Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Soft openings for everyone

Season 5, Episode 6


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  • Brought to you by Terrible Phone Faces

Welcome back for another recap of Southern Charm, which is like the game Clue. But the only mystery is who is the grossest human being imaginable.

In a surprise twist, this week's episode begins with the trill of a cellphone only to be followed by the voice of Cameran's husband, Jason. Up to this point, he has done a remarkable job of not really appearing on the show, which is the nicest compliment I can pay someone. It seems with this partial appearance that Jason has negotiated his way to just being the Charlie to Cameran's Angels and appear as nothing more than a voice on the other end of the line.

Fresh from a doctor's visit, Cameran informs her husband that she has a very "stubborn cervix" and doctors may decide to induce labor next week. A stubborn cervix is a complex medical diagnosis not to be confused with an "obstinate uterus" or "recalcitrant vulva."

Cameran then reminds her husband not to be one of "these guys" who say "We are in labor," while their partners are heaving a child out of their bodies. Good note, Cameran. If you ever hear a man say something like that, ask to see his episiotomy scar and chapped nipples.

Moving on from one woman driving around on the phone to another woman driving around on the phone, we find Kathryn calling up the owner of a fancy department store to ask for a job. Listing her qualifications, she adds that she has shopped in their store a lot. This is like saying you would make an excellent doctor because you are sick constantly.

"Hello ma'am, what qualifies you to be a dentist?"

"Well, I have more teeth than the average human being. A troubling amount more. I can floss with a comb."

Anyway, the store owner, who has known Kathryn for quite some time, eventually agrees to a meeting to discuss her occupational future. I like how Kathryn's job hunt doesn't include looking for businesses that are actually hiring. It's like calling up Disney and asking to make the next Avengers movie because you enjoy the taste of popcorn.

‘Hire Me!’ as I drive with no hands on the steering wheel - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Hire Me!’ as I drive with no hands on the steering wheel

Next we see Naomie visiting her father at the site of his future restaurant. They immediately launch right into a lot of French. And let me tell you, it is bon as hell. I would love for more shows to shift wildly from one language to the next. Sure, Naomie and her dad are just discussing moving a table, but it sounds like they are talking about moving a French table – which is, let me check, une table. Hmm. I was hoping that would be a bit more exotic, but it's not. It's just the same word pronounced in cursive or whatever.

Anyway, Naomie and her dad have a little tête-à-tête to discuss the upcoming soft open of the new restaurant, which in French would be called a … dammit, it's restaurant. Are languages even different anymore? Did the Tower of Babel mean nothing?

Moving on, we join Craig and Austen for a few beers. They begin to discuss Naomie's full-on verbal attack on Peyton from last episode. Craig seems relieved to not be at the center of the whole Naomie storm for once. Then the show does that thing where they cut between two separate conversations where all those involved are discussing the same topic. In this case, we get a whole Rashomon take on what went down between Naomie and Peyton during last week's Halloween Party. Austen paints Naomie as an unhinged madwoman and Peyton as an innocent newcomer. Naomie on the other hand, tells her father that she was simply trying to protect her friends from being taken advantage of by Peyton, although Naomie does admit that she said some very mean things.

Naomie's dad responds by saying that life is about "being nice to everybody," which is a very nice thing to say, but also wrong.

Offering up a sharper piece of insight, Naomie's dad asks if her animosity toward Peyton is actually misdirected feelings that she has regarding her breakup with Craig. His final piece of advice is to apologize. Oh those French, they sure know the ways of the heart.

Back with Craig and Austen, they too feel that Naomie should apologize. Then out of nowhere, Austen's phone rings and it's Naomie.

Spit take. W-w-w-w-what?! This is a roller-coaster of emotional resolutions. First, we learn that Austen, Craig, and Naomie are directly across the street from each other. Then Naomie apologies and invites Austen and Naomie to the restaurant opening. Let me just tell you right now, this seems like it's going to blow up in everyone's faces, but our characters find another, more unexpected way, to look like asses at a formal gathering.

Continuing on the Austen track, we follow him into the Upstate to chase his dreams of making his own beer. Instead of actually crafting his own beer and making it in his garage, Austen decides to pay someone who knows what they're doing to do all the work for him. This is great because we get to meet with Brewmaster Thomas. Brewmaster Thomas seems real salt of the Earth. He's never met an old coffee can he didn't fill with bolts and screws. Brewmaster Thomas has a crisp $5 bill for you for your graduation. He did not waste time shopping for a card. Brewmaster Thomas has only ever killed out of necessity he says as he squints into the campfire, a lifetime of mistakes and second guesses written across his face.

Not to call out Brewmaster Thomas and the boys, but that is a well-stocked pill shelf in the background - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
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  • Not to call out Brewmaster Thomas and the boys, but that is a well-stocked pill shelf in the background

Austen explains that his vision for a beer involves passion fruit and grapefruit — the two least accurately named fruits in existence. I can see the ad campaign for Austen Beer now: "Did you just brush your teeth? Then keep stepping." This is followed by the tagline: "Austen Beer. The second beer you should drink, first thing in the morning."

Austen then asks how much it will cost to brew his tart-ass beer. I was expecting this to be the deal-breaker portion of the episode, but Brewmaster Thomas says he can brew a test batch for $400. That's surprisingly affordable. Or at least, it's within the realm of possibility. I personally don't have $400. But I've heard of $400. I've heard of it.

Hopping back to Charleston, we join Shep and Cameran as they drive to lunch. Cameran asks if they can take a spin down "Labor Lane." I've never heard of this and neither has Shep. Luckily, Cameran is willing to explain that Labor Lane is actually a cobblestone street in downtown Charleston — officially known as Chalmers Street — that pregnant women in the 1800s would ride down to induce labor. And of course, where better to look to for medical advice than the 1800s.

Following orders, Shep careens recklessly down this historic thoroughfare as Cameran screams that she has peed herself. Ever the gentleman, Shep hands Cameran some napkins with which to clean herself up. All in all, this was a delightful scene. We could really use a show that incorporates old wives tales with someone soiling themselves. It could be called Pisstory and I could host it because I really need this job.

Continuing the theme of future plans, Craig drops by Patricia's house to discuss a possible business venture. This conversation begins with Patricia saying the wealthiest sounding thing I've ever heard — "I talked to the people who run my company" — followed by the most absurd thing I've ever heard — "We do high-end products covered in dogs and cats."

Patricia then offers to mass produce a pillow of Craig's design. Craig sees this as his big break, and it is. But also not really a big break he needs. Craig is doing alright. This just reminds me of the awkward brand of charity that exists on this show. Like, I wouldn't be surprised if the cast of Southern Charm donated a bunch of designer key holders to the homeless.

This is not what real life looks like - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
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  • This is not what real life looks like

To set the ticking clock, Craig has two weeks to design prototypes of a dog or cat pillow. He begins to brainstorm, suggesting "partying dogs" (Spuds MacKenzie) but not a party involving alcohol (Not Spuds MacKenzie). Craig then proceeds to quickly stumble over his words as he describes his vision of a "cheeky" Palm Beach party scene involving dogs who are just "living their life." This, as compared to all those business-minded, workaday dogs that line Wall Street, anxiously barking into their hands-free headsets about the strength of the Yen.

Leading up to Kathryn's big job interview, she dresses in an all-black suit and reminds us that she hasn't had a job interview since she was in college. Unfortunately, I am not around to share some of my business pointers on how to nail a job interview.

First, maintain constant, unblinking eye contact the entire time. Second, spit in your palm before it's time to shake hands. When your future boss says, "Your hands are, umm, moist," you reply, "Yeah, well you know where I'm not wet? Behind the ears. I'm savvy and here to save you and your failing business from going to pot to complete idiot."

By this point, you've established control of the room. You've also covered the interviewer in a substantial amount of your DNA. Next, after faking your own death and framing the interviewer for your murder, you walk right into your new office the following morning with a completely new appearance. If anyone asks who you are, quickly reply that you're the new manager from district headquarters. And you're gonna shake things up around here. With that, you've Gone Girl'd your way into a new career.

‘Job. For me. Yes?’ - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
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  • ‘Job. For me. Yes?’

Kathryn does none of this during her job interview, instead choosing to clumsily stutter through a series of non-answers. Asked how she would handle stress, Kathryn mumbles that she "Doesn't know how to describe it" and dashes away for a glass of water. This is less than good. Of course, the best answer to this question is to ask the boss "How do you respond to stress?" as you drive a letter opener into your thigh. Again, it's vital that you maintain eye contact.

After taking a moment to gather herself, Kathryn is told that she'll hear from the department store owner soon. This means that she totally won't.

Skipping ahead, we get our first real scene with Thomas this episode. As Thomas is currently facing dual allegations of sexual assault, I kind of assumed that the production company would have made a few last-minute edits to exorcise him from this episode. Instead, we get an awkward conversation regarding trick-or-treating plans for Thomas and Kathryn's kids. This is not fun for anyone. Moving on.

Everyone slowly arrives as the soft opening of Naomie's dad's restaurant. This is rather boring, until Thomas responds to a simple compliment with a vile cultural lesson.

Kathryn says she likes Thomas' pocket square. He says in France, large pocket square were once indicative of men who had grown unsatisfied with their wives and taken other lovers. The large handkerchiefs, Thomas explains, would then be used to clean up after extramarital sex. Thomas then laughs the laugh of a toilet backing up, and we are left to wonder when all joy left the world.

A normal, human laugh - BRAVO SCREENSHOT
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  • A normal, human laugh

Chelsea then arrives and immediately tries to start a fight between Austen and Shep, who are both hounding over her. Chelsea soon voices her displeasure that Austen is not willing to aggressively confront Shep at the formal opening of his friend's family's restaurant. Chelsea can also be found asking to borrow money at funerals and calling babies fat at their christening. I'm sorry, but I don't think you can goad everyone who likes you into behaving like toxic idiots toward each other, but then act surprised when that same negativity brushes off on you. That's like demanding a lover who is full of mystery and then asking for the passcode to their phone.

Providing another distraction, Peyton arrives and all the single men swoon. Naomie swallows her pride and some mixture of yellow cocktail and pulls Peyton aside to apologize. They bury the hatchet, acknowledging that women are super mean to each other. This is super true.

Seriously, I don't know why this is, but women can often name at least one specific work nemesis and it is always another woman. I have seen a woman legally change her first name because she didn't want to share a name with "Supervisor Cheryl."

As I watch this scene of Southern Charm, all I can think is "How can you hate another person so much when Thomas Ravenel is in the world?" He seems like the type of guy who lingers around mall food courts hoping to catch a glimpse of women breastfeeding. Thomas has a complete collection of those Big Johnson T-shirts that were popular in the 90s all in mint condition. Thomas Ravenel seems like the type of guy who has stopped telling many jokes because someone unexpectedly entered the room.

With our entire cast of characters sitting down to dinner, Austen takes the opportunity to bend Whitney's ear over his misgivings with Shep. Whitney, completely prepared to watch the world burn, says they might as well bring Shep over to hear this for himself. Whitney gives absolutely zero shits about all this, which may indicate that his time on our planet is coming to an end.

Shep and Austen quickly hash things out like adults, but Chelsea is disappointed that they didn't bare-knuckle box in a dirt parking lot or something. She voices her displeasure to the camera before Austen walks up to her seat and suggests they both leave together. To make this worse, he stands over her with his hands on her shoulders. Not to be the body language police, but maybe don't settle yourself on someone's shoulders from behind like a vulture before telling them that you should both leave together.

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  • ‘Love me!’

Chelsea immediately turns Austen down because she apparently only wants an angry bully who is only nice to her. Austen slinks back to his seat because he just wants, I don't know, a warm socket with the ability to consent. If only he could entice Chelsea with $400 worth of disgusting beer. Maybe that's what we'll find next episode.

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