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'Vanderpump Villa' isn't 'Vanderpump Rules' in the French countryside. Meet the cast and let them tell you why.

Lisa Vanderpump in "Vanderpump Villa"
Lisa Vanderpump in "Vanderpump Villa."Gilles Mingasson/Hulu
  • No, the new reality show "Vanderpump Villa" isn't just a remixed version of "Vanderpump Rules."

  • For one thing, the villa staff and cast are strangers — and forced to live together.

  • Lisa Vanderpump told BI there's more of a focus on the "beauty" of the guest experience similar to "Below Deck."

As a businesswoman, the indomitable Lisa Vanderpump knows how to craft a luxury hospitality experience. As a television producer, she also knows how to deliver the drama — and sometimes, those two things are not simpatico.

"This is not Château Shitshow," a frustrated Vanderpump tells a pair of servers at the start of the second episode of her latest reality show, "Vanderpump Villa." "This is Château Rosabelle that I have created, and you two are not gonna f-ck it up."

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Château Rosabelle is Vanderpump's latest business venture — a pop-up all-inclusive hotel in Château Saint-Joseph, an estate in the French countryside. The new series, which premieres Monday on Hulu, follows the elite guests who check-in for an immersive, personalized experience and the ensuing drama among the hand-selected, live-in staff Vanderpump has chosen to bring her vision to life.

Of course, being an unscripted docu-drama, not everything goes smoothly. But the Villa is not SUR, Vanderpump's West Hollywood resto, and the new show isn't "Vanderpump Rules." At least, not quite — and that's a good thing.

We spoke to the cast, including Vanderpump herself, who gave us the scoop on the drama to expect this season and what makes this show different from the long-running Bravo series that launched a bunch of messy but lovable SURvers into the spotlight.

Are Hannah and Marciano Jax and Stassi 2.0? Not quite

Marciano and Hannah in "Vanderpump Villa"
Marciano and Hannah in "Vanderpump Villa."Gilles Mingasson/Hulu

The easiest link to make between "Vanderpump Rules" and "Vanderpump Villa" is Marciano Brunette, a brash, top-selling server who appears to come from the Jax Taylor School of Reality TV Villainy. His complicated, on-and-off relationship with fellow server Hannah Fouch draws comparisons to the messy dynamic between Jax Taylor and Stassi Schroeder that made the early seasons of "VPR" so compelling.

The parallels are obvious: Marciano, like Jax, is something of a self-professed cad who simply cannot stop cheating on Hannah. Hannah, who should know better, does not know better and continues to remain entangled with Marciano as they live together at the château with the rest of the staff.

Marciano and Hannah tell BI they get the comparisons, but their relationship is "totally different" from Jax and Stassi's.

"I don't know them personally, but from watching the early seasons of 'Vanderpump Rules,' I feel like we're completely different," Hannah says. "But I can see where that can give off a similarity because of all the fights and insecurity."

Hannah points to Stassi feeling insecure in her relationship with Jax early in "VPR" — something Hannah also deals with in the early episodes as well when she and Marciano, who aren't together but are kind of together, try to figure out their relationship status.

Marciano, for his part, says he's "totally embracing" the comparison, calling Stassi and Jax "two of the most iconic characters in 'VPR' history."

"Number one guy in the group? I'll take that," Marciano jokes, referencing Jax's oft-quoted line from season four. "And she's Queen B. Absolutely."

Even though they may fit into the same general character archetypes, the couple is not just Jax and Stassi 2.0.

"That is who we are at the end of the day, but that's not who we really are," he says. "We're not Jax and Stassi. We're two completely different people."

As for whether their relationship will work out or if they'll go the way Jax and Stassi did in the end, viewers will just need to tune in and see.

"You're going to see it play out over the show," Marciano says. "You'll see it unfold," Hannah adds.

Unlike in 'Pump Rules,' the villa staff must work together — and that raises the stakes

Lisa and the chateau staff in "Vanderpump Villa."
Lisa Vanderpump and the chateau staff in "Vanderpump Villa."Gilles Mingasson/Hulu

It's hard to remember now, 11 seasons in, that virtually all of the "Vanderpump Rules" original core cast once worked at the restaurant, SUR.

But even during the show's premiere season, the show's storylines were focused more on the personal dramas among the staff and not just serving food and drinks to housewives and WeHo patrons.

"When we created 'Vanderpump Rules,' it was about an existing group of friends. This isn't that," Vanderpump, who also serves as an executive producer under her Villa Rosa banner, tells BI.

In "Vanderpump Villa," no one — except for Hannah and Marciano — knew each other before being thrown together to create travel memories for extremely wealthy travelers.

Bartender Andre Mitchell likens the eventual bond between the Villa staff, who were forced to get close during the one-and-a-half months of filming, to a family bond. But at the same time, the staff moved past much of the drama that ultimately went down due to one thing, Mitchell adds.

"We went through this amazing experience together," he says. "And we can't be too mad at each other because we were strangers. Everything gets kind of accelerated."

Despite not having history, there's the implicit drama of extremely attractive people being forced to live together in close quarters while working a high-intensity service job. That stress and proximity led to plenty of yelling — and illicit smooching.

Love triangles abound, as teasers for the season have already shown, spotlighting Andre's connections with Grace Cottrell and Gabriella Sanon, and eccentric estate manager Eric Funderwhite's flirtations with sous chef Caroline Byl, housekeeper Emily Kovacs, and server Priscila Ferrari.

"I never thought that going into there, I would form deep connections with these people I just met," Emily says, adding that the cast "was very secluded."

"But when you live together, and you work together, and you're tied at the hip basically 24/7, it's very easy to develop feelings for people," she tells BI. "It was really relaxing until the chaos ensued."

'Vanderpump Villa' is more like 'Below Deck'

Lisa crowns Harlan at the 'Rebirth' party in episode three.
Lisa crowns Harlan, a villa guest, at her "Rebirth" party in episode three.Gilles Mingasson/Hulu

Vanderpump compares her new show less to "Vanderpump Rules" and more to another hit Bravo reality show. She tells BI the format is more like "Below Deck," which follows yacht crew members living aboard a vessel and working for its guests during charter season. It also has the old-school, high-class vibe of period dramas like "Bridgerton" or "Downton Abbey."

Another key difference is that in "VPR," there's no focus on the restaurant guests or their experience, unlike in the "Villa," which prominently focuses on the guests' stories. "You don't see any of the beauty," Vanderpump says. "A lot of this is about the beauty of the chateau and the whole experience — the flowers, the food…the kitchen. You see a lot more of the aesthetic."

As a viewer, seeing the guests is a huge part of the appeal here — living vicariously through them is enjoyable for anyone who wishes they could afford to stay in a gorgeous French chateau.

Plus, some of the guests' backstories are genuinely poignant, like Harlan, a transwoman, who planned a rebirth-themed trip in episode three to celebrate her transition, which makes the viewers even more invested in seeing their stays go smoothly. (Alas, I never really cared if SUR patrons were annoyed by Stassi and her sometimes-BFF, sometimes-nemesis Kristen Doute yelling at each other in the restaurant's back alley.)

"That's what makes this different from 'Vanderpump Rules,'" Marciano says. "It's not like we're just talking in the back of SUR — no, we're getting a job done and that's the goal. And you see that in this show a lot."

"We're bonded for life from this experience," Emily adds.

The first three episodes of "Vanderpump Villa" are now streaming on Hulu, with new episodes released weekly.

Read the original article on Business Insider