Morning After Hangover: 'Real Friends of WeHo' Gets No Friends

Saturday January 21, 2023

The cast of "Real Friends of WeHo"
The cast of "Real Friends of WeHo"  

"The Real Friends of WeHo" dropped on Friday night between the latest episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race" and "Untucked," the former shortened by a half-hour to accommodate the new line-up. Many have complained about the shorter episodes of "Drag Race," especially after "RFOWH" is quickly become the show to hate-watch.

The reality show brings together six out professionals: stylist/host Brad Goreski, controversial actor/singer Todrick Hall, "Surviving Compton" actor Curtis Hamilton, Buttah Skincare CEO Dorión Renaud, business owner Jaymes Vaughan and social media influencer Joey Zauzig.

MTV, according to Deadline, describes "The Real Friends of WeHo" as an "unfiltered and honest look at a select group of friends living, loving and pursuing their passions in the West Hollywood community. Consisting of some of Hollywood's most influential and successful LGBTQ+ celebrities, personalities and entrepreneurs."

The show premiered on Friday night. Here is what some critics had to say:

Entertainment critic Coleman Spilde from "The Daily Beast" set the tone. "Nobody asked for this. There was not one single person in the world who was looking at the scope of reality television offerings across the world and thought to themselves, "You know what we really need? A show about six conceited gay men talking about how great they are, nonstop, for an hour." Yet, that's exactly the Rumpelstiltskin curse we've had forced upon us with MTV's newest show, The Real Friends of WeHo, premiering Friday."

He continues: "It brings me no joy to say that 'The Real Friends of WeHo' stinks as badly as the alley dumpster behind The Abbey after jockstrap night. The show is choppy and unfocused, blithely assuming that its audience has an innate interest in its whiny circle of friends who were cobbled together at the last second. Never before has a series so clearly founded itself on the premise of getting its viewers to tune in for a hate-watch...

"The premiere opens with a voiceover of Brad telling viewers that this show is 'breaking new ground.' In what way, of course, remains unclear for the duration of the episode. There's nothing remotely new about a slew of influencers appearing on reality television to elevate their personal brands. If anything, 'The Real Friends of WeHo'is just more transparent about its intentions..."

"Though the episode ends on a "To Be Continued...," it feels unlikely that any viewers who are already reluctantly tuning in to 'The Real Friends of WeH' will be back for more next week. For lack of a clear plotline, the show could at least generate some memorably dishy disputes. But one persistent question kept popping up in my mind throughout the premiere: 'Who cares?' There's no fun in watching a bunch of catty gay men fight about who makes more money or who slept with who. I can't even imagine West Hollywood's actual residents being entertained."

The cast of "Real Friends of WeHo"
The cast of "Real Friends of WeHo"  

At Decider, Brett White writes: "I mean, it's literally a Housewives franchise set in West Hollywood — and the show knows that. It's literally been marketed as MTV's House-guys, which is the clearest indicator of the show's intentions: exploit the gay community's obsession with messy socialites in a quest for ratings, all while throwing a drink in the face of RuPaul's Drag Race. The vibe going into the premiere is very "sure is a nice critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning, culture-redefining franchise you got here — would be a shame if something happened to it."

After briefly summarizing each of the 'friend's' role in the episode, he focuses on "Curtis Hamilton because he's the only 'Real Friend' who comes across as a Real Person. Of all the plot lines in the first episode, and there are either a dozen or none depending on how closely you're watching, Hamilton's is the one that feels worth our time. He just came out to his parents and now he's coming out to the world (or, rather, an audience killing time between a new episode of 'Drag Race' and 'Untucked'). A concerning amount of screen time is devoted to these six 'Real Friends' questioning why they're doing this show (and in some cases why they're doing this show with Todrick hall). In Hamilton's case, watching him question his involvement is a bummer because we know that this train skid off the tracks before it even left the station."

Lawrence Yee on The Wrap expresses his disdain with a headline: "'The Real Friends of Weho' Review: A Show We Don't Need About People We Don't Need to See More Of."

He continues: "'The Real Friends of Weho' airs right after 'RuPaul's Drag Race' and before 'Untucked.' 'Drag Race' has shortened its 90-minute episodes to an hour — much to the chagrin of fans — to accommodate 'Real Friends.' But whereas 'Drag Race' seems intentional in its casting of contestants from diverse backgrounds (ethnicities, body types, gender expressions), the 'Real Friends' fall into the same mold: conventionally attractive, athletic, well-groomed and male-presenting. And while there's equal parity between white and Black castmates, there's nary a Latin or Asian person (even in the background; we looked) or trans person. When asked by TheWrap about the lack of diversity, the talent emphasized that they are diverse, and it is sad that most of the backlash has been from the LBGTQ community.

As for the drama, 'The Real Friends' replicates a tried-and-true formula from 'The Real Housewives': gather the entire cast for a formal party, load up on cocktails and let a game of telephone — this time between guest/introvert Renaud and host/extrovert Zauzig — spiral out of control. The fourth wall breaks as camera crews position swarm to capture the conflict, but it all feels low stakes. Even guest appearances (a stunt 'Drag Race' uses in its premieres) by Issa Rae, Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change fail to elevate the show."

Concluding: "Casting is the key to an unscripted series' success, and viewers are left wondering why there aren't fresher, newer perspectives. MTV's sister network Logo ran a show called "1 Girl, 5 Gays" for several seasons, a lower-budget but enlightening roundtable with non-famous panelists talking about sex, relationships and queerness. That, at least, felt more "real."

And the hate continued on Twitter: