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Spinoffs & Other Shows

Recaps, opinion pieces and analysis of Bravo TV shows including Don't Be Tardy, Manzo'd With Children, Ladies of London, Tour Group, Shahs of Sunset and Southern Charm.

A Crash Course on Sweet Home Oklahoma

Glenn Rowley

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It's one show on Bravo I never thought I would watch, but I spent all weekend binging the first eight episodes and have fallen head over heels in love with Sweet Home Oklahoma. Set in Oklahoma City, (a.k.a. Vicki Gunvalson's favorite place in the country), the new series premiered in March and follows the hilarious misadventures of three best friends, an ex-husband and one very spoiled puppy named Tubbers. Unlike anything else on Bravo, Sweet Home Oklahoma is a surprisingly light, fun watch and once I started, I couldn't get enough of the boundary-less dynamic between the three ladies at the center of the show. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough: GO WATCH IT. Before a new batch of episodes premieres July 10 on Bravo, here's a quick introduction to the most delightful ladies in the OKC:

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Jennifer Welch is the de facto ringleader of the Oklahoma blondes. A high-end interior designer and mom of two boys whom she lovingly refers to as "spawn," Jennifer has a huge affinity for pranking her girlfriends and an unwavering obsession with Tubbers, her French bulldog puppy/fraudulent emotional support animal. She's also back in a monogamous relationship with her ex-husband Josh, a manbun-sporting disbarred lawyer with a penchant for taking jokes just a little too far. During the first eight episodes, Jennifer and her sense of humor blessed us with plenty of LOL-worthy moments - from spying on Lee's blind date from the next table over to the show's only multi-episode storyline thus far involving a surprise birthday party for her dog designed for the sole purpose of irritating poor Pumps. 

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As the most quietly hilarious of the trio of besties, Lee Murphy may just be my low key favorite person on the show. Tall, blonde and nicknamed "Barbie #1" by Pumps, Lee is a divorced mother of three who often serves as Jennifer's right hand woman in lovingly "dicking over" Pumps through their endless stream of jokes, pranks and schemes. However, just because she's statuesque doesn't mean Lee is above going to Old Testament levels of "an eye for an eye" when crossed. Just ask the neighbor who chopped down a tree in her yard how much he enjoys looking at the giant middle finger-shaped topiary she planted in its place as revenge...

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Rounding out the trifecta of blonde tornadoes is Angie "Pumps" Sullivan, a character with a personality that's larger than the entire state of Oklahoma. An unapologetic helicopter mom who makes her teenage kids drink out of sippy cups so they won't spill, the lawyer is never without (usually more than one) giant fountain drink full of iced tea and Splenda and surreptitiously feeds her smoking habit by wearing a rubber glove so her kids won't smell the smoke on her. Honestly, half the fun of the show is simply watching Pumps react to the chaos and calamity that's happening around her - whether she's mixing up Siri on her iPhone with Suri Cruise and getting hopelessly lost or realizing she's the only person who got tricked into wearing a 1920s flapper costume to Tubbers' birthday party. I dare you to not laugh out loud watching Pumps do water ballet while driving a jet ski on the girls' trip to Grand Lake. And never fear, Pumps isn't always the butt of the joke. Exhibit A: the time she attached her step tracker to her dog's collar so Jennifer and Lee would think she was exercising more than them.

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The key to the show's tremendous amount of heart is that the dynamic between the three women is real, genuine and. They walk into each others' homes unannounced because knocking on the door would be unthinkable. The ladies also recognize they are fundamentally different from their ultra-conservative surroundings - one running gag that sets the show apart is the producers interviewing other native Oklahomans for an amusingly down-home perspective on the ladies' shenanigans. (For example: "We're asking people around town, do Oklahomans like to exercise?" Answer: "We have a good time together shootin' and exercisin' our Second Amendment rights...") Setting the show apart from the rest of the Bravoverse, the besties often film their confessionals in pairs, cracking each other up with their banter and witty one-liners.

I promise if you're not watching this show yet, you're seriously missing out. As mentioned above, the show's first eight episodes were so well received and such a hit that Bravo ordered another batch to add to Season 1, the first of which airs July 10 right after the Season 12 premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County. Any bets on what the OG of the OC will think of that? Until then, binge the first part of the season to get to know Jennifer, Lee, Pumps and Josh and their ride-or-die friendships in the OKC. Let me know what you think of the ladies and all things Sweet Home Oklahoma in the comments below!

Ladies of London Ssn 3/Ep 4 Recap - Tantrums and Titles

Glenn Rowley

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The madness at Mapperton continues on Ladies of London as Caroline Stanbury's feud with Sophie Stanbury and Adela King worsens. Plus, the Ladies voyage out on a fishing trip and gossip about Marissa Hermer starts spreading back in London. Read on for a full recap of all the posh drama...

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The episode picks up right where last week's "To Be Continued..." left off, with Caroline Stanbury storming out of Mapperton in the wake of her tiff with Adela King. Ever the loyal friend, Juliet Angus is the only person to go after her, despite a few of the other Ladies urging her to stay and let the queen bee throw a tantrum on her own. (Cue Juliet accusing Adela of "slaughtering" Caroline and screaming "DO I HAVE A LEASH?" before running after her bestie.) As hostess and resident lady of the manor, Julie Montagu tries to mediate the situation and calm Caroline down, but to no avail. Accompanied by Juliet and makeup artist Luke Henderson, the queen bee goes back to her hotel in tears and calls it a night. I repeat: Caroline Stanbury is shedding tears. This Mapperton weekend has officially descended into madness.

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The next morning, despite tensions remaining high, Julie forges ahead with her plan for a fishing trip off the Dorset coast with the Ladies. Caroline, however, refuses to join the group - opting instead to stay behind at the hotel and avoid any interaction with her frenemies for the day. Sophie Stanbury tries desperately to coax Caroline from her bed but at this point, all the queen bee wants is for her estranged sister-in-law to get out of her face and leave her alone. At the same time, Juliet and Adela are squaring off outside for round two, with the blogger now using words like "annihilated" to describe the Friend of the Ladies' treatment of Caroline the night before. According to Juliet, Adela's true colors are quickly being revealed and she doesn't think it's a pretty sight.

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While the rest of the Ladies set sail on their fishing trip down the coast - turns out Caroline Fleming is an accomplished, natural fisherman, because of course she is - Caroline Stanbury vents her frustrations to Luke on a walk along the beach. The queen bee describes herself as "traumatized" from the weekend and feels betrayed by both Sophie and Adela - the two women in the group she expected to be the most loyal. Now she's back into a corner with only Juliet on her side and the relationships with her sister-in-law and longtime friend seem to be crumbling. From Caroline's perspective, her impending move to Dubai can't happen fast enough.

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Later in the day, Caroline Stanbury deigns to grace the Ladies with her present over a fish and chips lunch but manages to butt heads once again with Sophie, who's about ready to throw the towel in on this relationship. As hostess, Julie pulls Caroline aside for a heart-to-heart and summons everything she can inside herself to connect with the queen bee. Caroline reiterates that all of Julie's rules as lady of the manor do nothing but stifle and anger her - having grown up in the strict, regimented world of estates and aristocracy, Caroline doesn't ever want to be told what to do. By anyone. She manages to leave the trip on a good note with Julie, having seemed to squash their issues (for now), but she's still completely isolated from most of the other women. 

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Back in London, the Ladies return to their daily routines, which for Caroline Fleming means inviting Juliet and her friend Kim over for an in-home yoga session. However, somewhere between downward dog and headstands in the living room, the girl talk turns to gossip about Marissa Hermer. Juliet reveals that her ex-bestie turned frenemy decided to jet off to the Hamptons for her mother-in-law's birthday party, leaving baby Sadie behind mere days after being released from the hospital. Caroline Fleming is visibly aghast at this news, a reaction which Juliet naturally revels in. After the panic surrounding baby Sadie's emergency visit to the hospital, the women openly question why Marissa would choose to fly across the Atlantic and leave the baby in the care of an at-home nanny rather than stay by her side. Yet, Caroline Fleming puts her feelings about the situation the most diplomatically: "Everyone else can do whatever they want. I, personally, wouldn't have done that."

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Meanwhile, the bad blood between the Stanbury sisters-in-law has begun to affect their whole family. Sophie and her estranged husband are throwing a birthday party for three-year-old Finn, but Caroline and her kids are nowhere to be found. An upset Sophie vents to Adela that she and her sister-in-law had exchanged rather heated words over text since coming home from Mapperton, but Adela can hardly believe that would be reason for Caroline to skip out on her nephew's birthday. Even her brother Alex managed to show up and he's the one getting divorced from Sophie! As the episode ends, Sophie promises Caroline's parents she'll work out whatever these issues have snowballed into, but it appears the Stanburys are more fractured than ever.

What did you think of this week's Ladies of London? Is Caroline Stanbury justified in feeling betrayed? Should her feud with Sophie be affecting the rest of the family? Let me know in the comments below!

Ladies of London Ssn 3/Ep 3 Recap - Rules of Enragement

Glenn Rowley

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This week on Ladies of London, Julie Montagu makes her debut as the hostess of Mapperton, but her list of "house rules" rub Caroline Stanbury and Juliet Angus the wrong way. Plus, Caroline Fleming processes the fallout of her red carpet slip of the tongue and Adela King faces off with the queen bee. Read on for a full recap of the episode's posh drama...

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Caroline Fleming is still reeling in the wake of her faux pas at the Elle Style Awards in Copenhagen and enlists the services of her therapist, Caroline Dolby, for a house call. Ever since she innocently revealed her father was suffering from cancer to the Danish press, the news has made national headlines and the baroness's relationship with her family is once again fraught with tension. In fact, a long apology note to her stepmother has gone unanswered and when Caroline called to apologize over the phone, she was rather brusquely hung up on. The entire ordeal has brought back memories of the difficult road Caroline Fleming has traveled with her family relationships, and it's truly heartbreaking to watch her break down in tears as she admits that she'll never be able to live up to her family's expectations of her.

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Ever since giving birth to baby Sadie, Marissa Hermer (who is NOT moving to California, despite Matt's dream of pressing the reset button in LA) has been planning a boozy luncheon with the Ladies fueled by champagne, caviar and other pregnancy no-nos. The party gets cancelled as the Ladies are literally en route, however, when poor Sadie starts having trouble breathing and is admitted back into the hospital. Naturally, this means Marissa won't be able to go on the upcoming getaway to Mapperton with the rest of the Ladies, leaving Julie Montagu anxious at the prospect of facing Caroline Stanbury and Juliet Angus for the first time since their showdown in the premiere. The viscountess is bound and determined, though, to take the high road and show her frenemies just how much she can rise above.  

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This trip is Julie's official debut as the hostess at Mapperton. In times past, she's always brought her friends as a guest of her in-laws, the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Taking over the 2000-acre estate that's been in her husband's family since the 1600s is a daunting task to say the least, and Julie is understandably nervous about the weekend going smoothly. But is that ever possible with this group of Ladies? Sophie Stanbury and Friend of the Ladies Adela King arrive first and are treated to a lovely afternoon of cocktails and scones with clotted cream while they wait...and wait...and wait for the rest of the women.

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Three hours later, the other Ladies arrive with Caroline Stanbury's bestie/makeup artist Luke Henderson in tow, apologizing profusely and blaming the delay on the resident queen bee of the group having a Madonna moment. Choosing to rally rather than make a scene, Julie kicks the afternoon off with a grand tour of the estate, but all Caroline Stanbury really wants to do is take a nap and a nice long bath before dinner. After showing off early editions of the voyages of Captain Cook housed in Mapperton's expansive library, Lady Hinchingbrooke lays down the "house rules," which are based exclusively on the Ladies' bad etiquette during their Season 1 trip to the estate. The laundry list of new rules include the following: no complaining about the food, no passing plates down the table if you don't like what's being served (ahem, Juliet) and no smoking on the front lawn when you excuse yourself to use the restroom (basically everyone but Caroline F.). Having grown up in a strict, aristocratic household full of restrictions, Caroline Stanbury balks at what she sees as Julie attempting to control her behavior. She's so put off, in fact, that she takes her sweet time getting ready for dinner, thus delaying the whole evening by another two and a half hours.

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When the Ladies finally sit down for dinner after 10:30 p.m., a cloud of annoyance hangs over the meal as Julie tries to explain to Caroline S. and Juliet that this weekend is her way of moving past their recent issues with her. She's even given them the two seats next to her at the head of the table! The peace offering falls flat, however, the second the viscountess announces that she's taking everyone on a fishing trip the following morning. Surprise! Without missing a beat, Caroline Stanbury responds that - sorry, not sorry - there's no way she's getting on a fishing boat in the morning. Slightly offended, Julie reminds her nemesis that the polite thing to do as a guest is graciously accept whatever the hostess has planned and turns to Caroline Fleming for backup, who reminds the other Caroline that "when you're not given a choice, there's no choice" in the matter. 

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The tension boils over when Adela pipes up, calling Caroline Stanbury out for being "very spoiled" and disrespectful, to which the queen bee retorts that she's allowed to be spoiled thank you very much. Juliet jumps in to defend her bestie, railing against the stuffy rules of aristocracy and Caroline S. agrees, accusing Julie of trying to strangle her with a list of behavioral expectations the moment she passes through the door. From Caroline Fleming's perspective, the queen bee is demonstrated a clear lack of respect for manners and etiquette, but Adela's sarcastic crack that she must be exhausted from being driven to the estate and having her makeup done finally sends Caroline Stanbury over the edge. Proclaiming Adela to be a "pain in the f***ing a**," Caroline storms away from the table, leaving the rest of the Ladies in shock in her furious wake.

What did you think of this week's Ladies of London? Should Caroline S. respect Julie's house rules? Are you Team Caroline/Juliet or Team Julie/Adela? Let me know in the comments!

Ladies of London Ssn 3/Ep 2 Recap - A Tale of Two Stanburys

Glenn Rowley

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The drama continues this week on Ladies of London as Caroline Stanbury questions the loyalty of both sister-in-law Sophie Stanbury and longtime friend Adela King. Plus, a family matter makes headlines across Denmark when Caroline Fleming commits an innocent faux pas on a red carpet. Read on for a full recap of all the drama from across the Atlantic... 

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One week after her emergency delivery, Marissa Hermer is still a patient at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The good news is that baby Sadie is finally healthy and stable. The bad news is that Marissa's surgery turned out to be much more complicated than expected and doctors were forced to perform a total hysterectomy when her placenta couldn't be removed on its own. This means that Marissa won't be able to have any more children, but despite all the health risks and the emotional and physical toll, Marissa explains that she would do it all again just to have baby Sadie. 

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Meanwhile, Julie Montagu is feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running Mapperton, the 2000-acre estate that's been in her husband's family for centuries. As the next Earl and Countess of Sandwich, Julie and her husband Luke recently took over the full-time management of the estate from his parents. As a small-town girl from the Midwest, the aristocratic life she married into is completely foreign to Jules and despite a healthy dose of trademark American optimism, all of her internal anxieties are screaming "you're inadequate!" She doesn't want to be remembered in the Montagu family history books as the American who came in and royally screwed everything up. However, for all of her good ideas - like adding branded mugs and tea towels to the Mappeton gift shop - the estate's employees are resistant to any change or innovation, and it's looking to be an uphill battle for poor Lady Hinchingbrooke.

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After teasing us with a peek at the plans for a palatial estate of her own in Dubai (complete with six roof terraces, a home movie theater, a Mariah Carey-sized dressing room and much, much more), Caroline Stanbury turns to Friend of the Ladies Adela King to vent about her unexpected drama with sister-in-law Sophie Stanbury. Naturally, Sophie's having a similar conversation with Marissa over rosé and it's clear that each Stanbury sister feels slighted by the other. Caroline is questioning her sister-in-law's loyalty after Sophie ended up in the middle of the Caroline's ongoing feud with Julie while Marissa points out that it seems Sophie is treated more like a minion than a family member by the queen bee. To Caroline's dismay, Adela actually sticks up for Julie's point of view, with the newbie vowing in her confessional not to let her old friend steamroll her like she has the other Ladies in the past. Obviously, this angers Caroline, who snaps that Adela should learn the facts before taking Julie's side and stop being so "pathetic." There truly is no wrath like a Caroline Stanbury scorned and it seems she and Sophie are headed for a sister-in-law showdown.

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As for Caroline Fleming, she's invited Juliet Angus along on a trip to Copenhagen, where she's presenting at the Danish Elle Style Awards. It's easy to forget amidst all her endearing quirkiness that the baroness is a member of the Danish royal family and is basically as revered as Princess Diana or Oprah in her home country, but Juliet and the rest of us are quickly reminded as she is swarmed by press, fans and Danish power players alike at the event. On the step and repeat, Caroline is caught off guard by a reporter's question about her father and before thinking twice she reveals to the press that her father is suffering from a serious form of cancer. By the time she and Juliet arrive back at their hotel following the event, the news has been blasted onto headlines across the country and Caroline immediately starts preparing to do damage control with her über-private family, who won't likely be forgiving over her casual slip of the tongue. 

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Back in London, Sophie drops by Caroline Stanbury's new rental house for a playdate and as soon as the children hit the jungle gym, the sisters-in-law begin airing their grievances with each other. Caroline is furious that Sophie would repeat anything she said in confidence to Julie and feels betrayed that her comment about the viscountess being "dangerous" was made public. However, Sophie refuses to let Caroline put all the blame squarely on her and rightly points out that she's already apologized more than once for letting anything slip. Again, Caroline questions her sister-in-law's loyalty, telling her point blank that she's learned she apparently can't trust her family. The argument is taken too far, though, when Caroline starts shouting about Sophie's impending divorce within earshot of the children, who still don't know that Sophie and Caroline's brother Alex are splitting up. By argument's end, each Stanbury sister is left feeling hurt and betrayed by the other and it appears this brewing family feud is far from being resolved any time soon.

What did you think of this week's Ladies of London? Could this be the end of the Stanbury sisters? Are you Team Caroline or Team Sophie? Let me know in the comments!