Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Talking Points

Season 4, Episode 3

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge My WiFi was really crappy this week, so all the screenshots look a little rough - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • My WiFi was really crappy this week, so all the screenshots look a little rough

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.

click to enlarge ‘Squee, squee, squee’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘Squee, squee, squee’

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.

click to enlarge ‘We are doing very little right now and it is glorious’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘We are doing very little right now and it is glorious’

“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.

click to enlarge ‘Everything I am saying is perfectly OK and is in no way deplorable. See my face? My globe? My clock?’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘Everything I am saying is perfectly OK and is in no way deplorable. See my face? My globe? My clock?’

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.

click to enlarge If you’re gonna play in Texas - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • If you’re gonna play in Texas

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.”

click to enlarge The cow rug and bowl of turf say feed the printer paper - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • The cow rug and bowl of turf say feed the printer paper

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.

click to enlarge ‘You’re my best catch’ - BRAVO TV SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo TV Screenshot
  • ‘You’re my best catch’

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.

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