Hey everybody, welcome back. I want to start out by saying thanks to all the readers who have stuck with this column over the past four weeks. As you may have noticed, “Confessions of a Southern Charm newbie” is as much about people’s feelings toward the show and Charleston as it is about the show itself. So before we get into all that, I need to fill you in on something strange that happened last week.
Shortly after I posted my column/recap/fever dream journal, a very special tweet from the Washington Post was brought to my attention. While trying to let the public know about how the MLB draft will affect Mormonism — a worthwhile effort — the good people at the Post accidentally tweeted out a link to my episode 3 recap to their 6.34 million followers. I kid you not.
Ryan Nelson was incredible enough to bring this to our attention
That’s it, everybody. We have arrived. While I can in no way imagine what goes on in the Washington Post newsroom, I think we can all safely assume that the entire staff gathers around one computer every Tuesday afternoon anxiously refreshing the City Paper home page until finally — like manna from heaven — the newest installment of my silly, weird column is published for their consumption. At least that’s how I picture it in my head. All jokes aside, how awesome is this? I am having this tweet embroidered on a throw pillow. Let this also be a reminder that if something inexplicably good happens to you, it is likely because an important person messed up.
But with this tweet in mind, please allow me to tie it all back in with a common concern that I’ve noticed among those who hate Southern Charm. It seems that many of the show’s most vocal opponents feel that it misrepresents Charleston in some dangerous way, and by reporting on the show in any fashion, we are making the problem worse. First, I think it’s important to remember one thing — Southern Charm is not Freddy Krueger. It does not draw its power from our attention or fear. It draws its power from the sale of boxed wines and pregnancy tests. You can sleep soundly.
Second, and most importantly, is the issue of Southern Charm’s depiction of Charleston. This is actually a valid concern. Every day, more and more cities must contend with an invading reality show. I understand this all too well. I grew up very close to where they filmed Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and for years, I have dealt with the stereotype that I eat whole sticks of butter to get ready for beauty pageants. I do not. At least, not since I hung up my crown.
But say you are just some unassuming Mormon baseball aficionado who reads the Washington Post. You turn to your favorite news source to learn more about how America’s pastime is interfering with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you end up getting redirected to an article about a reality show set in Charleston, S.C. You keep reading, thinking you’ll stumble across mention of legendary Mormon first baseman Wally Joyner, but instead you just come across a retelling of a custody dispute at polo match. Does this misrepresent Charleston?
My answer is no. I say this because even though Southern Charm may not represent my experience of living here, I understand that there are many facets to the city. I don’t think anyone who watches this show is using it to pick their kid’s preschool or plan a family trip. Southern Charm may depict Charleston in the same way that Gilligan’s Island depicts being stranded in the ocean, but neither show is really hurting anything. Now let’s see what Thomas Ravenel and the gang have in store for us this week.
Too many horses
The season’s fourth episode begins with T-Rav stopping by J.D.’s house to talk about last week’s polo debacle. It turns out that after she stormed off from the match, the very pregnant Kathryn had to go to the hospital. This is legitimately scary. In some Faustian bargain, Thomas thinks he needs to co-sign for Kathryn’s house to ensure the health of his unborn child. J.D. suspects that Thomas is being manipulated. All I can think of is that J.D. has a horse on both his hat and shirt. That is too many horses. Is this better or worse than the Polo shirts with the giant jockey logo across the entire front? I mean, it’s definitely not worse, but it is distracting. I’m trying to focus on Kathryn’s visit to the horsepital — I mean, hospital. Dammit! Moving on.
Thomas caps things off by saying if he can handle prison, he can handle the final months of Kathryn’s pregnancy. Damn. That is some real talk.
The episode then brings us to Shep, who is en route to make sure Craig submits his application for the Bar exam. During his drive to Craig’s office, Shep has a phone call with Cameran who tells him all about her diarrhea. This may seem like a weird thing for Cameran to mention, but bear in mind that Shep actually stands for Stool Health Emergency Professional — Don’t take a BM without sending a DM to your best friend. Shep!
Everyone on this show holds their phone like it is a hotdog they are about to eat
Anyway, Shep meets up with Craig at his office. When asked about his new job, Craig says he is cool with the hotel stuff, but really thinks he can run with the bourbon side of the business. What?! The business involves both hotels and liquor? Is this Deadwood? Does Craig need to start figuring out Miss Kitty’s cut of the profits? I am lost with all this.
We then cut to Cameran as she joins two friends for a super-uncomfortable lunch. How uncomfortable? After being honest with her two female friends, Cameran gets shamed for not wanting to have a baby. Cameran even goes as far to say that she underwent genetic testing in hopes that she would find some terrible flaw that would serve as an excuse to not procreate. Is this seriously what it is like to be a woman? I tried to think of, like, a funny equivalent for men, but there’s nothing. Not grilling? Nope. Not the same. Quit trying to make Cameran have a baby, society!
Later we find Craig stepping away from his bourbon and hotel empire, to spend his lunch break with Landon at the spa. Craig jokingly asks if taking a trip to the spa is what “normal people” do during lunch, and I can definitively say that it is not. Unless a trip to the spa involves nervously eating yogurt at your desk while you wait for someone to yell at you, this is not what most people experience on a normal work day.
With all of that out of the way, it is now time to talk about something I’ve been awaiting for at least two weeks, at most a lifetime — Patricia’s flamingo party. I guess in terms of how far Southern Charm veers from my reality, the flamingo party is the pinnacle, which is probably what makes it so compelling to watch. The preparations for Patricia’s party have been interwoven throughout this episode, but I’ve chosen to save this topic for last because there is just so much to unpack.
Just another day at the office for a Charleston fortune-teller
First off, Patricia mentions the importance of mathematics when arranging a cocktail tower. Remember this clip next time we need more funding for STEM. Next, Patricia asks if the fortune-teller for the party looks like a fortune-teller. This is an incredible question to ask. I would not have been so bold as to question the legitimacy of the fortune-teller’s attire, but it is clear that Patricia has been burned before. Fortunately, the fortune-teller saw this coming and has dressed the part.
Fun fact: When I was a kid, a fortune-teller and friend of the family named Cookie told me that I would lose an eye in a terrible accident. She may have said more than this, but the eye stuff was all that really stuck with me. The lesson in all this: The future is a nightmare and fortune-tellers shouldn’t speak to children.
Back to the party. To give you an idea of what real power is, Patricia can say any random thing — such as flamingo party or hedgehog stroller — and it will become reality. It is this ability to bend the future to her will that makes Patricia so enchanting. I imagine when the fortune-teller tried to get a read on her, it was like staring into infinity — a drunk, pink infinity.
During the flamingo party, I realize that some women are referred to in the subtitles as Shep’s friend and some are designated Shep’s “friend.” What the hell, Bravo? That’s kind of a shitty thing to do to a person. I get that you’re trying to tell me that Shep has relations with numerous women, but to say some are friends and some are “friends” seems like a bridge too far.
Anyway, a man named Cooper, who looks like a sunburnt child dressed as Thomas Wolfe, pulls our hostess to the side to discuss Kathryn. Cooper seems to be attempting to hedge his bets in the whole Kathryn/Patricia schism, but the Lady of Flamingos is having none of it. She deems Cooper a “poor man’s Truman Capote,” which I’m sure you’ll recognize as the classiest of burns. Might want to put some butter on that, Coop.
The party then devolves into a fight between Thomas Ravenel and Kathryn’s pal Jennifer, who people keep referring to as “Snowden.” This is incredibly confusing, as the worlds of classified government information and Southern Charm are incongruous. Realizing that Edward Snowden and Shep exist in the same reality is a good way to shatter your mind.
Returning to the spat between Thomas and Jennifer, this plays out like the other episodes of Southern Charm that I’ve seen. Our cast of characters gather at a party thrown for no reason, yet is nicer than most weddings. Two people argue to the delight of others. Then everyone rides home in a golf cart. In this way, I can say yes, Southern Charm is an accurate depiction of Charleston.
by Sam Spence
on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 8:33 AM
This Friday evening in Marion Square, join us for the 2015 Pixar animated feature, Inside Out. So, listen to those little voices inside your head and come out and enjoy a flick under the stars on our giant inflatable screen in Marion Square Park. RSVP on Facebook now to get the latest updates.
As usual for our Movies in Marion Square, admission is totally free and we'll be selling wine and Samuel Adams beer. We'll also be joined by some of our favorite local food purveyors: D'Allesandro's Pizza, Kickin' Chicken, Roti Rolls, Cory's Grilled Cheese, T&T Kettle Corn, Sweet Lulu's Bakery On Wheels, Outta My Huevos, Terrace Theater, and King of Pops.
Claim your spot on the lawn beginning at 6 p.m. and the movie starts at dusk, or around 8 p.m.f
HBO's newest comedy, Vice Principals, debuts in just a few weeks, and the latest teaser trailer for the show gives us a little better idea of what we can expect from the Charleston-filmed show.
When we last left our crew of unhinged high school middle-managers, Danny McBride and Walton Goggins' characters seemed destined to butt heads as they jockey to become top dog at Lincoln High School. Those fireworks are on full display in the newest trailer, which is just chock-full of four letter words and wide-ruled rage from McBride and Goggins.
Vice Principals debuts on Sunday, July 17, just a couple weeks after Game of Thrones wraps up season 6.
Hey guys, welcome back. Guess what I learned this week? If you’re working late on Monday, and you can’t make it home by 9 p.m. to catch the latest episode of Southern Charm, don’t fret. Because the person who does the programming for the Bravo just uses one of those paper fortune-tellers that you make in elementary school to plan the network’s schedule.
They’ve got replays of Southern Charm at 11:31 p.m. and 1:32 a.m. Why 1:32 rather than simply 1:30? My guess is that those who are watching Southern Charm after midnight demand pinpoint accuracy in their reality programming.
Anyway, once I was finally able to catch the new episode, I was thrilled because last week ended on a bit of a cliffhanger — What is a flamingo party? Do the guests all stand on one leg and eat shrimp? If so, that seems like a very Charleston thing to do.
Much like previous episodes, this week we start with shot after shot of all the cast members waking up. No expense is spared in bringing us every detail of Craig’s morning ablutions. After he empties an entire bottle of hairspray on his head, Craig is ready to start the day at his new job. I watch this scene with the same bittersweet feeling that parents have on their kid’s first day of school. To know Craig is to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body. Treat him well, world. Treat him well.
Craig may be too good for this world
We then see Shep — the most popular name among men stuck in wells — Facetiming with his mother. He tells her that he wants to put an above-ground swimming pool on the roof of his home. At first, I think this is a terrible decision, but then I come to my senses. As much as the world has turned me into what my family calls a “grumpus,” you’re right, Shep. A pool on the roof would be super sweet. Also, Shep may start working with Cameran as a realtor. With his expert knowledge of roof pools, I’m sure he’ll be a natural.
Catching back up with Craig, I learn from the door to his office that J.D. (his new boss) runs some manner of hotel company. If you remember last week’s episode, Craig paid J.D. $15,000 to work for him. I’ve had my crack research team look into this, and I have discovered that this is in fact the opposite of how employment works. He should be paying you, Craig.
Regarding the mystery of what everyone on this show does for a living, J.D. deals in hotels, much like the game Monopoly, and Craig just does his best, and we love him for it.
Moving on, we then find that Kathryn has found a house, but she needs Thomas to co-sign for the house loan or escrow or something. I don’t really know how houses work. Fortunately, Thomas does, and he agrees to co-sign as long as Kathryn brings their daughter to his polo match. This seems like very little to ask in exchange for a house. I will bring everyone’s daughter to the polo match if it means I get a house out of the deal.
This episode seems to really focus on the complications that arise when personal relationships overlap with business. I begin to consider what this says about the characters of Southern Charm and people in general, but then we see Patricia struggling to assemble a plastic flamingo and I am undone. Allow me to share my notes from this moment:
“Oh shit — Patricia’s flamingo party is actually flamingos”
— Please attribute to Dustin Waters
Patricia explains to us that the inspiration for the party came from an inflatable pool toy that she has. Oddly enough, her pool is not located on the roof.
While ordering additional decorations for the party, Patricia admits that she accidentally bought 144 inflatable flamingos, and she is being featured in a book on “Southern entertaining.” She probably elaborates on this, but I’m too busy proposing to my television screen to hear.
A million times yes to this
From the revelation that is Patricia’s life, we move to Landon, who is golfing with her dad. During their heart to heart, she outlines her plans to open a “members-only bourbon bar” and launch a travel-art-wine magazine.
I remember when I had this same, exact conversation with my dad. He was heartbroken — now so is Landon’s.
She asks her dad for some “help with investments” — which I imagine will be to “invest” in some food and shelter — and he turns her down. Again, the personal and financial realms collide for our cast. I am impressed with how well this episode maintains focus. What life lesson will this week’s Southern Charm reveal? It is definitely not to use your money wisely, because we then see Craig spend $2,500 on a promise ring. Over the course of two episodes, I know that Craig has spent at least $17,500, which is likely also the amount that Shep has committed to Jägermeister and foam trucker hats.
After all that, we follow Thomas to Patricia’s house. He has purchased her a gigantic candle in hopes that he can negotiate an invite for Kathryn to the flamingo party. The fact that I can follow the logic of that last sentence is proof that the show is changing me, but none of this matters because Michael is back!
Yes, Michael answers the door like a rock star, telling Thomas that he hasn’t seen him in a “hen’s age.” Classic Michael! He even breaks out the jockey napkins in honor of Thomas’ visit. Michael continues to delight!
Michael (right) welcomes Thomas and his giant-ass candle into Patricia's home
Speaking of horse sport, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen polo played. Going by this episode alone, it seems to be the most difficult game imaginable. How fun.
Kathryn shows up to Thomas’ polo match, quickly becomes upset, and leaves with their daughter. As this scene plays out, my eyes become glued to the clock. We are running out of time, and it appears that Southern Charm has broken Chekhov’s rule: If you’re going to show a flamingo in the first act, you better have a flamingo party in the third.
Please join me again for what has become the best part of my week. Thanks for reading.
You could chalk up my silence last week to an existential crisis of sorts. I made the mistake of watching that episode four times before starting to write. Four. I do not recommend this. You'll be left as sad as a knock-off Birkin bag filled with silk caftans and Lily Pulitzer dresses, smothered in white-privileged-male jizz.
So what happened on last week's episode to leave me empty and dead inside? Not much, I tell you. Cameran's printer was out of ink, and she hosted a party. Kathryn and T-Rav weren't invited.
Kathryn hates everyone and is desperate to move out of her parents' plantation house in Moncks Corner.
T-Rav is hiding behind the law and justifying his lack of "spousal" support to Kathryn. He pays $2500 a month in child support and he doesn't even have to do that. I love how this guy uses the government to conveniently support his moral bankruptcy.
Landon is finding life post-divorce difficult and confusing, but she has like six business ideas, none of which will support the life she was once accustomed to living in the Hollywood Hills.
Craig stroked a check for $15 grand to JD Madison in order to get a piece of his Gentry Bourbon business. #NewCraig
Patricia will come to your stupid dinner party, but she'll bring her own butler with her, thank you very much.
I'm pretty sure that's all that "happened" last week. I can't bear to rewind and watch that episode again, so let's move on to this week's installment of Southern Charm.
Crap. Hold on. I have to rewind and watch it again. I had to gird myself against the void by getting a little bit high before tuning in last night. Luckily, it worked, but I can't remember a damn thing that happened.
Ah, that's right. Not much. People woke up. #NewCraig shellacked his hair into place with Naomie's hairspray and headed off to work. Shep FaceTimed with his mama from his new palace in the East Side (insert gangster sign here), and Cameran popped in for a quick visit to discover that Shep is just dicking around, per üge (that's shorthand for per usual). Cameran pitches him on selling real estate, and he decides to partner up with Cam once he learns that there might be some early mornings. Good thinking. Cam can take the morning appointments, Shep can take the midnight showings.
A disturbing theme has emerged this season. Instead of the man-children, who are getting their shit together thanks to good editing, we focus this time on the women, who spend their time looking stupid, useless, and desperate, lorded over by the imperial she-witch Patricia Altschul, whose dead husbands conveniently left her a fortune from which she perches atop, silk caftan elegantly arrayed, ice-cold martini in hand, and spews venom, mostly in Kathryn's direction.
Speaking of that basket of mental health issues, she shows up at T-Rav's to beg and cry for him to cosign a rental home for her and their children. Oh the indignity of the choices we make in life.
Last week, we had Cameran cluelessly trying to learn to be a hostess, a skill she'll need as a rich doctor's wife in her Mt. Pleasant McMansion. Cut to this week, and we see just how effortlessly fabulous it is for Pat to throw a party. All she has to do is think flamingos and a party planner shows up to execute her vision. Your wish ... his demand. Yada yada yada. Money — it's a wonderful drug.
And then there's Landon. She plays some golf with her Daddy, who comes up to Charleston for a visit. She tells him she wants to open a members-only bourbon bar and start an online magazine for gentleman of leisure and ladies who lunch (isn't there already one called Garden and Gun?). Pick one idea, says Daddy. "You can't live off your dreams."
She breaks it down to the camera: "Some days I feel like I can conquer the world. Other days I can't get out of bed. I'm just trying the best I can."
Welcome to adulthood, Landon. Responsibilities, obligations, and the pressure to succeed totally suck. Unless you're Shep and you can figure out how to eschew all the bullshit and just have a good time.
I think I just hit upon the ultimate narrative of this show. Shep is the ideal: He's rich, smart, good-looking, gets laid all the time, laughs a lot, and doesn't feel one goddamn iota of guilt about it. He's living like a sugar baby without having to suck dick. Last season, Shep's bonhomie brought Craig to the brink of destruction. But Craig seems to have recovered and is racing headlong into an anti-Shep version of adulthood. He's got a girlfriend, a job, and now he's ring shopping. I'm not sure I want to see him take the next step. #NewCraig blows. Bring back the shenanigans!
At this point in the episode, we're just waiting for this frickin' polo match we've been seeing previews of for two weeks. News flash: Kathryn loses her shit again. Can't wait. But first, let's watch T-Rav grovel at Pat's feet. You see, Katy-Did didn't get an invite to the flamingo party, and T-Rav is so desperate to keep this crazy bitch appeased he'll find the biggest candle in all the land and deposit at the feet of the she-witch as an offering. Please Evil Queen, let the Evil-Queen-in-training come to your party.
No fucking chance. You could carve a life-size castle into the side of a candle mountain and Pat still wouldn't relent. It's her party, and she'll invite who she wants to.
Finally, the polo match is here! But first, Jennifer picks up K-Did in her Maserati. The two gals proceed to strap the baby into the fancy car, which depletes Kathryn's happy units. She only has hate units left for the rest of the day. Uh-oh.
Two hours later, after some chitchat about Kathryn's big plans for spending some time at Brookland (T-Rav's plantation) and not Brooklyn (hipster central), they get to the polo match. Holy shit. There are spectators! WTF? This will not do.
Actually, it's only T-Rav's BFF's and Kensie's godparents: JD and Elizabeth, who've not been keeping in touch closely enough with Kathryn. So she FUH-REEKS out. Which gets stretched out to about 20 minutes with several commercial breaks to show basically that Kathryn's crazy. After seeing the Madisons' alleged fakery (a.k.a. loving on their god-baby), she grabs her baby — er, rather, she tells the nanny to grab the baby — and they drive away, leaving a sweaty T-Rav to holler into the void: "Where's my baby!? Where's my baby!??"
Coming up next week: The wrath of T-Rav. When you mess with the bull, you get the horns. Unless, of course, you go to the hospital. Then you get some money and a cosigner on your lease.