Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Slaking Your Content Thirst

Season 4, Episode 7

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 2:18 PM

click to enlarge ‘We’ve got room for three more hats!’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘We’ve got room for three more hats!’

Hey everybody. This week we’re going to talk about our primal desires — in a totally acceptable way, of course.

You know how, on occasion, your carefully constructed identity breaks down, revealing your true nature? These are the moments you find yourself shirtless on the kitchen floor eating leftover cake or donning the skins of your fallen prey and dancing in the moonlight. The truth is that for all of our much-lauded civility, most of us are really just looking for an excuse to devolve back into our basest instincts. These moments usually correspond with a full moon or the return of the McRib.

This is why whenever I’ve had a few drinks I stand outside and glare into my neighbor’s kitchen window at their fancy sink that drains and the paper towels that aren’t a pile of old Looney Tunes sweatshirts. This is also why I made sure to properly claim my corner of the office.

“No one wants to take your workspace, Dustin,” they say, adding, “Because of all the urine.”

“Exactly,” I reply, as they lead me out of the building.

Our true nature is also why post-apocalyptic stories always seem so compelling. Part of you says, “Oh no, all the malls are closed,” but then you see the main character bite into a rabbit, and you’re like “Yeah, you eat that rabbit. You eat it.” Deep down, we all want to bite into that rabbit. And that’s what this week’s episode of Southern Charm is about. Yes, it starts slow, but then things go feral and it is a complete mess.

We start the episode with Kathryn visiting JD and his family. As the doorbell rings, about 58 children race to answer it. Seriously, it’s like JD’s house is a Little Rascals casting call. After greeting Kathryn, all the extras from The Sandlot recede back into the walls never to be heard from again.

click to enlarge ‘Our little hands are the best for working.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Our little hands are the best for working.’

We soon learn that Kathryn, although disappointed that she wasn’t invited to last week’s Sip and See, received a text message from Thomas after about nine months of radio silence. After a brief chat with JD and his wife, Liz, Kathryn resolves to operate her and Thomas’ family like a business. This makes sense, because kids really are an investment. You birth them, raise them for 18 years, and in exchange they carry whatever damage you passed down to them for a lifetime. Then one day, as your grand kids balance on your knee, they’ll look up at you and think “You’re the reason dad cries at baseball games.”

We then jump over to find Shep literally racing over to visit Whitney, who is hanging out by the pool looking up “How to assimilate” on Yahoo Answers. It’s been five days since Shep has had any alcohol and as a reward we are treated to a montage of Shep’s life of sobriety. This includes him reading a book, carrying a pile of laundry down the stairs, and ordering a bunch of ice cream before immediately sticking his elbow in it. I will give a year’s salary for the three hours of footage showing Shep consider whether or not to lick the ice cream off of his elbow.

Seriously though, the show couldn’t have done any less to romanticize not drinking alcohol unless it showed Shep playing a game of Russian roulette for a bottle of mouthwash. I like to think that producers checked Whitney’s book of human protocol to determine what are some everyday activities in which people engage, only to find a short handwritten list that read: Literature. Soiled linens. Iced cream (Elbow?)

click to enlarge Eat it - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Eat it

Speaking of Whitney, he jokes that Shep should take up smoking to offset his brief period of sobriety. He mentions this on top of saying he added vodka to Shep’s water. Whitney remains amused by the petty foibles of humanity. Watching Whitney navigate the intricacies of Earth humor is like licking a battery — you’ve heard it’s bad, but you don’t really understand how painful it is until you experience it firsthand.

Shep eventually tells Whitney that he wants to go on a quail hunt, because if you can’t drink you might as well kill something.

Over at Craig and Naomie’s place, we see Craig in his office, which is in the middle of the damn living room. He is printing out what look like designs for a hat, which could possibly be his first foray into clothing design. Suggested slogans to embroider on his apparel include “Mount Pleasant, dismount when it’s over,” “I ain’t passed the Bar, but I know how to stitch,” and “Get a job? You must be kitten.”

Anyway, Craig says he’s worried about his relationship with Naomie, who has grown increasingly disturbed by his lack of employment. Naomie arrives home only to be completely ignored by Craig who keeps aggressively flipping through a binder. She asks if Craig wants to talk about their weekend plans, but he says he has work to do. Naomie calls him rude, but he is trying to build a men’s apparel empire out of his living room. As far as the required steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Craig is showing great progress. He’s already reached the stage of alienating those closest to you, and he hasn’t even accomplished anything yet. Next thing you know, he’ll be eating dinner in front of a mirror and canceling everyone’s Christmas bonuses.

Anyway, Craig and Naomie argue. She suggests couple’s counseling, and then they turn their attention to the weekend hunting trip because introducing firearms and isolation is a great way to foster a healthy relationship.

In preparation for the big quail hunt, Whitney, Shep, and Austen meet up to purchase fancy new hunting outfits, which is a statement that has caused Sam Elliott to weep openly into his mustache.

Austen admits that he has never hunted before. Shep falls in love with a pair of boots and asks if they are snake-proof. This raises concern in Whitney who asks if there are snakes in Georgia. Being from Georgia, I can tell you, yes, there are snakes there. Actually everything in Georgia is trying to kill you. It’s the Australia on the Unites States — started as a prison colony, full of venomous animals, and holding in the highest regard men who murder crocodiles. Also leprosy. Yep, the armadillos in Georgia carry leprosy because it is a land of peanuts and Biblical diseases.

Craig then calls Shep to ask if he is wearing snake boots because this whole snake thing is really ruining everybody’s sartorial chill. Fortunately, Whitney clarifies that “Hunting is about looking good.” This is, of course, why men born before the 1840 remain the paradigm of beauty.

Then we find Patricia at home. Her phone case is a stuffed animal and her pajamas bear the images of 1,000 harp seals because Patricia wanted to one-up her old boarding school adversary, Cruella de Vil.

click to enlarge When she charges her phone, it looks like somebody stuck a cord up the bear’s butt - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • When she charges her phone, it looks like somebody stuck a cord up the bear’s butt

Michael, Patricia’s butler, shows Landon in and asks if she wants anything to drink. Landon, never one to not be a maximum inconvenience, asks for a bourbon slushy. Patricia launches into a conversation about their previous dinner with Thomas at which time he said that he wouldn’t make Landon sign a pre-nup if they married. Patricia calls this “sweet.”

Landon explains that Thomas won’t be attending the hunting trip because he can’t be around guns due to his felony conviction. Patricia equates this to regular adult problems. Misdemeanors, of course, remain child’s play. Then Patricia says that Landon needs a “mate” who is her equal or better in terms of education, background, and what they can offer her.

“It takes money, honey,” says Patricia.

Landon responds, “It takes a lot of money.”

But what about their ability to be around firearms? Isn’t that what we all want in a mate.

With the hunting trip finally upon us, we follow the caravan to the killing grounds. After the cast of Southern Charm provides their offering to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, it’s time to descend upon the deep woods. After the blood rituals commence, everyone takes turns seeing who will be first to accidentally shoot a hunting dog. Craig comes the closest. After almost murdering an animal that we have decided is off limits, Craig responds, “Nothing bad happened,” which is a great qualifier for any time you almost kill something.

click to enlarge The lucky ones die before they see us coming. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The lucky ones die before they see us coming.

After the day’s hunt, talk in the cabin turns to Austen and Chelsea’s burgeoning romance, which drives Shep to drink. Cameran says that a week without alcohol is probably not enough time to have alleviated Shep’s medical concerns, but “The heart wants what it wants.” Thanks Emily Dickinson, your words have once again been used to justify the downfall of a man.

Arriving at dinner, Whitney remarks that the dining area is “well lit,” which I guess is a compliment to the unsung electricians out there.

Thomas arrives and dinner is going well. The meal is so decadent, our guests have covered their faces with napkins to hide their sin from God. Once everyone has finished eating, Shep invites the cast back to his cabin to get completely trashed. Now let me clarify, this isn’t city drunk. This is woods drunk. This is when you drink to keep the ticks at bay. This is when you realize it’s Sunday, and all the liquor stores are closed, so you find one of those guys who hangs out on the corner and has a storage shed full of booze and a beeper. He only takes cash, but you won’t need money in the woods. The only currency is your ability to stare hopelessly into a fire and not go blind from the mix of Hawaiian Punch and antifreeze that you are drinking.

Back in the cabin, everyone immediately loses their minds. It’s total clown shoes in there. People are ’70s game show drunk. Cameran somehow unhinges her jaw as she reaches Julia Roberts levels of laughter. Everyone starts talking about penises, but they are having “What If?” penis conversations.

click to enlarge This picture is appropriately blurry. This is how the moment appeared to all those participating in the drunken penis talk. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • This picture is appropriately blurry. This is how the moment appeared to all those participating in the drunken penis talk.

Preferring that their penis conversations not be hypothetical, Austen and Chelsea decide to leave. As Austen is about to close the door, Whitney says, “Don’t come too fast,” because Whitney knows what sex is. He really wants everybody to know that he knows what sex is.

The following morning, the scene of Austen and Chelsea post coitus is scored by Isaac Hayes. Chelsea says she really just needed to see Austen in the woods killing something to make this next move in their relationship. Longtime readers may recall when we hypothesized that Austen might be a serial killer. If he wasn’t before, he definitely is now.

Austen and Chelsea seem to have different ideas of what they want in the relationship. Chelsea doesn’t want anything super serious. Austen refers to himself as a loser for having emotional ties to the person he just had intercourse with because masculinity is so delicate that we can’t even justify our own feelings unless they involve almost shooting a hunting dog or releasing a line of hats that say “Beer me up, Scotty.”


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