• return to form


    Close up shot of Tom Sandoval, a dark-haired man with a mustache, with his hands clasped in front of his face, with greenery behind his shoulders. A closed caption on the lower half of the image reads: "I wanted to play pickleball. It had been seven months."

    Which rates a higher level of difficulty: keeping a beloved franchise alive or starting one? This inspired by the recent season premiere of Vanderpump Rules, which is already being hailed as a glorious return to form. On this I would have to agree and am further curious about what we mean, what we see and feel, more specifically to render such a judgement. It is easy to spot when Vanderpump had gone off, or at least speculate why: the show reached that critical self-reflexive moment in reality television, the franchise having reached a level of popularity that allowed it to have thoughts about itself, akin to craning one’s neck in the studio mirrors to see if one’s extension is suitably impressive. This is far from unique to VPR—Jersey Shore, which has been on my mind of late (inexplicably could not get the theme song out of my head this weekend), reached a zenith that threatened the integrity of its very premise; the cast had to escape to Italy to get over themselves. Such danger lurks behind any reality ensemble, though the Bravo shows seem uniquely vulnerable (or maybe they simply represent greatest portion of my reality tv viewing) for thriving off the sociality of its casts.