With last night's premiere of Most Eligible Dallas, a new group of campers arrived at the Bravo-lebrity summer camp. In addition to shining a sometimes unforgiving light on our fair city, the show introduces a possible new franchise.
Bravo's brand-making fixation on the seemingly wealthy (Real Housewives) and the people who serve them (Flipping Out, Millionaire Matchmaker) now shifts to socially ambitious singles. And, since the six stars of Most Eligible are right here among us, my intention is to give you the play-by-play from week to week. There'll be plenty of time to dish the dirt on the actual people behind the characters, but for now, there's much to report from Episode 1, "Plenty of Fish in the Big D." Let's do 'dis.
Scene 1: We meet four of the regular cast members while they hobnob at a charity (read: social) event at the W. As cameras snap, wine flows and the youngling Bravo-lebrities step and repeat, we're given the TV equivalent of a speed date. First, it's blond, tan bombshell Tara. Her voiceover tells us she's absolutely "the quintessential Dallas girl." It's immediately apparent that she's got plenty of zingers at the ready: "There's no question where I'm from. I go to Europe, they're like, 'Forget it. Who shot JR?'" Next there's Glenn, a bald, chiseled kicker-of-footballs who admits, straight out the gate, that his junk holds sway over his brain: "I can't watch Family Feud without getting turned on." Although Glenn fails to reveal much complexity, we immediately miss hanging out with him the second his castmate, Matt, appears on screen. Matt's an energy-business heir who's self-possessed to a fault, spouting eye-roller lines like "I consider myself the total package" and "I've been groomed to be a great man." "Who would fall for someone like that?" we ask ourselves. Cue Courtney, an outspoken brunette with a blowout, a monster necklace and an obvious flame for Mr. Total Package. As Courtney and Matt explain to a poor bystander that their long-term friendship is too intense to ever lead to a hook up, you can see a watch-what-happens twinkle in her eyes.
Scene 2: Tara tells us that there's literally nothing she wouldn't do to save an animal (nothing?) as she's seen at a shelter pulling dogs out of death row and into her charity's loving arms. She takes the pooches back to her Preston Hollow house (just around the corner from the Bushes, she brags) and has her bemused housekeeper whip up some vittles for them while she hangs with a ridiculously-dressed friend named Gregg (who I'm told is actually a super-nice local fashion blogger.) As the doggies munch on better protein than I can afford, Tara reveals that she's been engaged a number of times, but for now prefers to stay single.
Scene 3: Courtney, Matt and Glenn take in brunch at Sfuzzi. The guys give Court some sage advice about how to navigate the singles scene. Don't focus so much on commitment and finding the one, they say; just have fun and let things happen. Second later, in an interview, she's laying out a list of overly specific requirements for her perfect mate. "He has a globe in his office that, like, his mentor probably gave him." Yeah, this is not a woman who puts much stake in spontaneity.
Scene 4: We meet gay sports-car salesman Drew in his apartment, which he boasts is in "one of the most expensive, prestigious buildings in Uptown Dallas. I've got a view ... that's a panty-dropper." The showing off continues as he orders room service for himself and his canines. "Room service? Press a buddon. I need a facial? Press a buddon. I need my car brought up? I PRESS A BUDDON." He tells us he used to be fat but got a gastric bypass and now stays in shape with the assistance of female hormones. As we attempt to process this, he puffs an e-cigarette mid-interview and implies that being gay AND a car salesman is another example of how "I've broken the muther-f'ing mold all my life." Oy, now I need a cigarette.
Scene 5: After some random cow shots (Seriously, I've lived in Dallas for 8 years and never seen a cow), we see Glenn visiting his trainer/nutritionist to "fine tune" before an upcoming photo shoot. While he takes off his shirt for the guy, his voice-over tells us about his football-team-hopping past and current worries about the NFL lockout situation. He feels the need to diversify his skills, expand them to modeling. Heh. But, at this point, it's hard not to love Glenn. When he admits to having a secret doughnut addiction, we actually believe him.
Scene 6: Tara and Drew do lunch at Jasper's, engage in forced conversation about big hair, Texas men and other random topics. Sample Drew zinger: "Texas wine makes me vomit." Sample Tara zinger: "Those guido von doucheys make me wanna throw up."
Scene 7: Matt and Courtney get ready at their respective dwellings to go out for a drink at Teddy's. Court thinks it will be an intimate evening with her back-up plan of a man, while Matt proceeds to call up and invite every vapid blonde in his little black book. His philosophy of hanging out: "Why do one on five, when you can grab one buddy and do two on 15?" Are you starting to see the LC-Brody undertones to this story line? Cut to Teddy's, where Courtney proceeds to up her hissy-factor every time another plastic-heeled hooch dances up to Matt. It's halfway through the first episode, and we're already over the unrequited-love thing.
Scene 8: Glenn has a photo shoot at the NYLO pool, with a female photographer who seems more interested in drooling over his washboard abs than setting up proper lighting. But Glenn doesn't notice. How could he when he's so busy posing?
Scene 9: Courtney visits Matt at home to give him crap about the parade of blonds at Teddy's. Matty doesn't give an inch. "Yeah, well, I don't know how to fix it." Courtney, sarcastically: "Because, well, the girls are gonna keep coming around!" Matt: "Yeah." And then he takes offense at being labeled a player. See, he's had his heart broken once, and can't bring himself to open up again. Bravo is clearly not a destination for moments of self-awareness.
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Scene 10: Drew gives Tara and Glenn a tour of the car dealership. Drew, in accompanying interview: "You wanna talk carbon fiber? You wanna talk horsepower? You wanna talk fuel injection? Then I'm your guy. You wanna talk Armani? ... Versace? ... The arts? Go find another queer." I'm just gonna leave that one alone for now.
Scene 11: The entire cast meets at Naan for some sushi and awkwardness. Small talk rules until Matt walks in with -- GASP -- an unfamiliar date. She's the final cast member, a blond named Neill who's just moved to Dallas from L.A. to pursue her music career (because that makes total sense). Neill's also a single mother of a one-year-old. Juggling motherhood and social outings is "hard, but it's fun," she says. Courtney's having none of it. After giving Neill the third degree about her relationship with Matt, she starts lobbying passive-aggressive attacks on Neill's ability to mother. It's not just ugly -- it's Dallas ugly. It ends with a bathroom cry-fest for Court, who tells Tara that she only wants to be a wife and a mother and that seeing a real mother leave her baby behind to go on a date with Matt ...
You get it. And now, I fear you'll never, ever watch this show. But the real test with any glossy "reality" program is this: Do you enjoy disliking most of the people in it? Based on episode one, Most Eligible Dallas gets a soft "yes." If Bravo avoids letting the Court-Matt-Neill triangle suck all the air out of the show and gives enough camera love to the eccentricities of the other players, it'll have a chance to rise to Housewives relevance. Here's hoping there's a table-flipper somewhere to be found.