Friday, May 18, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: A Deadman’s Party

Season 5, Episode 7

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 3:27 PM

click to enlarge Ashley always smiles as if she’s trying to hide a fart. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Ashley always smiles as if she’s trying to hide a fart.

Hello everyone, welcome back to the dark underbelly of the mundane. Oops, I mean Southern Charm. This week's episode begins with what most likely an accidental montage depicting our collective efforts to sidestep the inevitable decay that surrounds us. Chelsea heads to the gym, Shep pulls Solo cups from the dishwasher and Naomie slices open a grapefruit only to find it rotting from the inside. It’s Un Chien Andalou up in here with all the symbolism.

click to enlarge Saving the environment two Solos at a time - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Saving the environment two Solos at a time

Finally, we find Cameran, representing birth and renewal, sitting in the nursery of her soon-to-be-born child. As she debates whether or not newborns need bibs, Cameran calls her mother and reveals that she has been experiencing cramps all morning. Not quite ready for her grandchild to be born a toilet baby, Cameran's mom says she may already be in the early stages of labor.

Cameran finishes packing her bags for the hospital and realizes that this is possibly the last time she'll be in her home without a child. This would be a great opportunity to take one last look at all your nice things with well-rested eyes before an illiterate little skin monster completely upsets your way of life, capitalizing on some prehistoric emotional connection to forever borrow money and eat all your food. By this, I mean congratulations.

We then meet Kathryn at the gym as she joins Chelsea and a young woman who we learn to be both Chelsea's roommate and trainer. What fresh hell that must be? To live with your trainer.

Also, I really like that everyone dresses in form-fitting superhero costumes to go to the gym these days, and all gyms look like salvage yards on the inside. Everyone's just dragging old chains from cargo ships around and swinging two-by-fours at trash cans. It reminds me of those "junk playgrounds" they opened in Wales where they just allow angry teens to batter everything in sight until they regain control over their impulses. The only difference is American gyms charge you hundreds of dollars punch Stop signs whereas in the UK all you need is a tetanus shot.

Struggling to make it through the routine set out by Chelsea and the fresh-faced trainer, Kathryn begins to lament how her body has changed as she's grown older. Immediately following their workout, Kathryn confides in Chelsea, saying that she is looking for a way to combat her loneliness. This is followed by an awkward explanation of how she and Thomas continue to flirt with each other in some sort of hellish power struggle.

Chelsea says that the best revenge is to "get a bangin' body." This is, of course, fine advice. There's nothing wrong with being healthy, but maybe don't worry so much about repainting the house when the inside is infested with termites. Anyway, as Chelsea tells Kathryn that exercise will solve all her problems, a gasping, emaciated fairy struggles to stay aloft over Kathryn's shoulder.

"Exercise is great. *Cough cough* But don't forget to focus on your mental well-being," says the fairy as Kathryn hits a tire with a sledgehammer and calls it a "Bitch."

click to enlarge ‘There is nothing deeper to this. No underlying anger or resentment.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘There is nothing deeper to this. No underlying anger or resentment.’

Continuing the theme of physical fitness, we then join Austen and Craig as they meet up in a park to go for a jog. Craig proceeds to say hello to every single dog he passes. This is fine because it is what you should do anyway.

Austen explains that he and a woman named Victoria have rekindled their romance. As viewers, we haven't formally been introduced to Victoria, but she is Chelsea's former friend who Austen began dating as he courted Chelsea, thus dooming their relationship. I often forget just how elaborate the cast is on Southern Charm. There are dozens of characters, each with their own elaborate backstory. Each episode is like Avengers: Infinity War, except in the case of Southern Charm you're actively rooting for half the universe to be wiped from existence.

Next we find Naomie and her roommate Wilson doing a bit of housekeeping. Wilson asks if they have an iron, so that he can iron the hand towels in the kitchen. This is a good idea, because you definitely want the filthiest thing in your house to hang neatly.

Coming through with an incredible lifehack, Naomie shows Wilson how she irons the hand towels with her hair-straightener. This is a novel idea, but then Naomie pulls out her very nice flatiron – it's a CHI! – and starts going to town on some towels in the slowest manner possible. This scene is capped off by Wilson saying that Naomie only showers three times a week. Cool.

click to enlarge That’s a CHI, y’all. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • That’s a CHI, y’all.

Next we pop over to Shep's place, where showers occur every time he falls asleep near the encroaching tide. Shep calls up his dad and explains how his real estate investments are paying off. This scene will work great in a time capsule when we need to prove to future generations that people actually owned their own homes at one time. The kids will say, "Oh, that sounds great," but then future us will reply, "Yeah, but everybody also shot each other constantly."

Anyway, to wrap things up, Shep explains that he can do whatever he wants and still make plenty of money, so I guess he just sits around collecting Pogs or investing in electric scissors. I like to think of Shep as the Elon Musk of the "As Seen on TV" crowd.

Speaking of wealth, we then join Patricia as she arrives at the fancy department store where Kathryn recently interviewed for a job as – I don't know – "Store Kathryn" or something. We soon learn that Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley is on her way and this is some Pygmalion, My Fair Lady experiment to makeover Ashley into a Southern debutante.

As Patricia explains, this involves not showing off too much decolletage and wearing nothing too "short up to the Mason-Dixon Line." Patricia follows this up by saying, "If you know what I mean." Yes, Patricia. You mean vagina. Which, if we're comparing lines of demarcation, is more a Prime Meridian than anything. This is why I always tell folks to set their watches to Greenwich Mean Time when they go out looking for love.

Genitals aside, Ashley arrives and begins trying on the nicest clothes you can imagine as Patricia sips champagne. Patricia then sits Ashley down and starts pressing her on when she'll marry Thomas. In a hopeful turn, Patricia then segues into asking when Ashley will resume her career. Coming from a medical background in California, Ashley says she needs to go through the licensing process in South Carolina.

This is great advice from Patricia. Do get a job. That is a good thing to do. I mean, what can Ashley stand to gain by completely relying on Thomas for everything? Oh. This.

The very next thing we see is Ashley charging more than $10,000 in clothing to Thomas' account. "That's so much money," I say to myself as I walk out into the front yard and claw at the earth with my hands.

"Well," I think, dropping into the fresh pit and pulling mounds of cool dirt onto myself, "At least, I know I earned everything I got."

Jumping ahead, we join Chelsea as she calls up her brother on the phone. To be honest, he sounds great. He sounds like he has a fish hook on his Cabela's cap and a Skoal ring on his back pocket. Right off the bat, he says he's "Drinking a little rum at the tiki bar." Damn, man, you get it. Cheeseburger in paradise, and all that.

Chelsea explains that Cameran called her to say she was having contractions. In so many words, Chelsea's brother basically says, "Shit, she been pregnant for 23 months. What she having, an elephant?"

This is the point where Chelsea delivers a big exposition dump, saying she and Shep are planning to take the cast to Hilton Head for a vacation in a future episode.

Now it's time for "Guys' Dinner: Part One" with Shep, Whitney, and Thomas. Thomas always enters these dinner scenes like he needs guardrails lining his way. I always expect him to answer the waiter by reciting the alphabet backwards. To put it another way, Christmas mornings probably start later each year for Thomas and the family.

Anyway, Thomas says that he missed his Uber because he was talking to a woman who is friends with his girlfriend, Ashley. Pressed by Whitney on his relationship with Ashley, Thomas says that they have the same problems he has while with every girlfriend: "You can't date."

click to enlarge ‘It’s fine if we all laugh. If we all laugh, it’s just a joke and not something hateful.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘It’s fine if we all laugh. If we all laugh, it’s just a joke and not something hateful.’

The problem with this is not that Thomas thinks this is a funny – and true – thing to say. The problem is that everyone else at the table throws their heads back laughing along with what is a truly disturbing way of thinking. The conversation then veers in and out of being your usual gross discussion of sexual scorekeeping – all the while, Thomas looks like a Winklevoss twin that was left out in the sun for too long. As with most talk of this nature, there is more heat than light. And the world is a darker place for it.

Moving on, we learn that Kathryn got an internship at her friend's department store. While I could never understand the world of women's fashion, I do know one thing: There should be more pockets. And not just those little matchbox pockets that you can't even fit your cellphone in. I'm talking deep, wide pockets that could fit a soup can.

Arriving at her new place of employment, Kathryn is given a styling exercise. She is provided a customer profile and must assemble a new set of outfits for this fictional shopper. Looking past my demands for soup-can pockets, Kathryn meanders around the store recounting her past employers before presenting a fresh wardrobe for a woman who doesn't exist. She does a fine job, her manager friend tells her, but should think outside the box a bit more. Not such a bad outing for her first day, I guess. Maybe they also showed Kathryn how to operate a cash register, handle put-backs, or hose down the changing rooms before closing.

Powering through a mighty boring conversation between Austen and possible romantic interest Victoria, they spend four hours ordering dinner before quickly cementing their love for one another. Moving on.

It's now dinner party time at Patricia's and there are homemade fortune cookies. This is apparently her annual "all-male" dinner wherein she joins the men in her life for what is sure to be a treat for the ages. Thomas arrives and immediately sticks his dick in the sugar bowl. Austen shows up and orders a drink. Then J.D. runs in looking like he just got back from a Little Rascals audition. This is like Thanksgiving if the only guests were your drunk uncles and cousins' new boyfriends dressed in worse and worse outfits.

click to enlarge ‘My mom said I could come to the party if I quit stealing crabapples from Old Man Gregory’s yard.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘My mom said I could come to the party if I quit stealing crabapples from Old Man Gregory’s yard.’

Starting things off, Thomas explains that he had an argument with his girlfriend the previous night and threatened to send her back to California. Thomas goes on to say that he doesn't like to be controlled by women because he has all the power and wealth in what is likely a piece of footage that would play poorly in court.

Soon dinner is served and all the men at the table acknowledge that none are in serious relationships. Patricia begins to recount an article she read about gender politics. Now get this, women have apparently "ruined their possibilities for getting married because they act like wives without any of the commitment from men," Patricia explains. The good thing about this summary is that we've found a way to blame women early on. That is always the first step in any meaningful solution. Next, let's examine how we as men can make up for what ultimately reverts back to Eve's original sin.

Thomas starts referencing "spinster farms" and asks why "we can't marry as many women as we can afford." This is healthy discourse. Awesome. As talk of establishing polygamist communes begins to heat up, the fortune cookies are delivered to the table. Since none of these fortunes say, "You will succumb to the Morning Drip before the next harvest," they are best left ignored.

Asked about his intentions to marry his girlfriend, Thomas accidentally mixes up Kathryn's name with Ashley's and everyone at the table puffs up like this is the first faux pas of the evening. If you're wondering how this can get worse, here ya go.

click to enlarge The look of a man wondering if you’ll accept his wedding proposal after he’s tied you to a set of train tracks. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The look of a man wondering if you’ll accept his wedding proposal after he’s tied you to a set of train tracks.

A following evening, we join Kathryn and Thomas as they sit down for a nice dinner together. Kathryn voices how disturbed she was by a recent photo that Thomas posted online of he and their children with his new girlfriend. Kathryn says this looked like a family photo because, well, it is. Families have the habit of breaking up and reforming with other people added to the mix. Really, it is a huge confusing mess. But a lot of times, it's for the best. Surely, that will be the conclusion to this evening's meal. Whelp, kind of. Thomas halfway suggests they get back together, but Kathryn, the newfound voice of reason, says let's just be friends.

Also, Cameran still hasn't had her baby. See you next week.

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