Hannah Berner talks 'Summer House' season 3, sparring with Lindsay and her 'secret weapon' on the show (Exclusive)
When "Summer House" returned for its third season last month, the cast had undergone a major shakeup, with three new cast members joining the Hamptons share house: Hannah Berner, Jordan Verroi and Paige DeSorbo, who knew each other from work.
Of the three new additions, Berner has emerged as the new de facto voice of the people, oftentimes saying what everyone is thinking but what nobody else is willing to say and always finding a way to bring humor to any given situation.
As the host of the "Berning in Hell" podcast, it's no wonder that Berner had clearly been able to hone her voice, but on "Summer House," the newly-minted reality star found that she had to adapt to the format. Used to creating and editing her own viral videos, crafting perfectly hilarious tweets and hosting her own podcast, jumping into a scenario where she's at the behest of the show's editors and cameraman had its own unique learning curve.
Five episodes into the third season of "Summer House," Hannah Berner sat down with AOL to talk about her experience on the show, her advice for Jordan amid criticism from viewers on social media, sparring with Lindsay Hubbard in this week's episode, her upcoming "Berning in Hell" live show and why Paige DeSorbo has proven to be her "secret weapon."
Check out our full conversation with Hannah Berner below:
We're several episodes into your first season on "Summer House." How has the experience been for you now that people are seeing it?
You know how you feel throughout filming, but you don’t know how America is going to feel about you, and I’m actually surprised at how smart the viewers are. Some people are understanding me, and it feels so beautiful that people are watching and connecting with me. Being able to connect to the viewers has been the most fun, because it’s such a tough experience when we are all secluded [in the house] together, so to see America enjoy this grind that we were on … you forget that it will eventually be public, because it’s like a social experiment gone wrong -- but also gone right!
That's nice, because I feel as though, when you're a new addition to a reality show, people are going to decide pretty quickly if they like you or they don't like you. There's usually no middle ground.
It’s so weird, because I live my life trying to not care what people think, and literally the show is about trying to get people to root for you or enjoy watching you. What’s different about this show is that I’m used to doing scripted, one-minute viral videos where it looks like I just posted it, but I actually wrote a script, produced it and directed it. I also tweet a lot, which are still constructed things that I choose to show. I’m excited that people who have been following my comedy for a while now get to see the Hannah in between that’s hungover or trying to be a good friend or making stupid decisions or just being boring.
What’s it been like watching yourself on the show? Are there things that you’ve said or done that you forgot about?
I was afraid that I was going to look like a potato on TV, because you know when you take a bad photo and then you’re like, "Who is that person? I’m a monster!" [Laughs] But I was really diligent with my spray tans, and my biggest advice to people is to get tan if you’re going to be on reality TV, because you lose ten pounds immediately. I also feel like I talk so much, so it’s funny to see how in some scenes I just don’t talk because it’s cut out. There were also drunken moments that you don’t know that they were recording, like in the hot tub or whatever. There’s something so beautiful about those moments, though, where I didn’t care what people were thinking of me and I was just being myself. It’s really a time to reflect on yourself a little and also remember that it’s just certain moments of a summer. I normally get to edit myself in my videos, so you really do have to let go.
You, Paige and Jordan sort of came onto the show as new additions together, and you knew each other through work. What was your mindset in terms of being grouped together with them, but also being your own personality on the show?
We are so different, but we play off of each other really well. At the company we were working at, we all did very different things: Jordan was in sales, Paige was writing and I was doing video, so I always felt like my own kind of creative mind, but it was also great going to the house with two people, because if I had gone alone, like Danielle last season, it’s actually really tough to be alone. I remember looking at Jordan in the beginning just being like, “Let’s have each other’s backs!” I’ve known him for, like, two years and I needed to know that at least one person on the show would defend me regardless, so having that was actually really beneficial. Also, Paige and I coming in together made it harder to bully us, because there are two of us. Paige is low-key scary, and she’s way better at defending herself than me, so having her on my side was a secret weapon.
You and Paige seem to have been embraced by the viewers, but Jordan has gotten some pretty scathing feedback from viewers for some of the comments that he's made on the show. Have you talked about how it's been going for him? What do you make of the reaction to him?
I feel like there’s always going to be a villain. As you can tell, nobody dislikes Jordan and he would never hurt a fly. He’s the nicest guy ever. But, we did question who he was and we were having trouble getting to know him. His interviews kind of took it to the next level of people starting to get pissed off about what he said. It’s so funny, because in interviews he makes so many remarks, but I think he’s been doing pretty well. Also, at the end of the day, he’s adding some great conversation to the show, and I think he knows that. With anything in life, nothing stays the same, and that’s what I told him. I said, “You might be in the weeds now, but you are never going to stay in the weeds, and when you hit rock bottom, you can only go up!”
And next week it could be somebody else who is positioned as the villain.
It could be me! They always tell me that people like people one week and then America can turn on you so fast. Imagine if someone judged you by one sentence you said.
Being on a show like this must force you to develop a thick skin pretty quickly.
I’ve definitely learned that people who are louder tend to be the pissed off people, but you have to remind yourself that there are millions of people watching that just don’t tweet. Also, James Kennedy [from "Vanderpump Rules"] once told me, “No matter how many people tell me they hate me online, when they see me in person they want a photo with me, so...”
Who did you connect with most in the existing "Summer House" cast last summer?
Amanda. When I watched season two, she seemed like the token girlfriend who was always slightly pissed off at Kyle or babysitting him, but I got to see a side to her this summer not as a girlfriend but as a friend, and she is so smart, so witty and so funny. I was pleasantly surprised by who she was. I also really like Danielle. I think she has the purest heart, she has gone through a lot in her life and she is one of the most successful people career-wise in the show, and people don’t know that about her. She’s a bad-ass. She also drinks better than anyone in the house. [Laughs] I wish there was a thing on the bottom right that tracked how many drinks we’ve had, because I’m f--ked up at three drinks and I’m slowly sipping, whereas Danielle is probably at 130 and still going strong.
In this upcoming episode, it looks like you and Lindsay get into it about something. Can you tell me a bit about what we can expect from you two coming up?
One thing to remember, if you’re into astrology, is that Lindsay and I are both Leos; we’re alphas. Paige and Amanda are very outgoing and funny, but at the end of the day, they’re not as alpha as me, Lindsay and Kyle, who is also a Leo. We called it the Lion’s Den, but I was the newbie so I kind of let them have their thing. With Lindsay, something about me always pissed her off, but she would never call me out on anything. She’d just make little backhanded compliments -- not even compliments, more like digs. But I didn’t know what her deal was with me, and it does come to a head next episode. It’s actually an interesting concept, because she basically makes fun of me for being a boy and masculine, and my argument is that to be a woman you don’t have to be what society says is feminine. She also makes fun of my flirting, and all I have to say is that I’m playing chess and she’s playing checkers. I have fun with flirting, and I don’t have any issue getting with a guy, so when she was saying that I was like, "Don’t worry about me."
So, basically, we didn’t have an event in the last couple of weeks, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t forget. I’m Italian. I can shrug it off, but only so many times before I’m like, “What’s going on? Why are you constantly coming at me like that?” I’m not scared of her, and there’s also a weird dichotomy where Lindsay just had a makeover where she came into this season with new hair, new boobs and I don’t care about my looks that much. I mean that more like, it’s one of the many parts of me, and growing up as an athlete, my ego was attached to sports more than how many guys liked my photo or how I looked in the mirror, so I think we have a different perspective on how to feel good about yourself. I don’t feel like I have to change how I dress or how I look to make myself more attractive to other people.
Despite any lingering drama between all of you guys, it seems like you guys are still getting together now and watching the show together. How would you characterize the cast's group dynamic? What's it been like experiencing this all together?
We have the most hysterical group chat, and I joke that we should print out a book of it. We’re also the kind of group that, once you go through something so unique that other people can’t truly understand, you have an immediate special bond with the people. When we all get together, it’s really like my second family and I wasn’t expecting that. It’s like going to camp. I really do love a part of everyone, and there’s also a part of everyone that ticks me off. Lindsay and I have had a lot of ups and downs, but you don’t always hit it off in female friendships. But you also don’t always not like someone and then never like them.
All in all, would you do this whole thing again? Would you come back for another season?
I grew a lot from last summer, because I was put into situations that I had never been put into before and I think there’s more to our story. It’s not over. There are some answers that we still need to get, and I would do it again.
Outside of "Summer House," you also host the "Berning in Hell" podcast. Talk to me about the concept behind the show and how it's evolved since you started it.
It’s actually my passion project, because after working a lot of jobs with bosses, it’s amazing that I have my own mini thing that nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say. It’s an idea that I had before “Summer House,” because I was sick of the show-off mentality. And there are so many people that I would look up to that would make me feel bad about myself, and I wanted to interview these people and have them talk about their demons and their insecurities and anxieties and fears. I put people on the hot seat and I’m like, “Let’s talk about how f--ked up you are,” and then how they end up coping with their hell. It’s a comedic mental health podcast where we laugh about stuff, but I’ve also learned a lot of incredible things about people. You know how people say that everyone’s going through something? It’s basically the podcast that brings that to life.
It's kind of the perfect podcast for this Instagram-dominating era that we're in right now, where everyone makes their lives seem perfect on social media. You're really pulling back the curtain.
It’s like how I hate small talk. Everyone I talk to I’m like, “What makes you tick? What have you broken before that you had to fix?” That’s what entices me about people. I talk to CEOs, reality TV stars, actors, ballet dancers, athletes. It’s been truly fascinating.
And you're about to perform a live "Berning in Hell" show at Carolines on Broadway on April 16, which is a pretty iconic venue to be performing at!
Oh, my god! And I’m a New Yorker. They DM’d me and told me that they loved my podcast and wondered if I had ever considered doing anything live. I was like, “This is the universe telling me that we’re onto the next thing.” People have been telling me to attempt standup, so I’ll start with a monologue and I have Taylor Strecker and Daryn Carp interviewing me. It ends with me playing a game with Carl. I have to put that motherf--ker on the hot seat. [Laughs] I’m excited.
Have you noticed new people coming into your orbit -- following you, listening to your podcast -- because of the show?
My goal was that if people like me on the show and want more of me, it’s how I trick them to listening about mental health. If you want more of me, this is more. Binge my podcast and really get to know how my brain works. I’ve seen an immediate uptick, and I hope that next season I can delve more into how the podcast has grown and progressed over time.
What's next for you? Any other projects planned for the future?
I’m working on a potential talk show with Paige and maybe another dating podcast. My goal is just to continue to make my own content and feel free and inspired, but ultimately just trying to make people laugh and myself laugh so I don’t cry.
This interview has been edited and condensed. "Summer House" airs on Bravo on Mondays at 10 p.m. EST. Buy tickets to Hannah Berner's live "Berning in Hell" show here.
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