Eventually, all reality shows have to go to Las Vegas sooner or later, right? “Real World,” “The Bachelor,” “Bad Girls Club” and “Pawn Stars” were all lured to the Vegas strip. I’m surprised “Survivor” hasn’t set a season there, with the contestants learning to subsist on discarded shrimp cocktails and free drink tokens.
So it's inevitable that the Hulu parody series “Hotwives” would get there as well. The first season of the “Real Housewives” parody took place among the steamy suburbs of Orlando, Florida, as an outrageous cast of divas bickered, overspent and drank kiddie pool-sized glasses of Chardonnay.
This season, now called “The Hotwives of Las Vegas,” features most of the same fearlessly funny actresses from “The Hotwives of Orlando,” but now playing a different cast of Hotwives in Vegas. Although, just to complicate things, sometimes characters from the “Orlando” season will appear in the “Vegas” season as well. It’s like show creators Danielle Schneider and Dannah Phirman are creating their own interconnected universe of bored, rich housewives, like Marvel superhero movies.
Unlike Netflix, which drops entire seasons of TV series at once, Hulu is rolling out "The Hotwives of Las Vegas" with a new show of the seven-episode season each Tuesday, starting on Aug. 18.
This season’s hotwives include:
- Denise (Schneider) — A hyper-nervous recently divorced woman best known in Vegas for being the “most clothed showgirl” on the strip.
- Leona (Phirman) — The self-described matriarch of the bunch, who often acts as peacemaker between the feuding Hotwives. (“We need to clear the air — to make room for new fights!”)
- Jenfer (Casey Wilson of “Marry Me”) — The boozy born-again Christian who doesn’t realize that her new husband (Keegan Michael Key) is trying to start his own reality show in the middle of hers.
- Ivanka (Andrea Savage) — The fake-tanned type-A European of the bunch, married to the David Copperfield of bubble-blowing (Paul Scheer).
- First Lady (Angela Kinsey of “The Office”) — The widow of a local character known as the Mayor of the Las Vegas Strip, she takes her imaginary position very seriously.
- Callie (Erinn Hayes) — Because every group of housewives needs a Wiccan member, although her witchcraft extends largely to writing online recaps of episodes of “Charmed.”
- Phe Phe (Tymberlee Hill) — The one overlapping Hotwife from the Orlando season, the brash attorney works her “I got to be Phe Phe” catchphrase into seemingly every imaginable situation.
The first two episodes supplied to critics feature an endless parade of fights, make-ups and more fighting, as little spats over things like who sat in whose chair turn into big finger-wagging brouhahas. The show perfectly captures the heightened “reality” of those “Real Housewives” shows, in which the characters carry themselves as if they’re sophisticated ladies, only to collapse into shrieking brawlers at the drop of a hat.
The Vegas setting lets “Hotwives” make merciless fun of the fringe characters in showbiz, featuring Matt Besser as a not-very-good impressionist, “Weird Al” Yankovic as a ventriloquist pastor, and Thomas Lennon as a failed children’s book agent.
The presence of Lennon reminded me of his great Comedy Central “Cops” parody “Reno 911!” Like “Reno 911!”, the “Hotwives” show takes on a satirical target so broad and obvious that you’d think there was no room to do something original with it. But “Hotwives” works by being so totally ridiculous, such as First Lady’s line of “Anorexi-yeah!” recipes for Popped Air and Water-ritas.
And yet, as broad as the characters and the jokes are, there’s a glimmer of humanity underneath, such as the insecurity of sad-sack Denise, which makes them lovable no matter how bad their behavior gets. For a fake group of women in the fakest town in America, they keep it real.
Also streaming: In addition to displaying his bubble-wand prowess, Scheer is releasing his new comedy special "Crash Test" on Tuesday via Vimeo at crashtestshow.com.
It's a great, weird idea for a stand-up comedy show; Scheer and his "Human Giant" co-star Rob Huebel rented a 60-foot glass bus and drove an audience around downtown Los Angeles, running into (not literally) comedians like Aziz Ansari, Rob Corddry, the "Reno 911!" guys and more on the street. You can buy it for $3.99.