Photo: ABC Family

How Phony Is The Vineyard?

So phony, Alexander Graham Bell is a story editor…and it's not even fun.

The Vineyard is so phony, it has a bell in it and a numbered keypad. It's phonier than Jocelyn Wildenstein as voiced by Mr. Butlertron. It's phonier than a particle-board scale model of The Hills, blue-razzberry pleather, or breast implants made of circus peanuts. Greetings, Professor Falken. How about a nice game of The Real Housewives of Astroturf?

Not that a Foe Knee Productions creation is per se bad or dull. I like plenty of fake things (Creamsicles; the moon landing) (…oh, calm down, I'm kidding. Creamsicles totally have real cream in them), and I enjoyed The Hills up until Heidi turned into an animated GIF of herself. The Hills knew how to do it, though. It was professional fakeness, and everyone was 100 percent committed. The Vineyard isn't compelling, despite a situation ripe for dramz, real and concocted -- a bunch of cut-bodied early-twentysomethings all working together at Martha's Vineyard's Black Dog Tavern. So, fighting, fucking, fighting about fucking, class conflicts, drunk boating, gallons of chardonnay, and someone who spells her name "Taelyr" = instant ratings.

In theory. In practice, either none of these individuals has ever used even SPF 4, or they're all 30 at least. Katie, our heroine/Lauren on this faux-dventure, is cute in a normal non-famous kind of way, and also in a "is not 25" way. I could let that slide if I believed the conflicts, and I will grade a premiere on a steep curve thanks to what is no doubt constant off-camera prompting to generate exposition and context. "Ask your mom if you can pick up her scrips!" "Make sure Sophi knows you're a resentful poor, because it's going to get confusing when we see you at your mom's large and WASP-ily well-appointed house later!" It's not realistic that the local would talk to the summer kid like that before the summer kid even had a chance to fuck up or act entitled, but at least there, you see what the show is trying to do.

A lot of the time, though, the show just isn't really trying that hard. Ben got kicked out of the Coast Guard for being at a party with underage drinking? If that actually happened, the Coast Guard needs a wild-hair-ectomy, but the fact that I spent any time thinking about how bullshitty it sounded is a problem. Find any other reason for Ben to lose trust in Cat, any other secret she could accidentally blurt to her mother about him, that isn't distractingly phony-sounding. And maybe find a few people who can sell the lines, too. Cat's silent-movie "OOPS" face when she spills that "secret" to her mother is the most effort she makes all episode; most of the time, she's letting a week and a half pass before responding to another cast member's line.

And Jonathan, I can't even. This is the villain -- Mon O. Tone, The Washboard Killer? I think he's really trying, and he's also forced to sit in Adirondack chairs with what's-his-nuts and stare, unblinking, at an entire conversation between Katie and Lu and say stuff like, "Dude, what's the deal with that? Think they have a past?" I feel for the kid with these Sweet Valley High lines (see also: Jackie's "I think this summer I'm going for Lu!" Oh, really? Will you also be wearing a menstrual pad that attaches to a belt? Let them write their own lines, show; this is agonizing). But it's kind of hard to invest in hating a dude you think might technically be in a coma…which is evidently contagious, because everyone in that town-party "argument" came down with it, like, immediately. "These two kids are trying to get into our jam dude 011010010100110 I'll break your jaw are you sure you want to exit cancel continue."

I might keep watching it, though? Just to see if betting the over on Cat continuing to crack up during the "best" take is a smart call, and also if Katie busts out Janeane Garofalo's ear-parted hair from Wet Hot American Summer again.

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