'Summer House' stars Kyle Cooke, Amanda Batula talk growing from season 3's cheating scandal (Exclusive)
Season 3 of "Summer House" has been difficult for Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula, to say the least.
In addition to weathering Kyle cheating on Amanda between summers, new cheating rumors brought to light by housemate Lindsay Hubbard, deciding to move in together and subsequently going apartment hunting, starting a business together and dealing with the general stresses of a share house, it was almost too much to bear for the couple.
The operative word there, of course, is "almost."
Kyle and Amanda seemingly made it to the other side of their tumultuous summer, during which Kyle decided to purchase an engagement ring as he plans on proposing very soon. During an exclusive sit-down interview with AOL's Gibson Johns, the couple explained that, as tough as the drama was to deal with, it actually forced them to grow together.
"For me, it’s therapeutic, because finally that door is closed and that chapter is over. It’s done. Honestly, as I watch it even more so now, I see it as a way to learn from it and figure out how to better handle my emotions," Amanda explained. "It’s a learning experience and you’re able to reflect on something, which not many people have the opportunity to do, so I try to make the most of it and become better from it."
"I do try to learn from it and hope that I’ll be able to grow from it," Kyle echoed. "I’ve actually grown a lot over the last three years, and I think being part of this show has helped significantly. Over the course of a summer, we go through what the average person goes through in a year. It’s a very unique experience, and I’ve certainly benefited from it.
Ahead of the "Summer House" season 3 finale, airing on Bravo on Monday, June 3, at 10 p.m. EST, check out part one of our interview with Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula, where we walk about the most difficult episodes for them to watch back, making their relationship stronger, the importance of having Paige DeSorbo and Hannah Berner around for Amanda and Kyle's apprehension about asking Amanda's father for her hand in marriage while dealing with allegations that he cheated on her again:
Are you relieved that we’re almost at the end of season 3? It’s been a doozy for you guys.
Kyle Cooke: Between last Monday’s episode and the finale, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more stressed and the pressure of life more than watching it play out. I’m relieved, but I also can hardly remember what was happening in my life because I was being pulled in so many different directions.
Amanda Batula: I look forward to watching all the episodes, and I usually watch three, four, fives times because there are so many things that you miss, but the last few episodes I’ve just watched once. There are a few that I won’t even watch live -- I can’t go through it again. Twice was enough. Once was enough!
So you do watch these episodes, though? Even the toughest ones?
Kyle: Historically we actually watched together. But, it’s funny, now that we live together, there hasn’t been as much of an emphasis to come together and watch it. For the first time ever, the episode where Lindsay confronts me about the rumor on the lawn, that was by far the toughest episode and we didn’t watch that together.
Amanda: They’re just so emotional and to go through those emotions again is so hard. I’m crying watching it.
Does watching all of your relationship troubles playing out on television provide any sort of therapeutic outlet for you guys as a couple? Does it give you new perspective on what happened?
Amanda: For me, it’s therapeutic, because finally that door is closed and that chapter is over. It’s done. Honestly, as I watch it even more so now, I see it as a way to learn from it and figure out how to better handle my emotions. Was I actually in the wrong? It’s a learning experience and you’re able to reflect on something, which not many people have the opportunity to do, so I try to make the most of it and become better from it.
Kyle: One would think that I would be better at handling myself, because I’ve had so many opportunities to learn, but for me, first of all, it feels like it was so long ago. There’s an element of fun, anticipation and excitement because you’re watching what was -- in most cases -- a really fun weekend, so I always look forward to it, but this was certainly a more emotional summer for me.
Amanda: Is it therapeutic? Is it emotional? Do you not care?
Kyle: I try to learn from it. I wouldn’t call it therapeutic for me… it’s more that I do try to learn from it and hope that I’ll be able to grow from it. I’ve actually grown a lot over the last three years, and I think being part of this show has helped significantly. Over the course of a summer, we go through what the average person goes through in a year. It’s a very unique experience and I’ve certainly benefited from it.
Being on a reality show, there's a balance between opening up your whole life during filming while also opening yourself up to getting unsolicited advice and criticism from viewers. How do you guys strike that balance mentally? It must be a bit difficult to navigate.
Amanda: Kyle’s always been an open book to everyone, but I’ve been a more quiet, secretive person with my emotions, even when I started to date Kyle. I didn’t even tell him how I felt until six months into our relationship. So, watching back season 2, I was definitely more quiet and I knew we were filming, but I tried to keep things personal. But, this season, I really opened up and let my walls down. I was more comfortable in the house, more comfortable with the people around me and really just put it all out there. I was terrified that I was going to get such a backlash, but the fanbase has been so amazing and supportive. There are so many people who are able to relate to what I’ve gone through on some level, which makes me feel like that’s why I’m doing this. You have to be open! It’s made it easier, because if my struggles can help someone else then that’s great.
Kyle: Obviously, there were some changes last summer that allowed her to feel a little more at home and she could hear her own voice. [Laughs] She’s really good at helping me avoid this, but when people do offer their input or advice or their judgement, I want to remind every single one of them that this is a show about partying in the Hamptons. You want to film me at my stand-up desk? That’s not going to make great television. To me, it’s frustrating because, if you just glanced over every now and then or even if you watch the show obsessively, you might think Kyle has a drinking problem or Kyle is an a--hole and the worst boyfriend, but people forget that this is a snapshot. We work, we have jobs and we all don’t work together, so there’s no real way to track that in an entertaining way. We all go our separate ways and are regular New Yorkers who hold our sh-t down during the week.
Amanda: Kyle’s learning to shake off those random comments from people making judgements, because I’m like, “You know your truth. You don’t drink all the time. We barely drink when we’re not filming.” At the end of the day, who cares what other people think?
Amanda, it's also been better in the house for you this year because you actually had peers and girlfriends that you could lean on and confide in during these tough moments with Kyle, and you guys also had a lot of fun together. Talk to me about what having Paige and Hannah there this summer meant for you.
Amanda: I will say that last summer was difficult because, although I thought that the people in the house were my friends, I still didn’t feel that really strong connection to them, so when I got in a fight with Kyle, I would go to Kyle to complain about the argument. There’s no time to cool off and it makes things worse. I also kind of thought that I was never hanging out with the girls. I was their little sister that someone’s mom told them they had to bring around. I didn’t feel like part of the group, so I wasn’t able to be me. This summer, I was able to complain about Kyle to the girls, and you need that space from your significant other, because if you complain to them about them all the time, it will only make things worse. It was nice to have people that I wanted to hang out with and be around and have that space from Kyle in a good way. It was nice to have girls that I could hang out with in the bed in the morning. It felt like my summers with my friends when I would go out to the Jersey Shore. This it how I want to spend my summers.
Kyle, for you, I feel like the new additions solidified you, Carl and Lindsay as the OGs of the cast. You definitely relied on Carl and Lindsay in some of your tough moments, as well. Was it good for you to have that?
Kyle: There were less opportunities for their to be fractions and cliques and pettiness, quite frankly. It was like, “Alright, there are three of us from the original house,” so in good times and bad, we stood together. It’s an experience. Show or no show, you want to be surrounded by people during 11 weekends in the Hamptons that you’re actually friends with. Lindsay and I butt heads, but we work through it. It was a relief to have Carl, in particular. He’s my boy, and we’ve gone through a lot together. Having each other’s back is something that both of us count on and it’s been a fun friendship to have it continue to evolve.
It was nice seeing him this season go to you and be like, "Kyle, let’s step out of the group for second." That didn’t use to happen, and it felt like a necessary change sometimes this year.
Kyle: You look out after one another. Sometimes I just need to be a better listener.
Amanda: A huge thing is that Carl not only loves Kyle, but he loves Kyle and I in our relationship. We go out all the time and he’s like, “I just love you guys so much!” He’s our No. 1 fan and he’ll do what he has to do to make sure that, when Kyle is acting up, he tells him to get it together.
Kyle: We’re a big part of why Carl wanted to find love going into last summer. He kept saying, “I want to go on double dates!” It was actually really cute, but I get that. You can only be single in the Hamptons for so long until you feel like you’re a broken record. I want to be there for him, too.
I kept seeing some criticism that you guys should be growing up more or growing out of the partying lifestyle. What do you say to people who tell you that?
Kyle: First of all, a lot of people just can’t relate to the grind and the desire to switch it up during the best season of the year in a city where it’s very seasonal. The winter sucks! We want to let loose and have fun. I do agree that we can evolve; it doesn’t have to look like the same summer over and over again, because that would be horrible. I have lots of friends my age that are actually buying houses out there. It’s funny, I see friends maturing in different ways and there are plenty of opportunities to still go out to the Hamptons, have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and it just doesn’t have to look like summer ’16, where we’re partying our faces off.
Amanda: I will say, in season 2, some people -- and us included -- would go to Montauk, which is an hour drive from the house, be out til 3 or 5 in the morning, and we’ve evolved to start staying local now. We’ve gone to bed earlier! We call it a night earlier now, which is evolving, in a way.
During the season finale, we'll see you asking Amanda's father for permission to propose to her weeks after she told them that you cheated on her. Talk to me about gearing up for that conversation last summer, and then also watching Amanda tell her parents when that particular episode aired.
Kyle: Last summer, it was my worst nightmare, because I was obviously working hard to overcome everything that we’ve been through and I know Amanda is kind of closed off and I knew she hadn’t even told her best friends about the incident, but it was only a matter of time. It was heartbreaking, because I had such a good relationship with her parents and felt like I was part of the family, and you’re in the circle of trust and, within a heartbeat, I was outside of it and feeling very lost with no clue as to how to restore that. Seeing the conversation was one of the tougher parts of the season, because I do really respect and adore her parents. But, you can’t help but to be like, "They have every right to react the way they did and to say the things they did." For me, it was very much expected, but it was tough to actually see it. I felt horrible that I put Amanda in that situation to go to her parents and have to say the last thing that she’d ever want to say, which is that Kyle really f--ked up. I had this master plan, where I would throw this event for Loverboy to kick off fundraising, and Amanda and I had worked together on this and the whole idea was to combine that with asking her dad for permission. Going into that event I didn’t even know if they were going to come. I couldn’t tell her why I wanted them to come so badly, and I was at risk to make it sound like I wanted their money. It was a fine line, and I kept crossing my fingers. It was crazy, because I always wanted to propose on Labor Day and it had been an important weekend for us going back to season one and even before that, because we met around that time. When you get your master plan foiled, it’s like, what do you do?
This is the first part of a two-part interview. Part two will be published on Tuesday, June 4, after the "Summer House" season 3 finale on Bravo.