‘Southern Charm’ Star Defends Her New Show

Southern Charm Season 8 cast

Bravo Southern Charm Season 8 main cast photo.

“Southern Charm”  star Leva Bonaparte reacted to comments about her new series, “Southern Hospitality.”

The spinoff show follows the staffers at Bonaparte’s Charleston, South Carolina restaurant empire, which includes Republic Garden & Lounge, Bourbon and Bubbles and two other restaurants located along Charleston’s famed King Street.

The season premiere, titled “The Republic of Leva,” introduced Bonaparte’s young crew at Republic, including VIP manager Maddi Reese and VIP host Joe Bradley, as well as Reese’s rival, Grace Lilly, who is the VIP concierge at Bourbon and Bubbles.

One episode in, Bravo fans already have some big opinions about Bonaparte’s new show.

Here’s what you need to know.

Fans Compared ‘Southern Hospitality’ to ‘Vanderpump Rules’

Right away, some viewers felt that “Southern Hospitality” was a knockoff of “Vanderpump Rules.” The OG Bravo series debuted in 2013 and followed the staff at Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood restaurant, SUR. The series made stars out of Jax Taylor, Stassi Schroeder, Scheana Shay, and more, but a crew of new, younger staffers joined the show as some of the original stars aged out of their waitstaff jobs at SUR. A cast shakeup in 2020 turned the show on its side, and the most recent season focused on the parenting and personal lives of the former SURvers.

Enter “Southern Hospitality.” On social media, some fans called it a “Wannabe Vanderpump” and “VPR Charleston.”

“It’s a southern version of Vanderpumps restaurant and bar. Just a bunch of young adults that haven’t grown up yet. No thanks!” one commenter wrote on Instagram.

“Leva is not LVP!! It was terrible!!” another wrote.

“They can never recreate vanderpump rules,” another agreed, noting that Vanderpump’s show consisted of a real-life friend group. “The first couple seasons were as authentic as reality television can get. This new show has definitely been casted for, not organic. The staff at VPR also feared and respected Lisa because they genuinely needed their jobs at SUR vs the people from southern hospitality live with their parents and don’t care.”

Others had hope for “Southern Hospitality,” but still compared it to “Vanderpump Rules.”

“If I can’t have old school VPR on my TV anymore then I’ll settle for a new clique of hot, desperate for fame, bring on the drama group of friends. Can’t wait to see when they get too big for their britches and let their newfound stardom get to their head,” one fan wrote.

Leva Bonaparte Shut Down ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Comparisons

Vanderpump Rules

BravoThe cast of Vanderpump Rules in season 7.

While fans can’t get past the similarities between the two restaurant-based reality shows, Bonaparte actually thinks “Southern Hospitality” is more like another Bravo reality show.

“I definitely think our business is far more ‘Below Deck’ than it is ‘Vanderpump’ in terms of the adrenaline,” she told E! News in a November 2022 interview. “I’ve never been to any of the restaurants that Vanderpump is running, but this nightclub business—not lounge—but nightclub business is a very different beast.”

In a separate interview with The Daily Dish, Bonaparte explained why her show is more like “Below Deck,” which follows the crew members of a superyacht.

“When you’re on deck at Republic, there’s no time for dillydallying and all that,” Bonaparte explained. “It’s chaos. It’s hundreds of people [and] it’s high liability. It’s keeping people safe, it’s keeping the experience elevated.”

“Southern Hospitality” staffers are also a lot different from the SURvers. In the premiere “Vanderpump Rules” episode in 2013, the waitstaff haggled over pooling their tips. Shay didn’t like the idea because she was pulling in more tip money than the others. But way across the country, the “Southern Hospitality” kids could be pulling in six figures on their own – and that’s before their paychecks from Bravo.

“This is such a hospitality city and these kids are making 100 grand, 150 grand bartending and they have no responsibilities,” Bonaparte told E!

She also revealed that the kids on her show are really pursuing careers in the hospitality industry, unlike the cast of “Vanderpump Rules,” who were all striving to be models and actors when they first started on the show.

“When you think about ‘Vanderpump,’ it’s L.A. and [the cast members] are sort of trying to get to something, whereas these kids [at Republic] are in what they want to be in,” Bonaparte told The Daily Dish. “They want to be in hospitality, they want to be opening clubs. Hospitality is a big business in the city we live in.”

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