Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Ain’t that Tuff Enuff

Season 4, Episode 11

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 2:35 PM

click to enlarge Your face when you realize you hate everyone you know - SCREENSHOT
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  • Your face when you realize you hate everyone you know

Like the last gasp of a gutshot fawn, the penultimate episode of this season of Southern Charm begins weakly with Shep cleaning his room, Austen loading the dishwasher, and Landon walking her dog. It feels as if everyone has forgotten that they are on a TV show. Pulling away from the miserable chore hour, we find Thomas meeting up with JD at an empty restaurant for a chat.

Dressed in what could best be described as a Prince-ton of purple, JD looks like the villain from a live-action Candy Land movie. He invites Thomas to enjoy some lunch as they catch up. Thomas replies that he just ate but will join him for a bite because — as you should know — Thomas’ life is one big lunch. This is why he so often wears the sleepy, yet uncomfortable expression of a man who ate too big a hoagie before succumbing to heat stroke.

click to enlarge ‘Stick with me and we’ll make it through Molasses Swamp’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Stick with me and we’ll make it through Molasses Swamp’

Thomas says that he has decided to let Kathryn borrow their child for a modeling session. A lot of people may turn their nose at this parenting decision, but I say the earlier you introduce your child to the world of modeling the better. Some less-fortunate children have to wait until adolescence before they start questioning their appearance. Luckily for me, my parents would circle all my “unsightly areas” with red lipstick on the first day of school each year. I was given two options: I could finish my teacher’s reading list and win a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut or wear a trash bag during recess to sweat off all that so-called baby fat in time for swimsuit season.

Back to Thomas and JD’s lunch, we are soon treated to the greatest revelation in the show’s history. After Thomas tells JD that he and Landon are dating, we are treated to a flashback that show’s Landon discovering Thomas’ book of poetry. Thomas quickly grabs the book from Landon and refuses to speak on it anymore, but I think we all know what’s inside the book.

Thomas’ poems are most definitely handwritten pages containing every lyrics from The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ breakthrough 1986 album Tuff Enuff. Breaking out his finest calligraphy set, Thomas painstakingly rewrote Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson’s original lyrics: “I’d lay in a pile of burning money that I’ve earned and not even worry about getting burned. I’d climb the Empire State Building, fight Muhammad Ali. Just to have you baby close to me. Ain’t that tuff enuff?”

Hinting at an inner insecurity, Thomas will forever wonder if he is in fact “tuff enuff.”

click to enlarge ‘Well I'm gonna treat you like the queen you are. Bring you sweet things from my candy jar’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Well I'm gonna treat you like the queen you are. Bring you sweet things from my candy jar’

From there, we join Landon and her father as they meet to drive to an undisclosed location. Landon explains that ROAM — her travel website — was dealt a setback because she is legally prohibited from calling it ROAM. Yes, this is quite the dilemma. Fortunately, Landon has a backup plan that involves her opening a restaurant called Landon’s McDonald’s and they’ll screen unlicensed Disney movies in the back. Their slogan will be “It’s not your fault if it’s in the vault,” and their logo will be Iron Man telling you the McFlurry machine is being cleaned.

Arriving at an empty lot that closely resembles someone’s last-known whereabouts, Landon’s dad offers her the deal of a lifetime. He is planning to develop the land and asks Landon to oversee the project. The commission would be around $200,000, which is a fraction of what she would make if she sold Thomas’ book of poems.

Landon is reluctant at first, saying she had hoped to make a living off her website. Her father replies by saying that hope doesn’t pay bills before asking Landon to walk down a secluded dock with him.

On a totally unrelated note, has anyone else been in a situation when they thought their dad was about to murder them over a real estate deal? That seems like the worst. I mean, your parents have your entire life to learn your weaknesses and study your fighting style, while you only have a few brief father-son days at the fighting pits.

click to enlarge Four lots will hold a lot of bodies - SCREENSHOT
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  • Four lots will hold a lot of bodies

Anyway, Landon echoes the theme of last week’s column, saying that accepting her father’s deal and marrying Thomas would be the easy way out, but it just feels like giving up. Like a young Daniel Plainview, Landon says she wants to bet on herself, and she wants everyone else to bet on her as well. That’s not exactly how gambling works, but I applaud the spirit.

Over at Shep’s, we find him reading and eating lunch. Cameran is shocked and slightly disturbed by this scene. Shep says he needs to move to the beach to create a buffer between himself and downtown life, which he feels is leading him down the wrong path.

Cameran then compares her and Shep’s situations in an effort to persuade him to pursue Chelsea, while simultaneously reaffirming her own decision to have a child. She says they both have a problem with being vulnerable. They are happy now, Cameran says, which completely undermines her life-changing decision to become a parent.

But Shep responds by saying that he isn’t happy. He wants to change.

Instead of sticking with this interesting personal struggle, we then skip over to watch Kathryn pick out clothes for the photoshoot. Chelsea and Cameran join and it is just an incredible nightmare.

As Kathryn is in the changing room, Chelsea tells Cameran that she should do a “sexy photoshoot” for her husband before she gets pregnant and her “body goes to shit.” This continues the trend in this week’s episode of people pointing out horrible things that we are all aware of. Everyone knows that hope doesn’t pay the bills and that the human body is subject to change over the course of a life. You don’t have to go around pointing out reality to people like you are imparting some great wisdom upon them. It doesn’t make you look intelligent. It just makes you look like a genius at being an asshole.

Despite all that, Cameran decides to invite Kathryn and Chelsea on her birthday trip to Key West — on a week’s notice. Everyone they know is coming along. That sounds horrible.

Moving along, we find Austen stopping by Chelsea’s salon to invite her to meet his parents over the weekend. She agrees but then confesses to an interaction she had with Shep the previous evening. As she and Austen were hanging out at a bar, Chelsea says Shep pulled her aside and tried multiple times to kiss her or something to that effect. Apparently Shep claimed they had plenty of chemistry — but let me tell you, chemistry is just a class between foreign language and math, so pardon my French, but that shit just doesn’t add up.

Austen is justifiably angry, totally unaware of the sick burn that I just wrote. It appears no turn of phrase can unturn the frayed ends of their friendship. Good thing Austen isn’t meeting Shep and the guys later for drinks. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what is happening.

Austen, Craig, Shep, and Whitney meet up, and the group almost immediately begins debating who is in the wrong in this love triangle. They seem like the type of table that would insist on shouting their server’s first name during every interaction.

‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’
click to enlarge ‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’ - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • ‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’

Confronted with his actions, Shep first says his move on Chelsea was simply “a test” to prove her loyalty to Austen or something because Shep is apparently the self-elected arbiter of faithfulness.

Craig then says that Shep attempted to canoodle Naomie when they were first introduced. Finally, Whitney interjects to say that Austen should have been more up front with the true nature of his and Chelsea’s relationship. It is at this moment that Shep recalls the events of earlier in the season, when he and Chelsea were socializing and Austen began to court Chelsea while he was out of town.

During this moment in the evening when most people would say, “Let’s all go away from each other,” our group of dudes decides the solution to the rift in the evening is finding a new bar. Not surprisingly, they walk through the doors of another bar and the argument continues. Austen reveals that Shep said he was too much of a poor to date Chelsea. Shep denies these claims before deciding to leave. Good thing all these guys aren’t going on a big trip together to Key West in a week.

Of course, there is no better way to follow this night of drunken in-fighting than a mother-daughter photoshoot. Thomas and Kathryn meet up along with their daughter for a nice modeling session. This all goes very well, and there is not really much to say about it, until it becomes time to leave. At this point, Kathryn’s daughter begins to cry when faced with the reality that she can’t spend any more time with her mother due to custody issues. I’m surprised that Chelsea or Landon’s dad don’t pop up at this moment to tell the sobbing child that tears won’t fix her family and childbirth could have ruined her mother’s body. Where’s that patented real talk when we need it the most?

Skipping ahead, it’s time for another horrible couples therapy session with Craig and Naomie. Craig opens things up by informing the therapist about a recent party where he was embarrassed by Naomie’s announcing to the other guests that he mistook “pescatarian” for “Episcopalian.” The flashback to this moment looks like some sort of cheesy murder mystery dinner party, but everyone is the killer. And the victim? Human decency.

click to enlarge It’s like Clue, but you all compete to be the victim - SCREENSHOT
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  • It’s like Clue, but you all compete to be the victim

Another point of disagreement is Craig sleeping the day away while Naomie is busy at work or studying. She calls this “loser behavior,” but Craig says he stays up late because he is “trading offshore markets.” This should serve as the perfect excuse for the next time you’re late to work or miss your child’s recital. A master overseas trader, Craig violently rips off his shirt in the middle of their therapy session to reveal a tattoo that reads, “There’s no time to sleep when the yen is weak.”

After an earlier meeting with Chelsea, Cameran decides it’s time to set Shep straight about his recent behavior. Joining each other on a dock, Shep confesses to Cameran that he did try to kiss Chelsea, which leads Cameran to ask if he can calm “that primal urge” in any way — this coming from the woman who commissioned a love doll fueled by the most ancient magics to secure Shep a woman.

Cameran then explains male entitlement to Shep. This concept proves so novel and confounding that the planets cease to spin. A tired sun hangs low in the sky, casting shadows that stretch far across the land. The flowers fortunate enough to have escaped the neverending shade whither before disintegrating and returning to bloom. Unstuck from time, Death looks to find who has escaped its exquisite trap. There, seated at the end of a lone dock remain Cameran and Shep, unmoored from the rest of reality and debating Derrida’s politics of sexual difference.

Will the natural order be restored before next week’s episode? Tune in to find out.

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