Thursday, May 26, 2016

Southern Charm S3 E8: Craig becomes Kathryn's drama queen proxy

The Rules of Reality

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Oh New Craig. In desperate need of a storyline besides "he's a loser," Craig gins one up by creating some drama with Whitney. I have a feeling he is getting coached by Kathryn on how to do this reality show thing. Since she's pregnant and on bedrest, she can't conduct her own drama so Craig is a convenient puppet.

As Cameran notes, he's acting like a high school girl who wants to be in the middle of it all, which is pretty much how this Bravo TV thing works — and Kathryn knows how to work it. This is the girl who started out as a bit player but quickly became Southern Charm's starring act. But Craig must be careful. When you start throwing molotov cocktails, one might just blow up in your face. 

As the crew sits around drinking wine and relaxing in Shep's happy place, Craig unleashes his pet theory on Whitney: you loved Kathryn and she "lived with you" (on reality shows five days of hooking up equals living together) and then she dumped you for Thomas and now you hate her. 

Needless to say, this does not go over well. Whitney is gobsmacked by the accusation. Naomie visibly cringes. Cameran tells him he should be ashamed of himself (classic Southern snap). JD and Elizabeth look mortified. And Shep is disgusted at Craig for smearing his happy place with a bunch of crap. Landon, however, seems secretly amused at the whole thing.


Apparently, Craig is doing this to get back at Whitney for that time in Delaware when Whitney told Craig's parents that Craig was partying hard every night. 

After Whitney storms off, Cameran tries to broker an apology to help Craig keep the friendship intact. Craig's non-apology simply rehashes his theory, which just makes Whitney madder.

Naomie tells Craig, who appears to have some tobacco tucked into his lower lip, how embarrassing his behavior was. Craig refuses to back down from the self-righteous belief that he was just doing the right thing to stand up for his friend Kathryn. 

Molotov cocktail explodes in his face. Tobacky goes everywhere. 

The next morning, Whitney wakes up pissed and decides to take his ball and go to his lair in LA. And what a lair it is. A white box made of glass and money. 

But first, we must attend to some T-Rav/Baby Mama drama. T-Rav was planning to go to LA with Whitney and celebrate the pending childbirth of his new son, but Kathryn has discovered this nefarious plan and is doing what she can to prevent this from happening by getting into "a tizzy" — which is Southern for losing her shit.  

T-Rav is easily manipulated ("better to keep Kathryn at peace than to deal with her wrath") and cancels his plans, much to Kathryn's delight. When he sends her a "bo-kay" of flowers, Kathryn laughs at his sentiment. Ooh, she's a cold one. 

The rest of the episode is Craig trying desperately to get back into the good graces of Cameran and Whitney. Shep helps him by trying to convince Whitney to let Craig come out to LA in T-Rav's place: Grudges are for losers! 

Craig meets with Kathryn and tells her that he's done being her proxy and can't take on the role of drama queen because it sucks and he's not willing to lose friends over it. 

Later, there's more fun to be had at Kathryn's when T-Rav drops by to put together the changing table. T-Rav can't wriggle his way out of this confrontation no matter how hard he concentrates on putting that table together. She's an expert on making this goober squirm.

Back in LA, Whitney creeps on his girlfriend Larissa, plying her with stir-fry, balloons, orchids, baths, German words, and a goofy love song (watch video below). She seems appropriately mortified, but it's actually pretty sweet to see Whitney have feelings since we all pretty much think he's a vampire or some other nefarious creature of the night.

Next week: Whitney relents and Craig heads to LA with Shep to party with hot chicks while Kathryn and Thomas head to the hospital to birth their baby. 


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Confessions of a Southern Charm newbie: Ep 8

From the mountains to the sea

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 11:49 AM

Terror has a new name in this week's episode of Southern Charm - SCREENSHOT
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  • Terror has a new name in this week's episode of Southern Charm
Welcome back, everybody. Let’s talk about fear.

Yes, fear — it’s both the reason you do and do not do things. If you’re reading this, you probably know a big part of this column is my attempt to try to understand the cast of Southern Charm using only the information presented in this season. Oddly enough, this is like looking through a pinhole at an eclipse and trying to determine the time of day. All that aside, I think knowing a person’s true fears is a major step in getting to know them. It means they’ve let down their guard enough to reveal something intimate that could only bring them harm if revealed to the wider world. In this way, fear is closely tied to trust. If a person is open enough with you to divulge what truly frightens them, protect that knowledge and respect it. This is why I stopped throwing bees at my wife and dry-clicking my revolver at people on the bus.

So, what does this have to do with Southern Charm? Well, after last week’s cliffhanger, I realized that the episode had all the makings of a horror film. Shep had led all of his pals into a secluded cabin/mansion, and drinks and revelry had given way to infighting before the scene cut to black. The episode left me thinking, “What if this were a horror film? What would that mean for our cast of characters?” And in pondering this, I started to wonder what would they be most afraid of? Now, I can’t really presume to know what frightens these people. They are real human beings after all, but I can guess based upon what I’ve learned thus far from the show.

To be fair to the cast, I’ll reveal my biggest fears before moving forward. They are spiders, simple enough and definitely not related to any deep-seated childhood torment whatsoever, and making mistakes. Coincidentally enough, when I would make a mistake as a child, I would be forced to go sit in what was referred to as the “dummy shed” which was full of brown recluses. Armed only with a wet book of matches and the reminder that “dummies get the shed,” I would wait out my time, and I honestly haven’t thought about it since. Moving on to the cast of Southern Charm.

Cameran, as she’s said many times before, is afraid of motherhood. This makes sense. Not only is giving birth some Cronenbergian nightmare, the end result is that you’ve created something that just wants to disagree with you regardless of how right you are. I am so sorry, Mom.

Landon, who we’ve seen try to mount a media empire with her travel-arts-wine magazine, seems to be most afraid that she can’t live up to her grand ideas. In a similar fashion, Craig is reeling from the lesson that he’s not ready to run J.D.’s bourbon business. After reinventing himself, #NewCraig’s fear seems to center on it all not being enough to succeed and that he’ll lapse back into some Jekyll-and-Hyde scenario. This episode presents just that dilemma.

Picking back up where last week left off, we find Craig disrupting everyone’s mountain retreat to discuss Whitney’s past dalliances with Kathryn, the mother of Thomas’ children. Craig has been apparently lying in wait to un-quiver this attack since Whitney insulted him in front of his parents in a past season. Given a flashback to that episode, we see hints of #OldCraig and learn that hell hath no fury like a Craig scorned.
Everyone's night is ruined - SCREENSHOT
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  • Everyone's night is ruined
Faced with a mountain party gone awry, I find the Shep of my dreams. First he says that only champagne will fix this situation, he then quotes Shakespeare before saying, “I’m going to make a weird drink.” Yes! Classic theater. Improvised cocktails. Avoiding confrontation. This is the Shep I’ve been waiting for. By the way, next time you’re in a bar, order a “Shep on the Rocks.” You will receive a hubcap filled with bourbon and Pop Rocks. This is of course garnished with a home paternity test.

Looking back to Charleston, we learn that Kathryn’s delivery date has been moved up by several weeks as doctors plan to induce labor to avoid any complications. This means there is only one-week until the baby arrives and Thomas says this just means he gets to meet his son sooner. What an adorable way to approach fatherhood.

We then catch back up with Patricia, who is paying a visit to Whitney. She finds Whitney rocking out in his loft, which she compares to an “ISIS prison camp” of some sort. Also, Patricia has brought her son a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka because she is incredible. As the two begin to discuss Craig after his unprovoked mountain attack, Patricia mentions that she ran into J.D. at the bank. Can you even imagine? The very thought of happening upon Patricia as she carries out mundane errands is fascinating to me.

Me: “Hello, Patricia. That’s a mighty fine wheelbarrow you brought to the bank today. Refilling the money trough?”
Patricia: “Do I know you?”
Me: “I write about you on the internet. So in a way, we are like family. Oh, what a lovely bottle of pepper spray.”
End Scene

The remainder of this episode is split between Los Angeles and Charleston. Whitney has traveled to the West Coast to visit a woman he is sweet on and check in on his house in California. After arriving in L.A., Whitney carries in a weird Dr. Seuss plant and immediately starts to clean his sliding-glass doors. Whitney’s L.A. home is a minimalist void that either reveals nothing about his personality or absolutely everything. Also, it turns out Whitney is a filmmaker! What an interesting revelation. Please allow me to pitch my idea for a movie. It is the story of a young fortune-teller who seeks revenge against criminals before they have actually wronged her. The working title of the film is “Miss Fortune.” Please give me money to make this.

The Wubbulous World of Whitney - SCREENSHOT
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  • The Wubbulous World of Whitney
While making his trip to the West, Whitney has invited all his Charleston pals to come stay with him. This upsets the apple cart in a number of ways. Shep wants to invite Craig. Kathryn is upset that Thomas wants to leave town the week before their child arrives. Thomas apologizes with a flower arrangement and a note that simply reads, “I’m very sorry.” I feel like Thomas has a stockpile of identical cards that he just hands out to everyone in Charleston. This is probably the first thing he says when he meets someone: “Hello, my name is Thomas Ravenel, and I am very sorry.”

Turning back to Whitney’s Kraftwerk house, we find that his lady friend has arrived. The two quickly disappear into a back room, and the show cuts to a message that says “Two hours later” as the two re-emerge. So did the camera crew just hang out for those two hours while Whitney and his friend were getting reacquainted? What is the etiquette in this situation? Whitney later corners this young woman, who is dressed like a cat burglar, on the couch and sings an obscenity-laced rockabilly love song. The West Coast has done strange things to this show.

'Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!' - SCREENSHOT
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  • 'Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!'

Wrapping things up, we see Craig join Shep at his bar. Shep reveals that he has convinced Whitney to allow Craig to join them in California. This would be a heartwarming scene, but all of Shep’s words are propelled by burps. In all honesty, this is a very nice thing that Shep has done for Craig. Acknowledging this act of kindness, Shep questions why anyone would donate to a charity anonymously. He wants his name on the hospital, he says. Let me remind everyone out there, Shep isn’t the name of a place where you go when you’re sick. Shep is the reason you feel bad in the first place.

But really, this episode has shown me just how good of a guy Shep is. Maybe I haven’t given him enough credit this season. Perhaps Shep merely plays the fool to hide a warrior's pain. Maybe I shouldn’t judge Shep just because he’s named after the guy who invented the giant foam cowboy hat. Maybe just because he has the wet handshake of names, I shouldn’t be so quick to assume the worst. Maybe he deserves a second chance. Maybe we all do.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Southern Charm S3E7: Weekend at Shep's

And the curse of Moncks Corner

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 11:40 AM

  • Bravo screenshot
Let's all go to Shep's happy place and make a mess. Everyone on the party bus! 

But first, let's frame the story. Shep wants to invite everyone to his family's mountain house, but he's worried about including Kathryn because Whitney and Cameran said they wouldn't go if she was going. When Shep tells Craig this news, he insists that Shep's got to include Kathryn. "Whitney is the evil one," he says. Shep, being the consummate gentleman, calls Kathryn and invites her. Luckily, she's on modified bedrest and can't go. Whew. That was close.  

While T-Rav is putting together an invisible crib at Kathryn's house, he tells her that he isn't going if she isn't going. Cue smug look. Kathryn is back in control of Thomas. As he says, "I'm T-Rav, but she's T-Rex. One wrong move and the building is destroyed." He can't take the chance that she'll destroy some buildings while she's carrying this latest baby.  

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Confessions of a Southern Charm newbie: Ep 7


Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 10:09 AM

Enjoy this while you can - SCREENSHOT
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  • Enjoy this while you can
Hey everybody. Last week sure was fun. We had a Southern Charm feature and I got my face — or faces — on the cover in a moment that was made possible by you, the loyal reader. I really appreciate all the support that this column has gotten over the past seven weeks, and I feel that way for two reasons. The first is simply that I crave the approval of strangers, which I’m told is a very healthy way to live. The second reason I’m glad people read the column is a bit more complicated.

My Southern Charm viewing experience is always a solitary affair. Each week, I sit on my couch, flanked by laptops. One is for streaming the show and taking screenshots; the other is for taking notes. I watch the show, drink myself to sleep, and when I wake up, the column is there waiting for me to share with the world. Other than editing out all the descriptions of what mine and Craig’s babies would look like, that’s pretty much the extent of my work. But then people start to engage with the articles, and it’s like we are all one big bunch of buddy-roes crowded around the screen.

This is why I keep my definition of “good TV” very broad. It is not just about being a compelling program, skillfully crafted and layered. This is all great, of course, but sometimes it’s just about being a show you can share with people. Now let’s see what the gang is up to this week.
Cool disguise, Craig - SCREENSHOT
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  • Cool disguise, Craig
The episode starts with Craig and Shep meeting for lunch to discuss Craig’s failed attempt at assuming control of J.D.’s bourbon empire. A failed usurper, Craig is dressed like he’s hiding out from the police. What’s with the disguise, Craig? Do I need to pull the getaway car around back. Just say the word and we’ll blow this popsicle stand. Anyway, Shep tells Craig that he needs to be studying for the Bar exam and then invites him to the Shep family mountain home in Asheville. I guess the reasoning behind this is because the high altitude is conducive to learning. Once you get all that blood and oxygen out of your brain, it’s ready to be filled with knowledge.

In a moment of brilliance, Craig and Shep decide to extend an invite to Kathryn, knowing that she is far too pregnant to make a mountain excursion. Following this instance of cunning heretofore unseen on Southern Charm, Craig exclaims that he will make a great lawyer. In other words, Craig ain’t pass the Bar, but he knows a little bit, enough so you won’t accompany him on this trip.

And I agree with Craig on this. He’ll make a great bourbon magnate/attorney because what all great lawyers have in common is their desire to sell liquor. That is why Matlock was always working to perfect his famous bathtub gin and why Atticus Finch opened a margarita bar called — wait for it — Tequila Mockingbird.

Speaking of Kathryn, we visit her home briefly as Thomas arrives to assemble a crib for their unborn child. Kathryn has little to no furniture, and what she does have is either pink or clear. My natural urge is to mock this, but then I remember what my apartment looked like for the brief time that I lived alone. My style of decor could best be described as “last known whereabouts” — complete with newspapers on the windows and a smell that was both mysterious and frighteningly familiar. So tip of the hat to you, Kathryn.
"This damn thing won't go in the thing." - SCREENSHOT
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  • "This damn thing won't go in the thing."
Next we find Cameran on her first trip to a new therapist. Now for those of you who have never seen the show, there is one clear sign that Cameran is the most reliable and well-adjusted person on Southern Charm. At the beginning of each episode, she provides the voiceover to remind us all what happened last week. This is a vital role because if you’re anything like me, you get blackout drunk on Perry Mason’s hard cider and need some help filling in the blanks. This also means that the producers knew that they’d be able to trap Cameran in a room for at least one afternoon to record all the episode recaps. She is literally the voice of reason on Southern Charm, and I think it’s great that she’s talking to a therapist. We all have things that we need to get off our chests. Some of us resent our fathers. No big deal. Others just want our dads to quit making fun of them and understand that journalism is a real career. That’s fine, too. Then there are those who write reality show recaps in the hopes that they’ll finally earn their old man’s respect. I mean, I’m no doctor (as my father has pointed out numerous times in front of company) but I encourage all those who can talk to a licensed professional to do so.

Anyway, Cameran’s visit to the therapist is brought on by her fear of being a mother. Although her husband, who does not have a uterus, is ready for kids, Cameran loves her life the way it is and fears that motherhood will ruin that. Also during this session, we notice that Cameran is holding a pen. Is she taking notes during her own therapy session? Is she simultaneously evaluating her therapist? Considering this, I wager that Cameran is the president of her local business group.

We then catch up with Landon, who is still reeling from last week’s meeting with the handsomely named Lockhart Steele. Landon says she only has a few weeks to create the prototype for her travel-arts-wine magazine before Steele pulls into town in his designer zeppelin. The Steele family crest is a lion investing in startups.

With that ticking clock established, we move on to a visit between Craig and Kathryn during which they discuss the past relationship between her and Whitney. Detective Craig uncovers that Kathryn and Whitney courted three years ago, and he suspects that this is the source of their current misgivings. More on this later because Shep, also known as your baby’s first curse word, has rented a party bus to take everyone away to his mountain home.

During the group’s drive up to Asheville, everyone begins interrogating their host about his romantic life. With who I can only assume to be Shep’s “regular Saturday night thing” noticeably absent, the cast is very curious about the nature of their relationship. Shep explains that a big part of being with him is knowing that he may disappear for a few days without explanation. Shep is our generation’s Don Draper.

Arriving in Asheville, we get an establishing shot of a guy on a unicycle, who I believe is the city’s mayor. Asheville’s motto is “Whatevs” with a smiley face emoji. Their mascot is a banjo wearing sunglasses.

Prowling the streets of the city, Whitney grabs a stranger’s guitar and begins to shred, while Thomas begins to ask young women about their piercings. These two weren’t born so much as they were torn from the thigh of David Lee Roth. It’s going to be an interesting evening.

Yeehaw indeed - SCREENSHOT
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  • Yeehaw indeed
One highly sexualized game of Jenga later, and we find everyone out at the club. Thomas, the John Audubon of body piercings, continues his quest of making women uncomfortable. This ends with one woman very politely threatening to stab him before sending Thomas off for more drinks. Shep, the name of the doctor who decided that vaccines were bad for you, is excited that the trip is going well.

The following morning, the gang sets out for Shep’s mountain house. Cameran and Whitney decide to rent a car because they don’t want to die in a party bus. This is a valid concern.

Arriving at the Shep family compound, we learn that — holy hell is this place massive! Shep explains that he is descended from judges and lawyers. And as one of the highborn, the fact that Shep just wants to share this wonderful place with his friends is endearing. Also endearing is Craig’s decision to prepare steaks for everyone because he is a good man. Looking over Craig’s shoulder as he grills, Whitney fears cross-contamination, but Craig has much worse in store for everyone than just a little food poisoning.

As with every conversation on Southern Charm, the gang begins to discuss Kathryn. It is at this point that I give up and admit to myself that she is the keystone of this whole show — remove Kathryn and Southern Charm topples like so many sexual Jengas. Emboldened by the mountain air and cooked meats, Craig confronts Whitney about his past relationship with Kathryn. As things begin to get heated, the screen cuts to black and we see “To Be Continued.”
Dang, ol' dang - SCREENSHOT
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  • Dang, ol' dang
What?! A two-parter? Southern Charm has really ratcheted up the tension. Will Whitney confess his love for Kathryn? Has Craig poisoned everyone with tainted meats? Does the party bus driver have to sleep outside? Only time will tell. 

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Southern Charm S3 E6: Elevator pitches and bourbon-soaked dreams

Self-Esteem Shattering Career Moves

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Wed, May 11, 2016 at 6:45 AM

Ah, the morning montage. I find this routine opening for Southern Charm rather amusing. Last week Whitney was warming up some hotdogs in the microwave, and this week he's putting some sort of table together. What else does this guy do in the morning? Does he go into a closet that looks like the Game of Thrones' Hall of Faces and slip on a creepy new set of skin?

Over at Craig and Naomie's, the two cuties are playing house and pretending that Craig has a job, even though he stroked a big fat check to JD on his first day of work. I'm starting to feel like he fell for a Nigerian phone scam with this Gentry Bourbon gig. And if you're wondering where Craig got money to pay for this scam and buy a ring (oh, yeah, he gives Naomie not-an-engagment ring), remember that he gets paid to appear on this show. That's right. Bravo pays people to lay out their lives for us to skewer, or else no one would dare submit to the sort of ridicule people like me dish out week after week. 

Hey, it's 1 p.m. and Shep's mom just gave him a bath and combed his wet hair into a cute little side part. Too bad she didn't stick around to make him breakfast, because he's late for his appointment with Cam at a house she's trying to list. He may be late, but when he arrives, they've got plenty of time to talk about Kathryn. Shep admonishes Cam for turning down Kathryn's friendly overture. He says Cam should've taken the high road and then makes a rapey joke in his confessional: "It's just easier to say yes than no. ... I keep telling girls that." Oh, Shep. 

I've noticed that the cast members are really trying to deliver the goods to the producers this season. Shep with his rapid fire jokes that get him in hot water. Landon, desperate for a storyline, is trying to find a career and a pick a fight with Kathryn all at the same time. Whitney, well, Whitney is doing his best to avoid looking like a douche, but that's pretty much impossible. 

Kathryn's storyline this week consists of a sympathetic reconciliation with JD's wife and Kensie's godmother Elizabeth. Essentially, Kathryn withdrew from everyone because there were no cameras around to perform for, but now that the show's back, she has to make nice so she can get some TV time. She and Elizabeth watch the identically dressed Madison boys (why do rich Southerners do that to their kids?!) play on the swings, and then they cry and hug and make up. Wonder how long that will last. 

Shep and Cameran pretend they are looking at a mansion in Charleston, but we know that's not the case. A 6,000 square foot, 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath pristine historic home would not be listed for mid-700s anywhere in Charleston or even Mt. Pleasant. A quick search proves my hunch right. This house is in Walterboro, about an hour away from town. Regardless, the place is gorge, and Shep is ready to close the listing and get back to his breakfast. 

Landon is preparing her elevator pitch and heading to New York City to meet with Lockhart Steele at Vox Media. This internet mogul is the founder of Eater and Curbed and a regular in Charleston, which perhaps explains his willingness to give Landon an audience. Unfortunately, her pitch goes about as well as a Miss Teen USA interview and she walks away googling the word "prototype." (Honestly, I couldn't watch this scene a second time and had to fast-forward through it. She reminds me of girls I went to school with who feigned stupidity so as not to make the dumb jocks feel bad about themselves. I truly don't want to believe she is that stupid.) 

Shep heads over to T-Rav's mansion for an awkward man-visit. Southern Charm is starting to feel very real estate porn-y. Let's hope they launch a Million Dollar Listing Charleston that stars Cam and Shep in their new partnership! I'd totally watch that.

Back to the fireside chat with T-Rav and Shep. Oh, right, we're supposed to care that Kathryn isn't getting invited to parties. T-Rav cares because it makes blood go to her brain and starves the baby of oxygen. You see, back in the olden days, pregnant women in the South were banished to their bedrooms and cautioned not to have bad maternal impressions because they could negatively impact the baby and cause mental retardation and lifelong problems.  


Finally, we are at the meat of this week's episode. JD and Craig at the Gentry headquarters. JD, no fool, has taken the opportunity to "hire" Craig so he can be sure the television cameras spend plenty of time at his new businesses. He's renovating a hotel and launching a bourbon. Craig thinks he's going to be a mogul or at least in charge of the bourbon business, but JD knows that Craig just paid for the privilege of being a glorified assistant.    

JD's evil cackle should send a warning to Craig, who eagerly tries to spitball about the bourbon business. Just send out some invites to all your hot friends, says JD in not-so-many words. We can see where this is going. Poor Craig is going to get a rude awakening in about 3, 2, 1.... 

The bourbon tasting arrives and JD pisses all over his bourbon territory, crowding out Craig's puppy dog excitement at seeing all those bourbon barrels. "Craig's job is to help me out. It's not my job to keep him up to speed on what I'm doing. Last time I checked I'm the boss," says JD with another cackle.

Craig is 100 percent convinced that he can run a bourbon business. You've got to admire his self confidence, but Shep sees this as hubristic and irrational. By the end of the tasting, JD tells him he has no chance at running the business. Craig is so humiliated and teary-eyed, and still doesn't know the difference between a bourbon and a whiskey, that he comes around to acknowledging his naiveté. And Naomie is in tears too because her dream boyfriend is turning out to be a nightmare. 

We end the episode with a preview/flashback to T-Rav's awful dinner party, which kicked off the first episode of the season but has yet to actually happen. Can't wait for that one. 

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