They fell in love over FaceTime. It's a true pandemic/quarantine love story for Summer House star Hannah Berner and her now-fiancé, comedian Des Bishop. The pair got engaged on Valentine's Day, roughly eight months after they first started seeing each other -- which just so happened to be two and a half weeks before Hannah started filming season 5 of the show. Separated for six weeks, Hannah and Des' only option when it came to dating was to do it virtually.
"I just couldn't wait for her to get out because, to me, it felt like she was in prison," Des quips to ET over video chat, Zooming in from his and now Hannah’s Long Island, New York, home. "She was certainly in a prison from me, so I just couldn't wait for her to get out and for us to experience it together. Because it went from like, oh, it's exciting. I met somebody I like, to an intense longing, to like, now let's see if this is a real thing or if it's just an intense FaceTime fling with somebody who's in prison with a bunch of insane emotional situations."
"By the way, I wasn't far away either," he adds, "so it was very frustrating because I was just like, 'Listen, just go for a walk and I'll just happen to be outside.'"
The early weeks of their digital courtship proved to the pair they were meant to be together, as Des listened night after night to a tearful Hannah, who recounted the trials and tribulations of life inside her reality TV bubble.
"He became my rock," Hannah confesses. "Calling him just felt so great. But I would normally cry the first 10 minutes on the call, then we would have a little phone sex, and then we would just talk about everything and anything. So if I'm calling this guy crying every night and he still is falling for me, I'm like, maybe this is meant to be."
As viewers saw in the first handful of season 5 episodes, it was a rough start to the summer for the Bravo's Chat Room host, who was looking for resolution with her season 4 fling, Luke Gulbranson. Hannah and Luke had very different recollections of what their relationship was, with Luke declaring they never dated and Hannah adamant that they did. That difference of opinion/reality pushed Hannah to the emotional edge, with the situation only becoming more complicated when she compared notes with new housemate Ciara Miller, who also had a romantic history with Luke.
"I do think when you watch, if you really look, you understand my castmates were trying to make it like I had some obsession, I was so in love," Hannah says. "I was crying not because I was heartbroken, I was crying out of frustration and anger after talking to Ciara and realizing this person that was taking up so much of my time was lying about me and really did not care and wasn't the person I thought he was."
"People can have their perception about how she felt about Luke or not," Des chimes in. "Sometimes people ask me, and I'm like, listen, I don't care how much somebody is an ex. When you get stuck in a house with somebody, that's emotional turmoil. Whatever way you perceive that emotion to be, that's your business. But it's not easy to be just chucked into a house with somebody who you had previous feelings for and just control your emotions 100 percent."
"I've been in relationships before -- I haven't seen them for years -- I don't even think about them, but the minute I see them, I'm like, oh god, that was a feeling," he adds. "And then you throw another person into the mix, that's complicated."
"I really think that as Des and I got closer on the phone at night, it was really easy for me to be like, oh, this situation is toxic," Hannah says, "and never looking back. And you'll see in the house that my actions definitely really changed towards Luke."
"I was there chatting to her sometimes while she was in the house, kind of waiting for her to let go," Des says. "I was, not arrogant, but I really felt like eventually she would realize that she needs to just let go and realize that this is the thing."
Hannah is hopeful her late-night chats with Des make it to TV sooner rather than later, which seems likely, seeing as the midseason trailer teased Des' physical arrival to the house near the end of the season (including a crack from Kyle Cooke, 38, about Des, who is 45, being "old as f**k"). But just because he's joining the show doesn’t mean he’ll be watching it.
"I know my feelings for Hannah are based on our life together," Des says. "You know what I feel like sometimes with these things? It's like, you don't really need to know what your friends are saying about you behind your back, because we all say stuff that you don't want people to hear -- and if you heard it, it would be upsetting -- so I don't need to hear it."
Hannah doesn’t quite have that luxury. She’s learning new things about her friendships as the show plays out week by week. Recently, her bestie, Paige DeSorbo, confessed to being "Team Amanda Batula" after an argument between Hannah and Amanda/Amanda’s fiancé, Kyle.
"Please don’t tell Hannah, she’ll literally murder me," Paige pleaded in a confessional.
"Well, it's not what she was saying to me when we're cuddling in bed and she's just like, 'Stand up for yourself, and he's not the boss of this house, and I'm proud of you,'" Hannah notes. "But I also think that Paige knows that I'll forgive her for anything. I love her regardless. She didn't want to be on certain people's bad sides, so I get it."
Hindsight is always 20/20, and Hannah is quick to cop to her blow-up with Kyle -- an argument over garbage that took a personal turn with hits at each other's romantic lives and a cup throw courtesy of Amanda -- as "not a proud moment for anyone."
"But I also think that if you look deeper, we were not fighting about the things that were being said," she points out. "I think there's deeper tension in the house that gets more revealed, if that makes sense."
Hannah is currently taking a bit of a reality TV sabbatical, sitting out filming Winter House, a Summer House spinoff now filming in Vermont with some of Hannah’s co-stars, including Paige, Ciara, Kyle and Amanda.
"I feel a sense of calmness that I'm not there for people to take their anger out on and they actually have to talk about their real issues," she says. "I am being very supportive in text exchanges, but ultimately trying to stay out of it and be supportive of people is kind of refreshing after this last season of Summer House. I got into way more things than I wanted to."
Hannah and Des are instead focusing on building their life together. They’ve been living together since October, and are counting their time in lockdown life as three times as long as regular time (so, by that math, they’ve been a couple for two years). They’re already heavy into wedding planning, with Hannah already saying yes to a dress.
The pair hopes to say "I do" before the end of this summer. The plan right now is to tie the knot at the beachfront house of one of Hannah’s relatives, keeping things simple. The couple’s wedding day must-haves are simply good friends, good family, good speeches... and lawn games. They're still deciding if they want to film the event, or just keep it private.
"The goal isn't to be engaged to this man. I want to marry him," Hannah says of why she’s not interested in a long engagement. "We both are aiming to get back on our stand-up tours -- if the country and the world gets back to normal."
Both Hannah and Des' comedy tours met an abrupt end last March when the world shut down as the coronavirus pandemic surged. The two actually broke a cardinal rule in the world of comedians: Never date a comic.
"I was very against dating comics just for loads of reasons, like professionally, don't mix business with pleasure, all that type of stuff," Des explains. "But actually, from the minute I met Hannah actually, I was like, that was a mistake, because you have so much in common and you both love to laugh. Comedians have a broad sense of humor, so we were having fun from the minute we met. So I'm glad to find out I was wrong."
The couple says laughter has been the secret ingredient to their relationship. Des entertained Hannah all summer long by sending her auto-tuned videos of songs he made up on the spot about her, him and whatever else was going on. He brought the videos back for the proposal, sending Hannah a clip of him singing that ended with an instruction for her to turn around, where he was waiting with the ring. While Hannah teased the idea of releasing the clip on her podcast, Des would prefer it remain private.
"Hannah is very bad at keeping anything private," Des laments. "It's like a disease that she has, like it has to be told to everybody or it's not real."
"Why do you think I'm on a reality TV show?" she fires back, with a laugh.
"But that's a private moment for us, so I personally don't want it for public consumption," he says. "And the thing is that if it was for public consumption, I would have done it differently. I would've spent days on it. It was just a little funny [thing]."
Some of Des' videos may make it to TV, but the couple is leaving that all up to the reality TV gods -- along with their reality TV future. While Summer House hasn't been officially picked up for a sixth season, it seems safe to assume it will be back in 2022. If Hannah returns, though, is a question. The show has never seen a married couple move in, though season 1's Ashley Wirkus McAtee was married during her time on the show -- and Kyle and Amanda may have tied the knot during season 5.
"I'm not pitching for being on Summer House," Des admits. "I'll just follow her lead. The reality is that I'm a public guy. I've done a lot of television in Ireland, so I'm not afraid of the cameras. I'm also not pitching myself for Summer House. I've never been a reality TV guy. I'll just follow Hannah's lead, and obviously it's not up to me or her. It's up to Bravo. Really, it's nothing to do with me. It's all her decision."
"I think what's helped me in my reality TV career thus far is just being very open, very vulnerable, wearing all my emotions on my sleeve, and I just have to keep living my life," Hannah adds. "And then if people want to see it, great, and if they don't, I'll be onto the next thing. So I think I just have to keep doing me and seeing if it entertains people or not."
And as for a bet Paige and Ciara have going on when Hannah will reveal she’s pregnant, Hannah has this to say: "I'm still on birth control."