Duane Martin, left, Robin Thicke, Kevin Hart and Boris Kodjoe star in "Real… (BET )
Kevin Hart's amiable, loose-limbed "Real Husbands of Hollywood," which premieres Tuesday on BET, is not so much a parody of the Bravo franchise, whose name it echoes and structure it borrows, as it is a kind of (mostly) black "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
As with Larry David's HBO comedy, the successful entertainers play themselves as unremarkable, petty, confused, obsessive, argumentative and rarely bothered with actual work. (Which does pretty much describe the cast of any "Real Housewives" series you might name.) And, indeed, "Curb" executive producer Tim Gibbons is an executive producer here as well.
"Before my daddy got on drugs," says Hart, "he once told me that for every boss there's a hundred wannabe bosses. I had no idea that those wannabe bosses would be my boys." He is one of those wannabes himself, of course.
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Comedian Nick Cannon, actors Boris Kodjoe and Duane Martin, recording artist and producer Robin Thicke (Alan's sound-alike, look-alike son, weirdly) and comic and "Curb" alum J.B. Smoove, shooting here for the world's biggest spit take, round out the main cast, All have well-known wives — the most well known of them being Mariah Carey, who is married to Cannon — all of whom remain offstage.
Actor-comic Hart ("Think Like a Man," "Undeclared"), divorced, is the series odd man out, its narrator and the main target of its jokes. The first, which has a hawk doing its business on his head as he rides to a hip-hop soundtrack through stock-glamorous Hollywood locations flanked by standard-issue Hot Girls, sets a theme.
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At a party at Cannon's, where the host flips burgers onto the ground and puts them back on the grill, he is mistaken for a little boy — Hart is short of stature — and beaten up by Cannon's 11-year-old nephew after he insults a pie the boy had made. "There's two things all Cannon men can do," says Nick. "We can bake, and we can fight."
Playing yourself as a loser is one of the great luxuries of being a winner. Mr. New Money is Hart's "reality show nickname" here; he is a kind of wound-up terrier, small and scrappy, hysterical, befuddled, boastful, covetous, competitive, easily bruised and lacking perspective.
"I think one thing that we know is that I'm the most successful client you have," Hart tells his lawyer, when he learns that she also represents all his friends. (He has come to sue Cannon's nephew, and Cannon himself, "'cause he sold me a house I didn't know I was buying from him.")
"Well, no, that would be DiCaprio."
"You represent white people?"
"It's the only way I can afford to represent you."
The show is amusing without seeming to aim for anything more. Its greatest charm is in showing people who really do seem to be friends hanging out and making fun of one another and themselves. It is at its best when they all seem to be talking over one another, without actually talking over one another — which lets the viewer feel in on the joke and present at the party.
'Real Husbands of Hollywood'
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Rating: Not rated