Hulu’s ‘Vanderpump Villa’ Sets Itself Apart from the Reality Slog

When “Vanderpump Rules” first premiered on Bravo in 2013, the premise was simple: a selected cast of chaos-makers from Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant staff at SUR navigated Los Angeles in their twenties. While the base of the series pulled from past reality television renegades like “The Hills,” it proved to be an entirely different ballgame due to the unabashed narcissism and web of relationships present in the cast.

The majority were aspiring actors, living and partying in an era before social media as we know it today had taken off. They spent their days calling out sick to take trips to Vegas, only to have to sit down in a staff meeting the next morning. However, around Season 9 of “Vanderpump Rules,” popularity dwindled. It raised questions about how long the current crew could continue with the same storylines, give or take a Scandoval.

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As the cast grew older and richer, the disconnect in the eyes of the viewers did too. They slowly stopped clocking in for their shifts. Enter Hulu’s “Vanderpump Villa,which premieres on Hulu April 1. Unlike Bravo’s recent endeavor to showcase parenthood on “The Valley,” Lisa Vanderpump smartly chose to make a new series that taps back into the heart of what originally drew audiences into her first namesake show. She is once again serving as the matriarch figure for the staff who join her at a luxurious French property dubbed “Château Rosabelle.” 

There, they will help host wealthier guests as part of the pop-up experience, incorporating a “Below Deck” structure. Not only do the employees work hard, but, would you believe it, they also play hard — bringing drama to both aspects that viewers will love. It also has some elements of competition, reminiscent of “Hell’s Kitchen,” as Vanderpump will judge the crew over “whether this is the team to make her ‘pop up’ experience a permanent reality and add to her ever-growing empire.” Considering she has not made a competition-style show before, it serves as exciting new territory for her.

Vanderpump Villa -- “Love, Death, and Beyond” - Episode 108 -- The Chateau welcomes a guest of honor who wants to celebrate her 30’s and say goodbye to her tumultuous 20’s by having a funeral service. Meanwhile, Hannah tries to navigate some of her own past insecurities with relationships, and Marciano. Grace Cottrell, Caroline Byl, and Anthony Bar, shown. (Photo by: Gilles Mingasson /Hulu)
‘Vanderpump Villa’HULU

Compared to the “Vanderpump Rules” crew that was already employed at SUR, Vanderpump instead handpicked employees from across the country for this series. Although most reside in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, two cities where her restaurants have a significant presence, it sets the show apart from the audition-style casting of other reality shows on the air — including Netflix’s “Love Is Blind” and “The Circle.”

The twelve-person cast is seemingly grouped off by profession, including the chefs (Anthony Bar, Caroline Byl), the housekeepers (Grace Cottrell, Emily Kovacs), the servers (Hannah Fouch, Priscila Ferrari, Marciano Brunette), the mixologists (Andre Mitchell, Telly Hall), and the event coordinators (Stephen Alsvig, Gabriella Sanon). Finally, the crew will be looked over by the Chateau Manager, Eric Funderwhite.

In the official trailer, the “Vanderpump Villa” crew runs around the property as they try to navigate the high-stress situation and meet the classy French standards. “Listen, tomorrow, our guests are coming,” Vanderpump warns to the table of conventionally attractive staff. “Don’t go crazy tonight.”

Brunette shrugs it off with a joking “Eh” — setting him up to be the apparent bad boy of this debut season. This season, he hooks up with Fouch and makes out with one of the guests. (He also has dubbed himself a “better version” of the infamous Jax Taylor, or “Jax 2.0,” as he put it in a recent interview with E! News.)

Unlike “Vanderpump Rules” where only a few early contestants were roommates, these coworkers are all living together, prompting more mingling and heightened emotions. Even Vanderpump seems shocked by this group, proving that they are willing to push the boundaries even further to create an entertaining debut season. They aren’t bogged down by the daunting responsibilities that their older counterparts are, or even the weight from having years of intertwined history before filming, allowing viewers to cherish pure chaos from people who are just meeting.

This fresh start allows Gen Z to meet the group at the ground level of relatability, given they weren’t around to witness the origins of the “Vanderpump Rules” crew. And interestingly, instead of casting established influencers, their Instagram and social followings are modest, scattered with casual vacation photos and workout videos.

Right now, the key challenge for “Vanderpump Villa” to overcome is the streaming service selection. Not placing the series on Bravo or even the affiliated Peacock platform leaves the reality-obsessed audience that would tune in scrambling for a new subscription… if they don’t have Hulu already. Those who do leap to Hulu to watch Vanderpump’s new reality endeavor will be rewarded with tense cast fights on the job, no shortage of tears, and the crew taking full advantage of their bartending skills — raising the stakes with all the aspects that originally drew fans into “Vanderpump Rules.”

Let the games begin (again).

“Vanderpump Villa” premieres April 1 on Hulu.

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