They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right? If that's true, then Housewives across the Bravoverse should be feeling very flattered right about now. Back in August, Hulu premiered the second season of its Hotwives series, a blatantly tongue-in-cheek parody of our favorite 'Wives. Starring Casey Wilson (who will forever be Penny Hartz in my mind. RIP Happy Endings...), Angela Kinsey and a swarm of other female comedians, the comedy attempts to lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) send up all things Housewives.
I have to be honest. I watched the first season, The Hotwives of Orlando, and I absolutely hated it. Which was sad to say because I thought it had the perfect mix of things I loved, and how could Casey Wilson possibly go wrong? However, I found the whole operation largely unfunny. The characters swung wildly between trying to be specific 'Wives and general archetypes. And some of the cast members they chose to parody didn't seem like the most logical choices out of the more than 75 current and former 'Wives we've met in the history of the franchise. I mean, sure, we loved watching Gretchen in the OC but does she really have strong enough of a personality to be turned into an LOL-worthy caricature for seven episodes? (The answer to that was no.) My biggest issue, however, was the comedy's lampooning of Kim Richards through Kristen Schaal's "Drug Addled Former Child Star" Amanda Simmons. After watching Kim fight for her life over the course of five seasons, I found the show making fun of her long struggle with addiction both reckless and offensive.
However, after binging on the second season over the course of a couple days, I can say it's a major improvement. Moving the show from the too-generic Orlando to Las Vegas was the smartest thing it could've possibly done. Not only is Sin City a location full of comedy gold, many fans have wondered why it doesn't have its own Housewives franchise. From a casino-themed house party to a cast trip to New York...Hotel and Casino, the show was full of moments ripe for making fun of the city's unique culture.
This season's Hotwives were largely an upgrade as well. Best was Andrea Savage's Ivanka, a blonde, Dutch model whose similarities with Yolanda Foster ended at the accent. Vapid and vain, Ivanka's running gag was continually pointing out how much more attractive and perfect she was than her fellow Hotwives. She's a far cry from the much-adored Yo, who was voted Miss Congeniality in this year's Real Housewives Awards. Erinn Hayes' Callie Silversan, a clear send-up to Carlton Gebbia sans the British accent and love of swearing, was equally hilarious. Add in the pair's Teresa Giudice/Melissa Gorga-esque rivalry over Ivanka's bubble artist husband and I found myself laughing out loud at them in nearly every episode. As the show's only African-American cast member and sole holdover from the year before, Tymberlee Hill's Phe Phe was tasked with portraying a mashup of the entire Atlanta cast, though mostly came across as a NeNe/Phaedra hybrid with a bit of Shereè mixed in. Yes her fashion-less fashion show and grifter husband Adonis were both worthy of a solid chuckle, but I'm still wondering why we didn't get anything Kenya Moore-related from her character.
Less successful were Casey Wilson's knuckle-headed Jenfer, Dannah Phirman's Leona and Angela Kinsey's First Lady. Heavily pregnant at the time of filming, Wilson's character was supposedly a parody of Kim Zolciak, but completely missed the mark. Homegirl may have been missing a fingertip (hi Aviva) but she didn't even have a wig and not once did she preach anything close to "ask, believe, receive." Meanwhile, Leona was a clear imitation of Caroline Manzo, but her attempt at the matriarch schtick was missing the fiery bulldog part of Caroline's personality. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Kinsey actually admitted she doesn't even watch the Housewives, so what could've been a hilarious satire of Countess Luann (I think that's what they were going for) didn't even have an accurate point of reference. All three characters were obvious misses that could've been much funnier.
Other character highlights included Danielle Schneider's delightfully damaged Denise, who I found to be more of an archetype than any specifically parodied Bravolebrity, Keegan-Michael Key's Ace, a deliberate caricature of self-proclaimed Housewife Hunter Slade Smiley and the aforementioned Adonis, played by LaMonica Garrett as a replica of Apollo Nida.
The new season is introduced by Phe Phe's relocation to Las Vegas, leaving behind gator-infested Orlando for the land of neon lights and slot machines. Much of the seven episodes revolved around a rivalry between Jenfer and First Lady for the affections of Ace. See, the two used to be BFFs until the fame-hungry Ace cheated on First Lady with Jenfer and she ended up pregnant. Naively, First Lady doesn't seem to understand the basics behind procreation, and falls for Jenfer's lie that she's only a few weeks along rather than you know, nine months. Leona spends the season attempting to play peacemaker between the feuding pair, but mostly ends up getting in the middle of the drama to stir the pot. Meanwhile, Ivanka and Callie spend most of their screen time at each other's throats and all poor Denise wants is to fit in.
Several iconic Housewives staples are parodied during the season including charity events, cast vacations and the 'Wives penchant for throwing shade (literally). Specific moments from the franchise's history get lampooned as well: Chairgate in the OC, She by Shereè's fashion show with no fashion (how dreadful!) and Sonja Morgan's caburlesque routine. Overall, I found The Hotwives of Las Vegas generally amusing with moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. For any knowledgeable Housewives superfan, the show could be a good time-filler while we wait for the new seasons of Atlanta and Beverly Hills to start. Check the series out exclusively on Hulu!