Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard is only one episode in and it is giving a well-needed dose of freshness to the Bravo universe.
Three of its stars, Jordan Emanuel, Preston Mitchum and Amir Lancaster broke down the first episode, what they are anticipating about the show’s reception, what’s to come from the rest of the season and more.
The first episode ended with a disagreement between Emanuel and Silas Cooper over the former’s relationship with Jasmine Ellis Cooper.
“Ironically, that was the first I had heard of Silas feeling the way that he did,” said Emanuel of the moment. “And so I think you can see I was a little bit like, ‘Me?’ And even Jasmine was like, ‘What? Who said what about what?’ Because it’s just so far from who I am. I am somebody that enjoys going out. I like having a good time. I love a kiki, you know what I mean? I love to network and meet new people. It’s part of my job as a DJ and a model. And I think for him, when he wasn’t there to be present in those moments, it really activates your sense of trust and your sense of boundaries in a relationship. I think while the conversation was geared towards me, it was more of a conversation he needed to be having with Jasmine, and I simply let that be known.”
Mitchum, the only openly gay Black man on the cast, spoke about his place on the show and having the important conversations.
“I think as Black folks, we’re taught to shrink ourselves a lot,” he explained. “One of the expressions I also hate when people are like, ‘Oh, stay humble.’ I’m like, ‘What does that even mean?’ Because only Black people are told to stay humble. I’m just really big on what our language means when people say it to us, including some of us who may have adopted certain languages. I think it’s so important to take the space, especially when you may be the only person in the room who may feel a way. Or maybe you’re not, and you may just be the person who will vocalize it.”
The attorney gave kudos to his friends and castmates as well. “What I’m grateful for is that every single person, because I knew the vast majority of them, they always respected me,” he said. “They always wanted to hear my thoughts and understand a little bit more because I am unique. My perspective can be a little jarring at first, but I think more understandable over time. But these group of folks are always lovely to me, and I don’t ever feel like I need to be this [a] loudmouth all the time.”
“And in certain spaces, I do feel that way, because there’s a lot of shrinking or there is a lot of, ‘Wait your turn’ or a lot of, ‘This is not a queer issue, this is a Black issue,’ never realizing that I’m a whole-ass Black queer person right there,” he continued. “So I really hope people see from me honestly, yeah, I’m opinionated and that’s something I’m comfortable with being at this point, because I’m so used to being told that silence is the answer, be seen and not heard. But I do it from a place of love the vast majority of the time, because I just want us to think of ourselves differently. How do we define ourselves, not how other people define us.”
Lancaster, who is half-Black and half-Lebanese, was eager to explore Black culture in a historic location like Martha’s Vineyard, as well as use this as an opportunity to be vulnerable about his experience. Though he already had a big social media following before the show premiered, Lancaster believes the show offers another way to showcase himself.
“The whole reason I decided to [use this] platform is that one, [it’s] an amazing opportunity for me to go to a place that I’ve never even heard of,” he said. “But also, it was more of an opportunity for me to offer a level of vulnerability.”
“I feel like with social media, people run with an image or perspective that they have of someone,” he said. “And so my thing is that I built a social media following, [but also with] the show, I’m able to build that community and build community with other kids or young adults, or even adults who they feel like they’ve been missing a part of their entire life. Just demonstrating that it’s never too late to step into that, whether it’s your early childhood, your mid-teens, early adulthood, late adulthood– if there’s something that you feel like you’re missing, you owe it to yourself to explore that. I want to show people that in a society where we’re all trying to fit into peg holes, it’s okay to be a square and find out where that square does fit.”
Emanuel says she is excited for people to get a bigger glimpse into her life.
“I think everyone–and it’s part of the Silas conversation–has a perception of me,” she explained. “I am looking forward to pulling the curtain back a little bit and having people peek into my life. And then I think as a whole, I don’t think there’s another show that’s like this. I don’t think you have a young group of professional people who are still serious and are smart and intellectual and have great conversations, who are also dramatic and extra and love a turn-up. So I think you’re getting the shade of the Housewives, you’re getting the turn-up of a little VH1, little Real World, and then you’re still getting the professional side. So I think I’m looking forward to people seeing that side of Black TV.”
Similarly, Mitchum said, “I don’t take lightly that there are, from my perspective, a lot of Black, queer folks that I see on TV broadly, and so I just take this opportunity very seriously. The thing that I’m oftentimes thinking about is what it means. What I’m really interested in seeing is how multidimensional I see myself, but that I don’t believe I’ve been able to explore, and/or what other people have seen in me if they follow me on social media. I’ve had a pretty decent-size Twitter following for a while, and everyone is activism, activism, activism, and I’m like, ‘Yes, and these other things are important to me too, including drinking and partying.’ And so I’m just really interested in seeing the perception of how multilayered we can be.”
Adding onto this, Lancaster says that unlike Mitcuhm and Emanuel, he’s been thinking about how people will respond to the show.
“Unlike Preston and Jordan, I’ve been trying to pre-predict how people are going to respond to it. It’s just the type of person I am,” he said. “I want to be able to prepare. I think there’s going to be a lot of overwhelming positive responses. I think a lot of people are going to do a lot of comparing and contrasting to [the originals] Summer House, when in reality, it’s apples to oranges, just because of the complexity and the dynamics of our relationships. It’s completely different. Now, granted, there’s always going to be hate. If people aren’t hating on you, you’re not doing something right. That’s what I’ve always been told. If you don’t have haters, you’re not succeeding. I think what we have [and] the authenticity and the beauty of the entire cast is going to be something that people ended up resonating with [by] midseason. [In the] first couple of episodes, they’re going to have opinions and I expect them to, but as they start to fall in love with each individual person and then fall in love with us as a collective, they’re going to be like, ‘Damn, this was a good show.'”
The three teased what is to come later in the season, and were quick to note that the initial super trailer is accurate to what actually happens in the show.
Emanuel explained, “You’re going to see a lot of relationships forming, some of them falling apart, learning how to navigate living with so many other people and personalities. That’s real and fun. We have some fun too. It’s not always stressful.”
“Also, you really are going to see the history of the vineyard,” said Mitchum. “You will be able to explore just Black history and the beach. There’s a lot there to explore. So in addition to the fun, you’ll get some educational moments.”
“If I had to give a precursor off of Episode 1 and the trailer– it’s like a fine wine,” said Lancaster. “The longer it sits, the better it gets and the more you sip it, the higher on it you get. It’s one of those things where the first taste, you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, this is pretty good.’ Taste two, you’re like, ‘Dang, this is pretty dang good.’ Taste three, you’re probably going to be going for the bottle instead of a glass.”
Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard airs Sundays on Bravo following The Real Housewives of Atlanta.