Saturday, July 28, 2018

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Closing time (for real)

S5 E16

Posted by Dustin Waters on Sat, Jul 28, 2018 at 3:02 PM

Warning: Nothing this exciting happens - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Warning: Nothing this exciting happens

Hey everybody. Welcome back for the last recap of this season of Southern Charm. And I mean it this time. So sit back, take your time, and let's do this right.

Considering everything that we've seen these past 15 episodes, there was one particular movie line that kept running through my head as I awaited the finale. If you'll recall 1988's Cocktail starring Tom Cruise, there is a moment when our hotshot bartender/enemy of Xenu is in mid-breakup, and he says, “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end.” Let that be our main thesis as we examine this super-sized season finale of Southern Charm.

Looking back at last week, we waded through part one of the season five reunion. Due to a pending investigation, Thomas Ravenel was unable to represent himself pro se at his reality show reunion – a standard legal position. Instead his attorney forwarded ahead a public statement, which was allowed within 500 feet of a woman and able to cross state lines without an escort from the U.S. Marshals.

Speaking of the worst things to reach New York City since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley was a major topic of conversation among the cast during last week's episode. Although she failed to make a full appearance alongside everyone else on the show, I'm sure we'll be getting our fill of Ashley very soon.

Other than that, we discussed Craig's slow, almost Flowers for Algernon-style, de-evolution, and Kathryn's breasts, which are now listed as associate producers in the show's opening credits.

Now, on to the show.

When your friend just farted, and he knows you know - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • When your friend just farted, and he knows you know

This week we start things out with host Andy Cohen, who looks like a cross between Anderson Cooper and Martin Scorsese. Cohen begins to ask about Kathryn's history of depression and substance abuse, which she says started when she was in college working in politics around a bunch of men who objectified her. Good thing she found Thomas to rescue her from all that.

Cohen mentions the episode this season when Kathryn stopped taking her antidepressants and disappeared for several days. Kathryn says she's glad that at least this happened on the show, so that viewers experiencing similar problems can know they aren't alone. This is great. Surely the show won't immediately undercut this important moment. Smash cut to...

Shep begins explaining the difference between “browning out” and a full-on blackout. In his words, a brown out means that you maintain a sort of “snapshot memory,” as compared to a werewolf-style loss of time. Then continues the discussion where everyone asks the Fates how Shep hasn't impregnated someone or contracted a veritable gumbo of STDs. Really, Shep's undercarriage should be like someone trying to transport gasoline in a plastic bag at this point. Shep should parlay this episode into a sponsorship for Penicillin. Either way, good for him.

The better news is that Shep's knee is doing well after his surgery. And that we're done closely examining his sex history. Oh wait, no, we aren't. As always, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” Especially when boning each other is concerned.

As silver-haired ringleader Andy Cohen steers the conversation toward Shep and Kathryn's past sexual encounters (between three and five times, we're told) I'm reminded of a certain period from childhood. Back in the day, my family got a discount on rent for clearing out the trash compactor at our apartment complex. As we stood on the lip of the compactor, we had a very special stick that we would use to poke the trash into compliance. This was, in so many words, our pokin' stick. And it served us well.

That is, until it was stolen. Lost forever. Because in this world, you can't even have a good stick to stab at errant kitchen chairs or cardboard boxes like some modern-day Ahab.

But let me tell you, seeing Andy Cohen stir up that garbage between Southern Charm cast mates really brought me back to my days as a trash poker. Thanks, Andy.

Bill Cosby Jell-O Pudding face - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Bill Cosby Jell-O Pudding face

Turning from matters of love to commerce, Austen explains that he remains unemployed and his beer remains in development. Currently named “Trop Hop,” which is most definitely a song by Shaggy, Austen is pitching his beer to distributors. Sounds great. Best of luck.

Every single thing else aside, we learn that Chelsea's rescue dog formerly belonged to Michael Vick's fighting circle. Jesus. Why wasn't this the entire focus of this season? An entire episode was spent on polo, and they've got a rescued Michael Vick pitbull waiting in the wings. Why was this kept from us?

Not to linger too much on something interesting, Andy Cohen directs the conversation to hair salon gossip and Chelsea's hug with Austen. Everyone then goes to sleep.

Roused by the commercial break music stinger, we see Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley join the rest of the cast. Ashley remains a walking vocal fry. She excuses away her past fights with Kathryn by saying that no one understands her “humor” and that she just likes to “poke” at people. Blehh.

Then we get the romantic story of how Ashley and Thomas met. Ashley begins to swoon as she remembers the first thing Thomas every said to her: “What do you do for a living?”

Wow. What a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac. Was he doing crowd work at the Chuckle Hut? The only thing worse would be if he approached her in a bar and asked, “Is someone using this chair?”

Regardless, Ashley was touched that someone would show such interest in what she does for a living. So much so, that she immediately abandoned her career and moved across the country. Who knows what would have happened if Thomas would have been so bold and charming to ask her the time or where the bathrooms are?

To make things better, Ashley says her favorite part about dating Thomas is “scaring him.” This is not a joke. Ashley literally says she hides fake bugs under Thomas' things, jumps out from around corners to frighten him, and stages other acts that will surely weaken Thomas' heart until their fatal, I mean fateful, I mean faithful wedding night.

Asked how Thomas is responding to being investigated by the authorities, Ashley says he's really softened up and enjoys staying in more. Shocking. I'm sure his other new hobbies involve removing his fingerprints and studying up on extradition laws.

“Oh yes, Thomas is a real homebody these days. Always trying to graft my face onto his or some other sort of rainy-day fun.”

Oh, and then we learn that Thomas was dating Ashley when he had intercourse with Kathryn after last season's reunion episode. This seems like it should be interesting and dramatic, but it's not. It is just sad.

The good news is Ashley is working now. We don't get more details than that. Ashley moves past this topic by tossing Patricia to the wolves, saying Patricia was trying to sabotage her relationship, but then the audio of the preview I received gets a little choppy. Let me explain.

The camera cuts away from Ashley to reaction shots of other characters as we hear her say, “Well, someone was calling Thomas a lunatic, and everyone was pretty much saying it was Kathryn.” Ashley goes on to imply that Patricia was the culprit, but let's ignore that for a second.

Maybe it is because the screeners I receive aren't always the finished episodes (especially the audio mixes) or maybe it's because I was listening through a good set of headphones, but there were clear edits in Ashley's dialogue. I'll indicate where I heard these cuts or edits using forward slashes: “Well/ someone/ was calling Thomas a lunatic, and/ everyone was pretty much saying it was Kathryn.”

Now, I don't care who is right in this situation, but I call into question Ashley's exact comments at this moment. Although chances are she expressed herself much more dumbly in this scene, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Give us the original tapes, Bravo - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Give us the original tapes, Bravo

Anyway, we then revisit the days and weeks and months the cast spent in Hilton Head. Everyone agrees that it was a horrible time. This quickly devolves into Kathryn calling Ashley an asshole because she criticized Kathryn for the drug tests that Thomas and the courts require she take. The problem with anytime Ashley talks is that it's like that teambuilding exercise where you pass previously used stepping stones forward to build the next step. It's as if Ashley can only arrive at her next point by cannibalizing everything she's said in the moments leading up to that and regurgitating up some new brand of nonsense.

Ashley eventually apologizes for saying what she said in Hilton Head, but then says she meant every word of it. Ashley is then shown all of the horrible things that Thomas said about her this past season. She brushes this off as “entertainment,” while the rest of the cast stages an intervention on her behalf.

Moments after I type this, Ashley sarcastically asks, “Is this an intervention?” I think it may have become just that very thing. That's so sad.

Everyone proceeds to talk over one another, warning Ashley that she is following in Kathryn's footsteps as far as Thomas is concerned. There seems to be some genuine concern here. Then we go to commercial.

Instead of returning to this seemingly goodhearted effort, the new topic is questioning whether or not Ashley is a professional escort. This remains pretty gross in my opinion.

You can come up with plenty of new and inventive ways to defame a woman you dislike. It's just lazy to revert back to calling her a prostitute (If she is a legitimate prostitute, she will probably tell you unless you're a cop).

To reuse a reference from episode one of this season, calling a woman a prostitute is the Ready Player One of insults. It's easy and everyone will say “Ewwww,” but it's ultimately meaningless.

If you want to insult someone, make them think about it. And if you're in the South, make it sound like a compliment.

Perfect example: Ashley is exactly the type of woman that a guy like Thomas Ravenel deserves.

Anyway, Kathryn claims that Thomas mentioned having Ashley sign an NDA. Suddenly, the lawyer in Craig emerges – roused from a thousand-year slumber – and he suggests that maybe Thomas allowed Ashley to get close, maybe too close, and she may one day testify against Thomas in court.

Anyway, Ashley continues to excuse all of her past actions by bringing up Kathryn losing custody of her kids. Kathryn eventually calls Ashley an unkind, sadistic person. Ashley soon exits the stage. Why won't this episode end?

Heading into the final lightning round, Craig and Naomie remain irrevocably split. Without Thomas and Whitney on stage, Shep is now the oldest cast member to make the reunion – because life is funny, yet cruel. Cameran is raising a child. Chelsea and Austen are dating new people, and – what?! – everyone is toasting with Austen's beer.

Drink to remember. Drink to forget. Drink ‘til you can barely pay your rent. Cheers cheers. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Drink to remember. Drink to forget. Drink ‘til you can barely pay your rent. Cheers cheers.

Yay, it has grapefruit in it, which may not interact well some medications. Please consult your physician if you think you might be having an adverse reaction to Trop Hoppelmintz, Big Poppa Trop Rinse, or whatever Austen's beer is called these days.

All that aside, I've had fun writing for y'all. Thanks for following me through this season. Your insistence that I write about the reunion episodes earned me an extra paycheck, so you are the real heroes. Until next time, this is Dustin Waters, saying, “If you have my old garbage stick, please return it at your earliest convenience.” Goodbye.

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