Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Confessions of a Southern Charm newbie: The Finale

What we leave behind

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:47 AM

click to enlarge Sad to see you go - SCREENSHOT
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  • Sad to see you go
This is it. The finale. The end of the season. Over 17,000 words and almost 500 minutes of runtime later, we’ve reached the last episode of Southern Charm season three. My first. Definitely our first together.

So how do you end something like this. I’ve had so much fun writing for you all, and I guess I’m curious about how it’ll all come together. Some of you watch the show regularly. Some have never viewed a second and just touch base with me every week to see what happened. It’s been a really fun ride. So we’re going to take our time with this last one. But before we get into everything that happened during this final outing, we’re going to start the same way we’ve started most of these articles. This may be the last time for a while, but at least we’re here right now. It doesn’t matter what brought us together. As I’m sure you expect, it all ends with a party. So let’s set the scene and introduce our guests as we’ve done so many times before. Hey, everybody. Welcome back.

As I tune in, I realize that Bravo has a countdown clock running for the season finale of Southern Charm, which makes me think, “Yeah, this is super important,” but another countdown clock for a Real Housewives show soon starts up and I realize that we’re all just waiting for something.

This week’s episode starts up where the last left off — everyone is fleeing Thomas’ dinner party onslaught. Thomas calls his dinner guests reptiles, then he says they are spineless. He finishes what seems to be a thought by asking aloud if reptiles have vertebras. They do. This scene is a pretty interesting examination of how we all spout a bunch of nonsense in everyday conversation, so I guess I applaud Thomas’ willingness to question reptile anatomy during his regularly scheduled outbursts.
 
In the fallout of Thomas’ dinner party tirade, we find Shep, Landon, Craig, and the rest of those who fled the scene arriving at the nearest safe place and immediately deciding to order a pizza. This is the most human moment of this entire season of Southern Charm. Real talk, they were chased away from a dinner party before the meal was served and now everyone has retreated into the security of a late-night pizza order. Really, there’s nothing more comforting as an American citizen than knowing that you’re only a phone call away from cheesy bread. I had an Argentine coworker for a while who, though let down by the quality of American beef, was thrilled by our pizza availability.
click to enlarge 'I'm the best at dinner parties' - SCREENSHOT
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  • 'I'm the best at dinner parties'
Thinking about the dinner party he was just chased away from, Shep says what we’re all thinking and asks everyone to think about all the food that went to waste. For real, y’all. The food is the true victim.

Shep begins to partially blame Landon for Kathryn and Thomas’ complaints, and she is visibly upset — but not enough to walk out on that pizza. In many ways, being trapped in a doomed friendship is like waiting on a late-night pizza to arrive. You’ve put in your time. You’re not really enjoying yourself any longer, but maybe if you stick it out, you can finally get the last bit of sustenance out of it. Also, doesn’t “Shep” sound like the name of the last place you’d order food from, but you still give it a try because a suspect patty melt is better than no patty melt at all. Shep is the questionable patty melts of men. I will truly miss him.

Popping back in with Thomas and Kathryn, he asks the mother of his children to stay the night with him. United in rage, I guess, she consents. I totally get this because there is nothing so incredibly uniting than sharing a mutual dislike for someone. Yeah, agreeing that Jerry is an “alright dude” is fine, but agreeing that he clears his throat way too much in the office is much more satisfying. Why do we hate Jerry? Because he makes what can best be described as “personal noises” in a public environment, but also because it brings us closer together. I guess that is another service that television has come to provide. It gives us all a pariah to share and, man, is it gratifying. Screw Jerry.

Next we find Craig dropping by J.D.’s office to deliver his notice. Craig is ready to stop working for J.D. and focus on becoming a lawyer. This all sounds fine, but didn’t Craig invest a ton of money into J.D.’s company for the job? It’s at this point that I realize J.D.’s office has about a dozen fantastical chairs. They’re all ornate, all with their own character. I imagine they come to life at night when the office is free of human eyes. J.D.’s main seat — clad in thick leather and the wisdom of ages — tells the younger chairs what is expected of them. The stools look on in awe, unsure of their place. An ottoman shambles past as an antique rocking chair lights its corncob pipe before recounting the time before recliners and central heating and air pulled Americans in from their porches. Please tune in next season for my animated series titled J.D.’s Living Chair Emporium featuring the voices of Morgan Freeman as the stately recliner, Slim Pickens as the rocking chair, and Elijah Wood as the precocious ottoman. Funding opportunities for this project are still available.

Next we find Cameran visiting her therapist to continue to work through her feelings on having children. The therapist recommended that Cameran put together a list on what becoming a parent would mean for her. We don’t really get to hear much about that because Cameran chooses instead to focus on her husband’s argument for procreating. He thinks that their lives would be lonely if they chose to never have kids, which is kind of an incredible argument. “Hey, I think things are gonna be way too quiet around here with just the two of us. Let’s create life.” By the end of the session, Cameran says her perception of parenthood has shifted slightly. This is probably the greatest amount of character development we’ve witnessed this season. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

Moving from one place of healing to another, we stop in with Shep as he visits the new bar that he’s opening. He’s becoming the dive bar kingpin of Charleston, he says before comparing himself to Otis, the town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show. I really can’t improve upon this statement. I will say that at this point, Shep has taken on the appearance of Forrest Gump when he was in the early stages of running across America. He is sporting a sweet American flag hat, and all I can think is “Make America Shep Again” and “A chicken in every pot, a Shep in every bar.” This doesn’t really mean anything, but it sounds like it should.
click to enlarge It's been great, Shep - SCREENSHOT
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  • It's been great, Shep
In the next scene, we find Craig trying to break the news to Naomie that he will be quitting his job to study for the bar exam. At first, he really buries the lede on this and it sounds like he is about to break up with her. Finally, Craig says that he will be dedicating his time to becoming a lawyer. He delivers this news like he’s confessing to a crime, which probably isn’t a good sign.

Later, we join Whitney, J.D., and Thomas for dinner as they discuss just what the hell went wrong during Thomas’ dinner party. I don’t think I’ve pointed this out before, but whenever J.D. is at a restaurant on the show, he always orders his own brand of bourbon, which is a pretty awesome move. It’s like when Jay Z orders his own brand of champagne at a club or 50 Cent requests to be hosed down with Vitamin Water. Classy moves all around.

Anyway, Whitney asks Thomas if it is very “Southern” to invite someone into your home and insult them. Thomas responds by saying he may have been “into the cups a little,” which is not a phrase I’m familiar with. Is this a thing people say? “I was really three cups to the wind last night.” “Here, have a little hair of the cup that bit you.” These are all things I will be saying from now on.

Since it’s not a true season finale without stopping at Patricia’s house, we drop by to find her hooked up to her “oxygen therapy” machine, which she says is one of her secrets for looking more youthful. The device also makes bird sounds and plays classical music, because of course it does. Suddenly, while watching this scene, I begin to question the quality of the air in my apartment. It seems so plain and stale. If only there was a way to pay for it and have it make bird noises as I inhaled as if a whooping crane were giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This would be the height of luxury. Also during this scene, Patricia says that Landon will be borrowing some “jewels and furs” for the upcoming ball. I’m not sure at what point you stop saying “jewelry” and start saying “jewels,” but I have the feeling I’ll never be forced to make that call.

Later, Patricia teaches Landon the proper way to sit down while wearing a fur coat. The particular fur that Landon borrows is purple. I am unaware of any animals that are naturally purple, so I can only assume that Patricia had the rarest of beasts genetically crafted in a laboratory for the sole purpose of harvesting its coat.
click to enlarge Breathing in the decadence - SCREENSHOT
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  • Breathing in the decadence
The next chunk of the show is largely dedicated to showing the cast prepare for the aforementioned ball. The guys get a shave. Landon gets a visit from Patricia’s stylist. It’s just a lot of nervous anticipation for whatever adult prom awaits them.

Checking in with Thomas and Kathryn, Kathryn issues a sort of ultimatum for Thomas, saying that Landon must be cut out of their lives forever. Now, I believe my notes are correct here, but apparently Thomas says Kathryn’s intuition is the end result of wisdom collected throughout the ages over the course of multiple past lives. She says that she is glad he sees this. This is all said with zero humor or irony. Meanwhile, while listening to this conversation, my head has split open and whatever understanding I had of human behavior has flown out.

Arriving at the ball, everyone looks really great. Much to my surprise, Shep is wearing a cummerbund rather than a replica WCW heavyweight championship belt. If you’ll remember, Shep was also the name of Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s tag-team partner during the late ’80s. Together, they formed the Stompin’ Boys and took the world by storm.
click to enlarge You sure do - SCREENSHOT
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  • You sure do

Leading up to the ball, Thomas has called everyone else on the show to apologize for his outburst at the dinner party, so we’ll see how far that goes in smoothing things over. In a moment of true sadness, we find Landon heartbroken to find that Shep has arrived with a date. This is actually very touching. I think we’ve all been there before. We create these little stories in our heads about how things are going to work out. Hope is sometimes enough to make us believe in anything. Then, when reality fails to line up, we’re left devastated. The show pauses on this moment for a brief time, but it manages to have an impact.

As Kathryn and Thomas arrive, Kathryn asks, “Drink or people?” in what has been a constant dilemma in my life. Things seem like they may be OK as the couple begins to mingle with the rest of the cast, but then Kathryn spots Thomas speaking with Landon. Kathryn asks Landon to step out of the ballroom so they can hash it out, but the conversation quickly erupts into nonsense. Landon asks Thomas to join their conversation, and he looks like he’s trying to find the nearest window to use for an escape. Set a diversionary fire in the kitchen and sneak out through the laundry room, Thomas. Everyone then decides that a crowded formal ball is the best place to have a serious conversation about human relationships. The season ends in turmoil. Kathryn has written everyone off. Thomas looks dumbfounded at the whole situation. And Landon’s friend implies that there is more to Thomas and Landon’s relationship than either are willing to admit. That’s it. It’s over. Nothing is really settled, but I guess that’s more realistic than anything else we’ve seen this season.

And with that we’re done. I suggest you cue up Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” while I take us home.


It has been an absolute pleasure to write this column for you all, and I hope you’ve gotten some enjoyment out of the whole exercise. Sadly, I don’t think we’re newbies anymore. We’ve graduated to something new. I’m not really sure what that is, or whether it’s better or worse, but at least we did it together. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see any more episodes of Southern Charm, but at least we’ll always have the last 12 weeks and a dozen articles to remember them by. Moving on, I guess it’s important to remember that we never stay the same person for too long. I walked into this season not really knowing what to expect. Now, after all the flamingo parties and bourbon-themed horse races, I’m a little changed by the whole experience. We can’t be newbies forever. But we can look back on how we’ve been able to share a little part of our week having fun together. Whether it amounts to a true learning experience or just a small distraction from the pressures of everyday life, I appreciate you all for taking the time to make the trip with me.

When I started writing, it was in college for a student-organized erotic short story contest. It was just something we decided to do for fun. Something to pass the time. Now, I actually get paid to write, which isn’t something I thought would actually happen. And although it’s become a part of my daily routine, with all the grinds that come with a career, there’s still nothing like the feeling that you’re actually sharing something with the readers. So thanks for allowing that. Thanks for reading. I’ll still be here. Feel free to check in anytime. And until we speak again, take care of yourselves and each other. This has been Dustin Waters, your Southern Charm newbie, signing off. 

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