Hello everyone. Welcome to another season of Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie.
Yes, much like the widely celebrated return of the Applebee's Dollarita, Southern Charm is back – and with it, our weekly recaps detailing the lives of Charleston's reality TV stars.
For those unfamiliar, Southern Charm is like Ready Player One for people who are only nostalgic for Gone With the Wind and the last fight they saw in the women's room of a nightclub. As we've done in the past, I'd first like to address a concern that grows with each additional season of the show.
Every year it becomes more and more apparent that we did not really think through the name of this column. After a few seasons of writing about Southern Charm, it's probably safe to say that I am no longer the fresh-faced “newbie” that I was when I began. Honestly, I did not envision the column lasting this long. I assumed that I would have passed away long ago — either collapsing under the weight of my own genius or tripping on a mall escalator and falling forever.
Regardless, myself and Southern Charm continue to ramble on, in spite of better wisdom.
So let's welcome all of those who may be watching for the first time or have just discovered this column. Speaking from my own experience, it may all seem strange at first — Southern Charm is equal parts Rhett Butler and Brett Butler. From the drunken arguments about lavish theme parties to the drunken argument-themed parties, it can be unsettling. But please allow me to sherpa you through this season. Hopefully we can have some fun. Now onto the show.
The episode begins with shots of a formal Christmas gala. Everyone is dressed in their holiday best and just getting sloshed to celebrate the birth of their lord. Cut to outside where we find an irate Kathryn shouting at her ex, Thomas, and his new girlfriend, Ashley. Welcome to the show, Ashley. What a terrible decision you've made.
Kathryn calls Ashley a gold digger. Not playing games, Ashley counters by challenging Kathryn's role as a parent for her and Thomas' children, simply calling Kathryn a “baby's momma.” Cool. It would seem that things haven't changed too much in the land of Southern Charm, but then we are greeted with a title card that reads “Three Months Earlier.”
After time-traveling, we see a nice montage of the cast in their natural environs. Cameran is pregnant as shit. She comments that a fortune teller predicted her pregnancy, bringing the score to Fortune tellers: 1, Common-Sense/Happenstance: A million.
After seeing Shep pick up chicken in a fast-food drive thru and Patricia struggle to raise a massive diamond ring — both equally mundane, everyday tasks — we find Kathryn in her new apartment, lighting some sort of ceremonial incense to chase out Dementors or whatever. I'm glad to see that the cast of Southern Charm is keeping the local purveyors of the mystic arts in business.
Back at Cameran's, we see the arrival of Shep, fast-food in hand. I've been watching this show for three seasons or so, and I can honestly say that this fried chicken arc is the most rewarding set-up and pay-off in series history. Chekhov would be proud.
Shep then describes his recent reality dating show, RelationShep, during which he traveled the country to find the woman of his dreams. And like a dream, his new romance ended when he woke up the next morning.
Seriously though, RelationShep ended with Shep flying to New York City to surprise this woman, and they break things off after five nights. She doesn't even stick around long enough to appear on the follow-up season of Southern Charm? This is like when they unceremoniously wrote Richie Cunningham's older brother off of Happy Days. At least have this woman walk into frame, say she's going back to her home planet, and be done with it.
Anyway, Cameran tells Shep to date women his own age, and it is revealed that it's Shep's birthday. Cameran says they should throw a party in his new beach house. Bound by ancient magicks, anytime a cast member of Southern Charm utters the word “party,” everyone within earshot is compelled to dedicate every waking moment to making that party happen. Shep seems reluctant at first, but you know a party is on the way.Back at Kathryn's apartment, now free of poltergeists, a woman I don't recognize arrives. Oh, and she brought a small dog. Awesome. Nothing is better than when a guest arrives at your new apartment with a puppy. Otherwise you’d wonder how best to lose your cleaning deposit.
Kathryn shows off a massive bruise on her forearms, explaining that Thomas had recently ordered another drug test. As per their custody agreement, Kathryn complied. But who drew the blood and left behind such a nasty bruise. Did Thomas do it himself with a mechanical vise and a corkscrew?
Over at Thomas' new home — I hope you're noticing a trend here — we learn that he moved out of his former estate to a place “more conducive” for raising kids. It is probably easier to keep an eye on your children when they aren't hiding inside grandfather clocks and getting lost in secret passageways behind the revolving bookcase. Good move, Thomas.
We then find Naomie meeting Chelsea at her salon for a hair appointment. Like everyone else on this show, Naomie is also in a new house now that she and Craig broke up. Damn. Apparently Charleston's housing market is completely supported by the cast of Southern Charm.
Hauling boxes into his new place, we see that Craig is moving in with his buddy Shawn. I imagine that conversation went a lot like this:
“Hey Shawn, we should get a place together.”
“OK, Craig. That sounds fun.”
“Swell. Oh, by the way, I have a cat. I maniacally operate a sewing machine throughout the night, and there will be a full television crew around at all times. Good talk.”
But things are good for now in the new bachelor pad. Craig suggests that it is time for a beer, and Shawn is Johnny-on-the-Spot, unsealing an entire box of beer koozies. This is pretty cool, and Shawn seems like a nice guy, but what if all the boxes are full of beer koozies. Like, dozens and dozens of boxes filled to the brim with koozies. It seems unlikely, but in Charleston it is within the realm of possibility.
The episode then skips between Chelsea's conversation with Naomie and Shep's talk with Austen. Chelsea and Austen have ended their relationship as well, and Austen even quit his job. Reveling in his newfound unemployment, Austen asks how people with 9-to-5 jobs get anything done. That's a great question, Austen. It really points out the absurdity of the capitalist system in a way that smarter, more well-informed questions simply cannot. Well done.
Continuing this never-ending compilation of one-on-one visits, we then find Shep meeting up with Whitney. I still contend that Whitney is from outer space, basing his entire personality on '80s movies and Buzzfeed quizzes. For evidence, he is dressed in a bright red B-boy tracksuit when he meets Shep. Since Whitney is not a Ukrainian hitman or a cast member of Breakin', I can only assume that he is an extraterrestrial.
The best part of Whitney's exchange with Shep is that we learn that Whitney's mother, Patricia, has what he describes as a “gentleman caller.” This is simply perfect.
Flashing back to an exchange with Patricia, we see her show off that softball-sized promise ring from her new suitor. Patricia refers to this mystery man as “Mr. C,” which I can only assume is the codename for the Monopoly guy.
Reinforcing their ancient pact, Whitney then convinces Shep to throw a massive party at Shep's home. They decide to have Craig handle the menu. All the wheels are in motion.
Jumping back to Thomas, we find him stopping by J.D.'s guest house, where J.D. now lives after his restaurant went under due to unpaid rent and he separated from his wife. J.D. does the John Cena “You Can't See Me” hand wave in front of his face to show off his lack of a wedding ring.
The incredible thing about this episode is that everyone's lives have fallen apart to some degree, yet they all live someplace nice and eat in restaurants. Can you even imagine that level of security? Just consider for a moment where you would be if your job was gone and your significant other broke things off. Would you be in your own guesthouse? The mind reels.
Anyway, with a party approaching, Craig buys a metric ton of meat for Shep's party and preparations are underway. Teams of people bring in tables, outdoor carpet, and a legit bar. Frozen in confusion in front of a massive grill, Shep and Craig fall into a Vaudeville routine about how best to light the damn thing. Flash forward, they stand partially victorious before the lapping flames, their eyebrows burned away, their faces covered in soot like two cartoon chimney sweeps.
Craig Googles “how to cook ribs” as Shep begins to question his status as a grill master. It'll be great to see scores of guests slowly succumb to food poisoning in Shep's backyard.
Over at Naomie's house, Chelsea, Danni, and Kathryn arrive to form some new iteration of the Ex-Wives Club. As the wine flows, Kathryn reveals that Shep made her shower before they had intercourse many years ago as to not get spray tan all over his bed sheets. Everyone pauses, waiting to see if this arrangement of words is enough to bring reality crashing down upon them. It does not. And all hope is lost.
Back at the grill, Shep and Craig have commandeered a friendly bartender to assist with preparing the meats. Craig soon begins to bicker with Austen and Shep. Trapped between warring pals, the bartender opens the lid of the grill and slowly crawls in, hoping that the cleansing fire may provide an escape.
“Are you supposed to be in there?” Shep asks.
“Yes. It is better this way,” the bartender politely responds.
Returning to Naomie's, we find all four women aggressively repeating “It'll be a fun night,” which is the best indication that it will not. Kathryn is set to meet Thomas' new lady for the first time. Chelsea will face Austen, and Naomie will see Craig.
Things end on a cliffhanger as the cast is shown departing for Shep's party. Will Kathryn get along with Thomas' new gal? Will Austen and Chelsea patch things up? Will everyone die from botulism? Tune back in next week to find out.