In ‘The Queen of Versailles Reigns Again,’ an Unfinished Mega-Mansion Is Not a Home

“I nearly imagine I would enjoy just to shell out the rest of my lifetime below,” Jackie Siegel claims at the close of The Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield’s 2012 documentary about her and her husband, David. The movie chronicled the Siegel’s try to create the largest single family residence in The united states, one that was derailed by the 2008 economic downturn, and that acted as a garish, exaggerated stand-in for the dashed goals of quite a few Us citizens at the time. In this scene, Jackie is not talking of her uncompleted, hypothetical aspiration house, but her current residence, a further mansion on the drinking water in Florida. And now, a 10 years later, as chronicled in the new Discovery+ exhibit The Queen of Versailles Reigns Once more, Jackie finds herself still living in that house, continue to attempting to comprehensive her pretty much 20 yrs in the functions, 90,000 sq. feet, allegedly $100 million mega-mega-Windermere, Florida mansion, which she helpfully notes for comparison’s sake is the exact same dimension as a Tremendous Wal-Mart. 

The Queen of Versailles gained many awards and glowing reviews for its delicately and expertly advised tale of course in The united states as viewed via the Siegel’s fantasy of building a property inspired by the authentic Palace of Versailles, alone the normal-bearer of opulence. Made by Ample Amusement, the 6-episode sequel of sorts is predicated on the plan that Jackie ought to complete the extended-languishing task in just a year, in time to host a 2021 New Year’s Eve social gathering. The Queen of Versailles Reigns Once again picks up about where we remaining off—at least when it comes to the construction of the eponymous composition, on which it appears very minor has been completed. David, who created his revenue in timeshares through his company Westgate Resorts, has regained regulate of the business enterprise and the home he was depicted making an attempt not to get rid of. Now in his mid-80s, he is suffering from well being difficulties, and so it is up to Jackie, and their now adult youngsters, to consider the reins on the completion of the residence, if such a classification is even sufficient to account for what they are trying. 

In the interim many years because the documentary’s searing look at what prosperity and loved ones truly signifies popularized their story, the few has stayed in the spotlight, often inside the normal genre’s folds, appearing on demonstrates like Down below Deck, Flipping Out, and Movie star Wife Swap. The new series will come just after at least a single prior endeavor at a actuality display, an unsuccessful lawsuit from The Queen of Versailles’ production corporation for defamation, although the court did grant the Siegel’s the lifestyle rights to star in the clearly show they seem to have lengthy dreamed of. (It seems that David was the aggressor in these suits as of a few decades in the past, Greenfield appeared to retain a excellent marriage with Jackie, nevertheless a request for remark to the filmmaker went unanswered by press time.) 

For viewers who are acquainted, the present provokes unflattering comparisons to the original movie. In a greatly-handed accidental metaphor, the facade of the constructing, which we’re advised was set up improperly many years ago but was the only aspect of the household the relatives imagined had been concluded, is falling off. The staff behind Versailles is a motley crew—the most up-to-date architect, builder, and inside designer all have a a bit cautious glimpse to them, as if they know you are wanting to know why they agreed to do this undertaking in the first spot and they’re not certain how to remedy. (“We understood when we signed up for this there’s going to be complications everywhere you go,” is the most Bob, the builder, will expose on that entrance.) Jackie points out that they have experienced 25 designers and contractors around the a long time, and claims convincingly that her husband even tried to “minimize corners” and choose issues into his own fingers. It is said, rather naturally, that “This is not a model new dwelling,” and we see that, as, between other challenges, several leaks spring up in the plumbing in the cavernous rooms. Compared with most residence renovation displays, wherever troubles crop up and then are quickly preset, there’s obviously no prepare listed here other than certainty that if the relatives thinks it, they can attain it, regardless of the reality that the full premise of the dwelling appears doomed from the start off. “It blows my brain that we’re going through troubles like this,” states the couple’s son, David Jr. “I likely wouldn’t use our dad and mom to develop my property.” 

The family’s protestations that they have an understanding of the significance of a dollar, and seeming recognition of the ridiculousness of this complete factor but unwillingness to probe it, is a lot significantly less nuanced in this structure.

Jackie, no matter if prompted by the producers to strike house conversing points or just deep in her very own mantras, likes to repeat herself, typically stating how extensive she’s been dreaming about the home and many areas of it—her desire for flamingos (she learns they are shielded, so she settles for toucans), the family’s possess personalized Benihana (which have to be scrapped when they understand the venting will turn into a nightmare), the ballroom floor (need to be delivered in from all-around the world and with the pandemic, shipping delays are myriad)—and her disappointment should really they not occur to fruition. It is hard to inform no matter whether the viewer is being established up to acquire into the thought that, disregarding all these complications, the regularly changing whims of the proprietors, and the project’s whole history, this dwelling will be performed within just the ideal time body, or if we’re getting pulled alongside to stare at how around-the-leading the trappings of their failure will be. At just one position, right after standing on her new heated marble floors, Jackie indicates that the entire 50,000 sq. foot ballroom be performed to match, to which David Jr. replies, “I never realize why you just cannot just put on slippers.”

In which authentic Queen of Versailles tempered the encounter of merely gawking at excessive with a broader seem at the people in the family’s orbit and a probing inquiries situating them as section of a more substantial buyer society that Greenfield has extended been exploring, Reigns Once again depends on common reality tv winks to the audience, this kind of as chyrons on the display screen revealing how a lot every invest in expenses. And there is plenty to stare at: an outsized recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Evening” in the historic pub the family’s conclusion to repaint a century-old antique London phone booth a model new crimson or the 16’x9’ tv in the residing place, which we’re instructed is the major in any residential house in The usa. 

It requires right until the
finish of the time to get to the humanity that created the Siegels additional than caricatures. In 2015, their daughter Victoria died of a drug overdose, and the pair have due to the fact started off a charity dedicated to avoiding dependancy. In a scene that emotionally meditates on what area can necessarily mean to us, Jackie visits Victoria’s bed room, revealing she’s scarcely touched anything at all in it, and won’t enable the maids clear it—that she is, on some stage, “waiting for her to appear household.” 

But these moments are few and much amongst, and the family’s protestations that they have an understanding of the importance of a dollar, and seeming consciousness of the ridiculousness of this whole detail but unwillingness to probe it, is substantially significantly less nuanced in this format. “Even with all the funds in the entire world, my children know this can all go absent,” Jackie suggests, unnecessarily reminding the viewers that, “It was almost taken from us 10 decades ago.” The comments echo again to her terms from the documentary through the economic downturn: “I explained to them they may well essentially have to go to college or university now. They may basically have to make money. So they are noticing, there might not be cash there for them. So I mentioned, start out pondering about what you could possibly want to be.” If the household is the family’s enjoy language, it is a flimsy a single at that, and even in his weakened point out, David’s specter is as dim as it ever was in contrast to likable Jackie. In a single scene that is eerily reminiscent of the documentary, she is noticed preparing a celebration meal for his return house from the clinic, only to go to his space and uncover that he is not feeling up to it. 

In the finale—which began streaming Wednesday—the family has a evening meal social gathering on New Year’s Eve in the handful of rooms that have been rushed to completion, the nevertheless-concrete entrance corridor floor mopped, sheetrock open up to expose the wiring guiding, pretend planters and a purple carpet rolled out in entrance with the facade cautiously lit. David, explained by Jackie as “the most crucial person in the earth,” has nothing at all but praise for the property (that is, right after asking when the flooring will get there), and Jackie describes the minute as “a single of the most happiest days of my lifetime.” 

“It is beautiful, it is obtained a whole lot of course. I’ve been to houses all in excess of California—they’re form of gaudy,” David suggests. “And we’re not gaudy?” Jackie asks, laughing. 

If Versailles is meant to be the representation of the American dream, the Siegel’s fixation on it generating heritage and developing a put that generations to arrive will are living in are the totally realized fevered fantasy of it, presented that it is unclear if their personal youngsters even want to reside there. If the place of residence renovation truth television is the expose at the finish you’d like to working experience oneself, and the position of higher-conclusion real estate actuality exhibits is to gawk at the best of the best you’ll never ever have, The Queen of Versailles Reigns Again commits to neither. Taking into consideration why the family members carries on to fifty percent-heartedly dedicate by themselves to this cartoonish plan of residence is ultimately a lot more interesting than seeing them do it. 

“We completed 4,000 sq. feet this year—only 86,000 to go!” Jackie states in the finale, in advance of a teaser sets up for all the mess that is likely to appear in opportunity long term seasons. You see, she has a new objective: to host a New Year’s Eve 2022 at the residence, and at last go next year, on David’s birthday.  

Top graphic courtesy of Discovery+ 

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