“I’m passionate about dogs, just not crazy about bitches,” Lisa Vanderpump declared back in Season 6 of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
Besides being one of the greatest taglines in “Housewives” history, it perfectly captured the reality TV veteran’s relationships with animals and her castmates. Vanderpump lasted three more seasons on the Bravo show before quitting amid a ridiculous storyline involving a dog with an equally ridiculous name: Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy.
The storyline, dubbed Puppygate, is too convoluted to rehash here. But it did put her rescue center, Vanderpump Dogs, on the map. And now there’s a Peacock show about the center.
Vanderpump has always used her platform to promote her businesses, including restaurants SUR (the backdrop of her spinoff series “Vanderpump Rules”), PUMP and TomTom. It’s par for the course for the housewives, who use the franchise to launch everything from workout videos to wine. But Vanderpump Dogs — the setting and title of her new Peacock series — is different. The Vanderpump Dogs Foundation, founded five years ago, is a 501c3 dog rescue organization. Vanderpump’s animal rights activism — which included championing legislation urging nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade — has been well-chronicled on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” In short, it’s a very real and very important cause.
“Vanderpump Dogs” puts a face (and very cute furry one, at that) on that cause. Whereas “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Vanderpump Rules” focus on larger-than-life personalities jockeying for camera-time, “Vanderpump Dogs” puts the dogs squarely first.
“It absolutely is about the rescue and the heartwarming stories and the connection between the dogs,” Vanderpump told TheWrap ahead of Wednesday’s series premiere. “It’s not based on the staff at all, even though they are a part of it. It’s about the dog stories and the connection with the people that come to adopt them.”
The dogs get the glamour treatment at the rescue center (via a “Vanderpuffed” makeover) and on the show (each rescue gets a profile complete with a headshot). The center itself, painted in Vanderpump’s signature pink, also has an upscale look. The goal, Vanderpump explains, is to match the right dog with the right person.
“There are reasons that you’re not walking into a place with cages and is sterile,” Vanderpump explained. “There’s couches, chandeliers, music. Come sit down, interact with the dog, spend time with the dog, get to know the dog, We’ve got a roof deck. That way, you can play with the dogs and spend a little time also really have an understanding of what your limitations are in the lifestyle you live and what you can offer the dog. And make sure you’re really passionate about your new furry friend, because we can’t afford to get it wrong. You know, normally it’s somebody got it wrong before they got to us. So this is their second chance, it’s very important.”
“Vanderpump Dogs” sets up various scenarios with potential dog owners. Some feel a little more produced. The series premiere features a “pup”-prosal (our term, not the show’s) but most are more heartfelt. In a particularly emotional episode, a woman who became a paraplegic after a car accident comes to the center in search of a service animal. The show also explores what happens when a dog is returned to the rescue center (without the drama that surrounded poor Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy).
Peacock’s “Vanderpump Dogs” cuts out the superficial drama that is the hallmark of the shows on sister network Bravo. Tonally, it’s feel-good programming audiences need right now as we come out of the pandemic. It’s also worth noting that “Vanderpump Dogs” features a diverse cast, something the other shows have lacked in the past. So if you’re a dog lover or an LVP stan, it’s worth checking out.
“Vanderpump Dogs” is currently streaming on Peacock.