After watching the season premiere of Summer House, which kicks off its sixth season tonight, three things become abundantly clear: 1) COVID is over, baby, at least when it comes to Bravo reality TV; 2) Kyle and Amanda's looooong-awaited wedding is set to dominate this season while simultaneously being the least interesting thing about the show; and 3) the Summer House television universe is the closest thing that Bravo has to the MCU.
When last we saw Summer House in May 2021, Hannah was burning her bridges all across the COVID-sequestered fifth season, alienating friends and foes, and pretty much ensuring that she could never return (and indeed she hasn't). Since then, we've had a whole other spinoff show, Winter House, that aired in the fall and introduced a handful of new faces, added a pair of Southern Charm cast members, and kicked off a bunch of new romances for the Summer House cast members. All of which is to say that if you haven't revisited this crew since Summer House left off, you're getting half the story.
The Summer House television universe now encompasses the flagship series (itself a backdoor spinoff of Vanderpump Rules, which was a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), the Winter House spinoff, the Southern Charm interlopers Austen Kroll and Craig Conover, and of course the world of social media posts and tabloid headlines that now accompany every successful reality TV show.
As a result, the Season 6 premiere has to perform a good deal of catch-up work, since it can't assume its audience watched Winter House (though they probably should have — it was cute!). For one thing, Italian heartthrob Andrea, who was a new face for Winter House, is a part of the Summer House cast for this season; he and Paige were a winter fling in Vermont, and we learn that after that show wrapped, Andrea accompanied Paige back to New York and made clear his intentions to couple up. Paige, ever the free spirit, seemingly balked at this, perhaps in part because — and here's where the tabloids come in — we know that she and the newly single Craig had also started dating.
That's not the only Winter House romantic drama that follows people back to the Hamptons. Ciara hooked up with Austen that season, and while Austen and Craig haven't joined the Summer House crew yet, they will soon, at which point Ciara and Austen will seemingly be back on. Meanwhile, gorgeous mess Lindsay started off Winter House pining for Austen before hooking up with Jason, who she is still seemingly in some kind of a relationship with as Summer House starts, although he's not part of the show this season.
It's a lot to keep track of as the season begins, so its understandable why the producers would choose to focus on the one thing that Summer House fans know is happening even if they haven't watched the show in two years: Kyle and Amanda are getting married. Yes, the season premiere superteaser kicks off with a flash forward to the Cook-Batula nuptials, paying off an engagement that began (on TV at least) in June of 2019.
Of course, said superteaser then cuts to events from the upcoming season that are meant to put the eventuality of the wedding into question, including multiple arguments and frequent references to calling the wedding off. The premiere episode itself revolves around one such fight, where Kyle stays out too late getting drunk and Amanda gets mad enough to throw his stuff out on the front lawn. If the entirety of Season 6 ends up featuring Kyle and Amanda this heavily, it's going to be a real bummer. For one thing, they're the absolute worst couple on television, and the repetition of their constant fighting — which always boils down to Kyle getting way too drunk, Amanda getting mad about it, and Kyle getting mad about Amanda getting mad — has made this the least interesting storyline on the show. There's one revelation that Amanda makes in the premiere that raises some eyebrows about just how bad things are between them, but any possible suspense over whether or not they're going to call off the wedding was killed months ago when Us Weekly published exclusive photos from said nuptials.
Fortunately, the season premiere does deliver more of the cast members we actually like. Carl Radke (who didn't take part in Winter House) is back for his sixth consecutive summer of redemption, a fact that he charmingly acknowledges ("Carl 6.0"). He's nearly six months sober, after having a real rough go of it in Season 5, and he makes it quite easy to want to believe that this is the redemption arc that will stick.
Then there is the wonder that is Lindsay Hubbard, who is never at a loss for dramatics. Lindsay ends up drunk and emotional at the group's first dinner out, taking inquiries into her and Jason's relationship the wrong way and cursing out Carl for not supporting her. It's not exactly a coherent set of behaviors, but a revelation she makes to Carl near the end of the episode makes all the puzzle pieces fit and reminds us that while Lindsay may be messy, she's also earned the audience's empathy by consistently putting herself out there as someone who at the end of the day just wants a good man, a good relationship, and a good life.
In addition to Andrea hopping over from the Winter House cast, there are two brand new cast members: Mya is a friend of Paige's who recently ended a five-year engagement (yes, Amanda does immediately chime in that it makes her own three-year engagement seem not that long), while Alex is a personal trainer who shows up in a muscle shirt, eats a lot of protein as a personality, and is unfortunately very hot.
You'll notice that we've made multiple references to the Summer House cast going out. That's because, yes, we're in the Hot Vax Summer of 2021, and after last season's quarantined house-arrest season, the cast is positively vibrating to get out partying again. The only ones more eager to forget about the realities of COVID than the Summer House cast are are the folks at Bravo, who remain consistent in their wish to de-emphasize the pandemic as much as humanly possible. So don't expect last summer's onset of the Delta variant to factor much into the rest of the season. So it goes.
For now, you can hang your hat on the hope that Paige is going to end up romancing her hit Italian beau and the Southern charmer; that Austen will certainly make a damn mess of his romantic intentions; that Carl will probably hook up with someone he shouldn't; and that Lindsay is determined to have a Hot Hubbard Summer. The more season 6 of Summer House can lean into its own ever-expanding universe — things look promisingly juicy once Craig and Austen show up — the more exciting it's going to be. Kyle and Amanda's will-they-or-won't-they engagement (they will; they did) is no fun, and as someone once drunkenly declared, Summer should be fun.
Summer House airs on Bravo Monday nights at 9:00 PM ET and streams on Peacock..
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Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.