Bravo leaves behind its loathsome Million Dollar Listing realtors as Rachel Zoe debuts

With its two docudramas that conclude and debut tonight, Bravo seems to moving into a new space: following loathsome people who are only worth watching because they’re so much fun to hate. That’s not to say its other docudrama stars, from Jeff Lewis to Kathy Griffin, are flawless. But they’re at least relatable. That’s not the case with the characters in these six-episode series–it almost seems like they aren’t confident enough in the cast to carry more episodes, or not enough actually happens to create a full season.

At 10 p.m. ET, Million Dollar Listing ends its six-episode second season, which focused on three young agents. Madison Hildebrand is the least annoying, but he’s so bland and boring he’s barely worth mentioning. The real drama occurs with Chad Rogers, who looks like 35 going on 12 in part because, as his own hairstylist insists, his bad hair makes him look like a mushroom, and who talks like he’s speaking to a child and/or reading cue cards; and Josh Flagg, whose rich grandmother won’t give him inheritance but does give him real estate leads.

They’re all apparently somewhat good at their jobs, and as a result are ridiculously rich, at least based upon the commission they get from the sales we see on TV. However, there are also lots of totally fake-ass set-up moments, like when the three just happen to bump into each other in L.A., or when one agent gets a surprise lead from someone else while he’s shopping for $600 shoes.

Bravo apparently thinks they’re likable, because there’s a compatability quiz on the show’s web site, and the producers include scenes–like Chad dealing with his emotionally unavailable father or Josh sitting alone on his birthday–that seem like they should make us feel sorry for them, but somehow just makes us happy for their misery.

At 11, we get celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe’s show, a six-episode series called The Rachel Zoe Project. Two weeks ago, she guest judged on Project NBC Universal Product Placement, although last week she got dissed as “the stylist with the oversized mumu dress and the waistband” by Stella, causing Tim Gunn to break down the fourth wall and tell the camera, “Sorry, Rachel Zoe, we mean that only in the nicest way.”

Based upon the half-hour preview, it’s another docudrama starring not-exactly-sympathetic characters. Every person seems intent on fully inhabiting every possible L.A. stereotype, like how Rachel speaks in exaggerated valspeak and wears sunglasses that literally consume most of her face. Here’s an actual conversation, which you should read as if you’re auditioning for Alicia Silverstone’s character in a satirical, over-the-top version of Clueless:

Rachel: What?
Brad: Yeah. And I’m literally, like, freaking out.
Rachel: Shut up right now.

Rachel told the New York Post that she “get[s] hurt by what people say very easily,” like when Nicole Richie called her “RaisinFace,” but inexplicably she decided that a reality show would be the best way to get America to love her. Bravo VP Andy Cohen told the paper that she’s “a perfect Bravo character” and the show works because, “I don’t think anyone realizes just what a stylist does — I just think it’s fascinating. It is just so fun! Seeing them flip through those dresses — it’s like fashion porn.” Perhaps they should have borrowed more form porn and insisted the cast don’t really talk all that much.

Million Dollar Listing and The Rachel Zoe Project [Bravo]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.