Bravo's new reality series Miami Social premieres tonight, but critics say the cast of ambiguously employed 30-somethings devoted to gossiping and drinking themselves into a stupor are not only barely watchable, but barely human.
Bravo describes Miami Social as a show about "the lives of a group of hot, young professionals – corporate types by day and party animals by night – as they navigate the sometimes murky waters of Miami's hottest locales." However, those who have seen it, say the show - which airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT - is populated by seven relentlessly shallow socialites who could have been culled from any city in the United States. The cast includes a divorced couple, George French and Sorah Daiha, who are still friends and live in the same apartment building. Two cast members are reality show alums: Katrina Campins, was on The Apprentice and Hardy Hill was on Big Brother. Homosexuals are well (or perhaps poorly) represented in the cast. Michael Cohen, who used to work at In Touch, is openly gay. Fashion producer Ariel Stein is alternately described as an openly gay or bisexual man. But, it seems his biggest claim to fame is either hating fat people or being vice president of the company that gave us The Wearable Towel. Rounding out the cast is Maria Lankina, a bisexual Russian photographer who ships her 13-year-old daughter off to a Swiss boarding school in an early episode. Below, we take a look at the reviews for Miami Social.
Taking vacuity to a new level, Bravo's Miami Social might provide a wake-up call to a network that risks running out of rich and fabulous people to profile. Lacking the connective tissue of the Real Housewives franchise, this new docusoap feels heavily directed and still manages to feature a loosely aligned group without a single redeeming quality among those in it, other than the cut of their jaw line or the size of their boobs. So what's Miami Social about? It's about an hour, and a long one at that.
Bravo even attempts to goose Miami Social with two veterans of other unscripted franchises: Hardy Hill is well-known to fans of CBS' Big Brother; Katrina Campins was a contestant on the first season of NBC's The Apprentice. Katrina's marriage disintegrates in the opener. That might mean something if Katrina didn't act like a cyborg. George and his fiery Russian girlfriend Lina fight a lot and make up a lot. George's ex-wife, Sorah, lives in the same apartment complex and finds herself drafted as a negotiator in their ongoing war. Maria steels herself to say goodbye to her daughter, heading for a private boarding school. Hardy's girlfriend wants a baby. The two gay men in the mix could set the gay rights movement back 20 years. Ariel, an ex-model turned fashion show producer, is pathological about people he finds unattractive. Having drinks with friends, he interrupts to point out, "Oh, my God! I look so good in this reflection - and hot." Who, outside of an asylum, speaks that way? The various Housewives shows work because everyone has or knows somebody like at least one cast member in their own lives. But few have friends like these and even fewer would admit it. Beyond the relatability factor, there's another problem: These people are boring.
It is a comely enough group, and the Miami Social cocktail-hour conversations seem less fake than other show-enforced cast get-togethers, with Cohen happily burbling Addison DeWitt-meets-Paul Lynde banter and Stein providing central-casting bitchy. Early episodes deal with couple problems — Katrina separates from her husband-business partner, Lina lies to George, Hardy's girlfriend Trixia wants a baby. But when the only real moment of tension comes during an argument over Kim Kardashian — Cohen depicts her harshly, while Stein, self-proclaimed Kardashian pal, defends her — one does begin to worry. The presence of Cohen alone [who used to work at In Touch] seems to indicate that our celebrity feeding frenzy has overfished its waters and led to cannibalism. So if you find yourself longing for an all-night marathon of Friends or even Days of Our Lives, you will not be alone.
The early candidate for the most obnoxious member of this crowd is Ariel, who organizes fashion events. He distinguishes himself tonight by arriving at a restaurant after the rest of his party, checking out his table across the room, and getting on his cell phone to tell the owner he wants "the fat girl" removed before he will sit down. And so it goes. And like so many "reality" shows that have little to sell beyond neuroses and obnoxious, self-centered behavior, Miami Social in the end feels tedious and a little sad.
Ariel thinks of himself as a person of considerable importance: he produces fashion shows in Miami-Dade County. But as long as Miami isn't New York or Paris or Milan, saying you are the biggest fashion producer there is like saying you are the biggest auto maker in Tuscaloosa. Ariel claims to be attracted to both men and women, but mostly he is attracted to himself. "Oh my God, I look so good in this reflection," he remarks, "and hot." ... Fat people in particular gross him out, and you get the sense that if he could institute zoning laws to prevent them from entering South Beach, he would be moved to civic purpose. "What if you were born an ugly girl?" he asks rhetorically. "I mean, you can be an ugly guy, but an ugly girl? That's so depressing, every day waking up and knowing that you're ugly."
Housewives who have to be labeled "real" was just the warm-up; Bravo has now stepped fully into the Twilight Zone with its new reality series that focuses on the lives of alien beings, filmed in their natural habitat! Sure, it's called Miami Social, but don't be fooled — these are not people from our planet. Friends even before the cameras showed up, they are all things to all viewers: gay, straight, bisexual; married, dating, divorced; friends, bitchy, air-kissing. Their "jobs" deal with parties, photography, selling rich peoples' homes and celebrity gossip (the Kim Kardashian "reality whore" debate is awe-inspiring). They hint at a distant "bad economy" but clearly have no experience with it — living on another planet as they do — and spend hours sipping champagne on the beach and taking the day for mani-pedis. Real humans would drown in water this shallow.
Since we all secretly feel that we should be far richer and far more attractive than we actually are, any show about hot rich people is bound to enrage us. Why must we toil away at our lackluster jobs, when we could be teetering around town in bad shoes, letting smarmy macho men sip icy cold tequila out of our spray-tanned bellybuttons? Next, our envy sours to self-righteousness: What has our culture come to, that such vulgar indulgences are paraded in front of our faces every few seconds?
Although it's easy to mistake Miami Social for part of the problem, the show actually performs an important service to the public by revealing just how unspeakably dull the life of the club-hopping socialite actually is. Sure, stretching ugly tops over your enormous fake tits and spending way too much money at awful, overpriced night spots might sound like living the dream, but get to know these overly bronzed, gel-haired, empty-eyed souls a little better, and you'll no longer spend your afternoons at work (the way we all do) daydreaming about fishing your bra out of a South Beach trash can at 4 in the morning. Despite its strenuous attempts to glamorize the lives of these young, wealthy, ultra-beautiful denizens of Miami's hottest circles, Miami Social reveals them to be horribly mundane.
Before we go any further, let's be clear about something: I'm not saying Miami Social is so bad it's good. I'm saying it's so bad it will make you regret being born with eyes. I'm saying it's so bad that if you saw a member of the cast burst into flame on the street, you wouldn't waste your spit putting him or her out. I'm saying Osama bin Laden, if he sees it, will weep bitter tears of frustration that he went after the wrong American city.