Friday, May 4, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: The costume party of life

Patricia has questions

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 2:13 PM

click to enlarge Why so… blue? - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Why so… blue?

Hey everybody. Welcome back for another recap of Southern Charm, the show that answers the question "What would Bret Easton Ellis dream about if he was raised on a peanut farm?"

Just to give you a heads up, this week's episode takes place during Halloween, so I am thrilled. Halloween is really the only holiday I "celebrate," rather than woefully acknowledge.

We start with a quick montage to demonstrate just how messy Craig's house is. This proves effective, essentially casting Craig as the type of person who falls asleep in the bathtub and with a partially eaten ham sandwich on his chest.

After vigorously shaking a bottle of ketchup (because not even someone in the midst of a downward spiral wants to deal with that weird layer of ketchup water) we see Craig call up a life coach he found on the internet. Her name is Laura. While Craig seeking professional help seems healthy at first, we later learn that his motivations are a bit troubling.

Life Coach Laura says the first step is they meet up at Craig's place so she can see his environment. Quick cut to all the filth littering his house, and we the audience are all ready for that impending catastrophe. All I can think when I see Craig is that someone should reprogram one of those Temple Grandin hugging machines so that it just high-fives insecure men.

Moving on, we join Cameran and her wonderful mother as they shop for baby clothes. Cameran's mom is one of those people with a sort of class and appearance that you can't really pin down to any specific era. Like, she could teach at Hogwarts or travel through time without looking out of place.

Anyway, Cameran is shopping for an outfit for her newborn to wear home from the hospital. She says, "I don't know what babies wear home from the hospital. She needs to make a good impression."

I guess this means Cameran's baby is going to be dressed in a powersuit with shoulder pads like in the movie Working Girl.

click to enlarge “Oh Cameran, let me tell about Dream of the Endless.” - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • “Oh Cameran, let me tell about Dream of the Endless.”

Seriously though, what sort of human being criticizes someone else on the day of their birth. I mean, I've called plenty of babies ugly, but I never held that against them. That would be like judging someone's appearance if you first met them at a costume party (foreshadowing).

As they peruse the racks, Cameran reveals to her mother that she has developed into a germaphobe in recent months. For example, Cameran says her husband came home wearing his hospital scrubs and she made him "get naked in the garage." This is cute, unless she left out the part about making him scrub with lye and hose off in the yard at midnight.

With a touching mother-daughter moment behind us, we find Shep and Austen meeting up for some beers. Oh man, beers. Sweet hangs and gnarly suds all day long.

Shep and Austen both sit around and partially lament their continuing bachelorhoods. Somehow the pair have managed to convince themselves that they serve a valuable role in the lives of all their friends who have started families, allowing these sad homebodies to live vicariously through them. This is probably mostly true, but there comes a moment of clarity when you manage to sneak out of the house to catch up with your boys, only to find that they have gotten really into playing Drug Wars on their old TI-83 graphing calculators or some such other nonsense. This is the point when fathers rush home and embrace their families like some newly resurrected George Bailey.

Back to lunch with Shep and Austen, Naomie appears out of nowhere to take her spot as the newest member of the Single Kids Club. She briefly recounts her latest argument with Craig as Chelsea arrives. Chelsea asks the guys to recount their recent boys night out, making a point to ask her old flame Austen if he made out with anyone. These are the quality conversations that all the friends with kids are missing, I guess.

The discussion quickly turns to Peyton, who Austen has been semi-courting since she moved to Charleston. Chelsea decides to stir the pot, saying that Craig expressed interest in Peyton. This immediately pisses off Naomie.

The most interesting thing about this season has been seeing this new jealous side of Naomie. There has been no shortage of angry people on this show in the past, but Naomie really seems like she would hide razor blades in her hair before she fought you. There's a real Pam Grier in Coffy style of saltiness with Naomie that makes me believe she's got a coat hanger heating up on the stove that she's ready to turn on someone.

click to enlarge Take off your earrings, put in your mouthguard - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Take off your earrings, put in your mouthguard

Speaking of Craig, we find him paying a visit to what must be his favorite fabric store and quickly learn his well-earned nickname: Pillowman. Wow. What?! Did I dream this into life?

To make this better, the "Pillowman" line is delivered in the driest monotone from Sales Associate Cathy. Cathy does not lift her eyes from the task at hand, nor does she smile. There are no celebrities in Cathy's world. We are all just distractions from her endless folding.

Cathy begins showing Craig some fresh new sewing tech, and out of nowhere Kathryn walks in the door. Not that there's anything wrong with meeting up with a friend at the fabric store, but is everyone on Southern Charm in some sort of long-term buddy system where they can't cross the street alone?

Now that Kathryn has cut in, new favorite Cathy exits frame, and I immediately miss her. If you could all write your Congressman to make Bravo give Cathy her own show, I'd be eternally grateful. It could be called There's No Business Like Sew Business or Hem and Her.

Anyway, Kathryn and Craig mainly talk pillows — not to be confused with pillow talk — before the conversation turns to Naomie. Craig reveals that his plan is to use his life coach as a way to prove himself to Naomie. My reflex is to say that you shouldn't rely on others to justify improving your own life, but let's be honest; The only time I lived alone, I used old newspapers to cover the windows and my bed was, let's just say, not a bed. There's no shame in trying to be a better person for someone you love, but maybe don't rope in Laura the Life Coach to make it happen.

Kathryn warns against this because it is the craziest plan that Craig could have concocted. Hey Craig, why not just cover yourself with leaves outside Naomie's house and hopes she falls in? Also, isn't this troublingly close to the plot of Hitch?

Moving on, we find Austen meeting up for a family dinner with his parents, who are basically the no-nonsense foster parents from every children's movie featuring an orphan. Whenever Austen talks to his mom and dad, I keep waiting for the Rescuers to ride in on a tiny biplane and save him.

Austen's parents soon begin grilling him about his failed relationship with Chelsea. Austen explains that things with Chelsea became rough when he began dating one of her friends. His dad responds, "I'll say that's a whoops," and it's such a perfect dad thing to say.

Austen quickly shuts down the Chelsea talk, only to stumble into a "What are you doing with your life" conversation. Oh no, Austen. The Chelsea talk was a diversion to trap you in a far worse conversation. Pull the ripcord.

At this point, I would just stab myself in the leg with a steak knife and say, "Oops, better drive myself to the hospital," but Austen attempts to bullshit his way out of it. This proves to be a mistake.

Austen announces to his parents that he would like to brew his own beer. Reasonably, his dad asks "Do you have recipes?" That's a good questions. I'm sure Austen would have predicted that and has prepared an answer.

"The thing is, no, I don't," he responds. Yowza. It's like he started his answer thinking he could come up with an off-the-cuff beer recipe, but couldn't stick the landing.

Austen then explains that his dad used to be in the FBI and his mother works in software sales. This explains everything. Damn, Austen. You never had a chance.

click to enlarge ‘Excuse yourself from the table and flush yourself down the toilet.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Excuse yourself from the table and flush yourself down the toilet.’

Returning to Craig's house, we get a quick look around at all the bare walls, open boxes, and loose wires hanging everywhere. Seriously, it looks like the Grinch just stole Christmas in here.

Life Coach Laura arrives to save the day. She and Craig proceed to get to know each other. Craig explains that he is currently "not doing anything." Craig adds that he talks over people because he has some sort of hyper awareness that allows him to predict what everyone will say while staying glued to his phone. Laura tells Craig that he is a very cute, likable person, and a fast processor. Laura says they are going to work on Craig being more positive about himself. This begins with Craig's first assignment: creating a self portrait. Let's hope it is more a jokey Norman Rockwell, and less a bandaged ear Van Gogh.

click to enlarge ‘Thank you for having me in your home. It makes me feel much better about my own.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Thank you for having me in your home. It makes me feel much better about my own.’

Hopping from Craig's self doubt to someone who lives in an expansive personal blindspot, we join Thomas as he meets Whitney and Patricia for dinner.

Acknowledging the massive diamond on Patricia's finger, which was a gift from a suitor, the conversation quickly turns to commitment. Patricia feels that men aren't marrying anymore. Thomas responds by saying "Why buy the cow? You get the milk for free." This is gross and unclever in a way that only Thomas can be. Thomas hides his insecurities about as well as a ninth-grader with an erection during gym class. He's like somebody made a Frankenstein out of their dad's fishing buddies and dressed it for family court. Thomas is less #MeToo and more #Who'sNext.

Patricia inquires about Thomas' girlfriend, Ashley. Thomas says that he is sometimes concerned because Ashley isn't always nice and sweet. He laments that she is sometimes too direct and lacks subtlety. You know, like that comparing women to cows subtlety that he exudes.

Female Viagra is called Addyi. The only reason I tell you this is so I can write that Thomas is the opposite of Addyi.

Addressing the camera, Patricia says that Thomas demanding perfection from anyone is quite the conundrum and something he isn't entitled to. Dinner ends with Thomas hoping to send Ashley to Patricia for a bit of training or something.

Skipping ahead, we finally arrive at the Halloween party, hosted by Austen and Peyton. Everyone arrives in costume. Peyton is some sort of unicorn-cat hybrid. Austen phones it in with a sweater showing a magnet and a bunch of yellow ducks. He says he's a chick magnet, but those are the universal symbol for duck.

click to enlarge Those are ducks - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Those are ducks

Shep and Craig arrive as pirates. Thomas seems like he's dressed as a pirate, but really he more closely resembles Gary Oldman's character from True Romance. Kathryn is just wearing a very nice formal dress, and Chelsea is a tattoo-covered, purple-wigged punker girl. JD arrives dressed as Donald Trump, which is such a clever costume for him that I doubt he picked it himself.

No one is able to guess Naomie's costume, but she is clearly Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction. This is at first very endearing, but Naomie immediately begins slagging off Peyton to her clique of friends. Austen is the only person who can correctly guess Naomie's costume, but he immediately loses all goodwill by introducing Naomie to Peyton. Everything then just goes to shit.

Naomie asks Peyton, "Why are you here?" This seems really existential, but is actually just mean.

Peyton responds that she wanted to move back to the South. Naomie immediately reveals that she has stalked all of Peyton's social media and demands that she be direct and tell her the real reason. Naomie calls Peyton a "Thirsty bitch" a few dozen times and tells Peyton that she is better than her.

Why does anyone go to these parties? They always end in tears and misgivings. The entire time all of this is unfolding, I'm left to wonder what Cathy from the fabric store is up to. I bet she really treats herself at least one night a week. But she doesn't call it a "cheat day." No. Cathy knows that she deserves whatever comes her way.

Back at the party, Austen confronts Naomie about her aggressive confrontation that sent Peyton off in tears. Naomie acts like she is just trying to protect all the menfolk from Peyton, but threatening to push Peyton off a pier tends to dull Naomie's nobility.

Craig then asks Naomie what the hell is going on, and they descend into the same argument they have had for the past 20 episodes. That's it. Another Craig and Naomie fight ends the episode. Hopefully, someone will give birth or brew the worst beer imaginable soon and save us from this endless cycle.

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