Bravo’s newest spinoff of Summer House is an intriguing addition to the network that has proven itself to be a reality-TV juggernaut. Viewership has remained steady as the season rolls out, and critics have lauded the show for bringing diversity to a network that has notoriously struggled to represent non-white subjects. Focusing on a group of Black professionals, this Summer House is set in historic Martha’s Vineyard and proudly represents the many nuances of being young and Black with the world at your fingertips in a way our ancestors could only dream.
Before I get too sentimental and kumbaya (bringing up the ancestors in the first paragraph has me sounding like Jasmine), it’s important to remember that Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard still lives in the Bravo universe, so drama is the main priority. Five episodes in, SH:MV follows in the footsteps of its predecessor. No matter the race, throwing a group of attractive, camera-hungry young people in a house filled with alcohol is not going to turn into a convention about civil rights. There’s been bountiful conflict, more than enough to balance some of the poignant conversations about race, creating an authentic portrayal of modern Blackness.
Now, on night seven of the trip, Bria, the house’s resident dog mom, is in a heated argument with Silas, the alpha-male half of the couple who organized the trip. Bria’s boyfriend, Simon, is on his way from Germany to join his girlfriend for the second half of the stay, but Silas and his wife, Jasmine, don’t feel comfortable with Simon staying for the entire final week, even though they agreed to the stay previously. The argument carried over from the last episode, beginning with a conversation in the car that left Bria with a bad taste in her mouth. While we were only privy to a portion of the conversation, Bria claimed Silas said something insinuating that he’s against Black women dating outside of their race. He backpedals, saying he meant he wants Black women to be married “period.”
Bria and Silas go back and forth for a while, with Bria calling Silas controlling and Silas calling Bria manipulative. The house eventually comes to a consensus about Simon; after a democratic vote — very fitting as everyone is dressed in their Greek togas — the group warily decides that significant others are allowed to stay for a maximum of three days. The vote is shaky at best (Amir’s face looked as if he didn’t even know what he was being asked) since no one outside of Jasmine and Silas really cares that much, but they’d rather play along to end the drama than let Silas and Bria continue to yell at each other. Heated from the confrontation, Bria sits amid the bags she had half-packed when she was threatening to leave, shoveling delicious-looking mac and cheese into her mouth, hair awry, ranting to Simon over the phone about not being able to “bust a nut.” If this scene alone doesn’t scream “Black Summer House,” I’m not sure what would.
The night concludes with one of the newbies, Summer, getting flirty in the hot tub and making it known that she’s very much single, providing a better version of the sexual energy that Shanice was laying on a little too thick during her stay at the house. At first, Summer has her eyes set on Amir, but as the episode progresses, she shifts her sights to Alex. The two connect over their spirituality and affinity for meditation, then, during a spicy game of truth or dare during Summer’s Jamaican dinner, they share an innocent kiss. In that same game, Amir continues to chip away at Jordan and dutifully gives her a striptease (that she receives while contorted into an awkward ball on the couch, looking terrified).
Amir’s striptease does absolutely nothing to move the needle with Jordan, except perhaps sending him back a few notches, but she’s still open to the idea of reintroducing sex into her life. Before the Jamaican dinner, Jordan takes the gworls (yes, this includes Preston) out for brunch to celebrate her one-year anniversary of celibacy. Over mimosas, Jordan and Summer share more about their past dating histories and how their last situations led them to periods of self-discovery. Now they’re both single as hell and thriving, but only one is interested in someone in the house. For some reason, this truly bothers Jasmine, who pulls Jordan aside during a shopping trip to check in on her friend.
Jasmine and Silas have a strange obsession with marriage and gender roles, which we’ve seen through his controlling nature and his impassioned comments about wanting Black women to marry. As Jordan said, with Jasmine, this fixation on the nuclear family and settling down comes out as a projection onto others. This has turned Jasmine into a bit of a nag. She’s constantly trying to force romantic/sexual interactions while also making vague statements about not knowing how to act now that she’s married — it’s apparent that she’s struggling with her new status in life as a wife.
During her conversation with Jasmine, Jordan says anything more than friendship with Amir is “a dub.” Jasmine doesn’t think this answer is sufficient and tries to say that her concern is about her desire for Jordan to have a life partner, saying it breaks her heart that Jordan doesn’t have one. Jordan gathers Jasmine quickly, questioning why Jasmine’s stuck on her relationship status and constantly insinuating that she isn’t whole or complete without a life partner. Once Jasmine debriefs back at the house with Silas and Summer, her version of events shows that she still doesn’t understand how her fixation on being “the married one” stems more from herself than a judgment from anyone else.
For now, Jordan and Jasmine table their uncomfortable conversation because the night’s main event is far more interesting: Simon, the mysterious white man from Germany, has finally touched down on Martha’s Vineyard. He pulls up in a red sports car, ready to shower Bria with love and treat the house to an elegant dinner, remaining the bigger person despite knowing the shit-talking that lead up to his arrival. The dinner is extremely glamorous, with Simon and Bria gifting all of the roomies $800 watches and bracelets, plus a special wedding present for Jasmine and Silas in the form of $12,000 his-and-hers Versace watches. The extravagance basically allows Simon to buy his way into an extended stay on the trip, because who can kick someone out who just gave them such a wonderful gift?
Bria, Silas, and Jasmine make up during the dinner and share a group hug, but the elation from the gifts is short lived. Jasmine and her hat have the beginnings of what may be an emotional outburst when the conversation once again swings back to relationships and partnerships. Silas starts by asking Simon about his intentions with Bria but then begins to go on a tangent about unions in general. Something in his speech triggers Jasmine, who interrupts and says there’s something “isolating” about being in a partnership while existing in a large friend group. She says that while Silas sees it as a strength, she’s struggling. Granted, I’ve never been married, but I’m struggling to understand who is making her feel isolated other than herself and maybe her husband, who disapproves of who she was when she was single. Regardless, the tears start flowing, and the house’s self-appointed camp counselor might be beginning to break.
• Welcome to the Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard recaps! One disclaimer: Though I love this spinoff and I’m a huge Bravo fan, I do not watch the other Summer House shows. All I know are the clips I see online, usually featuring people in messy beds or drunk, and episodes I’ve seen in passing, so forgive me if I miss something that speaks to the Summer House format. I have a hard time with Caucasian drama outside of Housewives (I could barely get through the backdoor pilot that was a Vanderpump Rules crossover episode), but this is right up my alley!
• Jasmine and Silas’s sex scenes are disturbing. I actually muted my television because it was so gross and honestly rude to the rest of the house — part of me believes they were putting it on for the cameras or that Jasmine is just performative to stroke Silas’s ego, hence why he was frustrated when she was quiet.
• This show is so wonderfully cast. I love the addition of Jason and Summer; their personalities meshed seamlessly, unlike Phil. I already know Shanice’s return will be chaotic, and I’m fascinated to see if Nick’s “girlfriend” will really show up.