Saturday, June 16, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Family Smatters

S5, E11

Posted by Dustin Waters on Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 9:25 AM

click to enlarge While Paul Bearer waits just off screen - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • While Paul Bearer waits just off screen

A very enthusiastic hello to you all. Welcome back for a very special installment of Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie, this week coming to you from my hometown of Macon, Ga.

What separates this week's viewing of Southern Charm from others is that instead my mother and sister were around to offer the occasional commentary on a show that they've never seen before. There's nothing quite like being able to show your family what it is you do for a living. And I'm sure asking them to DVR a reality TV show isn't too far removed from inviting them to the ribbon-cutting at your new children's hospital.

Catching back up, last week's episode featured Craig trying to convince his life coach that he's The Talented Mr. Ripley, Thomas and Ashley trying to escape a hell of their own making, and the promise that we'd soon see the unveiling of Austen's beer. And by "Austen's beer," I mean the beer that he vaguely described to an Upstate brewer, who then produced a few kegs in exchange for relatively small fee. Somehow Austen calling this "his beer" is like ordering pizza for a party and calling yourself a caterer or, let's face it, the male equivalent of childbirth. Happy Fathers' Day!

Anyway, Austen's beer premiere is the big event that this week's episode is leading up to, so maybe you should do like everyone in Austen's life and lower your expectations. Let's get started.

First, we stop by Austen's apartment as Craig arrives. Craig, who injured his pinky finger while stabbing at his wall with a butterknife, is fresh from surgery. His hand is outfitted with a large, claw-like medical device, so he looks like Mankind and Mr. Socko from the old WWF. Seriously, Craig's claw is like when you tape mittens on a baby's hands to stop it from scratching its face. Next thing we know, Craig is going to try to shove his head through the mail slot and be forced to wear one of those protective cones around his neck.

click to enlarge ‘I’m like Jeff Dunham, except I’m not xenophobic and talented.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘I’m like Jeff Dunham, except I’m not xenophobic and talented.’

Ever the pal, Craig is joining Austen on the drive up to Greenville to pick up his designer beer. This presents one of the first of several conversations about how Austen's girlfriend, Victoria, will soon again see his former flame Chelsea. Both Austen and Craig dismiss Victoria's distrust of Austen and Chelsea's close relationship because it is incredibly easy not to give the least damn about someone.

Craig goes so far as to declare that women are crazy. Of course, this depends on the moon's location in the heavens, but mind you, Craig says this while wearing a large Nintendo Power Glove meant to protect him from himself. Next thing you know, we'll have to buy Craig some blinders to keep him from following a laser pointer out into traffic.

We then join Naomie and Chelsea, who have gathered at the beach to walk some dogs. Since everyone on this show is falling apart, Naomie is forced to use a garbage bag to wrap the medical boot protecting her injured foot. I'm starting to think we should cover all the sharp edges of this show in tire pieces.

What are the OSHA regulations on Southern Charm? Before it's all over, the entire cast is going to perish in a tragic Zorbing accident.

Anyway, Naomie explains how she is taking revenge against Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley by posting pictures of Thomas and Kathryn to Instagram. This is, of course, the modern-day equivalent of luring your nemesis into his soon to be living grave with a choice bottle of Amontillado.

Knowing that she hasn't meddled in enough relationships for the day, Naomie begins questioning Chelsea about her feelings for Austen. This is the point where my mother would warn "Don't let those lust demons get you," which is the sound sort of advice that has guided my romantic life.

Meeting back up with Craig and Austen, the pair have arrived in Greenville to meet back up with Tom the Brewer. Tom has on his red shirt today, which means he's really putting on a show for the unveiling of Austen's beer, which he should call "Austen Translation."

Tom the Brewer, who looks like he has a little gun rack in the back of his truck for his bloodhound, is ready to sample the beer he created for Austen. Please allow me to paint you a picture.

Austen, Craig, and Tom line up, in that order left to right, looking like the personification of 2+2=5. Really, Tom comes across as such a capable, non-ridiculous person that he may as well be standing next to two Chuck E. Cheese mascots trying to use a urinal. As he samples the beer, Austen says a bunch of nonsense that he thinks sounds knowledgeable, like "there's a nice, citrus-forward nose" to the beer. Meanwhile, Tom does the decent thing and remains quiet as he drinks. Tom owns only one movie and that is Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Tom is the guy that everyone's dad knows who can fix anything for $25. Tom is the guy to ask about getting that CDL license.

Back to the tasting, Austen even begins to take notes as Craig stares up at the ceiling and says, "Would it make sense if I said it was 'Woody?' Like it has wood in it."

Well hell, Austen, there's your slogan right there. "Austen's Fruity Brew: It has has wood in it."

click to enlarge Manly enough to let those nipples show. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Manly enough to let those nipples show.

Over at Cameran's house, we are treated to our first view of the place post-baby birth. Cameran's incredibly wonderful mother arrives. The first thing I notice is that she just walks in the front door, which isn't locked. Why would you not lock your door, especially when you are alone with your new baby? I know all you new mothers are riding the high of having beaten the clock on being womb-raided, but don't get too cocky. Lock the door.

At this point, my mother, having sensed a baby somewhere nearby, begins to question me about Cameran's newborn. Although I have been writing about this show for the past three seasons, dedicating much time and consideration to Cameran's decision to have a child and her pregnancy, I am completely unable to recall the baby's name, sex, and any other specific information. My mother responds without a lick of sarcasm, "Well, at least you know the birth weight?" In response to this, I stared at her for a solid five minutes, blinking cluelessly.

Returning to the show, Cameran brags about having taken her first shower in two weeks. It's comments like this that make me want to create a show where I introduce crustpunks to the perils of new motherhood and watch them wilt in their boots.

Cam's mom tries to gift some wonderful hand-me-downs, which definitely contain asbestos and lead paint. Cam refuses her mom's generosity, criticizing what is the kindest gesture ever witnessed on this show. Cameran is suddenly so concerned about safety, yet she leaves the front door unlocked for any wronged hill-woman or mystical forest creature to come in and steal her child. Hasn't she read any German fairytales?

Cameran then shares that she has an oversupply of breastmilk. Trust me when I say that within my home this led to a lengthy conversation about lactation, which I feel like happens a lot in my family. Let's just spread that around and casually talk about lactation and menses a lot around our sons. Maybe they'll grow up and have the slightest idea about women and not expect everyone to smile all the time.

Skipping ahead, we join Thomas, someone who is definitely intimidated by the female cycle, as he browses for jewelry while his new girlfriend Ashley is in California. Whitney soon arrives to help Thomas, and they begin discussing Whitney's family crest ring, which Whitney says was crafted by "The Queen's Engraver." If there was ever a less-impressive impressive thing, I haven't heard it. What's next, Whitney? "My horse was castrated by the Pope's chief gelder."

Anyway, Thomas wants to buy some matching rings for he and Ashley, but doesn't want to send Ashley a "false signal." This means he should just pry a half-eaten Ring Pop off a movie theater floor and hand that to her. Ashley would be better off sticking her finger in a cigar cutter than let Thomas buy her any meaningful jewelry.

Then something great happens. It's a rainsoaked day. The sun is dim. There appears to be no hope left in the world as Craig pulls up to the – wait, can it be? It's the fabric store! And Cathy is back! Cathy, the fabric lady! Cathy! Huzzah!

Following up on Patricia's offer to let Craig design a series of pillows for her company, Craig wants to run his designs by Cathy, his closest confidant. Surely, Cathy will be able to help decide which pillow designs will be best for this comfort-based business venture.

click to enlarge When you realize that you should’ve locked up early for the day. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • When you realize that you should’ve locked up early for the day.

The first example we see is what appears to be the silhouettes of a dog and cat viewed from behind on some empty, burned out landscape. In the distance, we see what is either the setting sun, or a detonating nuclear bomb. These are the Omega Pets.

Cathy immediately shoots down the design, calling it "too touristy" and ruthlessly saying it'd be perfect for Myrtle Beach. I know I've been critical of various South Carolina cities in the past, but I do so jokingly. I will say that arguing about which South Carolina tourist destination is the most tasteful is like debating the best seat on the Titanic. I don't mean that figuratively either. I mean you would be debating status in an unaffordably priced area that is slowly but surely filling with seawater. At least Myrtle Beach has Skee-Ball.

Catching up with Shep, he is removing his pants in a bowling alley to put on a knee brace. So things are pretty much normal there.

Kathryn soon arrives for some bowling, and we learn that Shep is always about four beers and a shot of liquor away from being a master bowler. Kathryn and Shep continue to flirt somewhat. Kathryn begins to tell a story about a dream she had about Shep. At this point in the show, my mother chimed in to predict that Kathryn and Shep would be together by the end of the night. She also said they were acting like children, while complimenting how young they looked for their ages. I have no idea what to do with this information.

click to enlarge Not too unusual for a bowling alley - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Not too unusual for a bowling alley

Back to the dream, Kathryn says Shep professed his love for her. She says there are always hidden meanings in dreams, but this one appears startlingly literal. Like, discounting much of Freud's work, I think all of us Introduction to Psychology grads can surmise what Kathryn is getting at here.

Getting back on the beer trail, a woman named Alexandra arrives at Austen's house. She is listed as his friend and has a real Busy Philipps vibe. So much so that she may be trying to Single White Female the real Busy Philipps.

Fittingly, Austen and his friend celebrate his new beer venture with a champagne toast. Alexandra is excited about seeing all the women that Austen is stringing along. Should be fun.

Austen arrives at his beer launch party. He fields a few congratulations although he didn't make the beer and is even crowdsourcing a potential name.

Austen's family arrives at the beer tasting. He hands everyone a beer. They are polite, which is exactly why you may want to field test your beer on your loved ones. This is why juries aren't just the defendant's family and people who he or she owes money.

Whitney arrives in a knee-length black coat with furry lapels as if he is testing everyone to ridicule him. He really is the Derek Zoolander of the show, but if Zoolander sold clean urine and positive birth control tests on Craigslist instead of professional modeling. Every time I see Whitney, I feel like I just saw the guy playing the Phantom of the Opera taking a lunch break with his costume still on.

Back at the beer unveiling, Chelsea pulls Austen's girlfriend Victoria aside. Chelsea attempts to act like she has no designs on Austen, but thankfully my family interjects to say that Chelsea wrapped her legs around Austen when she first arrived at the party and gave him a hug.

click to enlarge We got receipts on that questionable hug. My family don’t shiv. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • We got receipts on that questionable hug. My family don’t shiv.

Good luck arguing with that, Chelsea. You've got two generations of women coming at you from a place where the armadillos carry leprosy and City Hall is a Keno parlor. My mom is convinced you are too pretty for makeup, but she isn’t buying your shit about not liking Austen. See y'all next week, when I don’t know where I’ll be.

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