Welcome to Winter House, Good Vibe Tribe! Simply put, it’s like Summer House, but with snow! More specifically, it’s the Bravo crossover of our dreams, bringing together some of our beloved Hamptons crew for a sixteen-day vacation in snowy Vermont. Throw in a couple of Charleston Charmers and a handful of brand new faces and you know it’s going to be a blast.
First thing’s first, as the cast trickles into the town of Stowe, they quickly realize that Vermont is most definitely not the Hamptons. The mountain town charm has Paige DeSorbo ready to start making applesauce and homeschooling her non-existent brood of children. Except that she’s coming into the Winter House single and string-free, no longer weighed down by her ex-boyfriend or bestie Hannah Berner. Instead, she’s got Ciara Miller as her partner in crime, and even just based on the car ride alone, I’m already here for this dynamic duo.
There’s one thing that is the same as the Hamptons, though. And that’s the race to the house to call dibs on the best room. But while Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula try to beat the girls to the cabin, they don’t know that Craig Conover and Austen Kroll are already there. Apparently the travel time from Charleston is faster than from Manhattan? I’m personally more than a little thrilled to see this duo back on my screen — especially precious Craigy — particularly considering that Season 7 of Southern Charm finished airing last February and didn’t start filming the upcoming season until a few weeks ago.
In the midst of the flurry of introductions, three of the newbies arrive individually. We’ve got self-described “introvert” Gabrielle Kniery, whose Bravo bio declares that she’s recently published a book of poetry in between modeling jobs and launching a new line of salsas and marinades during COVID. Then there’s pretty boy Jason Cameron, a fellow model who juggles working with a youth empowerment nonprofit in his spare time. And finally, Andrea Denver, an Italian fashion model and shameless flirt who comes to the show with 1.2 million Instagram followers and credits in music videos by Taylor Swift (“Blank Space”) and Jennifer Lopez (“I Luh You Papi”). Oh, and there are rumors floating around online that he once dated Madonna.
The problem for all these models is that they get to the house and they…don’t know anyone. That’s because they’re all connected through Julia McGuire, Paige‘s childhood friend and former modeling pal (that Limited Too! advert!) who is nowhere to be found because she missed her flight. Frankly, I’m a little surprised casting relied so heavily on a completely unknown face to introduce every single new cast member. Especially when all the housemates we know and love surely have other friends in their social circles in New York to pull from. (And also me. I volunteer to join the Summer House any time, guys.) I guess it worked relatively well back in Season 3 with Paige, Hannah and Jordan Verroi, so maybe they’re trying to replicate that moment?
Also missing from the action is Lindsay Hubbard, whom we learn via a FaceTime with Austen will not be arriving for a few more days. Because unlike some of her influencer roomies and all these new models running around the house, she has a job. As a publicist. (Seriously though, so many models.) Of the Bravolebrities we know and love, Luke Gulbranson is the last to arrive. Our resident Minnesota boy is in his element here. He’s ready to play hockey and go snowboarding and tap some maple trees. It also looks like the tensions from last summer have healed between him and the rest of the cast — namely Ciara. So that’s great news.
While everyone else is ready to have fun, the first argument of the season kicks off over who gets the primary bedroom. As always, Kyle thinks it should automatically go to himself and Amanda as the house’s resident couple. Like it always does every summer. But Paige is standing her ground and also demands she and Ciara get to share the room. And would you look at that? Paige actually comes out on top. Considering she spent the last summer in quarantine relegated to the basement and almost always gets last pick for rooms, I don’t really see anything wrong with her and Ciara getting the main bedroom for two and a half weeks. Kyle, on the other hand, definitely does, and pitches into a frat boy tantrum as everyone else scrambles to claim a room. And just like that, he and Amanda get practically last pick.
To make a point, Kyle then spends the rest of the evening pouting and getting blackout wasted at dinner. Meanwhile, everyone else gets to know each other and argues over whether they’d rather give up cheese or oral sex. (Yes, there’s an agreed-upon correct answer here.) But all I can think about during this conversation is whether this is the moment Paige and Craig actually secretly fell in love. Because in case you missed it, they’re officially dating! And I don’t think there’s ever been a Bravo power couple I’ve been more happy about. So while she flirts with Andrea and he FaceTimes his (now ex-)girlfriend Natalie, we can all spend the next five episodes watching for signs of blossoming romance between our favorite Southern pillow king and Italian fashionista…
The next morning, it’s time to get the vacation properly started! So while Kyle, Austen, Craig, and Luke hit the slopes for their first day of snowboarding, everyone else stays back at the house for a game of truth or dare. It’s always a good ice breaker, especially with so many new people joining the group, though things take a turn when Andrea compares Paige to Regina George from Mean Girls. But like, who said being Regina George was such a bad thing? Either way, Paige can’t even concentrate on what he’s saying because she’s so smitten by his accent. And his charm. And his good looks. And the fact that he brought her and Ciara (which he pronounces “chi-ahda,” by the way) coffee in bed that very morning.
Once the party moves outside to the snow, Julia finally shows up. And is promptly greeted by an empty house. For some reason, I find it hilarious this girl missed her flight on the very first day of filming. Her career as a Bravolebrity is off to an awfully good start, right? She seems laid back and self-deprecating (especially for yet another model). I’d say any friend of Paige‘s is a friend of the show’s, but we all saw how that worked out last summer, didn’t we? So for now, I’m reserving judgement, but simply can’t get over how much she’s serving serious Wirkus Circus energy in her confessionals. Anyone else?
The first official party of the trip is a spring break party. So while everyone else gets dressed up, Austen and Jason are tasked with a run to the grocery store and liquor store. And during check-out, BAM! It happens. Austen is confronted with screaming tabloid headlines about Madison LeCroy‘s alleged DM relationship with a certain famous baseball player. (Which may or may not have allegedly had something to do with him breaking off his engagement to a certain A-list Super Bowl performer…) Naturally, this sends Austen into a spiral, and all I can think is god help us if this Madison drama gets dragged into every episode this season. Also, thank you Jason for taking the poor boy’s phone away.
Back at the house, the spring break party is an epic, drunken success. Alcohol is flowing. Craig is wearing neon light-up bunny ears. And vibes are already starting to happen between certain housemates. Specifically Paige and Andrea. And Austen and Ciara. The latter of which is not a coupling I’d ever see coming. But hey, if it helps all of us not have to hear about Madison all season, I say great. Of course, the party lasts into the wee hours of the night (much like when I’m writing this recap), until the only housemates left in the hot tub are our flirty foursome. So what else is there to do but make out? Andrea makes his move on Paige and Austen follows suit with some coaxing from Ciara. And just when the hot tub is starting to resemble some kind of Cinemax orgy, Kyle wanders in looking for the vodka. Needless to say, he’s both jealous and impressed. And what a better way to kick off the show than a massive hot tub makeout session?
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PREMIERE? SHOULD PAIGE AND CIARA HAVE GOTTEN THE MAIN BEDROOM OVER KYLE AND AMANDA? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE NEWBIES? WHO ARE YOU SHIPPING MORE: PAIGE AND ANDREA OR AUSTEN AND CIARA?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]