Bravo TV What does it mean to be the realest reality show on television? The show stars Shep Rose, a year-old bachelor and a cast member on Southern Charm, which revolves around the glamorous goings-on of old-moneyed bon vivants in Charleston.
The ones he likes are invited back to a mansion in Charleston, where the courtship continues, both in challenging group and intimate individual settings.
RelationShep is not your typical reality TV dating show, and Rose is not your typical reality TV dating show protagonist. For starters, Rose is keenly self-aware and gregarious, with a generous wit. His love of Shakespeare knows no bounds. Contrary to the vapid, almost culture-less characters that populate shows like Floribama Shore or Vanderpump Rules or even The Bachelor, Rose appears eager to demonstrate a passion for art and literature. Unlike other dating shows, like The Bachelor, the girls are not predisposed to loving Shep.
Shep is merely set up with friends of friends, much like you would be in real life. Priscilla, an acerbic Brazilian, straightforwardly challenges his apparent joblessness. Jessi, a year-old L. Even Rose himself is wary of the process. As evinced by his behavior in the show—he more or less trips over himself the first time he sees all the girls in the mansion—it would appear that he never quite got used to the idea. But what really distinguishes RelationShep from every other reality TV show is the frequency and ease with which it breaks the fourth wall.
Both The Bachelor and The Real World have occasionally, in recent seasons, started to include the audio of questions producers ask cast members. But no reality show features their producer on camera like RelationShep. The exchange is caught on tape. So intimate is their relationship that some viewers have taken to speculating online whether or not Rose will eventually end up with his producer; that fans are inclined to fit their relationship into the mold of a trite rom-com resolution is both revealing and deeply ironic, given her presence seems expressly choreographed to make the show feel more real, not less.
This move—to make Sarah a veritable player-coach, if you will—was a deliberate choice. The same could be said to an even greater extent about RelationShep: But those shows stridently defend their central fictions as reality. The Bachelor has become more tongue-in-cheek in recent years, but it still takes itself incommensurably seriously when it comes to its contestants finding real love see: Are You the One?
Yet RelationShep, by nature of its style, its format and its star, does not have any pretenses to keep up; it lays all its artifices bare, or at least attempts to. It is the realest reality show on TV simply because it dares to reckon with its own unreality. RelationShep is avant-garde, though it remains to be seen whether or not it will be consequential to the future of the genre. That said, there has always been a hunger for pieces of art that offer audiences peek behind the proverbial curtain.
In the behind-the-scenes book, Wolff is, to the occasional detriment of his journalistic integrity, as much a chronicler of a story as a part of the story himself—as much a producer of The White House Show as he is a member of its growing cast. And there you have it: