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Summer House’s Carl Might Be the Only Reality TV Character Who Actually Has a Job

This is what employment looks like, and it sucks.
  • Carl Radke from Bravo's Summer House
    Carl Radke from Bravo's Summer House

    Summer House, Bravo’s East-coast Vanderpump Rules spinoff that continues to lurk tantalizingly on the precipice of breaking out, recently kicked off its third season. In many ways, it’s a typical third season under Bravo’s house style. Or, more accurately, housewives style, since almost all their non-competition shows take their structural cues from the Real Housewives series.

    A handful of new faces have joined whichever old faces are still willing to argue with each other on camera in exchange for lodging in an admittedly great-looking summer home on the Hamptons. Kyle and his girlfriend Amanda are reconciled after his cheating came to light last summer. Lindsay, the cheating-tattler, began the season in a heated feud with Kyle and Amanda after a rift and a social media blackout (including cropping group photos to exclude Amanda, a petty classic), which included Kyle authoring a 17-page email bawling Lindsay out about it. (No word on whether the 17 pages were front and back.) Of the new people: Paige is definitely the cool girl we’re supposed to like (we do!), Hannah is the former tennis player who almost went pro, and Jordan is the self-styled Instagram model who’s insanely full of himself and has decided to brand himself as the house lothario. Which is good news for Carl, the house lothario of the previous two seasons who has returned to the Hamptons looking to rebrand.

    Carl is something of a pivotal character on Summer House. While the show was grasping at straws in its first two seasons, filtering through twin sisters, ornery exes, and loose-lipped gays in order to find a hook, Carl was the draw: a self-regarding Manhattan fuckboy seemingly pulled from a magazine ad for chambray button-downs, and in possession of a secret weapon of a playfully crooked smile that made him maddeningly attractive to the singles on screen and the viewers off-screen. “I hate Carl but also I want to have sex with Carl” became a kind of whispered shibboleth between Vanderpump fans who were dipping a wary toe into the Summer House waters.

    Season 3 Carl, however, showed up looking to change up his image. After two seasons of being the house problem child, Carl seems halfway sincere in his desire to be a “recovering fuckboy.” The results have been mixed but positive. A recurring series of pantry hookups with Paige has stretched the definition of “recovering” in “recovering fuckboy,” but wit Jordan around as the Goofus to his Gallant, Carl somehow has landed as the best-behaved boy in the house. This recent pivot to responsibility has included a job in sales, one which he keeps bringing home with him for the weekend. The conceit of Summer House has been a kind of work-hard-play-hard thing, where we’re told that these beautiful young Manhattanites spend the summer months high-achieving during the week and then blowing off steam on their Hamptons weekends. It’s a crock, of course. The Summer House cast have the same kinds of semi-tangible jobs — they work in publicity or design or development. They’re closer to street level than, say, the Housewives, whose business interests are all in branding. But they fit right in with the rest of the Bravo roster and their in-name-only employment. This isn’t some kind of grand fraud. The audience watching Vanderpump Rules is mostly hip to the notion that these cast members only “work” at Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants in the most perfunctory of ways. Nobody really buys that Lisa gives them that much time off of the schedule to accommodate their many weekend events, parties, and trips to nearby vacation destinations. Their actual job is starring on the Bravo television series Vanderpump Rules.

    Back to Carl, though, whose job in sales seems to be that rarest of thing on a reality show: real. Which is why he shows up every Friday night at the Hamptons house muttering to anyone in his vicinity about how he hasn’t made his quota for the week yet and he’ll probably have to work on Saturday morning for a while. In a given episode of this season of Summer House, Carl will mention the word “quota” anywhere from 5 to 15 times. And it’s never good news. This, by the way, is what having a job while filming a TV show about your summer weekends would look like. It’s not fun. It’s not Instagrammable. It’s boring your friends about your missed quotas and banging out emails on your laptop while your hungover roommates sleep. It looks SUPER not fun. There’s a reason Bravo makes shows about people with insane jobs like “chef on a yacht” and “owner of a diet margarita company.” Because real, mundane jobs? Are the WORST. Godspeed, dear Carl. Here’s hoping you make one quota before the reunion, or else Andy Cohen (who has the fakest job of all!) will never let you hear the end of it.

    TOPICS: Summer House, Bravo