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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.

Filtering by Tag: zipline

Manzo'd With Children Ssn 3/Ep 8 - California Dreamin'

Glenn Rowley

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This week on Manzo'd With Children, the family heads to LA to watch Caroline's dreams come true as a guest talk show host. Plus, Lauren's birthday celebration involves a vineyard, a bus ride and one very long zipline adventure. Read on for a full recap of the family vacation...

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Finishing up last week's adventures in San Francisco, the Manzos and their friend Greg Bennett hit up Twenty Five Lusk for a nice family-style lunch. Once appetizers are ordered, Chris Manzo decides it's the perfect time to bring up the idea that's been bouncing around his head about potentially moving. Couching the subject in a hypothetical scenario of how the family would react if Albie Manzo were to pick up and leave New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, Caroline Manzo responds with the classic Italian mother reaction of "kill me now. Kill. Me. Now." However, the real shock for Chris comes from his dad, who bluntly expresses just how disappointed he would be if one of the kids wanted to leave the nest. See, from Caroline and Albert's perspective, they've worked hard to create a family environment that the kids would want to be a part of, and having any of them pack up and ship off to somewhere far away would be a sign that they've failed as parents. Yikes. No pressure, Chris.

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And with that, it's time for the Manzos to head to start the second leg of their trip, saying goodbye to Greg and San Francisco as they head to LA. It's officially Lauren Manzo's birthday, and Vito Scalia promises he's planned a day full of surprises for his wife (despite having to spend most the day in a large van). In fact, he dares the whole family not to be impressed with what he's cooked up by the end of the day - though his father-in-law won't be holding his breath to be blown out of the water. 

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Three hours later, the bus stops in Santa Margarita for Vito's first surprise: ziplining! A 1500-foot-high zipline over the vineyards of Ancient Peaks Winery, to be exact. As someone with a well-documented phobia of heights, this is Caroline's worst nightmare come true. Yet, being the fabulous mom she is, the Manzo matriarch is willing to conquer her fear for the sake of Lauren's birthday. Plus, the mystery of the lump in her breast has provided added motivation that she appreciates every day because, as she points out, "life is for living!" Taking a leap of faith with tears in her eyes, Caroline proves to her kids that she can do anything she sets her mind to, and they each promptly follow her down the zipline.

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The zipline adventure is followed by a special birthday luncheon for Lauren overlooking the vineyards, set up specifically by Vito. Points for Scalia! In fact, the scene is vaguely reminiscent of the trip to Napa featured on Season 4 of RHONJ, when the Housewives and their families celebrated Caroline's 50th birthday, but without anyone calling their wife the dreaded c-word in a mysteriously ill-timed phone call. Over lunch, the Manzo kids reminisce about how far they've all come since the early days of RHONJ. Lauren reveals that her real passion in life would've been following in her father's footsteps at the Brownstone, but Chris claims to be perfectly content with how everything in his life has turned out. However, at the end of the day, Caroline and Albert are proud of the family unit they've built - no matter what happens with her health scare, the Manzo mom can't say she has any regrets of not doing enough as a family.

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The next day, having finally arrived in LA, it's time for Caroline's big day co-hosting FABLife. For some reason, the daytime chat fest only gave Caroline one seat in the audience, so she chooses to bring Chris with her - proving possibly once and for all that he's the favorite child. Caroline is nervous as the car pulls up to the studio, but this moment is a dream come true for her so she's going to soak it all in and just enjoy the ride. (Side note: while we see a teasing shot of her on the show's poster, Bravo superfan, walking goddess and FABLife co-host Chrissy Teigen is sadly nowhere to be found. You missed a perfect opportunity for a very meta crossover moment, Bravo!) It turns out the episode Caroline is co-hosting is the show's Mother's Day special, which is something she may have a teensy bit of experience in. And she knocks it out of the park, chatting with the hosts, cracking jokes and distilling her motherly wisdom on the masses of daytime TV watchers. Closing the episode, Caroline reiterates her mantra from earlier in the half-hour: life is for living, so you better appreciate it while you can - and that means reaching for the stars, making your dreams happen and living life to the fullest. And what a fab life it is...

What did you think of this week's Manzo'd? Can you believe Caroline conquered the zipline? WHERE was Chrissy Teigen?? Are you ready for next week's super-sized, two-episode season finale? Tell me in the comments!

Tour Group Travelogue: Ep 8 - The Elephant in the Room

Glenn Rowley

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This week on Tour Group, the travelers further explore Thailand as they experience the largest transgender cabaret show in Asia, zipline through the jungle and visit an elephant sanctuary. Plus, Jared and Misty's relationship issues reach a new low while cruising the Chao Phraya River. Read on for a full travelogue of the episode...

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It's day 32 of the trip and the travelers are still in Bangkok, Thailand. As Amy Grice FaceTimes with her very attractive, younger boyfriend back home, Jetta Bates Vasilatos and her husband Jeff take a rickshaw to explore the city's many temples and other sights. To combat the travel hangover after more than a month of jumping from continent to continent, head tour guide Brandon Presser brings a few of the travelers to get clothing made at a high-end Thai tailor. Apparently in Thailand, you can get custom suits, jackets and anything else you could want at an insanely low price compared to anywhere in the Western world. New York financier Jared Levy is more than a little excited about this opportunity to add to his wardrobe, but the dynamic with his girlfriend Misty Kingma remain awkwardly strained after their argument in the hotel room about the red light district. Satisfied with their purchases, the travelers head back to their hotel when Brandon reveals the surprise he's cooked up for the evening: they'll be taking a dinner cruise down Bangkok's Chao Phraya River!

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That evening, the group (minus Heather Marianna and Michelle Harvey) sets sail on a Thai rice barge, now refitted into a luxury river boat. Initially the cruise seems to be going well until Jay Ward puts it all on the table by bringing up the tension between Jared and Misty. Did Jared really get a happy ending in the red light district? What's going on with the trip's lovebirds? Misty's twin sister Jenna Kingma tells everyone to mind their own business, but Jared addresses the awkwardness and starts venting about how much pressure the trip has put his new relationship under. And once he starts, it's like he can't stop, telling the entire group that he can't seem to live up to Misty's expectations or know how to deal with their constantly changing dynamic. Ouch, abort Jared, abort! The playboy's pent-up tirade leaves everyone in the group speechless, particularly Misty, and ends what was supposed to be a magical night on a surprisingly sour note. 

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Early the next morning, the travelers take a 90 minute trip to explore Pattaya, which tour guide Sandhurst Miggins describes as Thailand's city of all things "exotic and erotic." Hmm...this should be an adventure. The group is heading to Pattaya to attend Tiffany's, Thailand's premier Vegas-style ladyboys show. In fact, it turns out to be the first and biggest transgender cabaret show in all of Asia. Before the performance, the travelers get a backstage pass and split into three groups to learn about the ladyboys' costumes, makeup and choreography. Tour guide Rachel Grant explains that in Thai culture, ladyboys are considered something of mainstream celebrities and icons - beyond even famous drag queens in America. As Jeff and Heather take turns trying on the ladyboys' massive headdresses, several of the performers put Jared, Jay and Georgia boys Michael Cook and Steven Roberts in the chairs to get their makeup done. 

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Dressing up as ladyboys is about as far out of the Georgia boys' comfort zone as anything could be, but they take it in playful stride learn more about the stories of the transgender performers. The show itself is an absolute spectacle of dancing, cabaret and drag that would rival anything seen on the stages of Las Vegas. Towards the end of the performance, one of the ladyboys comes down into the audience and snatches Michael and Steven up onto the stage, still in full makeup and wigs. The Georgia boys are taken aback by being in the spotlight but are goodnatured about participating, even pulling out a good old-fashioned Southern hitch and kick for the crowd. In the end, the entire crew walks away from the experience with a better understanding and appreciation for being trans in a predominantly cis-gendered society and what it means to feel different than everyone around you.

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The morning of day 34, the guides split the travelers into two groups for very different activities: Brandon and Sandhurst are taking the boys to zipline through a national park while Rachel and the girls visit an elephant sanctuary. The gender divide was completely voluntary, but if it was me, I'd be first in line to see the elephants. The zipline adventure turns out to be a major moment for Jeff, who came on the trip to celebrate life after getting in a nearly-fatal scooter accident. The zipline platforms end up being much higher off the ground than any of the guys anticipated, and both Jeff and Jay are forced to conquer their fears as they fly through the jungle's tree-line. Confronting the "chasm of death" in front of him is a very proud moment for Jeff that Jetta would've surely loved to see. 

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Arriving at the elephant sanctuary, Rachel explains that the elephant is one of the sacred symbols of Thailand and the animals have played a crucial role in Thai culture for centuries. The sanctuary the travelers are visiting is specifically for abused elephants, which is just a heartbreaking thought. The women take turns feeding bananas to the baby elephants and the joy in the air is palpable. The playful baby elephants are full of love for the travelers, showering the girls with kisses and affection. I'm in love. Ever the animal activists though, Michelle and Heather protest when the trainers start having the elephants perform tricks for the ladies and don't like that the sanctuary employees are using canes as training tools. When it comes time to ride the adult elephants, the trip's self-proclaimed divas decide to pass in the name of their morals and leave Rachel, Jetta, Jenna, Misty and Amy to experience the elephant ride without them. 

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As both cultural excursions come to an end, the tour guides gather the travelers around them to announce the last destination of the trip. For the final days of the journey around the world, the tour group is heading to Japan! Heading back to the hotel to pack their luggage and say goodbye to Thailand, Heather and Michelle bond over their mutual love for each other and how they feel so misjudged by the rest of the group, while Misty and Jared sit down to put their issues from Thailand to bed before moving on to the trip's final leg. Goodbye Thailand, hello Tokyo!

What did you think of this week's Tour Group? Are you ready to visit Thailand? How amazing was the ladyboy show? Would you rather go ziplining or hang out with elephants? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!