Stream It Or Skip it: ‘Summer Job’ on Netflix, An Italian Reality Show Where Lazy Kids Are Forced To Work For The First Time In Their Lives



Netflix’s first Italian reality show, Summer Job is full of vapid bathing suit-clad young adults who claim to hate working and love to party. When they’re forced to work summer jobs in order to pay their way on a Mexican vacation, they’re devastated to learn they’ve been lured to their destination under false pretenses, until they learn they could win 100,000 euro if they actually put some elbow grease into their new jobs. While the show sounds formulaic it’s saved by the genuine hilarity and growth of the contestants.


Opening Shot: We pan across an image of the Mexican Riviera, with its crystal blue water and sunny sky, as host Matilde Gioli says, “A dream holiday. We all want it, prepare for it, and wait months for it,” before adding that in her day, she had to work summer jobs to pay for a gorgeous holiday like this.

The Gist: Ten young (“lazy, spoiled,” Gioli adds) Italians who have never worked a day in their life think they’re about to have a great – free – Mexican vacation. They’re very wrong. The cast think that they’ve signed up for a show called Summer Fever, where they’ll get to enjoy a free tropical vacation. It’s unclear what they think the premise really is, maybe they just think they’re on a Real World-style show where they’re just filmed living their lives as roommates? One guy says he’s just here for the sea and the pussy, while another girl, who is 20, says she’s spent the last two years of her life “on sabbatical.” Yet another, Pietro, describes himself over the course of his introduction as Dorian Gray, a Michelangelo cherub, and a vagabond. He wears a sweater vest that’s open to the navel and looks like he’s in an MGMT cover band and he’s unintentionally hilarious. I really hope he doesn’t turn out to be a men’s rights activist or something.

I know I’m supposed to think these people are spoiled and awful but I am fully charmed by the flowery descriptions the cast gives of themselves, and despite the fact that they all claim to be lazy, they also seem to be smart and funny, so there’s hope for them yet, I’m just sure of it.

After they all meet, the host, Matilde, says that they’ll have a day to enjoy themselves before they learn the real premise of the show and are put to work. They go on to party and drink all night, with most of them going to bed around 4am. They are awoken at 6am to learn that they have to go to work. If they’re actually decent, productive employees, they learn from Matilde that they’ll take home a paycheck. If they stink at their jobs, they’ll be eliminated from the show and will no longer be in contention to win the 100,000 euro prize at the end.

Photo: Netflix

Our Take: I often approach these tropical island reality shows with caution because they’re usually stocked with people straight out of central reality show casting: self-obsessed party animals who drink and hook up and are generally fun but are predictable when it comes to giving good reality show drama. Nothing against this type, it can just be tiring.

Summer Job could have been exhausting in this way, because we are constantly reminded in voiceovers that the contestants are lazy and they have no idea what they’ve got coming to them (work! work is what they have coming to them!) but the jobs they’re given include working at a monkey sanctuary, a diving center, and a restaurant, are full of clever, funny opportunities, and the show makes sure that all of the bosses who are employing these bon vivants are stern and not willing to put up with any of their BS. It might seem frustrating to watch the show and see young adults so inept and averse to work, but that’s what makes the show tick, and over the course of its eight episodes, some of the contestants do transform and the show has a redemptive and, dare I say uplifting, quality by the time the grand finale rolls around.

Sex and Skin: Before they’re told they need to go to work, pretty much the only thing these contestants thing about is having sex with one another. Things get intimate between two of them, but we don’t actually see them have sex.

Parting Shot: In the final moments of the premiere episode, three of the contestants are fired after only a few hours at their new jobs.

Sleeper Star: There are a few contestants who are consistently entertaining and I’d hate to see them get sent home early. The aforementioned Pietro, who claims he chooses not to work because wasting precious time on this earth doing something you hate is nothing short of cruel, and Marina, the biggest party girl of all who stumbles around drunkenly and seems like she could be the first to get fired (which of course makes me hope she wins this whole thing).

Most Pilot-y Line: We’re supposed to hate on these kids because they don’t like to work and they only care about sex and partying, but I love their way with words. “I love getting drunk and having fun,” one contestant, Melina, says when we meet her. “I’m James Brown. He’s the smell of sweat when you’re dancing. You feel super sexy, like a sex bomb. And you sweat. And you don’t give a damn because you’re hot.” If there’s one thing I loathe about reality shows about vapid young 20-somethings, it’s the cast describing how sexy they are, but I thoroughly enjoy Melina’s sweaty James Brown spin on it. Later she refers to her drinking by comparing herself to the cockroach from Kafka and I honestly love that the editors kept in a Metamorphosis reference on this show.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Unlike so many reality shows, the hook of this one doesn’t have to do with dating or coupling up, which is already kind of refreshing and interesting. And while the cast is generally cut from the same cloth as a lot of typical reality contestants, they’re truly witty, which makes it easy to laugh with them (while also sometimes laughing at them), and they actually break out of that mold as they evolve and mature over the course of the show.

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.