The gods of South Beach, mourning the loss of Fabian Basabe (remember him?) due to a sad case of irrelevance, decided the island needed a new, improved, self-obsessed, sexually ambiguous rich boy. The skies turned a troubling shade of gray, and the Atlantic Ocean convulsed and spat out a weird substance of hair gel, tanning oil, and self-satisfaction onto the sand, much like a regrettable amount of spooge on your stomach, but instead of wiping it up, it was allowed to crust over and form into the being we now call Ariel Stein.
Stein is a fashion show producer who likes guys but isn't "gay" -- mainly, we're thinking, because if he can't find a hot enough male to feed his ego, he'll gladly settle for some girl. Stein is cast in the most loathsome light. The previews lead us to believe much of his drama is saved for the latter episodes, but in the second show, he gets into a cat fight with cast mate Michael over whether Kim Kardashian is really his friend or merely an acquaintance. He tells Michael to Google "Kim Kardashian Ariel Stein," as if that is the new barometer of friendship. We did. Three New Times pages come up on the first page of results, which should be good traffic for us. Thanks, Ariel.
George French is a 30-something white straight guy who works in the mortgage business or something like that. He has a Britto print hanging over his couch; that should tell you a lot about him. Like all 30-something white guys who work in the mortgage business or something like that, the most interesting thing about him is the women in his life.
George's current girlfriend, Lina, is basically every crazy, hot foreign girlfriend -- the kind who probably fled her country and left some sort of deep, dark secret in her past. She wins us over when she jokes that George has slept with half of Hialeah, but it's pretty much all downhill from there. She's neurotic and self-centered, likes to drink wine, has a sexy alter ego creatively known as "Lina 2," and gets caught up in a major lie in the first two episodes.
Then there is Sorah Diaha, George's ex-wife. Unlike Lina, she's a top-billed cast member. The Brazilian babe ditched George after he cheated on her, but the two still live in the same building. But she has a new boyfriend -- Gorgonzola, I believe his name is. Compared to the rest of her cast mates, she seems stable and mature.
Here is the question for Michael Cohen: Did you make all of that money in celebrity "journalism," or do you have some sort of family inheritance? Because if you can afford that kind of lifestyle (fashionable apartment, Mercedes SUV, private shopping at the Webster) on checks from InTouch, I am clearly in the wrong field. That being said, Michael basically has the emotional problems of a 15-year-old girl. "OMG, do you think my trainer is flirting with me?" "Like, I need someone who's beautiful on the inside and the outside." To underscore all of this, the second episode features his birthday party at the Sagamore. The party planning doesn't quite sink to a My Super Sweet 16 level, but we're talking about a 36-year-old man. At the end of the day, though, we like Michael. Then again, considering his main rival is Ariel, we really have no choice.
Hardy Hill and Katrina Campins have both been through the reality-show ringer before, on Big Brother 2 and the first season of The Apprentice, respectively. Their role was basically eye candy (Hardy once starred in a softcore porn called Summer Desire, and Katrina did a spread for Maxim and had a nip slip on some runway we weren't aware of until we Google Image-searched her. It dominates the first page of results).
Katrina survived the woman who basically invented the manipulative, reality-show mega-bitch: Omarosa (Lina is clearly a descendent). Hardy, meanwhile, dealt with and eventually lost to Will Kirby, a Miami resident and pseudo-Machiavellian mensch with a penchant for on-air full-body shaving, who laid the groundwork for all self-promoting reality-show douchebags that came after him. Basically, he was Spencer Pratt before the world could even conceive of such a thing as Spencer Pratt.
Nothing has really changed here. They're still overshadowed, but marginally more interesting than their first go-'round. Katrina is going through the most mature (read: most boring) divorce ever caught on reality-show cameras. Meanwhile, Hardy's long-term girlfriend,
Fifibelle Peaches Muffy Trixia, wants a baby, but Hardy's job as a nightlife host gets in the way. Blah, blah, blah, whatever.
Finally, there is Maria Lankina. She's a bisexual single mom and photographer from Russia. She sends her daughter off to boarding school in the second episode, and prances around in a thong in the first. That should make us hate her, but we don't -- not yet anyway. Much like we should hate this show, but don't -- not yet anyway.