In The Big Shot With Bethenny, Bethenny Frankel stages an Apprentice-esque contest to see who can be her VP of Operations. The person, she says, will represent her in her dealings for Skinnygirl and the overall Frankel brand. Who she picks is completely up to her; she may pick no one, or she may pick more than one person. She claims that “this is not a bullshit job,” but will the candidates she get be up to her astronomically high standards?
Opening Shot: As we see smartly-dressed Bethenny Frankel walking in the streets of Manhattan, she starts to introduce herself, stops, then goes “What now, what the fuck now?”
The Gist: In classic Bethenny fashion, she readily admits that she’s running her nine-figure Skinnygirl empire with a skeleton crew. She also admits that she’s very tough to work for, and she’s looking for someone who can not only hit the ground running, but has thick skin. “Come in here and get the fucking shit done and I’ll call you anything you want,” she tells the camera.
She handpicked nine candidates out of thousands of applicants, and what she’s looking for isn’t necessarily executive experience; she’s looking for people who have gotten things done in the realms of social media, marketing, and technology. She wants up-and-comers, not established execs who are stuck in their ways. Helping her are Barry and Matt, her business managers that also happen to be father and son, Korey, who worked with Bethenny on her short-lived talk show, and her assistant Sarah.
The ten candidates come to an investment property Bethenny owns in Connecticut to meet each other and have cocktails. She’s going to observe them mingling and seeing who stays in control and who doesn’t. After observing them for awhile, she comes down to greet everyone in person. After asking for a brief introduction, she starts swinging the ax. Whoever is left after the first elimination is immediately tasked with making a 30-second Instastory about one of the products in the Skinnygirl line. One problem; most of the contestants haven’t touched the Skinnygirl products that have been on the various tables during the cocktail party.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? As we mentioned, The Big Shot is structured much like an accelerated version of The Apprentice. This makes sense, considering that a pre-Housewives Frankel was a contestant on the one season the show was hosted by Martha Stewart, and Apprentice producer Mark Burnett is also a producer of The Big Shot.
Our Take: One of the things we’ve always admired about Bethenny Frankel is the fact that a) she’s blunt as hell and hilarious while being that way, b) she’s an ace hustler who has gone from having no money to creating her business empire via the sheer force of her personality and c) she’s decisive in her business dealings but has no problem admitting that other things about her life are a mess.
As with any of Frankel’s solo shows on Bravo, we wanted to see that dichotomy in action on The Big Shot. When she talks about the “chicken scratch” sheet she put together that represents the “lambs screaming and the noise inside of my head” about what aspects of the Bethenny brand the new VP will need to represent, you laugh because you know you have similar lambs screaming in your head. When she curses up a storm, she looks like the Bethenny that people got to know on The Real Housewives of New York for so many years.
What we don’t want to see is a standard contest between people cast as generic reality competition tropes to “win” a position they’re unqualified for and likely will get quietly fired from a year from now. The problem with The Big Shot is that it gives us glimpses of Frankel’s openness about her life and how she is so decisive given the lamb screaming and too much of the standard-grade contest among standard-grade contestants.
At this point, only one, a marketer who simply goes by Korey (a different Korey than the one who works for Bethenny), stands out. Another, DJ Nicole Rose Stillings, stands out for other reasons, mainly the fact that she’s loud and annoying. One candidate who was obsessed with her sock company got an immediate boot because she told Bethenny that she could do both the VP job and still make her socks.
All of this bored the living hell out of us. The parts of the first episode that got our attention are what get our attention in anything Frankel is in: Frankel herself. Any kind of made-up challenges that will show the remaining contestants either thriving or falling on their faces will pale in comparison with Frankel going through her thought processes while talking about her daughter or nuzzling one of her dogs. There was a way to do this show without resorting to a boring bake-off format, but that’s not where Frankel and Burnett decided to go.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: As the remaining contestants walk out of the party, Frankel expresses worry over the candidates. “This is really the beginning of the job application process, and they have no idea what’s going to happen,” she says.
Sleeper Star: Frankel’s business manager Barry, mainly because he calls himself a “Jewish 7-footer” because he’s 6’4″.
Most Pilot-y Line: Scenes of Frankel spying out of a brightly-lit upstairs window seem like they were inserted to make it look like real-time. We can’t imagine none of the contestants saw her up there peering out at some point if that was what actually happened.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Although The Big Shot With Bethenny isn’t the dose of pure uncut Bethenny Frankel we want, well take whatever we can get, even if it’s mixed in with a reality competition that will likely be pretty uninteresting.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, , , Fast Company and elsewhere.
Originally published at https://decider.com/2021/04/29/the-big-shot-with-bethenny-hbo-max-review/ on .