Funny people try to parody Real Housewives on Hotwives of Orlando

Today, Hulu debuts its own parody reality series: The Hotwives of Orlando. A take on The Real Housewives franchise, it stars a group of hilarious people: Casey Wilson, Angela Kinsey, Kristen Schaal, Tymberlee Hill, Andrea Savage, plus others, including Joey McIntyre and Stephen Toblowsky.

The actual housewives are so ridiculous, so self-unaware, so absurd that it’s a challenge to parody the series because it basically is an unknowing parody. The Hotwives cast and producers basically made that point to TV critics Saturday. “I think the Housewives franchises don’t consider themselves a parody. I think they take themselves seriously. Fortunately,” Kristen Schaal said.

Executive producer Paul Scheer, who plays an Andy Cohen-like character, said “one of the things that we did on the show that came true is there is a funeral for a dog in this show that we did. And then, it’s edited, locked away, and now there was actually a funeral for a dog on the Housewives show.”

Casey Wilson said that “the writers, Danielle [Schneider] and Dannah [Phirman], did amazing heightenings,” and Schneider said, ‘You can always go bigger. I feel like, yeah, it starts at an absurd level, but that absurd becomes the normal.”

There are definitely absurds here. The two episodes I’ve seen of this new show makes it seem more like an SNL sketch: there are hilarious moments, great dialogue, and some fun bits. It doesn’t quite manage to reach the greatness of the 2012 The Bachelor parody Burning Love, which mocked but felt very real.

Also, to nitpick as a defensive resident of Central Florida for a moment, the setting doesn’t add much, even though it was intended as homage. It’s obviously filmed in L.A.–any Florida resident can easily identify when a show, such as Dexter, pretends to be in Florida but is actually in L.A., with its crazy tall palm trees and lack of visible humidity–and worse, it gets things wrong. One character pronounces a city’s name wrong (Kissimmee) while the writers miss opportunities to reference real places (like the street reputed to host more prostitutes than other streets). If you’re going to use a place as a target for jokes, at least make them good jokes.

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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.