Ah, the drink toss — a reality-TV staple done just as many ways as Waffle House does hash browns. On Bravo alone, we’ve seen the maneuver six ways to Tuesday. There’s Tamra Judge gorgeously dousing Jeana Keough with a nice glass of red. During The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’s iconic Amsterdam trip, Lisa Rinna infamously shattered a glass toward but not on Kim Richards (bring her back). During a Vanderpump Rules outing, Tom Schwartz coated then-girlfriend (later wife, now ex) Katie Maloney in tequila (nearly the same way he ruined Stassi’s birthday the season prior). Hell, just two weeks ago, we watched Mia “I’m Bad at This” Thornton go sideways with her cocktail all over Dr. Wendy during The Real Housewives of Potomac’s cast trip to Miami Beach (not South Beach). There is, we’re trying to say, historical precedent here — this is a place for legends, okay?
That brings us to Mikel’s Big Moment on this week’s Southern Hospitality, which is heavily foregrounded in the season’s trailer. As noted in last week’s recap, Mikel has been put through it this season: punished by Leva for double-crossing Republic, by his co-workers and castmates for the same crime (which, I’m sorry, get a life), and by Bravo by being put on this program without a stable ally. Sorry, I’m not counting Maddi, who’s too busy trying to convince viewers that Republic is her club, even though she’s collecting the same minimum wage plus tips as the rest of the servers. I am not counting Grace Lilly, a.k.a. Juhlilly — a Bachelor contestant eliminated before the first rose ceremony who only went on the show to hawk gummy vitamins on TikTok months later.
At this week’s Alice in Wonderland–themed tea party (Juhlilly’s birthday luncheon) held next to a human-size chess board, Mikel’s in the hot seat again. The embers start burning early in the episode, when Leva tasks Mikel with VIP hosting that night in place of Joe Bradley, who tells us he has thrown his back out by working out too hard to impress a group of girls. We all know it’s certainly not from carrying the weight of this show, so that tracks! There’s some kerfuffle about Mikel holding a light-up sign a bachelor party requested that reads “Bitch Made,” which TJ takes as a slight, but we’re not going to spend time on that, because the whole drama is as inane as the sign itself.
Before the party, Mia, a person too well adjusted for reality TV, meets up for a meal with her very adorable Italian father. In the process, we get the joy of seeing stunning photos of her beauty-queen mother. It makes sense, considering Mia is maybe the most naturally gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen on Bravo! (Other than Kiki from The Real Housewives of Miami.) She tells her dad that she’s dating a hot chef named Owen and making out with Joe Bradley on the side. “All I do is crunch numbers and do Excel,” she says of her day job. It sounds like she’s doing a lot more than that, and I love it!
Later, we’re in prep mode with Juhlilly and Emmy at the lash-tint salon. I’d love to be shocked and find out that Juhlilly is embarrassed by how she’s coming across on-camera, but if the way she’s coming across on-camera says anything, I bet she’s probably thrilled. Emmy, meanwhile, is digging into the way women in the hospitality industry feel pressured to look, admitting (as does Juhlilly) that she has battled body dysmorphia in the recent past. More conversations like this, please, and less Juhlilly — a sentient pair of LuLaRoe leggings — talking in hashtags and plastering her face on cocktail napkins.
Finally: the party. Leva, who was “sitting in a place of no” about coming (I’m stealing that), comes and promptly leaves (stealing that too). Things get spicy when TJ tells the group that some Republic patrons recently came in claiming to be “friends of Mikel,” demanding VIP wristbands and comped drinks in the process. The Drink Incident follows an innocuous (LOL) game of “guess who said that quote” that ends in chaos. If you’ve ever turned on your television, to any channel, at any time, you know a game played between friends and enemies will end in a thrown drink at best or a punch at worst. That’s just Newton’s Fourth Law of Motion (I was an English major, so don’t ask me to elaborate).
“They don’t deserve to work at Republic,” Joe Bradley reads from a piece of paper, igniting the shitstorm. “Sounds like a thirsty-bitch quote,” Mikel says (correctly), promptly (correctly) identifying TJ as the speaker of said quote. “Trash,” TJ says to the wind, turning away from Mikel, who scooches down the table to try to identify the root of their conflict before Joe Bradley — sitting to TJ’s left — chimes in, “Good luck working tonight, buddy.”
You know the rest: A drink is hurled, as is a retort (“Don’t fucking play me, bitch!”), and Mikel storms off the scene with a “To Be Continued” flashing across the screen, even though I don’t think there’s anything to be continued here. I just want to know why TJ hates Mikel so much. It can’t just be the “he worked at another club’s event” party line. If you’re my co-worker and you go work for a competitor for a night, I wish you truly all the best, because Lord knows my mother didn’t raise a snitch.
A not-insignificant part of me wishes Bravo had let Leva introduce her Southern Hospitality cast of reality-TV wannabes and sentient ring lights during a main episode of Southern Charm. We all know there’s precedent there. We remember how Lisa Vanderpump backdoored us right from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills into the Vanderpump Rules pilot with an intense Brandi Glanville vs. Scheana Shay confrontation at one of the former housewives’ “restaurants.”
Because right now, the problem with Southern Hospitality is that it’s giving me the cold shoulder. Bravo, please hear me: I’m ready and willing to fall in love with these folks. I just need you to give me an entrance ramp. Give me Miami girl. Give me an unhinged vaping medium. Give me Kathryn Dennis in a fur coat running down a dock after Thomas Ravenel. (Frankly, give me Kathryn Dennis or give me death!) Give me something original. Mikel throwing a drink is a start, sure, but it’s tired. Without a unique twist, it, like the rest of Southern Hospitality thus far, feels like reheated leftovers.
• Southern Hospitality is really making me miss my Charm-ers, who — if Instagram chatter is to be believed (it is) — don’t start filming until January. I’m crying!
• I will admit that Southern Hospitality is actually making me want to visit Republic, and I am simply not a club person, so job well done! Vulture, if you’re interested … I’ll fly Spirit. I’m easy.
• Mikel is in nearly every single scene this week. That, my friends, is Main-Character Energy.
• Emmy reports that she and Will had sex five times in a day — but only because it took a very hungover Will “five times to finish.” Later, at the tea party, it’s revealed that Will has a huge dick. I have to wonder how the happy couple is feeling about their edit!
• We spend some time getting to know VIP server Lucía Peña, her (very handsome) partner, and their adorable toddler. The problem is that they barely showed us Lucía in the first two episodes, so it’s asking a lot of viewers to both recognize her and care about this scene. I want to care! But I need my storytelling to be a little bit tighter and more cohesive! Don’t bury your stars and exhume them later at random!
• Next week: Maddi and her boyfriend have sex in the back of an RV as the gang heads to a NASCAR race. Yippee!