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

Dee Yonker

“I nearly feel I would like just to commit the rest of my lifetime listed here,” Jackie Siegel states at the finish of The Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield’s 2012 documentary about her and her spouse, David. The movie chronicled the Siegel’s try to make the largest solitary family dwelling in America, a person that was derailed by the 2008 recession, and that acted as a garish, exaggerated stand-in for the dashed goals of a lot of Individuals at the time. In this scene, Jackie is not speaking of her uncompleted, hypothetical dream house, but her recent residence, yet another mansion on the drinking water in Florida. And now, a decade later, as chronicled in the new Discovery+ exhibit The Queen of Versailles Reigns Again, Jackie finds herself nevertheless dwelling in that home, still attempting to entire her pretty much 20 decades in the is effective, 90,000 sq. ft, allegedly $100 million mega-mega-Windermere, Florida mansion, which she helpfully notes for comparison’s sake is the very same dimensions as a Super Wal-Mart. 

The Queen of Versailles acquired quite a few awards and glowing opinions for its delicately and expertly advised story of course in The usa as found by means of the Siegel’s fantasy of creating a dwelling impressed by the unique Palace of Versailles, by itself the standard-bearer of opulence. Manufactured by Ample Amusement, the six-episode sequel of types is predicated on the thought that Jackie need to finish the extensive-languishing undertaking within just a calendar year, in time to host a 2021 New Year’s Eve get together. The Queen of Versailles Reigns Once more picks up around where we remaining off—at the very least when it arrives to the development of the eponymous composition, on which it appears very very little has been performed. David, who created his dollars in timeshares via his firm Westgate Resorts, has regained handle of the small business and the house he was depicted hoping not to lose. Now in his mid-80s, he is struggling from well being issues, and so it is up to Jackie, and their now grownup small children, to take the reins on the completion of the residence, if these a classification is even more than enough to account for what they are attempting. 

In the interim decades considering the fact that the documentary’s searing search at what prosperity and relatives definitely suggests popularized their tale, the few has stayed in the spotlight, typically within the general genre’s folds, appearing on shows like Under Deck, Flipping Out, and Superstar Wife Swap. The new collection comes just after at minimum 1 prior attempt at a fact present, an unsuccessful lawsuit from The Queen of Versailles’ production organization for defamation, even though the court did grant the Siegel’s the lifetime legal rights to star in the present they feel to have prolonged dreamed of. (It looks that David was the aggressor in these suits as of a pair years ago, Greenfield appeared to manage a very good marriage with Jackie, however a request for comment to the filmmaker went unanswered by press time.) 

For viewers who are acquainted, the display provokes unflattering comparisons to the unique film. In a closely-handed accidental metaphor, the facade of the setting up, which we’re explained to was put in improperly many years in the past but was the only aspect of the dwelling the family assumed experienced been concluded, is falling off. The crew at the rear of Versailles is a motley crew—the most recent architect, builder, and inside designer all have a a bit wary look to them, as if they know you are pondering why they agreed to do this job in the very first put and they are not positive how to respond to. (“We understood when we signed up for this there is going to be issues everywhere you go,” is the most Bob, the builder, will expose on that front.) Jackie explains that they have had 25 designers and contractors about the several years, and statements convincingly that her partner even attempted to “cut corners” and just take issues into his personal palms. It is stated, to some degree definitely, that “This is not a brand new dwelling,” and we see that, as, amid other concerns, a number of leaks spring up in the plumbing in the cavernous rooms. As opposed to most residence renovation exhibits, exactly where problems crop up and then are swiftly mounted, there’s clearly no strategy below other than certainty that if the household thinks it, they can reach it, no matter of the reality that the entire premise of the home appears doomed from the begin. “It blows my mind that we’re struggling with difficulties like this,” says the couple’s son, David Jr. “I most likely would not employ our mother and father to establish my property.” 

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

Jackie, regardless of whether prompted by the producers to strike house speaking factors or basically deep in her own mantras, likes to repeat herself, typically stating how extensive she’s been dreaming about the property and numerous areas of it—her need for flamingos (she learns they are guarded, so she settles for toucans), the family’s individual personal Benihana (which must be scrapped when they understand the venting will develop into a nightmare), the ballroom ground (will have to be shipped in from all-around the planet and with the pandemic, shipping delays are myriad)—and her disappointment should really they not come to fruition. It is hard to inform whether the viewer is becoming set up to purchase into the plan that, ignoring all these issues, the constantly transforming whims of the proprietors, and the project’s overall history, this house will be carried out inside the desired time body, or if we’re being pulled together to stare at how about-the-prime the trappings of their failure will be. At just one place, just after standing on her new heated marble floors, Jackie implies that the entire 50,000 sq. foot ballroom be accomplished to match, to which David Jr. replies, “I never comprehend why you can’t just put on slippers.”

Where by initial Queen of Versailles tempered the expertise of merely gawking at excessive with a broader seem at the men and women in the family’s orbit and a probing questions situating them as element of a larger sized client society that Greenfield has extended been exploring, Reigns Again depends on traditional fact tv winks to the viewers, such as chyrons on the display revealing how significantly each order charges. And there is loads to stare at: an oversized recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Evening” in the historic pub the family’s selection to repaint a century-previous antique London cellphone booth a model new purple or the 16’x9’ tv in the living room, which we’re informed is the largest in any household household in The us. 

It will take until eventually the conclusion of the time to get to the humanity that created the Siegels more than caricatures. In 2015, their daughter Victoria died of a drug overdose, and the pair have since started out a charity focused to protecting against dependancy. In a scene that emotionally meditates on what area can mean to us, Jackie visits Victoria’s bedroom, revealing she’s hardly touched something in it, and will not let the maids clean it—that she is, on some level, “ready for her to appear residence.” 

But those people times are handful of and significantly in between, and the family’s protestations that they recognize the relevance of a greenback, and seeming awareness of the ridiculousness of this entire detail but unwillingness to probe it, is a great deal significantly less nuanced in this format. “Even with all the money in the world, my little ones know this can all go away,” Jackie states, unnecessarily reminding the viewers that, “It was virtually taken from us 10 decades ago.” The reviews echo again to her phrases from the documentary all through the economic downturn: “I explained to them they could truly have to go to university now. They could really have to make funds. So they are recognizing, there might not be money there for them. So I explained, begin imagining about what you might want to be.” If the home is the family’s adore language, it is a flimsy a single at that, and even in his weakened state, David’s specter is as dim as it at any time was as opposed to likable Jackie. In 1 scene that is eerily reminiscent of the documentary, she is seen planning a celebration supper for his return residence from the medical center, only to go to his area and come across that he is not sensation up to it. 

In the finale—which started streaming Wednesday—the family members has a meal celebration on New Year’s Eve in the couple of rooms that have been rushed to completion, the continue to-concrete entrance hall ground mopped, sheetrock open up to reveal the wiring powering, fake planters and a crimson carpet rolled out in entrance with the facade thoroughly lit. David, described by Jackie as “the most essential human being in the earth,” has practically nothing but praise for the household (that is, right after asking when the flooring will arrive), and Jackie describes the moment as “a single of the most happiest times of my everyday living.” 

“It is attractive, it is obtained a lot of class. I have been to houses all over California—they’re kind 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 producing historical past and producing a put that generations to occur will are living in are the absolutely recognized fevered fantasy of it, supplied that it’s unclear if their own youngsters even want to reside there. If the place of residence renovation reality television is the expose at the conclusion you’d like to encounter oneself, and the level of substantial-finish serious estate fact displays is to gawk at the most effective of the most effective you will never ever have, The Queen of Versailles Reigns Once more commits to neither. Taking into consideration why the household proceeds to fifty percent-heartedly dedicate by themselves to this cartoonish strategy of house is eventually extra intriguing than watching them do it. 

“We concluded 4,000 sq. ft this year—only 86,000 to go!” Jackie states in the finale, before a teaser sets up for all the mess that is possible to appear in probable future seasons. You see, she has a new intention: to host a New Year’s Eve 2022 at the residence, and at last transfer following 12 months, on David’s birthday.  

Top picture courtesy of Discovery+ 

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