Hey guys, I know what will be fun. Let’s talk about aging. Right? That’s terrible idea, but let’s do it anyway.
So at what point do you remember first considering your age as a determining factor in who you should be as a person? Not just “I’m 16, so I can drive now,” but that point when you considered “This isn’t where I thought I’d be when I turned 30” or 40 or however many years it took you to be really disappointed in yourself. It’s kind of a terrifying concept, but also one that’s not really based in anything concrete. Really what growing older comes down to is a perceived narrowing of possibility.
As a child, it’s generally understood that you can be anything — and some people hold on to this mentality. As a teen, you might feel pressure to rebel against whatever expectations have been placed upon you — and some people hold onto this. Then at a certain point, you just become satisfied with finding fewer ants in your apartment and consider drinking water as “Taking care of yourself.” This is called early adulthood. This is the point when you start getting invited to a bunch of weddings, which are like birthday parties except someone else gets all the presents and attention and you get to question the trajectory of your life and how drunk is socially acceptable. Meanwhile, the years just continue to creep by. The reason I bring up aging is because this week on Southern Charm we celebrate Shep’s 37th birthday. Now on to the show.
We open on a title card that says “Thomas’ Plantation” and my notes at this moment just read “gurg” and “eetch.”
Anyway, Landon is setting up for the big polo extravaganza that Thomas is hosting. Impressed by Landon’s preparation for the party, Thomas says he wants a woman who is good in the kitchen, well-behaved, and will reflect well on the Ravenel name — like a mom, or a bang maid.
We then have our compulsory morning wake-up montage and find Austen enjoying a bowl of cereal because he’s gotta have them Pops. Chelsea calls, and we see that Austen has saved her in his phone as “Dream Girl.” This is very sweet. The show unfortunately misses the opportunity to have the narration say, “This dream relationship is about to turn into a nightmare” — a misstep that I’m sure led to massive layoffs in the Bravo writers’ room. The only greater sin in reality television than missing a forced voiceover pun is when a cameraman fails to capture the moment a drink is hurled in someone’s face. This is of course a fireable offense.
So Austen picks Chelsea up for what we learn will be her first polo match. She confesses that the only thing she knows about polo is what she saw in Pretty Woman, which means Chelsea expects Jason Alexander to offer her money for sex.
Chelsea then admits to Austen that she and Shep had a brief “makeout sesh.” Austen, who miraculously refrains from driving his car into a ravine, says that Shep makes out with everyone. He’s very European in that way. That’s just how Shep says hello.
Back at the polo match, Cameran hands Whitney a baby against his will. Whitney holds the baby like he just arrived on earth. Seriously, Whitney being an alien would explain so much. He dresses and behaves like someone who learned about our culture from television waves that took decades to reach his home world.
“Ah yes, your younglings are considered most treasured in their pupal stage. I will communicate this back to the mother planet,” Whitney says.
It is slowly revealed throughout this episode that no one actually understands the rules of polo. It’s a real emperor’s new clothes situation, with the cast just looking on as people ride horses. To the best of my understanding, polo is like golf mixed with soccer if all the players were afraid of the ground and loved mallets.
It’s finally the point of the polo match where everyone stops pretending to watch the game and gets some food. Chelsea and Austen eat chicken wings seductively at one another in some strange mix of poultry and romance that I will call fowl play. Get it? It’s like foreplay, but with chicken. This is a very good joke.
Then Chelsea, in an amazing non sequitur, asks Austen to look at how long her arms are and says she could slap him from across the table. The show doesn’t show exactly what led up to this statement and I’m fine with not knowing. I want to live in a world where women brag about their wingspan before randomly threatening violence at polo matches.
Cameran, having already accepted the dowry on Chelsea in her fantasy marriage to Shep, grabs Whitney so the two can go run interference — because no one can diffuse sexual energy like Whitney. Whitney carries himself like someone who has had a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe his entire life.
Whitney, not of this earth, immediately asks Chelsea and Austen if they are enjoying a romantic moment. Chelsea responds that this is their first date, which perturbs Cameran so much that she invokes the bro code. I mean, how can Austen just step out with his best pal’s regular Saturday night thing? That is beyond the pale, fella.
Whitney then asks the happy couple “What’s going to happen afterwards?” as he adjust his human suit and radios back to his home planet that the earthlings suspect nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if later in the episode Whitney was shown eating an unpeeled banana and harvesting plutonium to power his ship.
The polo match then takes a break or enters halftime or whatever happens and the gang stops by to check in with Thomas to see who’s winning. Landon asks Thomas to briefly explain the rules of polo to Austen and the rest of the viewing audience. Thomas starts talking about a line that shant be crossed. Or it can be crossed if the horse is going slow. It immediately becomes apparent that not even he knows the rules of polo. The whole explanation sounds like a high-schooler giving a presentation on a book they haven’t read.
“He was the greatest of Gatsbys. He was the worst of Gatsbys. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of polo,” says Thomas, hoping that everyone loses interest before he stops talking.
Thomas’ kids then roll by in a stroller shouting “Daddy” and he tells them he’ll “chat with them later” because that’s what you do with children — chat.
Craig leans in and tells Thomas to go give his daughter a kiss because she was calling for him, but Thomas “needs to focus on the game.” He dismisses everyone and asks someone off screen how big a lead they need. His guess is seven, which sounds about right. I mean, you need at least seven more polo points than the next team. That’s polo 101.
Craig really latches onto Thomas not telling his kids bye. He asks Landon and Austen to imagine a world where their fathers didn’t tell them bye on occasion. Landon gets Anime eyes and says her dad didn’t say goodbye sometimes and she turned out fine.
If I were to rank all the things my parents did that damaged me as a child, not saying goodbye would not even make the list. You know what would? The unapologetic nudity.
Craig’s complaints fall on deaf ears and he goes into the stables to talk with the horses, fed up with the petty squabbles of man like Gulliver after his time with the Houyhnhnms.
“Why the long face?” the horses jokingly ask Craig because equines are notorious for diffusing tension with humor.
“Do you sleep standing up?” Craig asks on behalf of all humanity.
It’s later revealed that Thomas’ team won the polo match 4-12, which I, without any knowledge on which to base this, will declare the largest polo victory in the history of the sport. They thought they needed seven polo point lead, but they got eight! That surely means something.
Now that polo is behind us, we turn our attention to Patricia’s house where Whitney is getting a visit from Shep. As previously mentioned, Shep’s birthday is coming up, and he’s turning 37.
Anyway, Shep and Whitney enjoy some grilled cheese sandwiches, and Whitney informs Shep about the whole deal between Chelsea and Austen. Shep nearly chokes on his grilled cheese at the news, which would probably be a fitting end. Let this be a reminder that it’s never too early to start considering which sandwich should bring your demise. This is called the Mama Cass rule.
Skipping ahead, we then turn to Chelsea and Austen’s date. Chelsea orders them both drinks and says she rode her bike so she can drink whatever she wants. Perhaps the best way to promote alternate transportation is liquor? I remember when I lived in New York plenty of people drank on the bus each morning. I have found a correlation, so causation can’t be far behind.
Chelsea then asks if she and Austen can “get to know each other” before the relationship proceeds as if this is some grand imposition. This is actually how relationships work. You don’t have to act like every person you like is in the witness protection program. Chelsea follows up this reasonable request with an increasingly bizarre series of questions: When is your birthday? Do you want to have children? How many one-night stands have you had? That escalated quickly.
Chelsea then says she needs to go home and sober up before she goes to work the next morning and cuts hair. Austen says, “Let’s go back to mine,” and makes his sexy face. This is bad.
Cutting to the next morning, Shep calls Chelsea who is in the throes of a massive hangover from the previous evening out. Shep says he needs a haircut, so we know we’re in for some interesting relationship developments.
Shep visits Chelsea for a haircut, her hands shaking as the final drops of alcohol leave her system. She asks if he is bringing a date to his upcoming birthday party, which is taking place on a boat. What a cool way to add danger to one’s special day. Shep then asks how he got the reputation as the “village bicycle.” To be honest, he’s more of the suburban moped.
Skipping ahead because it’s almost 4 a.m. and I’m still writing about this show, it’s finally time for Shep’s birthday boat party. He shows up in a pair of pants that look like a photo negative of a fancy paper towel. He then quotes Tom Wolfe. This is the type of evening we have ahead of us.
Whiney arrives with his date who’s dressed like a fortune teller and remarks “Tits ahoy” because that is his prime directive. I’m now captivated by the idea of an alien spy who just happens to infiltrate a group of humans least representative of the world population. My pitch is that it’d be like Alf meets Arrested Development and it’s a license to print money.
Later at the party, Shep, who is now dressed like Thurston Howell III toasts to the bourgeoisie, saying, “May we always be in it.” Little does he know that below deck the proles are dancing to Irish music and showing an aristocratic young woman the simple pleasures of the lower class. Billy Zane will not be happy.
Cameran tells Shep that Chelsea and Austen “frenched” and Shep counters that he “made out with her first.” How about we wait and see who Chelsea takes to the Sadie Hawkins dance?
Cameran advises that Shep forget about sex for a second and starts thinking about serious relationships because he is getting older. Pointing to Thomas, she asks, “Do you want to be a 55 year old man and not have shoelaces?”
The profound nature of this question is so jarring and poignant that I spend the rest of my evening breaking all the mirrors in my apartment, ashamed of my own vanity.
Meanwhile, Thomas and Whitney are later found sitting on a couch talking about what they do and do not like about a specific woman’s body who is standing nearby. Thomas says he likes thin ankles, probably because it makes it more difficult for them to escape on foot.
Hey everybody. This week we’re going to talk about communication. In writing about a show where 98 percent of what happens is one-on-one conversations and the other 2 percent is b-roll footage of carriage horses, it’s a wonder we haven’t looked at this before.
We start this week’s episode with Cameran and Chelsea paying a visit to their personal trainer. Cameran claims that she basically lives off of gas station food. The show then cuts to her enjoying food at a bunch of places that aren’t gas stations. As someone who actually subsists off of gas station food, let me say that it is much less glamorous than Southern Charm makes it.
For anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to maintain the diet of a self-destructive trucker, just think of your digestive tract like the violent ecosystem of a fledgling alien planet. If you plan to ignore the microwave instructions on a frozen cheeseburger, make sure you consume enough Red Bull and Yellow Jackets to kill any bacteria that might try to bring you down. Now back to the gym.
Chelsea, who closed out the last episode enjoying a nice evening out with Shep, says that they spent the night together. Apparently, Shep messaged Cameran the morning after, giddy as a schoolgirl. Chelsea clarifies that she and Shep kept their clothes on, which means they participated in the awkward discomfort of sharing a sleep space without the brief distraction of carnal bliss.
Cameran says that Shep and Chelsea spending the night together is just one step forward in her grand plan for them to be soulmates. Wouldn’t that be pre-ordained? Not to be some romantic Calvinist, but do soulmates begin at conception? I mean, we all know that identical twins have to share a soul. Learned that in Sunday school — one divided by two equals eternal damnation. But what’s the divine math for couples who all their friends agree would be perfect together?
Anyway, the next thing we see is Craig golf-carting it on over to lunch with Landon. They quickly share a laugh about the word charcuterie because they are both cartoon mice.
Craig tells Landon that he wants to become independently wealthy so that he can travel the world and help people. The mental gymnastics required to judge this sentence are baffling. Is this a good thing to want? I mean, it’s not bad, but ... what? He wants to be rich, but mainly so he can help people. It’s the philanthropic equivalent of watching a snake eat its own tail.
Craig gets a call from Naomie who asks if he’s taking care of all his chores in preparation for the charity fundraiser they are organizing. No, he is not. He’s having a beer and eating a wooden board full of meats and cheeses.
“Did you get all of your stuff done?” Naomie asks. Was his to-do list just a note with the words “Not a damn thing” written on it? If so, mission accomplished.
We then turn things over to Shep who is on the phone with his mom. She asks if he received the dopp kit she sent. He has, but he immediately warns her that he will probably lose it on his upcoming trip. America is literally littered with thoughtful gifts that Shep has left behind. He sheds useful items like a bird loses feathers. Shep is the person you let hold the map in a disaster movie.
The next chunk of this week’s episode cuts back and forth between the dual meetings between Landon and Craig and Shep and Naomie. They are each talking about each other, but they refuse to talk to each other about it. Naomie is annoyed with Craig for not being on top of his fundraiser duties. Shep is annoyed with Landon and Craig for not taking his business advice. And Landon and Craig are upset with Shep for criticizing their life choices. So how does that fit into our theme of communication?
What Southern Charm manages to do during this little series of scenes is show that each of these characters has a much easier time expressing how they actually feel about someone else when speaking to someone who is equally as pissed off at that person. This is because a mutual hate is a much stronger and legitimate bond than a shared affection.
For example, the fundraiser is portrayed as less of an opportunity for Craig to do good and more of a showcase of how he keeps ignoring his responsibilities. This allows Shep and Naomie to commiserate over how he should just do exactly what they both say all the time. To put this into more general terms, let’s say you went to your coworkers and announced, “Hey team, I’ve worked really hard for the past 15 years. It cost me my family, but I finally got that raise.”
Everyone would hate you. But if you said, “Jimmy crapped his pants in the break room and tried to lie about it,” well, you’d be the office hero.
Returning to a land where offices don’t exist, we find Patricia gearing up for her vacation. She is, of course, dressed like a butterfly as drawn by Botticelli.
Michael, Patricia’s trusty butler, is on vacation — likely breaking up an international spy ring or rescuing the world’s uranium supply from the wrong hands. I tell myself many lies to get by day after day, and Michael engaging in sword fights on the wing of a biplane over Malta is one of them.
Patricia, meanwhile, discusses how her pug is getting fat, and she jokes about inventing Spanx for dogs. We all can’t be slutty little greyhounds, Patricia.
We then find Kathryn visiting a local modeling agent, because you thought overweight dogs had it tough. Kathryn says she’s been modeling since the age of 14 and she’s ready to get back in the game. Kathryn shows off a few pictures from her previous modeling jobs and the talent scout informs Kathryn that “You’re older than you were then.” This statement, interestingly enough, is true of every photo ever taken.
The scout, hungry for the fresh blood of the innocent, asks if either of Kathryn’s children might be capable of modeling with her. Kathryn has apparently passed a drug test, so she can once again see her children, but all visits must be supervised. Kathryn says she would love to model with our kids, so here we have another example of people unable to communicate what they really mean because of various factors. The modeling agent understands that the parameters of her industry that require her to literally inform Kathryn that she has aged are also the ugliest parts of our society. This doesn’t make her a bad person — just a shrewd businesswoman. So she has to utilize some verbal jiu jitsu to express the truth of the situation.
Over at Thomas’ house, Landon is paying a visit to talk business, as well. Thomas offers her a drink with his monogrammed cocktail napkins that read TRAV because he is the Platonic ideal of a modern nightmare. Thomas reveals that he wants Landon to help promote his upcoming polo match, but the subtext is that he wants to rekindle whatever relationship they previously shared. The amount of overlap between the professional and romantic realms on this show is interesting, but in all the wrong ways.
Back at Craig and Naomie’s house, the dutiful couple are gearing up for the big fundraiser. Craig insures Naomie that his mere presence is enough to disarm any potential crisis because he is immune to the crueler strains of life. After society collapses, Craig will roam the wasteland as some sort of I Am Legend protagonist, believing that we are all the obvious villains to his oblivious boogeyman. Craig then compares Shep to an abusive husband because all violent men invite their battered wives to the batting cages to ask why they didn’t take the Bar exam. But here’s where things get horrifying.
Thomas, ready to meet up with his pals for a night out on the town, runs into his neighbor — a young woman. Shep, Austen, and their friend Walker arrive. Walker by the way has the most beautiful head of hair. He looks like if three-fifths of the band Alabama decided to have a baby together.
Thomas indicates that he has had sexual relations of some sort with his neighbor friend. Shep says he also slept with her. Thomas says “there’s a lot of cross pollination in this town” because talking like an apiarist is much easier than being literal and gross.
Shep boasts that he once introduced himself to a woman who he had sex with the night before. Again, this isn’t a confession, like “Guys, I really failed humanity. You’ll never guess my most recent faux pas.”
Walker says Shep should keep his conquests logged in his phone, and Shep says that when he started they didn’t even have phones, which makes me think that Shep has been taking advantage of women since the 1870s. Alexander Graham Bell shouted, “Watson, come here! I want to see you!” into a receiver and Shep replied, “Who dis?”
Anyway, this scene offers up an interesting look into how a considerable portion of men speak when they are around other men. As far as communication is concerned, this is it at its most basic. It shows the blunt honesty and one-upmanship that occurs when a group of men decide to speak freely. It stands in stark contrast to the other exchanges we’ve seen this episode. Everyone else has taken steps to ensure that they don’t accurately communicate their most base desires. In this situation, it’s become a contest.
Back at the bar, Whitney arrives and then two of Shep’s lady friends show up — Daisy and Bree. Austen opens with the line, “Bree, like the cheese I love so much?” This is super cool. Yeah, you called her a cheese, but it’s the cheese you love. Game over, Cyrano de Bergerac. Wait in the shadows no longer. She’s all yours.
After everyone makes out with everyone else while the rest of the group looks on — yes, like a high school dance — Shep finally cuts things off so he can catch his flight to the wedding he is sworn to attend.
With the big fundraiser upon us, Cameran visits Whitney at Patricia’s empty home. Whitney yells at some barking dogs and asks them “Is this necessary?” because he is Tom Cruise’s character from Magnolia.
Hopping over to the Craig and Naomie’s, Craig is still wrestling with the printer trying to prepare everything that is necessary for the fundraiser. As Naomie awaits the beginning of the event, she begins to speak French with her parents and discuss how Craig has disappointed her. Naomie’s mother says that’s just how men are as the episode drifts into some Sartre-grade French existentialism because “Hell is other people organizing a fundraiser.”
Meanwhile, Landon arrives at the charity gala, and someone asks about her relationship with Drew, the bulky young man she’s been stringing along. Landon says she’s not really sure if he has a real job and backs that up with a picture of a fish he caught. It’s a pretty big fish. Landon has said she doesn’t need tough love, she just needs love. But love, for some men, is sending you a picture of a fish they caught. You couldn’t get a more honest confession of affection if you pressed a steaming coat hanger to a man’s inner thigh. I believe it was Pablo Neruda who wrote that.
We soon learn that the auction went well, in spite of Craig not doing what he was supposed to do to ensure that happened. Again, Craig proves that doing whatever you want works out as long as you’re Craig.
We then direct our attention to the corner of the bar where Austen and Chelsea are talking. Chelsea asks Austen what his type is — meaning his type of suitable mate. And he begins to describe her physical attributes. It turns out Chelsea and I are the same height. So maybe Austen and I could finally be together. Chelsea is touched that Austen has offered to pick her up “like a gentleman” for the upcoming polo match or whatever. They trade digits, and the preview of next week’s episode rolls.
We’ll see how honest everyone gets in the coming weeks, but at least we got this breather leading up to the inevitable storm.