Timber Creek Lodge bottom line: Big Brother meets Below Deck with a side of Canadian bacon. Delicious!
Bravo’s new upstairs-downstairs is a well cast stew of sexy staff placed in tight quarters. This new reality pot-boiler is pure eye candy for those who love nature and skiing, and who dine on the interpersonal drama that the network has honed to perfection.
We get a weekly parade of clients who expect first-class service as they tread the fine line of getting in the hair of a staff used to dealing with high maintenance clients and perhaps sleeping with them in alcohol-fueled apres-ski activities.
Some, of course, are more experienced than others in matters of serving clients in every conceivable scenario. This is where you read between the lines.
Classic reality TV tropes are here as management try to keep a lid on the various over-the-top personalities. Keeping the division between good natured entertaining of the guests versus overstepping bounds is what happens every episode.
Loads of skiing and good clean Canadian fun, eh? That’s what Bravo is cooking as the locale —Whistler, British Columbia — is stunning country.
In the first episode we meet assistant lodge manager Jamie Murphy who is experienced with big-money clients and who’s second in charge of a group of various service personnel.
He is also thin-skinned, spoiled and bitterly complains right out of the gate about his “Motel 6” dorm accommodations.
Boss Katy Boyd is also “Hurricane Katy” who hails from North Carolina. She’s right there with him in checking out the close quarters for the staff.
The rest of the Timber Creek Lodge cast are spooled out in a steady dose during the premiere, with lodge manager Katy and her second banana Jamie acting as a welcoming committee.
The problem child out of the gate is Nikita Williams, a foster child turned chef who immediately is annoyed by Katy’s “I’m in charge” welcoming speech.
Nikita knows the lodge’s Senior VIP Mountain Host Mark Milburn and VIP Mountain Host Colston Villanueva from previous gigs.
Colston is a ski dude with major shredding chops, he’s a badass but appears initially to be super humble.
Meanwhile, Nikita tells us she slept with Mark three times and shares that it was like sleeping with her brother, adding: “it was weird”.
Colston is welcoming and shakes Katy’s hand, telling her: “I love your resume” before bolting upstairs.
Mark and Nikita immediately pour the haterade privately for Katy after she establishes the rules and pecking order of the staff.
Louise Robinson, Head of Housekeeping, is the smart redhead while The Dumb Blonde is the sweet California girl Jenna Gillund who arrives in stilettos and is the lowly housekeeping serving girl.
Her backstory also reveals she was a fledgling WAG in Dallas, hooking up with a Dallas Maverick player or two. She says: “This is kind of the first time I’ve ever worked in housekeeping.” Louise schools her instantly saying: “We’re gonna be dealing with vomit and s**t, so be prepared to touch that sort of thing.”
Cynthia Barker, another VIP Mountain Host, welcomes the guests and preps the staff with her list of concerns. “I feel like I do have a lot to prove,” she says, admitting her average skills skiing and her lack of “killer” abdominal muscles.
The premiere is a lead up to a large group of seven military men arriving for a bachelor party stay. Later in the episode, she upstages them all on the slopes by skiing in an American flag bikini.
There is also a snippet where she is doing the roof-scramble walk-of-shame which Jamie happens to catch, so she may give Jenna a run for her money in the flirting with clients department.
The premiere is a highly entertaining upbeat intro to all the players and even the owner of the Whistler lodge, Joey Gibbons, who lays out how important their professionalism is to his business.
“Whistler does such a good job of creating the experience for you. We’re bringing people into that magic, and we’re giving them that activity by day and that hospitality by night.”
He tells his staff: “You guys are all pros, you’re not going to need me to tell you what to do. I hire excellent people, put them in place and get out of their way, and Katy has tons of experience and I know you guys are in good hands with her.”
Jenna, who we have established as the eager pleaser and “go-er” of the cast, says: “No boss have ever encouraged me to party…Jenna likes to party!”
The guests, a group of American military men, then arrive singing “Tits out for the boys” which makes everyone grimace. The episode quickly unravels as Katy has to continuously counsel Jamie, who is a stress case before, during and after guests arrive.
Jaegerbombs are given to Dave (groom) and his dudes from Colorado who proceed to binge drink. Then, while drunk, they get into Nikita’s kitchen to her dismay. The silver lining is she realizes fast that drunks are easy to please in the food department.
The immediate dynamic of Nikita and Mark as a tribe of two with a deep history confuses Jenna and creates an “us versus them” vibe with management (Jamie and Katy).
Colston is “mellow”, affable and appears to be the most malleable. Nikita is the hard knocks kid who worked from the get-go and has no filter.
Test one is showering in the big house: Mark did this prior to the guests arriving and enrages Katy who has it in for him from here on. Then, Jenna and Mark are at loggerheads but conveniently slide into flirty mode. “He was a dog who came fetchin,” says Jenna, who is macking on Mark at the club as Colton observes — dismissive of her intentions and Mark’s taste in women.
But this group of drunken military guys on leave puts the group into survival mode. These hungover dudes have to get it together to go skiing, and the morning breakfast walk of shame is hilarious, as are their kitschy ski outfits which are neon gaudy and over-the-top American flag festooned.
One moment to enjoy is Louise’s patient schooling of Jenna on how to clean a toilet. Jenna is pushing 30 so the fact she has no clue is a bit disturbing.
Let’s face it, Jenna does not want to be a housekeeper and this fact enrages Jamie who then bitches to Katy who then gets more annoyed with Jamie for his lame management style. It’s a circle of growing enmity that will play nicely during the season.
The show will dovetail perfectly on a network that has mastered the art of producing shows with trumped up dramas and creative scenarios where the gawk factor is the driving engine of the premise.
Timber Creek Lodge checks all the boxes and will please those looking for a newer version of Below Deck that has different but equally gorgeous natural scenery.
Mindless, fun TV watching with predictable outcomes, as the customer who pays a premium is always right at the end of the day.
Timber Creek Lodge is airing Mondays at 10/9c on Bravo.