The winter premiere of "Siesta Key" tells us Kelsey and Garrett are clearly not over each other, Brandon is gross and the new guy is hot.
They’re back, my friends.
“Siesta Key” is gracing our screen of choice again. And it’s so bad, it’s good.
Turning on my television after a long 3.5-month hiatus from “Siesta Key” felt like having coffee with an estranged friend: You’re a little excited, a little nervous, but mostly you just can’t wait for it to be over.
And as per usual for this show, it was over much too soon. Because I need answers about Juliette and Garrett. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We begin our winter portion of this fine piece of television at a house party at Brandon’s not-so-humble abode. He wants Madisson to meet the fam, and we know things are getting real because Madisson brought cookies to impress them. (I just hope her baking skills are better than her interviewing skills… just kidding. I can’t diss Madisson when she’s trying so hard to make what I just know is a doomed relationship work.)
Next, I’m reminded why I will never be able to take this show even somewhat seriously. The slo-mo.
Brandon and Madisson walk outside for a romantic makeout sesh along the intercoastal waterway and their steps are the kind of painful slow motion that makes you feel like you must be watching an SNL skit.
But Kenan Thompson never jumps in to make you feel like you were watching this for a reason, so instead we’re left with one of the most uncomfortable L-word drops of reality television history.
Madisson, being the sweet, emotionally fluent human she is, tells Brandon she loves him.
His response truly made me sink into my couch. I had to look away from the screen.
HE TELLS HER HE "THINKS" HE LOVES HER. Actually, he began his response with “Yeah …”
Madisson. Sweet, sweet Madisson. Any guy (man child) who has to hesitate, look away, then use the word “think” (without looking you in the eye for more than two seconds) in his response to you dropping the “L word” is not worth your freaking time. Go snag that new, incredibly underrated Carson hunk and head for the nonexistent hills.
That’s enough of Bradisson.
Next we have what is meant to be another sweet “Look, bae is bonding with my family!” scene, but it gets off on the wrong note by opening with Juliette jumping on Garrett and clinging like a braided koala on a tree.
I’m sure that made your little brother super excited for football camp, Juliette, seeing you jump on his coach!
The real highlight of this scene, however, is the conversation between Juliette and her friend Hannah.
“Boy are so different. This would not be fun to me,” Hannah says, watching Garrett and his friends teaching the young football players.
“I think it would be fun for me,” Juliette responds, seemingly genuine (which made me happy because for once, the producers are letting Juliette be an empowered woman instead of just a beach goddess who changes her voice to sound like a valley girl).
“Yeah!” Hannah responds, as if suddenly pretending to agree with Queen Bee is a necessity in the Animal Kingdom that is the elite social circle of Siesta Key.
Next we’re introduced to Tarik, Madisson’s childhood friend who’s back from Miami. Tarik is the first openly gay character on the show, and I’m interested to see how this plays out. It’s refreshing to see a gay man, especially a gay man of color, being celebrated on TV. I like that his relationship with Madisson also isn’t the over-the-top gay best friend trope that is so often seen on TV — she seems to treat him the same way she does her other friends on the show: with honesty and compassion.
Tarik quickly became America’s favorite “Siesta Key” character, however, when he dares to dip his toes into his sassy stereotype and calls Juliette Porter the “Regina George of Siesta Key.” (We can’t help but agree, and you can read more on this in the sidebar by my new co-writer, the Observer’s beloved Community Editor Katie Johns). Endless clapping emojis for Tarik.
The rest of the scenes leading up to, what else, the dramatic pool party, are kind of bleh, so I’ll make it quick.
-Kelsey appears to be getting back into modeling (especially evident by how she chooses to make the bar at the Casey Key Fish House — her place of employment, let’s not forget — a runway after Chloe just finished cleaning it. Insert upside down emoji here).
-Chloe’s roommate and coworker Canvas begins to stir the pot by laying the groundwork for a flirtatious relationship with Brandon. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it only gets worse.
-As most of us who are pathetic enough to keep up with “Siesta Key” cast news already know, the King himself got in a bar fight in Tampa, so his jaw is wired shut for the next few weeks. The episode is ridiculously better because so much of it lacks his presence (but the one part of the episode he’s in brought me sick joy because he looks ridiculous. I’m a bad person and I know this).
-The crew (with my new fave pair of six-pack “abs for days,” Carson, in tow) hits the town (aka downtown Sarasota, not Siesta Key). But what was a fun night at Z's Restaurant and Bar for some was a borderline romantic betrayal for others. Kelsey and Garrett get in a fight but then he randomly offers to drive her home and apparently she passes out at his house??? Who knows. But Juliette is unaware. Meanwhile, Canvas hits on Brandon more even though she’s well aware he’s off limits.
-Garrett, Juliette, Hannah and her cute boyfriend whose name is escaping me have a beautifully timed double date during which Garrett gets a text from Kelsey asking to talk. He then turns into Charlie Brown listening to his teacher and completely tunes out the whole story of how Hannah and beau met.
-A bunch of stupid “getting ready for the party” scenes ensue and it’s apparent that these girls own more swimsuits than I own pants.
Finally, it’s pool party time! And it wouldn’t be a Siesta Key swimsuit soiree without gold swan and huge diamond ring pool floaties!
This party is your pretty average “Siesta Key” alcohol-soaked bash until Canvas AGAIN hits on Brandon and he flirts back, making a gross reference to pineapple juice and its mystical powers.
Tarik is quickly fed up and because Madisson refuses to intervene out of fear of being the “crazy girlfriend,” he confronts Canvas. Canvas becomes my least favorite person by brushing it off and saying she “does what she wants, when she wants.”
Don’t get me wrong. I respect a headstrong girl, but not when that involves breaking up a monogamous relationship.
The best part of the party, however, is definitely the fight that Chloe starts between Juliette and Garrett (wow, I hate myself for actually typing that).
Chloe tells Kelsey she “knows what her bitmoji looks like” (yeah, that or you clicked and read her name next to it, we know how Snapchat works) and she saw her location on Snap Map last night. Translation: she knows Kelsey was shacking at Garrett’s, and she warns Kelsey that she’s going to tell Juliette.
She does, and of course Juliette flips out. Which, frankly, makes sense. What’s uncomfortable about the scene is how all heir friends have front-row seats to the fight, and it pans out just in time to watch the sun disappear from the Siesta Key skies.
Is the sun setting on another “Siesta Key” relationship? Sadly, I can’t wait to find out.
— Niki Kottmann