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Kyle Cooke, 'Summer House' Season 7
SUMMER HOUSE -- Episode 706 -- Pictured: Kyle Cooke -- (Photo by: Sean Zanni/Bravo)
Courtesy of Sean Zanni/Bravo

Much like Kyle Cooke after a day-long pool party, it’s time to put Bravo’s Summer House to bed.

Summer House has always followed a simple formula: Throw as many warm-weathered parties as possible to fuel endless messy hook-ups and incite group conflict. But with several of the original series’ castmates venturing further into adulthood (Kyle reached 40 earlier this season), they’ve outgrown the primary premise. And yet the show still attempts to concoct a season-long Spring Break trip, despite the cast members’ inability to deliver.

The series needs to end before it inevitably transitions from mega-hit to failing dud in its late seasons, like its sisters The Real Housewives of Orange County and The Real Housewives of New York City. Otherwise, it will be usurped by the upcoming spin-off, Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard.

But how did we get here?

Rather than embracing its characters in full — many of whom have thriving businesses and interests that extend beyond floatie pool parties — and shifting the focus of the show, Bravo added new faces Samantha, Gabby and Chris this season, in hopes of bringing us back to its wild origins. But you can’t use just anyone to fill the void left by a sober Carl Radke. The early seasons were laden with so much debauchery that even a live-in RA at the nation’s most rambunctious college dorm would’ve been floored, and a couple of new, young party people can’t replicate that.

After seven seasons, there’s a disconnect between the cast as people and as characters. Kyle has shown zero evolution on-screen and remains the rambling drunk fool he’s been since Season 1. He’s always the last one to go to bed, talking to himself in the kitchen and scavenging for late-night snacks. Though in his real life, which is only talked about on-screen, but hardly ever shown, he and his wife, Amanda, are trying to have children. It’s difficult to reckon with understanding the two versions of Kyle when only one makes sense to us.

We crave growth from our favorite reality stars; that’s the point of watching unscripted TV! But this series hinders effective character evolution because its format can only produce one-dimensional people. We only get to know the weekend versions of each person, which isn’t conducive to following the real changes that a person undergoes from one year to the next. (Those who have evolved off-screen, like Carl, get less time in front of the camera.)

And while there’s nothing wrong with Kyle partying at 40 the same way he did at 34, there’s something a little unsettling about watching it play on a loop for six years. Just like when grown-ups get too drunk from your parents’ holiday punch at Christmas, it feels like we’re witnessing something that isn’t supposed to be seen in broad daylight. We’re witnessing an adult lose self-control again and again, and that feels, well, sad.

Yes, we love the cast members, so Bravo could keep Summer House afloat for a few more seasons. But isn’t it best to quit while we’re (mostly) ahead, before it all gets too humdrum? We can’t say whether Martha’s Vineyard will be a solid replacement, but we do have hope! And, if all else fails, we’re rooting for a Paige/Craig spin-off!

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