They fell asleep to a sunset on the beach, drank coffee at Mocha Mott’s and had drinks at the Chowder Company. And on Tuesday night, they sealed the summer with a kiss atop the Gay Head Light.
The Vineyard, the ABC Family reality show filmed on the Island over the spring, concluded its first season on Tuesday night. The docu-drama followed a group of 20-somethings as they transitioned from adolescence to the so-called real world over the course of a Vineyard summer.
The cast was based out of the Black Dog Tavern, working and playing along the waterfront, and lived in a house on East Chop Drive in Oak Bluffs. Romantic trysts, friendship loyalties and cast members’ quest to find the right direction in life dominated the eight episodes of the show. As the show wrapped, some of the characters boarded a ferry back to the mainland, while others said they wanted to give year-round Island living a try. But whether cameras will return to follow their movements remains to be seen. ABC Family has not yet announced whether it will renew the show.
According to Nielsen ratings, the Vineyard averaged 517,000 viewers over the course of the season and received a rating of 0.4. Pretty Little Liars, a teen soap also on ABC Family, averages 3.7 million viewers per episode.
The show initially sparked widespread criticism from Islanders concerned with how the Island would be depicted. In the end, many agreed that the glossy panorama shots of the Island were beautiful, even if the “reality” of Island life was far from the truth.
“The Vineyard turned out to be a little bit like the roundabout,” restaurant owner JB Blau said, comparing it to the long-planned traffic improvement project in Oak Bluffs. “I don’t think it was as bad as we expected it to be.”
“I don’t think anyone thinks that Islanders or summer people are like that, everyone understands it was a dramatization,” he continued. “It’s not the end of the world. We have bigger fish to fry than a TV show when you have people looking for work and housing. It’s a much bigger concern than a TV show on ABC Family.”
The reality show filmed a scene at the Chowder Company in Oak Bluffs, which Mr. Blau owns, where the heartthrob Luis D’Agostino was talking out relationship woes with Islander and season regular Sean O’Brien.
Mr. Blau said customers barely noticed the light booms behind the bar and the late spring filming was a welcomed boost of income for the Chowder Company staff.
“I understand people have different opinions about it, but I’m trying to be supportive of the cast and crew,” he said. “When they were filming, we got a lot of support from them in the restaurant. It was great because the camera crews and sound people were falling in love with Martha’s Vineyard as well.”
Mr. Blau said he’s watched every episode this season except the finale.
“The Island looks beautiful,” he said. “It was fun to watch and see what experience they went through, and I know it was a big part of their lives. It was good for the Island to have our name out there.”
“Would have I watched it if it was Nantucket? I’m not the demographic,” Mr. Blau laughed. “But to see the aerial shots of the Island like that, that I’d never seen before, I thought it was an intriguing watch.”
Local musician and producer Phil daRosa was featured on the show several times this summer as a backup guitarist for aspiring singer and cast member Sophi Alvarez. Mr. daRosa has not watched any episodes from the season, but did say he has been approached by producers to “develop his role” for a possible additional season.
“Filming was fine, they were easy to work with,” Mr. daRosa said. “I knew right off the bat that it probably wasn’t going to be something hitting my demographic in terms of viewership, I could tell by the dialogue that they were shooting for the mid-teen range.”
“They were respectful of what we asked them and they were good and interesting people,” said Tim Dobel, owner of Mocha Motts.
Mr. Dobel said reality shows “aren’t my thing,” but for the little he did see of the show, he was impressed.
“There were very pretty pictures of the Vineyard,” he said.
David Broome, executive producer on the show, said that painting a beautiful picture was one of his goals when creating the show.
“I think we’re making a series that cuts through into a new genre for us — not just for us, but for the industry,” he said. “I would say we’re the prettiest reality show that has ever been made, I love it. It’s bittersweet when you wrap up a season and see the last second on screen. We have an amazing cast and I think the stories are compelling.”
The stories will continue to evolve, Mr. Broome said, and whether some cast members stay on the Island or decide to move off permanently remains to be seen.
“We’ll have to see what they end up doing big picture; it’s interesting that some of them wanted to stay who had never thought about it before,” he said.
The show held a strong social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, and was one of the top-trending Twitter topics on show nights. Mr. Broome said the attention of the show also boosted applications at the Black Dog, where inquiries for jobs have been at an all time high.
“I saw thousands and thousands and thousands of Tweets that were posted by people going, where is Martha’s Vineyard and why am I not there yet?”
Mr. Broome said he is still waiting to hear from the network whether The Vineyard will be picked up for another season, and was “proud” of the show’s debut.
“I really do want to thank the people of Martha’s Vineyard, both the public and the authorities,” Mr. Broome said. “It was a really fantastic experience from the production side and we have nothing but respect. I hope we did them pride at the end of the day and how we portrayed what the Island looks like.”