Despite months of vocal critiques and speculation, when the ABC Family docu-soap The Vineyard premiered Tuesday night, all appeared quiet in Oak Bluffs. While several cast members made appearances on national entertainment shows and live tweeted, cast member Cat Todd sat at a bar surrounded by close friends and waited for the show to air.
“It all seemed really surreal until now,” said Ms. Todd. “I feel like it was just a summer activity and now it’s here.”
Ms. Todd is one of two Islanders featured in the primary cast of the show, which was filmed on the Island in May and June. “Our story is probably the most real,” said Cat’s mother, Christine Todd, who also appears on the show.
Ben Rossi is the other Vineyard resident featured.
While many cast members were contacted through their agents, former Vineyard residents who now live in Los Angeles found Cat through Facebook and heavily recruited her. She said she initially had little interest. It wasn’t until she met the producers on the Island in April and subsequently flew to L.A. for a screen test that she decided to do the show, she said.
Seated along the bar at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, a line of locals watched the hour-long show Tuesday night. The reviews were very much the same. The cinematography, which featured aerial shots of Martha’s Vineyard landmarks, was beautiful. The Black Dog, a major marketing partner, was overexposed.
“Nationally they’re going to love it,” said Warren Gosson. “Locally, no.”
Mr. Gosson’s sentiment was shared by Sivanah Brown, an Island resident who went to school with Ms. Todd. “I have mixed feelings,” she said. “I like that they’re advertising the Vineyard, but I don’t like that they’re not advertising the true Vineyard.”
Over at the Sand Bar & Grille, where the show screened on televisions both inside and outside, mixed feelings summed up the way local viewers felt as well.
“It’s very nice other than that it’s not life on the Vineyard,” said Oak Bluffs resident Tilma Zyla, who was enjoying sushi while watching the premiere. “Other than that, it’s nicely plotted.”
As the first episode came to a close, Mr. Gosson summed it up: “It’s going to be a good show, but it’s not a real reflection of the Vineyard,” he said.
Go behind the scenes with full coverage of the Vineyard, including galleries and interviews.