Friday, July 21, 2017

Let’s unpack this new preview for Southern Charm spinoff Relationshep

Epic tail

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 11:50 AM


In what is surely an intentional subversion of the tale of the brave, yet hubristic Odysseus, Bravo has provided a new glimpse at the forthcoming Southern Charm spinoff, Relationshep.

Chronicling the epic journey of Charleston's own Shep Rose, the show finds our weary hero setting out on an epic journey to track down a Penelope of his own. With a new preview of the show released earlier this week by Bravo, Homer's modern-day equivalent if there ever was one, let's unpack this one-minute sneak peek at Relationshep.

The clip begins with Shep literally hurling himself from the balcony of an opulent home into the swirling pool waters below. This is clearly an homage to Odysseus' escape from the island of Ogygia where he was detained by Calypso for several years. Longing to return to his one true love, Penelope, the Greek hero crafts a humble raft and sets out on a harsh and unforgiving sea. Much like Odysseus, Shep has finally escaped the enchantments of Charleston to find a relationship with real meaning.

"He'll travel all over the country, where his friends will play matchmaker," says Southern Charm costar Cameran Eubanks as the faces of her fellow castmates flash by, mirroring the meddlesome gods of old.

Then we are treated to a dizzying montage of fresh-faced women as they meet Shep. One rides a horse. Another really likes beer, which is a big plus for Shep. We are then told in voiceover that if Shep makes a meaningful connection with these women, they will be invited back to Charleston. But before reaching his happily-ever-after, Shep must first hear his failures and shortcomings detailed by this cavalcade of female suitors.

"This I'm not doing," says one woman cryptically as Shep chews on his sunglasses.

What won't she do? Can we expect Relationshep to challenge the rules of propriety and societal norms? Probably not. She most likely just wants Shep to not turn every surface of her home into an ashtray or fall asleep while making mac ‘n cheese at 3 a.m.

'Oh, was I not supposed to bring beer to your grandmother's wake?' - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo screenshot
  • 'Oh, was I not supposed to bring beer to your grandmother's wake?'
As we hear Shep say he's so scared of making the wrong decision, we see two young women dressed in swimsuits. One is crying as she says this isn't a game to her. This scene appears to be filmed by a camera peering creepily around a half-opened bedroom door. This is not a good look, Bravo.

As the brief preview of Relationshep comes to a close, we hear Shep say, "Behind every great man is a greater woman."

This is a new spin on the old expression that means a woman in a relationship will get to do all the hard work and forgiving, while the man gets all the credit. But it's packaged in a way that makes it sound like a compliment. To look at this expression another way, standing in the way of every great woman is a man who accidentally gave himself food poisoning when she left home for the weekend to visit her friends from college. See, that doesn't sound as whimsical.

In the end, we are offered the promise of a "new Shep." What that means, we'll have to wait and see. Relationshep is expected to premiere on Bravo later this fall.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Shepard Fairey documentary to premiere on Hulu this fall

Streaming this November

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 2:58 PM

Shepard Fairey grew up in Charleston - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Shepard Fairey grew up in Charleston
Anyone hoping to learn more about Charleston native Shepard Fairey’s rise to prominence as a renowned street artist and graphic designer will want to have their Hulu subscription in place by November.

According to a recent announcement from comingsoon.net, the video streaming service’s fall lineup includes the documentary titled Obey Giant. Slated to premiere Sat. Nov. 11, the film is described as an extensive look at the intersection of street art and activism, punk rock and politics, specifically as it relates to Fairey’s most iconic work — the “HOPE” poster depicting former President Barack Obama.

According to the report, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker James Moll and Golden Globe-winner James Franco are the executive producers behind the film that follows Fairey’s path from his skate scene roots to the world of modern art.

While you wait for the November premiere of Obey Giant, take a look back at the City Paper’s 2011 interview with the celebrated artist.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: The End, Again.

Season Four Finale

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Our faces as we welcome in the end times - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Our faces as we welcome in the end times

This is it, everybody. The end.

Let’s start this season finale recap with a quotation from the woefully underrated 1988 classic Cocktail. Hitting theaters just days before my first birthday, Cocktail cock-tells the story of an ambitious young bartender played by Tom Cruise, who spends his time learning to mix drinks by hurling bottles of liquor into the air and drinking whatever doesn’t end up on the floor. Reaching to conclusion of an ill-fated relationship, Cruise’s character profoundly remarks, “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.” Let that be the moral of this season of Southern Charm.

To welcome the beginning of the end, let’s briefly contemplate the “Previously on” intro that runs during the opening of each episode. This week, Cameran’s voiceover informs us that Charleston has officially become “Bizarro World.” There’s no real explanation as to what she means by this, but let me tell you what the Bizarro version of Southern Charm would actually be.

Thomas would be a mild-mannered Charleston transplant from the Midwest. Taking night classes to become a computer repairman, he’d spend his evenings watching reruns of Scrubs while cleaning up after his roommates. His father, a celebrated rodeo clown, would be kicked to death by a horse, leading to his lifelong grudge against equines.

Kathryn would be a lumberjack (or lumberjane, I’m not exactly sure) constantly on the fence about creating an online dating profile at the behest of her friends. Cameran would be an impulsive drug dealer, so a female version of Jesse Pinkman. Shep would be a Quaker, and Whitney would be someone with the faintest understanding of social mores.

Bizarro Landon would make headlines as a female politician who breastfed her child on the floor of Parliament, while Craig would be exactly the same. Except he would own a dog that he hated. The dog would hate him also.

Every episode would be five minutes long, including the credits, and it would just be the entire cast asking to be removed from a group text chain.

What I just described is the reality show we need. What follows is the reality show we deserve.

We return this week for the thrilling conclusion of the Key West Adventures. We find a few of the womenfolk enjoying a nice rubdown on the beach, while the men are riding jet skis and doing cannonballs off an ocean bounce house. Craig briefly deflects the calls from the other guys to join in on the fun while he attempts to text Naomie, who is headed back home early. He says he’s trying to smooth things over between them, since the rift in their relationship is at its greatest. The problem is he immediately abandons this attempt to rescue his relationship to go play on a giant inflatable slide.

Nope - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Nope

Meanwhile, Austen and Chelsea are set to go parasailing — an activity that combines the fun of escaping a downed fighter jet with being dragged by a boat.

Back at the ladies’ massage date, Whitney sneaks up and begins to rub Cameran’s shoulders. A true chaotic neutral, Whitney giggles as he runs away from briefly massaging a woman who never asked for it. He really is some imagination-less trickster god. Better not leave your pies out to cool on the windowsill with Whitney on the loose. He’s a real rooster in the henhouse.

Kathryn then joins Danni/Jennifer/seriously I don’t know anymore and Elizabeth to catch up on what happened during her tête-à-tête with Landon in last week’s episode. Kathryn says that they reached some sort of understanding, but Landon has yet to fess up to actually making negative comments about Kathryn. We are then treated to a flashback that shows Landon and Thomas questioning Kathryn’s sanity. Because angry women are, of course, insane. And mentally ill women are just simply ignored.

Thomas jokingly says, “You know what they did back in the ’50s?” to which Landon replies “Shock treatment” with an awkward laugh.

Let me remind or inform everyone that “shock treatment,” as they call it, is still used today in certain cases. I can say from personal experience that it is a very difficult process for the people who go through it and their families. Of course, I don’t expect Thomas and Landon to keep up with modern medical practices, and I’m sure they meant nothing malicious by their comments. But we should still take every opportunity to address how mental health issues are portrayed on television. This isn’t the show to really shoulder that burden, and it doesn’t claim to be. But that shouldn’t stop us from bringing it up here. With that little digression out of the way, let’s go back to the beach!

Danni (?) informs Kathryn that Landon stood up for her during breakfast, which earned her the ire of Thomas. We then join Cameran and Landon on the docks. Cameran asks “Who else is left here?” like we’ve entered into some passive vacation slasher movie.

“Well, Naomie got chopped up by a boat propeller and Craig was found strangled with all of our old yearbook photos stuffed into his mouth. I know we left that nerdy exchange student here to die exactly 12 years ago today and promised never to talk about it, but this all seems strange,” says someone in my fictional version of the show.

Asked about the relationship between Thomas and Kathryn, Landon says she feels Thomas tends to bully Kathryn. Kathryn questions Landon’s loyalty, but screw all that because we get a little extra info on Todd, the standout of this season. While we were all heartbroken to hear of Todd’s departure, we learn that he and Danni (?) met in Patricia’s kitchen, which Patricia has surely devised as a trap for good men.

Picture if you will, Danni (?) walks into the kitchen. Positioned under the sink, Todd is visible only by his denim shorts and puffy white sneakers as he attempts to fix some plumbing mishap that was surely orchestrated by Patricia earlier in the evening. Todd slides out from under the sink, his brow glistening with the sweat of a working man. He and Danni (?) lock eyes. And the rest is history.

Our cast then sets out for dinner. Half of the gang has chartered a bus, while everyone else is tooling around on mopeds. Kathryn gathers Thomas to discuss their children. The conversation ends with a plan to enter mediation rather than have a judge decide custody issues. This is definitely a life-altering decision you want to enter into during a birthday vacation in Key West. It’s like drafting your will from the top of a roller coaster or naming your child after a Game of Thrones character.

Out of nowhere, Danni (?) faints inside the restaurant. The bus coalition, having arrived on time, handles the situation. Todd has been contacted. He probably has a binder full of solutions. The center console of Todd’s truck probably contains a road flare, perfectly folded road maps, and a cassette tape of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s greatest hits that he purchased at a truck stop.

Back in Key West, the scooter crew manages to get lost en route to the restaurant, so they rally before meeting up with everyone else. Collectively, they decide not to gather at the hospital and instead track down the rest of the crew.

Cameran announces that she received a text from Danni (?) who says she was just incredibly dehydrated. Everyone who wasn’t just rushed to the hospital continues on with their dinner plans.

This is why we need Todd around - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • This is why we need Todd around

Lost without the help of place cards, everyone tries to determine where to sit at the table with mixed results. Thomas remarks that Landon should sit “far the fuck away from me” because rather than a prize stallion, he is a night-mare. That is the last horse joke I will be making this season.

Todd texts Cameran to say that Danni (?) is either dehydrated or is lovesick from missing him so much. Todd is the best, and we should all just fall in love with Todd.

Since conversation is a dying art, Craig asks Whitney — a nonperson — if he would give up oral sex for cheese. The question reverberates throughout the timestream.

Almost a century prior, Dorothy Parker breaks an awkward silence at the Algonquin Round Table by posing the cheese-versus-blowjob question. Charles MacArthur wittily rejoinds by saying, “It depends on which is more Gouda fondue,” and the group agrees to never speak of the exchange again. Harpo Marx punctuates the scene with a deflated roll on his trusty slide whistle.

The next morning starts with Shep visiting a newly recovered Danni (?) to check on her well-being. Afterwards, Cameran challenges Shep to walk in a straight line as he clutches his morning beer. Continuing her world tour of personal advice, Cameran wakes Craig to say he should give more consideration to how her speaks to Naomie in public. Giving birth to my new favorite descriptor, Cameran tells Craig that he is the “perceived asshole in the situation.” The beauty of this phrase will be studied by scholars for years to come. The somewhat serious nature of this conversation is undercut by Shep, who comes bounding across the beach with biscuits and gravy in hand. He points out a bird he really likes, and this is the last we see of Key West — Shep drunkenly pledging his undying affection to a random bird as it races across the hot sands.

Back in Charleston, Thomas stops by JD’s office to discuss Landon’s behavior on the trip. Thomas and JD have an unspoken competition to see who can live their life most like a villain from an Adam Sandler movie. The winner is JD’s chair.

The chair is so much nicer than it needs to be - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The chair is so much nicer than it needs to be

Thomas begins to vent, saying he feels betrayed that Landon sided with Kathryn. Clutching his pearls, Thomas begins to quote Pride and Prejudice: “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.”

He obviously thought this was such a clever reference that he also texted it to Landon. I’m sure Jane Austen always meant for her work to be used to shame women for speaking their mind. Thomas officially rescinds his offer to allow Landon to date him and declares her out of the “circle of trust.” Yes, in addition to quoting Jane Austen, Thomas has also evoked Meet the Parents. He is truly a man of the world.

Later, we find Cameran receiving a visit from her mother. Cameran’s home is filled with HomeGoods bags, all with the logo conveniently facing the camera. Cameran reveals that she has stopped taking her birth control. She and her mother both admit that they don’t really care for babies, but it’s different when the kids are your own. If you haven’t thanked your mother for not leaving you at a fire station, please take this opportunity to do so.

Over at Craig and Naomie’s house, Naomie is trying to be nicer after she had a heart to heart with Kathryn. Naomie apologizes for how she has treated Craig. Craig quietly says that he is incredibly angry, which is very scary, but also reasonable. Craig tells Naomie that he needs a positive influence in his life, indicating that she may not be it. Naomie promises to be more understanding a few more times, and it seems they are going to continue working on their relationship.

Back at Thomas’ house, Kathryn stops by to discuss the next stage of their relationship. The show then just devolves to women apologizing. Two back-to-back scenes have centered on prominent female cast members saying they’re sorry in a way that feels gratuitous.

In response, Thomas quotes Gone with the Wind, saying that tomorrow is another day. Of course it is. Someone needs to revoke Thomas’ library card. He is abusing literature for his own ends. I could quote American Psycho and make it sound like a commercial for face moisturizer, but that wouldn’t really be true to the original work, now would it.

Thomas and Kathryn then hug for a very long time. An uncomfortably long time. The camera cuts to a shot outside Thomas’ home to indicate there is something we shouldn’t be seeing. I thank the editors of the show for their mercy and restraint.

Finally, it’s the night of JD’s black tie party that was announced earlier in the episode, but I failed to mention hoping that it would never come to pass. The whole cast is dressed to the nines, especially Thomas who looks like he’s here to close down everyone’s favorite community ski lodge. Seriously, he looks like the NWO’s personal shopper.

‘I’m here to select Scott Hall’s denim vests for the invasion’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘I’m here to select Scott Hall’s denim vests for the invasion’

Then comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for — Todd is back!

It’s then revealed that Kathryn and Thomas kissed during their meeting at Thomas’ home. Everyone runs from person to person, spreading the news. It is peak middle school spring fling dance here with the cast of Southern Charm.

During dinner, we learn more about Shep’s drunk airport antics. Apparently, Craig stayed behind to care for Shep who spilled his water on a stranger and got into an argument before being deemed too drunk to fly. It is also mentioned that Shep had a chicken bone stuck in his throat through all of this after drunkenly consuming some hot wings.

We then see Chelsea bending Todd’s ear about how Austen is getting a little too cozy with some other women. Todd, of course, listens because he is an American hero.

Todd! High five! - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Todd! High five!

Austen gets a dressing down for his behavior, but asks for Chelsea to be upfront about what she wants in their relationship. They both agree to be exclusive in what may be the only true story arch for this season.

On the other side of the room, we find Craig still waging an unnecessary war for Landon and Kathryn to be wholly honest with one another about whatever personal grievances they have about one another. Rather than settle for a peace built on lies, Craig demands the truth, no matter what the consequences.

Shep continues to mock Craig, as Craig continues to threaten to hit him with violence. The situation finally erupts when Craig punches Shep in the leg for saying that he doesn’t know about the Bay of Pigs.

Craig does know about the ‘Punching You in the Leg of Pigs’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Craig does know about the ‘Punching You in the Leg of Pigs’

Kathryn joins the conversation just in time for Shep and Craig to begin shouting about who is “the drunk asshole.” If you ever find yourself in this debate, the correct answer is everyone. Everyone is the drunk asshole. Until the drunkest asshole reveals himself by quoting Gone with the Wind.

Shep storms off, but not before adding, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.” He then clarifies, “I’m the bull.” Just for those keeping score at home, Shep is the bull. Bulls tend to have horns. Although never explained, he will be giving those horns to Craig.

A title card then flashes “45 minutes later,” and we find Kathryn and Thomas getting cozy while they revel in the fact that they’re not at the center of the storm. Thomas, who was previously upset that Landon didn’t take his side against Kathryn, has decided to exert his charms on Kathryn.

Across the room, Austen siddles up to Whitney and asks what he thinks the endgame is with Kathryn and Thomas. In so many words, Whitney answers by saying that they’ll either end up screwing or killing each other — or both. Either way, forget it, Austen. It’s Chinatown.

The human experience - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The human experience

And there you have it. Whitney has boiled down the entirety of the human experience into two responses. Sex and murder. Whitney casually exits the party and steps into a wooded glen where a bright light absorbs him. Sucked up into a craft familiar only to him, Whitney begins to shed his human suit as he fields a call from the farther reaches of the galaxy.

“What do they want?” asks the ambivalent voice through the ship’s vocoder.

“The same thing we all want,” replies what was once known as Whitney. “Dinner parties cast into disarray. Doomed vacations and failed relationships. They want struggles. Regardless of their own circumstance.”

“Why?” responds the Higher Power. “Why would they toil without need?”

“Because sometimes the toil is enough,” says Whitney. “Because while solutions may seem obvious and easy, trying for something greater means so much more.”

And I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for reading. I hope that it has meant half as much to you as it has to me. It’s been a pleasure to write for you this season, and I hope we get to do it again.

As always, this is your trusted Southern Charm recapper, Dustin Waters, signing off. Until next time.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Boxcutter on a Silver Platter

Season 4, Episode 12

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 2:00 PM

‘I am become Death. Destroyer of dinner parties.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘I am become Death. Destroyer of dinner parties.’

Hey everybody. I want to start off this week’s column by discussing an interesting email exchange I had last week. At the start of what turned out to be a 14-hour bus trip back to Charleston, I received an email with the subject line “Your column is awful.” This, as you can probably guess, was not a good start.

This reader had happened upon my Southern Charm recaps and was less than pleased with the convoluted and unfunny nature of my writing. Since I was prepared to spend the rest of the evening trying to reconcile sleep with the permeating smell of a bus chemical toilet, I decided to respond to this critic, asking what she would have preferred from a column that outlines the adventures of the Southern Charm cast, which usually center on ornate dinner parties and arrested development. Should there be fewer references to ’80s Southern rock bands and French deconstructionists?

Anyway, after changing buses three times and washing myself in a bus station men’s room where the hand soap was stored in a Powerade bottle resting on the sink, I eventually received a response from this particular reader. She apologized for her somewhat harsh statements. She had a bad day, like we all experience all too often, and acknowledged that maybe my Southern Charm recaps just aren’t her cup of tea. She said she wanted things a little more straightforward, possibly with fewer fictional renditions of Thomas Ravenel’s magical khakis or Whitney’s alien birth. It was a rewarding exchange, and although I don’t think that reader will be returning, I want to thank her for her candor. She reminded me of one of the main reasons I decided to write this column.

I know not everyone who reads this column watches Southern Charm. That’s always seemed pretty cool to me because it means you are either here for the schadenfreude or the writing — either of which I fully endorse. But some of you watch the show and probably even enjoy it, and choose to check in to see what I have to say about each episode, even though a very vocal group of people exist who call Southern Charm and most reality television the bane of existence, fall of Western civilization, or other such hyperbolic threat.

This is perhaps the most absurd thing about Southern Charm. All too often the people who have never seen the show take it far more seriously than its actual fans.

And not only do you watch the show, but you also apparently have specific tastes when it comes to the style of each episode recap. This is great. In this world of uncertainty, the fact that at least one person knows exactly what they want in terms of weekly columns on a Charleston-based reality TV show is reassuring. As always, you do you — which is the theme of this week’s episode.

It’s peanut butter time - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • It’s peanut butter time

Starting things off, Shep arrives at Chelsea’s house with a mysterious oblong box, which proves to be a repeated thing in this week’s episode — mystery boxes. Chelsea answers the door and admits that she is eating jar of peanut butter, which is the culinary equivalent of a cry for help. Being the George Washington Carver of awkward late-night visits, Shep enters Chelsea’s home and immediately gets in on this peanut butter thing, even though Chelsea lacks crunchy peanut butter. Amen. There is perhaps no clearer sign that we have strayed too far from a caring god than creamy peanut butter. It is a monument to man’s hubris, and Shep understands this.

Shep tells Chelsea that he is there to apologize for making a move on her in last week’s episode. He partially excuses his actions by saying he was “blind drunk” and compares himself to a fish who spotted a shiny lure and decided to eat it. There is no better way to persuade a woman in your favor than to compare her to a hooked worm or chum bucket.

Shep clarifies that he doesn’t think Chelsea is “that kind of girl,” by which I guess he means the kind of girl who would be easily seduced by Shep in the back alley of a bar.

Meanwhile, Kathryn stops by Cameran’s house to discuss the big upcoming birthday trip to Key West, which Cameran sees as a last hurrah before she becomes a mother. There is no clearer sign that you are ready for motherhood than the compelling urge to leave the state. Maybe this will lead to Cameran checking more things off her pre-maternity bucket list, like pulling off one last bank heist or getting back into witchcraft.

The face of someone who is thrilled to become a parent - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • The face of someone who is thrilled to become a parent

Cameran then informs Kathryn that Landon will also be going on the big trip. Kathryn tells Cameran that her misgivings with Landon stem from a moment after she and Thomas broke up. According to Kathryn, she and Thomas had planned a trip together, but after Kathryn was out of the picture, Thomas took Landon on the trip instead. Cameran is shocked. Looking back on the trip, both women refuse to believe that Thomas and Landon slept in separate beds for the duration of the three-day vacation. Of course, we all know that Thomas sleeps standing up like a horse because it makes him feel closer to his prized polo steeds.

Also, every shot of Thomas sitting alone in his giant house makes me wonder what he actually does with his free time. I imagine him just hiding in grandfather clocks, waiting to jump out and scare the maids. Thomas is like the kid from Blank Check, if that kid had just used all his money to refinish the hardwood floors. If Pixar were to make a version of Inside Out featuring Thomas Ravenel, his sense of Joy would just be wearing a barrel with suspenders and be prone to crying fits.

Back at Craig and Naomie’s House of Silent Resentment, Craig is toiling away on a onesie for Cameran’s hypothetical baby. Naomie arrives home and is justifiably curious why her boyfriend is crafting children’s clothes in the middle of their living room. Craig is playing a dangerous game here. If you impose upon OshKosh B’Gosh’s territory, you run the risk of waking up in a romper.

In debating if their strained relationship can handle the pressure of a trip together, Craig argues that Naomie is much nicer when they aren’t at home. Naomie clarifies that she is only terse with Craig when she gets home from a long day of work because she doesn’t think he does anything while she is away. She calls this a phase, saying he’s in between activities.

Craig tells Naomie that he should never feel he has to do things to make her happy, which is the opposite of being in a relationship.

“Do I have to live the rest of my life with you questioning everything I do?” asks Craig.

Yes, Craig. That’s what relationships are: You each try to slowly grind the other person down into something you can begrudgingly tolerate for the rest of your lives. That’s why romantic relationships begin with a “crush” and end with your partner trying to back over you in the driveway.

Over at Patricia’s house, Whitney is disguised as Rivers Cuomo for some reason. He is summoned by his mother just as her butler Michael brings her champagne and a boxcutter.

“How chic,” Patricia says. “I just love a boxcutter on a silver tray.” “

Everyone does,” replies Michael, who has surely killed a man.

‘Pinkerton is underrated.’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Pinkerton is underrated.’

We are given very little explanation as to why Patricia needs a boxcutter, but maybe it is some innovative power move she’s trying out. Invite someone into the room to speak with you. As they take their seat, have someone hand you alcohol and a killing tool. Ask them about their day.

As with most things this episode, conversation quickly turns to the trip to Key West, which Whitney declares to be a “shithole.” He and Patricia then take a break from disparaging popular travel destinations to finally address the boxcutter in the room, which will most likely be used to open the massive package sitting on the floor next to Patricia. She explains that she purchased something at an auction.

We are then treated to a flashback of Patricia bidding on an item over the phone. She wins with a grand total of $32,500, which may as well be all the money in the world. Patricia tells Whitney that a lot of people may think that she paid a lot of money for the mystery item, but it is actually worth twice as much. I don’t think this is how money works, but what do I know? My biggest investment will likely be the Sam’s Card that I’m saving up for.

Patricia finally opens her mystery box, which contains a golden elephant clock thing, which are only known to appreciate in value.

Pictured: Someone’s annual salary - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Pictured: Someone’s annual salary

Catching up with Chelsea and Austen, they are going to meet Austen’s parents for dinner. Recounting the incident between Chelsea and Shep, she begins to walk back her comments about exactly how aggressive he was with her in the bar. This proves to perturb Austen, who called Shep out on his behavior last week, endangering their friendship. Grilled on when she last spoke to Shep, Chelsea neglects to mention the peanut butter.

Arriving at the home of Austen’s parents, everyone sits down to dinner and Chelsea immediately starts mining for embarrassing stories from Austen’s childhood. First his mother says he liked to “push the envelope” which I have no idea what that could even mean. Was he a junior aviator? Did a prepubescent Austen break the sound barrier? Did he spend the family fortune trying to get the Spruce Goose off the ground?

We then hear the adorable story of how Austen tickled people’s feet in church on Palm Sunday, and how he once upset his sister to such an extent that she ripped out a chunk of his hair. These are two very different stories. One is an adorable anecdote about childhood antics. The other is assault.

Finally, the cast sets off for Key West. All the women folk gather on a small stretch of private beach and begin to have a conversation which will immediately lead to a fight. Listening to this conversation is like watching a group of people dare each other to stare into an eclipse. Cameran recounts Kathryn’s description of the fateful trip between Thomas and Landon that led to such great strife. Landon calls it all lies. Chelsea decides to take Kathryn’s side in this whole debate, while Cameran says they should treat Kathryn like a “wounded bird.” Nothing is gained from this heated chat, but we do eventually see everyone get into full vacation mode.

Landon declares herself queen of the beach. Shep finally arrives and immediately attacks the ocean like an eager cocker spaniel. It’s great.

‘Have at ye, Poseidon’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • ‘Have at ye, Poseidon’

Shep then shows up at Austen’s room with two beers he probably found in the ocean. He offers Austen a mea culpa following their last fallout. They settle their grievances, which Shep symbolizes by showing Austen the matching shirts he purchased for them. The shirts have huge fish on the back and they agree to wear them. It’s adorable.

Everyone then gets ready for the big dinner. It is very telling that the greatest challenge facing our cast is a large group dinner in Key West.

As everyone goes to catch the bus to dinner, we are introduced to Danni’s fiance, Todd. Apparently, we are all surprised that Todd was able to make it to the beach even though we don’t really know anything about Todd. He seems like a nice, normal guy, which means I want to send in Seal Team Six to rescue him from the shitshow that is about to ensue. Seriously, Todd probably has some interesting things to say about insulation and mortgage rates. Todd probably owns two movies: Mel Gibson’s The Patriot and Cannonball Run. Todd is the man you call when you need to fry a turkey. Please don’t include Todd among the casualties of this weird, passive aggressive dinner.

Todd represents the best in all of us - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • Todd represents the best in all of us

Arriving at the restaurant, everyone orders drinks. Fresh out of rehab, Kathryn decides she’ll order a margarita because she is “on vacation.” JD asks the waitress if they have his brand of bourbon because he manages to mention his bourbon brand in every single scene in which he appears. If you look closely at scenes in which JD doesn’t speak, you can see “Gentry Bourbon” written on his forehead.

To top it all off, Craig orders a beer glass of white wine. Get ready everybody. This is about to get bad.

Cameran kicks things off by turning down a shot from Thomas, informing him that she has to “prepare her body to get pregnant.” Sensing an opportunity to be disgusting, Thomas says Cameran should figure out when she is ovulating and have her husband “shoot it in ya at least three times.” Thomas is the posterboy for abstinence and locking yourself in a room away from all men.

Not to be outdone, Whitney asks what the odds are of Thomas and Kathryn hooking up again. Continuing his parade of assholery, Whitney explains that he’s been doing a lot of transcendental meditation, which has led him to the understanding that Landon and Kathryn should settle their differences. Tonight. During dinner.

She’s right. It is weird. - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
  • Bravo Screenshot
  • She’s right. It is weird.

Whitney grabs Landon by the arm, drags her across the restaurant, and deposits her next to Kathryn. Landon and Kathryn attempt to be civil and avoid a knock-down, drag-out, but Craig decides this moderate behavior isn’t real enough for a 33rd birthday party dinner in Key West.

Craig demands that these two grown women say what they hate most about each other because he believes this will settle things. Meanwhile, he rejects the notion that he can be in a relationship with someone who critiques him for sleeping past noon.

Danni tells Craig to remove himself from the situation because he’s not a woman, and everyone tells him that he’s ruining everything. Craig calls the rest of the group children for not fighting and returns to his seat. He has clearly won the day. Naomie asks that Craig chill out with trying to facilitate everyone’s personal growth, and he says if she continues to correct him they will need to separate for the evening.

Unfortunately, the bell cannot be unrung with this whole Landon and Kathryn thing. Landon begins to open up to Kathryn, saying that she believes that Thomas uses her as a weapon against Kathryn. Thomas is super hurt about this. His face registers betrayal. Either that or someone is shining a flashlight in his eyes. It’s difficult to tell with him sometimes.

Tears begin to well up in Landon’s eyes as she tells Kathryn she wants the best for her and that as women, “They are all they really have.” She punctuates this with the best hug ever.

As the cast assembles to set out for the rest of their evening, the camera quickly pans over to Todd. Good ol’ Todd’s been pretty quiet this evening. He’s probably just been thinking about which hammers are best and pontoon boats. Bless Todd and everything he stands for.

Jumping to the next morning, we find the gang gathered for breakfast. Everyone is beautifully hungover. They look like mannequins that someone rescued from a fire. We soon learn that Todd left for home first thing in the morning because Todd has never taken a day off work. And he’s had a full-time job since he was seven.

So I was mistaken in last week’s column when I wrote that this would be the final episode. We’ve got one more ahead of us, so join me next week as we see the thrilling conclusion to The Worst People to Go On Vacation With: The Series.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Ain’t that Tuff Enuff

Season 4, Episode 11

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 2:35 PM

Your face when you realize you hate everyone you know - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Your face when you realize you hate everyone you know

Like the last gasp of a gutshot fawn, the penultimate episode of this season of Southern Charm begins weakly with Shep cleaning his room, Austen loading the dishwasher, and Landon walking her dog. It feels as if everyone has forgotten that they are on a TV show. Pulling away from the miserable chore hour, we find Thomas meeting up with JD at an empty restaurant for a chat.

Dressed in what could best be described as a Prince-ton of purple, JD looks like the villain from a live-action Candy Land movie. He invites Thomas to enjoy some lunch as they catch up. Thomas replies that he just ate but will join him for a bite because — as you should know — Thomas’ life is one big lunch. This is why he so often wears the sleepy, yet uncomfortable expression of a man who ate too big a hoagie before succumbing to heat stroke.

‘Stick with me and we’ll make it through Molasses Swamp’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Stick with me and we’ll make it through Molasses Swamp’

Thomas says that he has decided to let Kathryn borrow their child for a modeling session. A lot of people may turn their nose at this parenting decision, but I say the earlier you introduce your child to the world of modeling the better. Some less-fortunate children have to wait until adolescence before they start questioning their appearance. Luckily for me, my parents would circle all my “unsightly areas” with red lipstick on the first day of school each year. I was given two options: I could finish my teacher’s reading list and win a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut or wear a trash bag during recess to sweat off all that so-called baby fat in time for swimsuit season.

Back to Thomas and JD’s lunch, we are soon treated to the greatest revelation in the show’s history. After Thomas tells JD that he and Landon are dating, we are treated to a flashback that show’s Landon discovering Thomas’ book of poetry. Thomas quickly grabs the book from Landon and refuses to speak on it anymore, but I think we all know what’s inside the book.

Thomas’ poems are most definitely handwritten pages containing every lyrics from The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ breakthrough 1986 album Tuff Enuff. Breaking out his finest calligraphy set, Thomas painstakingly rewrote Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson’s original lyrics: “I’d lay in a pile of burning money that I’ve earned and not even worry about getting burned. I’d climb the Empire State Building, fight Muhammad Ali. Just to have you baby close to me. Ain’t that tuff enuff?”

Hinting at an inner insecurity, Thomas will forever wonder if he is in fact “tuff enuff.”

‘Well I'm gonna treat you like the queen you are. Bring you sweet things from my candy jar’ - SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Well I'm gonna treat you like the queen you are. Bring you sweet things from my candy jar’

From there, we join Landon and her father as they meet to drive to an undisclosed location. Landon explains that ROAM — her travel website — was dealt a setback because she is legally prohibited from calling it ROAM. Yes, this is quite the dilemma. Fortunately, Landon has a backup plan that involves her opening a restaurant called Landon’s McDonald’s and they’ll screen unlicensed Disney movies in the back. Their slogan will be “It’s not your fault if it’s in the vault,” and their logo will be Iron Man telling you the McFlurry machine is being cleaned.

Arriving at an empty lot that closely resembles someone’s last-known whereabouts, Landon’s dad offers her the deal of a lifetime. He is planning to develop the land and asks Landon to oversee the project. The commission would be around $200,000, which is a fraction of what she would make if she sold Thomas’ book of poems.

Landon is reluctant at first, saying she had hoped to make a living off her website. Her father replies by saying that hope doesn’t pay bills before asking Landon to walk down a secluded dock with him.

On a totally unrelated note, has anyone else been in a situation when they thought their dad was about to murder them over a real estate deal? That seems like the worst. I mean, your parents have your entire life to learn your weaknesses and study your fighting style, while you only have a few brief father-son days at the fighting pits.

Four lots will hold a lot of bodies - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Four lots will hold a lot of bodies

Anyway, Landon echoes the theme of last week’s column, saying that accepting her father’s deal and marrying Thomas would be the easy way out, but it just feels like giving up. Like a young Daniel Plainview, Landon says she wants to bet on herself, and she wants everyone else to bet on her as well. That’s not exactly how gambling works, but I applaud the spirit.

Over at Shep’s, we find him reading and eating lunch. Cameran is shocked and slightly disturbed by this scene. Shep says he needs to move to the beach to create a buffer between himself and downtown life, which he feels is leading him down the wrong path.

Cameran then compares her and Shep’s situations in an effort to persuade him to pursue Chelsea, while simultaneously reaffirming her own decision to have a child. She says they both have a problem with being vulnerable. They are happy now, Cameran says, which completely undermines her life-changing decision to become a parent.

But Shep responds by saying that he isn’t happy. He wants to change.

Instead of sticking with this interesting personal struggle, we then skip over to watch Kathryn pick out clothes for the photoshoot. Chelsea and Cameran join and it is just an incredible nightmare.

As Kathryn is in the changing room, Chelsea tells Cameran that she should do a “sexy photoshoot” for her husband before she gets pregnant and her “body goes to shit.” This continues the trend in this week’s episode of people pointing out horrible things that we are all aware of. Everyone knows that hope doesn’t pay the bills and that the human body is subject to change over the course of a life. You don’t have to go around pointing out reality to people like you are imparting some great wisdom upon them. It doesn’t make you look intelligent. It just makes you look like a genius at being an asshole.

Despite all that, Cameran decides to invite Kathryn and Chelsea on her birthday trip to Key West — on a week’s notice. Everyone they know is coming along. That sounds horrible.

Moving along, we find Austen stopping by Chelsea’s salon to invite her to meet his parents over the weekend. She agrees but then confesses to an interaction she had with Shep the previous evening. As she and Austen were hanging out at a bar, Chelsea says Shep pulled her aside and tried multiple times to kiss her or something to that effect. Apparently Shep claimed they had plenty of chemistry — but let me tell you, chemistry is just a class between foreign language and math, so pardon my French, but that shit just doesn’t add up.

Austen is justifiably angry, totally unaware of the sick burn that I just wrote. It appears no turn of phrase can unturn the frayed ends of their friendship. Good thing Austen isn’t meeting Shep and the guys later for drinks. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what is happening.

Austen, Craig, Shep, and Whitney meet up, and the group almost immediately begins debating who is in the wrong in this love triangle. They seem like the type of table that would insist on shouting their server’s first name during every interaction.

‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’
‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’ - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • ‘I think our waitress is totally sweet on us. I should illegibly scribble my number on the bill.’

Confronted with his actions, Shep first says his move on Chelsea was simply “a test” to prove her loyalty to Austen or something because Shep is apparently the self-elected arbiter of faithfulness.

Craig then says that Shep attempted to canoodle Naomie when they were first introduced. Finally, Whitney interjects to say that Austen should have been more up front with the true nature of his and Chelsea’s relationship. It is at this moment that Shep recalls the events of earlier in the season, when he and Chelsea were socializing and Austen began to court Chelsea while he was out of town.

During this moment in the evening when most people would say, “Let’s all go away from each other,” our group of dudes decides the solution to the rift in the evening is finding a new bar. Not surprisingly, they walk through the doors of another bar and the argument continues. Austen reveals that Shep said he was too much of a poor to date Chelsea. Shep denies these claims before deciding to leave. Good thing all these guys aren’t going on a big trip together to Key West in a week.

Of course, there is no better way to follow this night of drunken in-fighting than a mother-daughter photoshoot. Thomas and Kathryn meet up along with their daughter for a nice modeling session. This all goes very well, and there is not really much to say about it, until it becomes time to leave. At this point, Kathryn’s daughter begins to cry when faced with the reality that she can’t spend any more time with her mother due to custody issues. I’m surprised that Chelsea or Landon’s dad don’t pop up at this moment to tell the sobbing child that tears won’t fix her family and childbirth could have ruined her mother’s body. Where’s that patented real talk when we need it the most?

Skipping ahead, it’s time for another horrible couples therapy session with Craig and Naomie. Craig opens things up by informing the therapist about a recent party where he was embarrassed by Naomie’s announcing to the other guests that he mistook “pescatarian” for “Episcopalian.” The flashback to this moment looks like some sort of cheesy murder mystery dinner party, but everyone is the killer. And the victim? Human decency.

It’s like Clue, but you all compete to be the victim - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • It’s like Clue, but you all compete to be the victim

Another point of disagreement is Craig sleeping the day away while Naomie is busy at work or studying. She calls this “loser behavior,” but Craig says he stays up late because he is “trading offshore markets.” This should serve as the perfect excuse for the next time you’re late to work or miss your child’s recital. A master overseas trader, Craig violently rips off his shirt in the middle of their therapy session to reveal a tattoo that reads, “There’s no time to sleep when the yen is weak.”

After an earlier meeting with Chelsea, Cameran decides it’s time to set Shep straight about his recent behavior. Joining each other on a dock, Shep confesses to Cameran that he did try to kiss Chelsea, which leads Cameran to ask if he can calm “that primal urge” in any way — this coming from the woman who commissioned a love doll fueled by the most ancient magics to secure Shep a woman.

Cameran then explains male entitlement to Shep. This concept proves so novel and confounding that the planets cease to spin. A tired sun hangs low in the sky, casting shadows that stretch far across the land. The flowers fortunate enough to have escaped the neverending shade whither before disintegrating and returning to bloom. Unstuck from time, Death looks to find who has escaped its exquisite trap. There, seated at the end of a lone dock remain Cameran and Shep, unmoored from the rest of reality and debating Derrida’s politics of sexual difference.

Will the natural order be restored before next week’s episode? Tune in to find out.

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