, but it was you getting railed with the door shut, that’s how loud it was." Such events are sadly likely not in our near future; this year, though humans will, as they always do, try to Find a Way, Dockers and Southhampton Publick House will hardly have the thump they once did. But on Summer House, the air is balmy, the drinks are flowing, and time has stopped.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.