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Bravo’s ‘The Valley’ showcases reality drama, without the table tossing

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

(CNN) — Somewhere between the immaturity of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” and ridiculousness of the “Housewives” franchise, lies “The Valley.”

The latest Bravo reality series, which concluded its first season earlier this week, has a different tone than many of the network’s other “Bravolebrity” shows that seem intentionally cast and edited for the judgmental pleasure of viewers at home. Instead of table flipping and glass throwing, “The Valley” follows a group of mostly 30-something friends as they deal with relatable relationship, parenting and professional struggles.

Set in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the series stars “Vanderpump” alums Jax Taylor, Brittany Cartwright and Kristen Doute. The cast also includes newbies Nia Booko, Danny Booko, Michelle Lally, Jesse Lally, Jason Caperna, Janet Caperna, Jasmine Goode and Zack Wickham, all of whom in some version of an early mid-life crisis.

Yes, it’s still messy, it is Bravo, after all, but with less cocktail-induced chaos.

Brian Moylan, a Vulture writer who covers all things Bravo and the author of “The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives,” became a quick fan of the show. After originally recapping the weekly episodes under the “Vanderpump Rules” banner, he decided “The Valley” needed a breakout column of its own.

“For a while Bravo’s had a hard time in the middle,” he told CNN. “They do really well with kids in their 20s partying, and with women in their 40s and 50s, they do a good job. This is the first time they’re covering some new ground.”

Viewers have been following updates in the cast members’ lives, both on screen and off. Since the first season wrapped, Taylor and Cartwright announced they have separated and the Layy’s are headed for divorce. Other “Valley” cast members shared struggles with infertility and postpartum depression on the show – all real issues and have made “The Valley” feel, well, more real.

Bravo has already announced a Season 2 is in the works.

“They need to retain some of the things viewers came for, like Danny and Nia dealing with. their young kids,” Moylan said. “The show is focusing on child-rearing in a way that is not fighting and partying.”

Reality tv without the yelling, name-calling and too many tequila shots? Bravo.

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