Welcome to the Parker

This show feels about as staged as the genre gets. Come to the Parker for the nonsense only, and leave reality behind.

Accepting the premise that virtually every reality show was plucked from the ribs of a scripted one, think of “Welcome to the Parker” as “Hotel: The Not-Very-Real Reality Series,” repeating the same A-B plot formula in the first three episodes: A demanding outsider (food critic, hotel designer, high-end travel agent) comes to visit, throwing the staff into a tizzy; and there’s an elaborate event that must be mounted without a hitch. This show feels about as staged as the genre gets. Come to the Parker for the nonsense only, and leave reality behind.

A boutique Palm Springs hotel, the Parker does dovetail nicely with Bravo’s profile, which increasingly hinges on an airheaded view of Southern California as a playground for the rich and vacuous. That began with “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and continues with another series premiering this month, “Flipping Out,” which features an obsessive entrepreneur and his wacky staff buying, renovating and selling houses.

Bravo also caters to the gay community, and “Parker” clearly endeavors to do that as well. Gay characters figure prominently in the episodes previewed, yielding the show’s one human and genuine moment, when a woman re-proposes to her partner. In the second hour, the hotel’s designer shows up (with his dog, Liberace) and suggests the manager hire a “fluffer” — not in the porn sense, but an actual full-time staffer to go around fluffing up pillows!

With material like that, the writers — oops, sorry, “story producers” — are clearly working overtime.

Show unfolds from the perspective of various hotel staffers. The “Welcome” is laid out by an attentive if slightly neurotic group of employees, among them the manager, sales manager, room-service guy and events coordinator. The boss holds this mostly nondescript bunch to a high standard as they juggle “weird requests” from their demanding clientele. In the premiere, that includes bringing a touch of Hollywood to the desert when a posse of middle-aged guys (among them “Dukes of Hazzard” director Jay Chandrasekhar) stage a Ping-Pong tournament that devolves into a frat party.

It’s all meant to reinforce the image of the Parker as a place populated by people with too much time, money or both. The show sells the same sneaky glimpse of the high life offered by “Real Housewives,” but the skein’s artifice limits the allure of its voyeurism, and if the storylines are going to feel this scripted, better to wait around for the soapy antics of BBC America’s whimsical drama “Hotel Babylon,” which covers the same territory with better actors and makes its debut in August.

What’s left, in the interim, is a carefully orchestrated tour of the wealthy’s vacation excesses through the prism of those who serve them. And while the Parker is enthusiastically billed as a “five-star celebrity haven,” the series itself wouldn’t be rated that generously even on a 10-point scale.

Welcome to the Parker

Bravo, Thurs. July 26, 11 p.m.

Production: Produced by snackaholic inc. cq Executive producers, Belisa Balaban, Ted Skillman; co-executive producers, Jonathan Chinn, Michaline Babich, Blake Levin; producers, Fran Calderone, Steven Pipes.

Crew: Supervising story producer, Eliza Hindmarch; supervising editor, Andy Robertson; music, Tree Adams, Sujin Nam, Christopher Faizi Bogan; casting, Carmen Cuba. Running time: 60 MIN.

More TV

  • Who Died in 'Grey's Anatomy' Season

    How 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Approached Its Crossover Death Count

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the “Station 19″/”Grey’s Anatomy” crossover that aired Jan. 23. “Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy” kicked off the start of their official combined universe with a two-hour block that began with the third season premiere of the former Shondaland series. In the episode entitled “I [...]

  • An IPad is used instead of

    Following Outrage, Discovery Networks Backs Down on Composer Ultimatum

    Discovery Networks, which last month unveiled a new business model that would have all but assured series composers a drastic income drop, has scuttled that plan in response to outrage expressed by the media music community. This means that the shows on Discovery, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network and other Discovery-owned platforms, will continue to [...]

  • THE GOOD PLACE -- "Patty" Episode

    'The Good Place' Boss on Reaching the Titular Location, Finding It's a 'Bummer'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Patty,” the penultimate episode of “The Good Place.” The titular good place on Mike Schur’s philosophical comedy “The Good Place” isn’t a literal place at all but instead a state of mind. Sure, after four seasons (50 episodes) the characters on the show did [...]

  • obi wan ewan mcgregor

    Obi-Wan Kenobi Series at Disney Plus Loses Writer, Seeks to Overhaul Scripts

    Pre-production on the Obi-Wan Kenobi-focused TV series in the works at Disney Plus has been put on hold as the streamer and Lucasfilm look to overhaul early scripts and find new writers, sources tell Variety. Hossein Amini had been attached to write. The news follows recent talk that the entire series was being scrapped altogether. [...]

  • Zion Williamson

    Zion Williamson's Pelicans Debut Is a Ratings Slam Dunk

    With ratings in a slump so far this season, the NBA has needed someone to come off the bench and ball out. Cue the New Orleans Pelicans debut of Zion Williamson. The much-heralded number 1 pick from the 2019 draft had sat out the first 44 games of the Pelicans’ season with a knee injury, [...]

  • RuPauls Drag Race

    TV News Roundup: VH1 Announces 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 12 Contestants

    In today’s TV news roundup, VH1 revealed the contestants for the upcoming season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the Oprah Winfrey Network renewed several of its unscripted series. CASTING VH1 revealed the 13 queens that will be competing on the 12th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are Aidenn Zhane, Bria, Crystal Methyd, Dahlia Sin, Gigi [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content