Friday, July 13, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: A funny thing happened on the way to Patricia's gala

S5E14

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge The face you make when you are dead on the inside - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The face you make when you are dead on the inside

With a certain bittersweetness, we've reached the final installment of the fifth season of Southern Charm. Thanks for taking the journey with me. Before we get started with our final episode, let's take a brief look back at what has happened this season. We'll go cast member by cast member, and for the sake of fairness we'll go in order of achievements this season – most to fewest – starting with Cameran.

Cameran grew and birthed a human child using her body. Even more incredible, she has continued to care for what is basically a helpless, unformed ball of skin that shits and pisses everywhere. And I'm not just talking about Shep! (Trumpet sound: Wwha-wwha-whaaahhhhh. Booooo, that joke sucks.)

With Cameran in mind, you should have learned at least one thing from her story arc this season: If you've ever questioned someone's reasoning for wanting to be a parent or criticized someone for deciding not to become a parent, the only certainty is that you are an asshole and it's none of your business. These life choices are both equally valid and personal.

Whitney remains the Brock Lesner of Southern Charm: He shows up occasionally, puts in minimal effort, and collects a sizable paycheck.

Next in descending order is Kathryn, who got a job and spoke publicly about her need for prescription medication to address depression and anxiety. These are all good things. Good job, Kathryn.

Moving on, Shep comes in at Chaotic Neutral on the Southern Charm alignment chart. He hasn't really done anything this season, except learn to cook meatballs and co-organize a vacation to his hometown. Sometimes not falling backwards is all you need to do to cross the finish line.

Next we have Chelsea, who has been able to maintain a stable life for herself, but pretty much dedicated her time to sabotaging Austen's burgeoning relationship with her former friend. Also, she cohosted the Hilton Head vacation, but probably didn't mention to her guests that the trip would include a tour of her childhood home and the turmoil associated with her formative years.

Then we have Austen. You may say, “Oh, but Austen's beer launch was so successful,” but we haven't seen Austen actually turn a profit this season. He may later move on to be a beer magnate on the level of Spuds MacKenzie or Samuel Adams, but all he's accomplished this season is quit his job, order a bunch of kegs for his friends, and have his girlfriend break up with him. Truthfully though, there are worse alternatives, as exemplified by our next contestants.

I'm going to combine Thomas Ravenel and his new girlfriend Ashley for this one because I like the idea of them being reluctantly joined together for eternity like Sisyphus and his boulder. Basically, Thomas coaxed a young lady to Charleston with a free apartment and the possible promise of a wedding ring, only for her to prove insufferable. What Thomas failed to realize is that she's a human person with her own desires, many of which involve him giving up his playboy lifestyle.

At the same time, Ashley was an employed nurse who left her career to pursue Thomas Ravenel – who currently looks like a chainsaw carving of himself. I've had at least three phone calls with Thomas and in everyone of them he kept talking for 45 minutes, and I had to keep doing that thing where you say “Well, I better get going” over and over. One time I wrote an article quoting Thomas Ravenel, and he called me back because he was concerned that readers would not understand that he was quoting the Bible.

Yes, you read that correctly. Thomas Ravenel was concerned that readers wouldn't be able to distinguish between his own words and those of the King James Bible. It's things like this that make me question whether or not Thomas Ravenel has object permanence.

At the bottom of our chart we have Naomie and Craig. We start out this week's episode at Craig's house, which is in complete shambles. He is literally sweeping away debris when there's a knock at the door. Hopefully, it's DSS come to take Craig back to his parents.

In comes Cameran to survey the damage. She asks for a glass of wine, but carefully clarifies “if it's not too old.” Since all of Craig's appliances and belongings are littered across the floor, he returns with what I'm sure is a glass full of vinegar for Cameran.

click to enlarge ‘Thanks, it’s so… tart.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Thanks, it’s so… tart.’

As the two catch up, Craig explains that he is still awaiting final approval before he can begin work as a lawyer. Craig then explains to Cameran that he's gotten himself wrapped up in the big world of pillow design.

This is something I understand. Let me offer a big thank you to those of you out there who purchased products featuring my dog designs shown in my previous Southern Charm recap. Those profits pushed me just over the line to make the minimum required payment on my credit card this month. Truth to power, y'all.

Anyway, Craig then reveals that although he has crafted around 20 pillow cases, he has yet to stuff or sell any of them. Cameran levels with Craig, saying that she thinks this whole pillow hobby is just an excuse to avoid what he should really be doing. While that may be the case for Craig, how about tell that to my credit card, Cameran? Minimum payment met. I'm all about that merch, son.

Also, forget the pillows. Perhaps Craig slowly disassembling his house is more of a red flag? Maybe let's focus on that.

Moving on, we join Kathryn and Naomie as they proceed to discuss all the odd slander and gossip they've heard about Thomas' new girlfriend, Ashley. The leading rumor is that Ashley is some sort of West Coast escort for polo players. Naomie throws out the term “Polo rat,” which A.) definitely shouldn't be a thing, and B.) if it is, there has to be a better name for it. Like “stable girls,” “night mares,” or simply “whorses.”

With Patricia's white tie winter ball fast approaching, we then find Craig, Austen, and Shep stopping by a local haberdashery to collect their tailored suits and other fineries. The best part of this is the shop owner incredulously asking everyone if they've ever worn a suit with tails like they're all frequent guests at Wayne Manor. Later in the episode, Patricia explains how to sit down while wearing a suit with tails, but I already learned that shit from watching Bugs Bunny play piano with an orchestra.

Then, just like everyone else in town, our three buddy-roes begin talking about Thomas and Ashley. After explaining that she has hit on each of them, Craig observes that Ashley is not working and relies on Thomas for financial support. Should be a fun time at the party.

We are then treated to a montage of everyone getting dressed for the ball. This includes Craig struggling to fasten his pants due to his still injured hand. Ever the symbol of man's ability to improvise and use tools, he ultimately uses a coathanger to zip his pants.

click to enlarge Can someone please look after Craig? - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Can someone please look after Craig?

After much ado, we finally get our first glimpse of Thomas and Ashley this episode. Through sheer power of will alone, Ashley has maintained her relationship with Thomas. Their love is like a game of chicken that never ends. Oh, and since they've been so miserable together, Thomas gifts Ashley a gold locket. Inside the locket is an enchanted portrait of Thomas and Ashley growing happier and happier each year, while in the real world they remain as miserable as they are now forever.

Over at Kathryn's hotel room, she explains how nervous she is about attending Patricia's party. Kathryn's anxiety about impressing Patricia has manifested itself as her “Googling the shit” out of everything to do with white tie formals to avoid any faux pas. I imagine the first piece of advice for a formal ball is don't say your going to do “the shit” out of anything.

Finally, the entire ensemble gathers for the ball. Everyone is very well dressed. Of course, JD arrives wearing a large fur coat because he just rewatched Coming to America or something. Within seconds, JD locates his estranged wife and criticizes her outfit, which he deems too revealing. It's funny to me when JD dresses up because no matter how formal his attire, he always looks like the mayor of the infield at Darlington Motor Speedway. JD could get his entire wardrobe from Savile Row, and he'd still come across like the guy who can't wait to tell dirty jokes at a family reunion.

click to enlarge ‘Shit damn, y’all, I made it.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Shit damn, y’all, I made it.’

Anyway, Naomie wastes no time telling everyone in attendance that Ashley is rumored to be a West Coast escort. Ashley's usually horrible personality aside, I'm not a fan of this whole “label her a prostitute” thing. It's just too easy to call a woman a whore or a slut or anything along those lines in order to diminish her reputation. All I can say is take the time to get to know someone before hurling false accusations. Chances are they'll give you plenty of legitimate reasons for why no one should like them.

Moving on, it's time for dinner. Naomie was visibly emotional after seeing Craig with his date. Kathryn is trying to find the perfect time to approach Patricia, who has fully admitted that inviting Kathryn to the ball is a test. Also, Kathryn and Shep keep talking in bad British accents, which cracks me up because they drive the joke so far into the ground that it comes out on the other side and becomes funny again. This is Southern Charm's take on the famous rake gag from The Simpsons.

As everyone sits down for dinner, Naomie reminds Kathryn to remove her gloves. Kathryn says she's supposed to remove them finger by finger because she “Googled that shit.” The juxtaposition between Kathryn's actual concern over all the rules of etiquette she needs to follow and how she swears every time she discusses searching through all of this nonsense online is actually very funny.

What is not funny is how Naomie rails against Craig's date for not removing her gloves during dinner. For glove etiquette to be the hill Naomie wants to die on is in really bad form. On that same note, as dinner wraps up, Austen approaches Thomas to inform him that rumors have surfaced that Ashley is a former escort.

Ashley quickly joins the conversation and asks Austen if he believes she is a nurse. Mind you, at this point Austen – a hypothetical beer salesman – is claiming the high ground. Oh, and for some reason, Thomas defends Austen for bravely calling his girlfriend a prostitute.

Ashley pulls out her nurse card or whatever form of proof that one carries to show they are a nurse, but Austen acts aghast about the whole situation. Meanwhile, Craig is across the room explaining this entire situation to his date who has become a sort of audience surrogate.

Ashley then goes after Craig for saying that she was hitting on him and Thomas' other friends. While this is going on, you can see how the show's editors cobbled together this argument because Thomas pops in and out of frame. When Thomas is not standing to the side, watching his girlfriend and friend shout at each other, he's laughing his ass off with some stranger far off in the background. Like, Thomas couldn't care less about what's going on with Ashley and Craig. He's a terrible man.

After much distress, Kathryn finally talks to Patricia and they do the whole mea culpa thing. After shaking hands, Kathryn takes a seat at Patricia's table, thanking her for no longer being blackballed. Patricia is touched by Kathryn's show of grace and the fact that she Googled the history of white tie formals. I'm sure this evening won't end with a big argument involving Kathryn. This is surly a new leaf. A change has come.

Kathryn steps outside for a cigarette. Ashley follows her out and apologizes for her past misgivings. Cool. This is healthy. But, wait. Kathryn questions the legitimacy of Ashley's apology, and Ashley reminds Kathryn that her children were taken away from her for a time. That escalated quickly.

Several B-team characters from the Southern Charm roster step outside to eavesdrop on the ensuing argument as Kathryn calls Ashley a golddigger.

The real problem with this is that Kathryn and Ashley ultimately end up arguing about who Thomas likes the most. Why? Maybe, I don't know, Thomas is the root of the problem? His legacy is one of excessive wealth, wasted opportunity, and disappointed women. He's basically the all-female Ghostbusters reboot.

click to enlarge ‘I lack the emotional maturity to do anything but stare straight forward and smile in this situation. I, Thomas Ravenel, respond to every difficult situation like a child participating in a family photo.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘I lack the emotional maturity to do anything but stare straight forward and smile in this situation. I, Thomas Ravenel, respond to every difficult situation like a child participating in a family photo.’

Capping off the night, Ashley and Kathryn both unload their side of the story on Thomas, who responds like he's watching two medical professionals debate exactly how impotent he is. Thomas again takes sides against Ashley. After a final exchange of profanities, we are treated to a post mortem on the season.

Six months later, Thomas and Ashley are still together and Kathryn has 50/50 custody of the kids. I guess the Southern Charm producers thought this revelation would really punctuate the season, but I don't really care about all that. How about tell me if Craig has lost all his fingers like some Civil War soldier trying to tear apart his home with a tack hammer?

With that said and the season ended, all that's left is for me to thank all y'all for reading. Whether you are regular viewers of Southern Charm or only follow this column, I appreciate your time and attention. It means the world to me. Maybe we'll see another season of the show, and maybe I'll write about it. I'm on board, so if you'd like to see me back, voice your support in the comments.

Until then, I've been your Southern Charm (not so) newbie. I'm not saying goodbye. I'm just sayin'.

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