Review: ‘Siesta Key’ Returns to Reality Television’s Awkward Youth

The show follows the “Laguna Beach” model of languid attitudes and moist visuals, though its protagonists are mostly college-age, which means they can drink on camera. Its pheromonal center is Alex, a lothario with charms that barely register on camera, unless you count the size of his (parents’) house. He is torn between Juliette, a possessive college student who alternates between lashing out and gnawing on his face, and Madisson, who just graduated from college with an engineering degree but cannot engineer an end to her toxic long-running attraction to him.

Alex’s father, Gary, appears briefly onscreen to announce, “When I die I wanna come back as Alex, that’s all I gotta say.” Crucially, Gary funded the pilot that was pitched to networks and ultimately resulted in this show being picked up. “I go, ‘You guys are really having a hell of a lifestyle,’” he recently told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, describing how he regarded the boat-and-beach rhythms of Alex and his friends. “I said, this would be a good reality show.”

It may yet be. Madisson’s good sense may kick in, and her younger sister Paige is a dissenter in the making — or worse, perhaps a future turncoat. Alex’s friend Chloe is the show’s rabble-rouser; by the second episode, she has already been bloodied in a brawl with one of her friends.

Everyone else gleams, and that’s about it: Brandon is a merciless, impish flirt; Kelsey is, like, an actual model, and she dates Garrett, who has an 8-pack or 10-pack, depending on how he is standing. The whole cast is white apart from Brandon, who is Cape Verdean. In perhaps a stroke of actual reality, he recently told The Herald-Tribune that he wasn’t involved with the show’s original pilot, but “I’ve been good friends with Alex for years and years now, and he told me they were looking to diversify the cast and expand.”

It’s both…

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