Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Confessions of a Southern Charm newbie: Ep 2

Peasant salt

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 11:32 AM

click to enlarge Dinner parties bring out the best and the worst in us all - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Dinner parties bring out the best and the worst in us all
Good news, everybody. My editors are letting me continue the little experiment that is this column. For those of you who don’t know the deal here, I am watching the third season of the popular, yet reviled reality program Southern Charm with little to no introduction to the series.

Up until last week, I had drifted through life with only a cursory understanding of what the show is about. For me, Southern Charm was like a mysterious town that I glimpsed from the window of a moving train.

“What is that place?” I ask the porter.

“Oh, that is no place for you, sir,” was my only answer.

But now I have gone looking for answers. What is this show, and why does it irritate some people to such an extreme? Looking at some of the comments about last week’s recap, one person literally just wrote, “Gag,” which I honestly find kind of hilarious. But it was another complaint lodged against Southern Charm that has stuck with me.

After calling out the show for lacking class or intelligence, someone blamed Southern Charm for the perception that Southerners are all “inbred idiots.” First off, that’s a heavy burden to put on a reality show that premiered in 2014. Second, we have reached the point where every creed and color is represented poorly on the Bravo network. There is a Real Housewives set in every major city in the continental United States. We have all been brought together by our love of throwing drinks in each others faces and shouting, “You don’t know me!” As Americans, we are all just one big melting pot of degenerates. Now to this week’s episode.

We catch back up with the Southern Charm gang the morning after Craig and Naomi’s party. We are greeted with shots that imply that camera crews camped out overnight in each cast member’s bedroom just to film them waking. I still have not figured out how any of the people on this show know each other or what they do for a living. Craig is almost a lawyer, which isn’t a job. I know Thomas Ravenel was a politician and his forefathers struck it rich by selling the family naming rights to a bridge, but other than that, I guess everyone else is just on this show for a living. Maybe we’ll get some answers this week.

After witnessing everyone’s morning routines, we see Cameran, who is in dire need of ink for her printer. I make a note of this in hopes that it will help me solve the mystery of her career at a later date. Cameran then announces that she wants to have a dinner party because she isn’t ready to bear a child for her significant other. Instead of an heir, he gets a dinner party that he ultimately doesn’t show up for! Cameran says he’s “on call,” so he’s either a doctor of some sort or the understudy for a play. Again, Southern Charm gives its viewers information with an eyedropper.

click to enlarge Strength, Craig - SCREENSHOT
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  • Strength, Craig
The show then provides an update on Thomas, Kathryn, and their children ­— both born and unborn. Thomas gives a brief summary of his qualms with South Carolina’s child custody laws, while Kathryn talks to a woman named Jennifer about needing money to support herself during pregnancy. This is actually a pretty interesting look at a modern family. When the law fails to provide an answer, what determines the extent of a father’s financial responsibility to the mother of his children? How do two people who have lost all goodwill for one another share the children they created? These are the important questions the show is raising, but all I can think about is if Jennifer is real? Over the past two episodes, I’ve only seen her interact with Kathryn. Is this a Fight Club scenario? Is Jennifer a figment of Kathryn’s imagination while she copes with pregnancy and loneliness? Only time will tell!

Transitioning from real problems to what I now call “Landon problems,” Landon is an attractive young person who was able to afford a new apartment with the money she raised from her pop-up shop. Recounting her frontier days, she mentions living on a boat, which is only a thing that rich people and crab fishermen complain about. I question Landon’s work ethic because the next career venture that she pitches is starting a “travel-art-wine magazine.” What even? I guess this does answer my question about what Landon does for a living: She comes up with bad ideas.

Luckily, the episode turns to Craig ­— our baby-faced Craig who is tasked with redemption.

Craig Facetimes with his parents because — as you may remember from last week — he promised to talk to them once a week. And he did! This is the #NewCraig we all hoped for. But wait, he needs to get a job while he prepares to take the bar exam. After dressing as Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Craig meets with a man named J.D. who I believe may be taking advantage of our beautiful, beautiful Craig. The first piece of evidence that Craig is in over his head is that he writes a check for $15,000 — What?! — to buy into J.D.’s company. The show chooses not to tell us what this company does because the show hates you.

Anyway, this is an incredible amount of money. Craig went from Facetiming his parents to writing a check for $15 grand in, like, a matter of minutes. Also, he pronounced dollars as “doll hairs.” You and I just need to get out of the rat race and open a bed and breakfast is all I’m saying, Craig.

click to enlarge Would you give this man all of your money? - SCREENSHOT
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  • Would you give this man all of your money?
Meanwhile, Cameran visits Patricia to ask how to throw a dinner party, but screw that storyline because Patricia has a hedgehog. Yes, she has bought an animal, named it, purchased her hedgehog a stroller, and is now ready to describe her hedgehog’s penis to a house guest. This is all utterly delightful.

Turning back to Cameran’s dinner party, Patricia hooks her up with a cooking coach and says Michael will help out. Here’s a funny side story about Michael.

During last week’s episode of Southern Charm, longtime readers may remember I asked who the hell was Michael? I knew he was affiliated with Patricia and he was on vacation, but beyond that I had no idea. Luckily, Michael chose to shoot me an email regarding his identity.
“Mr. Waters,
“I am Pat Altschul’s butler as you are not familiar with the show. I bring Mrs. A her medicine at cocktail hour. Also drive, cook, and manage the residence. And after 10 years with the family, I can state they are a lovely family to serve. Now you know who Michael is.”
Wow, I honestly cannot name another time I’ve been this thrilled to receive an email from a complete stranger. Michael seems like a loyal, hardworking gentleman, who also just really wants people to know who he is. Later in this week’s episode, Michael also pulls off a magic trick in the world of Southern Charm called “Being good at your job.”

We then head to a bar to meet up with Craig and Shep ­— who is named after the sound a cowboy makes when he falls off his horse. Turns out Shep is very amorous and has invited multiple single ladies to join him for the evening. He quickly orders everyone shots of Goldschlager, and says, “It’s just fun sharpening your knife out on the town every now and then.”

I don’t like where this is going. As my mother would say, Shep needs some hold-back pills.

Shep later tells a woman, “I’m just a guy walking around trying to be funny.” Aren’t we all, Shep. Aren’t we all.

The rest of the episode mainly focuses on Cameran’s dinner party. She meets with the domestic coach that Patricia mentioned and the two go shopping for ingredients.

Cameran gets called out for having what she described as “peasant salt,” which I find troubling. It’s 2016, people. We’ve got to stop salt-shaming young women.

Cameran seems to have a lot riding on this dinner party, but none of her cookware has been unwrapped, the roast is overcooked, things are looking hopeless. But then Michael arrives. Don’t worry everyone. Michael is here to save the dinner party. I’m so happy we finally get to see Michael shine. He is the best. If anything, this episode gave us that.

click to enlarge Patricia and Michael are here to save us all - SCREENSHOT
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  • Patricia and Michael are here to save us all
So in my second week of watching Southern Charm, I still have plenty of questions, and this episode just raised one more. Everyone keeps mentioning Patricia’s flamingo party. What is this? Are live flamingoes roaming the grounds, mingling with guests? Kathryn’s not invited, which she is upset about, so I guess a flamingo party is something people enjoy. Other than that, I have no answers. Please join me next week as we uncover this mystery and many, many more.

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