- Summer House -Carl Radke's Old F-Boy Behavior Is Pretty Shocking To Look Back On
This season, Carl Radke, Summer House’s tallest drink of water, has a near 100% approval rating according to the data geniuses at Reality Pollsters. He’s sobered up, working out, meditating, and staying out of the prodigious drama that made his reality show one of Bravo’s must-watch dramas. But it wasn’t always this way. Longtime fans will remember just five short years ago, Carl was the show’s villain.
Given his recent glow up, I thought it was worth looking into whether or not his behavior back in the day — particularly his Season 2 breakup with Lauren Wirkus — was as bad as we thought it was back then.
Summer House, you'll remember, originated around Ashley and Lauren Wirkus, aka the Wirkus Twins, who were besties of the since disgraced Vanderpump Rules SUR-ver Stassi Schroeder. We first met the Wirkuses when Stassi and some of the other girls went on a trip to the Hamptons for entirely cross-promotional purposes. Non-identical twin (what do they call those? Fratelli twins?) Ashley was about to get married and move to San Diego while Lauren was still very much single and wanted everything that her sister had. She also wanted that with Carl 1.0 who was absolutely incapable of anything other than choosing chaos on a daily basis.
Carl and Lauren dated and hooked up the whole first season, even after Carl told her he was going to a wedding without a date and then brought some other girl behind her back. Did the red flag emoji exist back in 2017, because it should have been wildly in use in all of Lauren’s group texts.
The pair dated over the fall and winter and broke up about six months before Season 2 started filming. This is “Less Stress, More Life” era Carl, which he dubbed Carl 2.0, which is ironic because he doesn’t seem to have gotten rid of any of the fuck-boy bugs that were inherent in Carl Original Recipe. As the season begins, Carl, Lauren, and Stephen, the house gay, all attend the Pride parade and Carl and Lauren make out afterwards. Just like Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, and Bastille Day, Pride is now just another day where straight people get wasted and make out.
Though broken up, Carl tells Lauren that he just wants to be friends and that he is not in a place to be dating right now. It’s summer, he wants to have fun. That said, he keeps inviting her into his room to spend the night. We don’t get to see what goes on under their duvet, but based on the slurping noises, it sounds like they are well on their way to making some very, very tall babies.
Everything comes to ahead just a couple of weeks into the season during the gang’s July 4th party. Carl and Lauren have a chat and he admits to leading her on the year before, but reiterates that he wants to get to know her as a friend. She says it’s fine because he’s not someone she would want to date anyway. Everything seems settled and like they are on the same page.
That’s until Courtney, the girl Carl invited to the party shows up.
Lauren gets wasted and, while Carl is talking to Courtney, shoves an entire American flag berry cake in his face, not once, but twice. What a waste of a very good cake. And it’s not like Carl did something to annoy her and she did this in a crime of passion: This was a premeditated drive-by fruiting.
At 6 a.m., as the sun is coming up, the two climb into the hot tub and Lauren tells Carl that she wants to date the “best version of him.” They crawl into bed and as they’re making out Carl says, “Lauren, you’re my girl.” So, who is leading who on here? Is it Carl, saying that he doesn’t want to date her but acting otherwise? (Some would call this “gaslighting” and they would be using the term wrong.) Is it Lauren, who is saying she doesn’t want a relationship with Carl but then actively tries to pursue one? If they’re both doing the same thing, can one of them be wrong?
The next weekend, Ashley Wirkus comes to visit and she is scolding Lauren, telling her that she’s stupid and she needs to keep her emotions in check when it comes to Carl. When Lauren and Carl get into a fight about Carl texting someone who may or may not have been another girl, Ashley commits what is the season’s most infamous act, going up to the door to Carl’s bedroom and smashing a whole watermelon on the floor. Yes, another drive-by fruiting. Carl leaves the room and Lauren is mopping up the mess with an entire roll of Bounty. Ashley says, “This is exactly what I feared. Lauren’s here to pick up the pieces and where’s Carl? Why are on the ground like a dog?” Um, I know why. Because you smashed a watermelon on the floor for no reason!
The next weekend, when everyone’s mothers are in town but thankfully sleeping at a nearby hotel, Carl goes to bed early and is upstairs flirting with a girl on FaceTime. Stephen and Ashley go to Carl’s door and overhear their conversation and tell Lauren. She then goes upstairs, barges into his room and tells him that she’s sick to her stomach that she gave her heart to him. She says, “I am a prize that you treated like shit.” She later tells him that, “I hold myself to a higher standard.” Um, you’re the girl who wasted a whole cake and then bounced around with your tatas out because Carl was talking to another girl. What kind of standard is that?
This marks the end of their ongoing relationship, more or less. So who was right and who was wrong in this situation? Well, it’s clear they were both wrong. Carl was definitely leading her on, telling her that he didn’t want to date but making out with her every weekend. But Lauren is also at fault for not being clear in what she needs in a relationship from Carl. If she wanted or expected some kind of exclusivity, then she should have told him rather than going along with their open relationship and then getting mad when he chose to get close to another woman. (There are shades of Paige DeSorbo and Craig Conover’s Season 6 relationship here.)
I think the real problem for Carl, something I don’t think he would do now, is that he never took Lauren’s feelings into consideration. He never realized that she couldn’t do the casual thing. Even if he was upfront with her about his intentions, that isn’t enough to abstain him from guilt in the situation. At some point he needed to realize she wanted more and say, “You know what, I’m actually just going to sleep with the Courtney girl and stop torturing this poor Wirkus girl."
I remember watching this initially and being much more on Carl’s side than Lauren’s and I think that the problem is that, with the Wirkuses, the punishment never fit the crime. Yes, Carl was a dick to Lauren, but she kept going back. After the cake, it should have been over. After the watermelon, it should have been over. But still she kept going back until flirt-on-the-phone gate. Also, all of that behavior is insane to the extreme. (Hello, that’s why they were cast on a reality show.) If Lauren wanted to gin up sympathy for herself, she and her sister shouldn’t have been lobbing foodstuffs at Carl for an entire season.
There is also the problem with Stephen, who was Lauren’s ally in the house and exposed the secret of Carl’s bisexual threeway in what seemed like revenge for the way he was treating Lauren. Yes, Stephen tried to make it out that Carl was a liar and that’s why he was talking about it, but it seemed like a petty vendetta meant to embarrass our three-balled bro. In the case of Summer House, the only thing worse than a fuckboy is a group meant to destroy him for behavior that they should have seen coming. Wait, was Carl the original West Elm Caleb?
Maybe so, but most importantly, Carl has learned some valuable lessons from his time with Lauren and seems like he would never do that again. That’s great for him as a person but, possibly, bad for us as reality TV viewers.