Well. Never say that the voices of many cannot effect change – at least as it concerns reality television recaps.
As some of you may know, for the past few seasons of writing about Southern Charm, I've never once touched on the reunion episodes that punctuate each season. This is partly because our network overlords don't always provide media previews for the reunion episodes, which leaves me with only a few less-than-legal options to view the show.
Another reason is because I don't really know what happens during these reunions. I've never seen one beyond a few brief clips shown during the regular season. But now that so many of you have spoken up, asking that we follow this season to the bitterest of ends, I can't help but oblige. After all, this is in the original spirit of this column. So what I'm gonna do is toss out a few predictions and we go along and see what comes true.Welcome back. It's like we never left.
To start things off, the episode begins a little in medias res as the cast of Southern Charm arrives in what appears to be New York City, which you may recognize from all those Marvel movies. Anyway, Craig, Shep, and Austen step out of their cabs. Hey, Shep has a beard. That's different. I can see why people stick around for these reunion episodes. Shep with a beard. But this brings me to my first question: How much time has passed since the season finale?
Does Shep hibernate each off-season, only to emerge for a brief reunion taping – his hair long and unkempt, his long fingernails dragging the pavement?
Anyway, we get a little behind-the-scenes peek as everyone prepares for the show. Craig folds pillowcases. Austen feeds Shep a sausage. And Cameran says she's excited to see sparks fly between Kathryn and Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley. And in case you haven't noticed, I will always refer to Ashley as "Thomas' new girlfriend Ashley." Check back through everything I wrote this season. It's always there.
Jumping ahead, we find most of the cast gathered on stage. Naomie says she would drink piss if there were alcohol in it. What's the major hold up? The host – Andrew Cone? Cohen? Andy Clone? – says that Kathryn's breast are gumming up the works.
Hard cut to Kathryn backstage wearing a lovely "outfit" that is struggling to "fit her outs" if you know what I mean.
With that in mind, we get a bunch of quick cuts that inform us that Austen doesn't pay on dates, Shep doesn't always use protection, and Cameran thinks Ashley is a horrible human being for her treatment of Kathryn. Then, we get a dramatic montage of Ashley entering the building.
This brings me to my second question: Is the cast being allowed to drink? Is it like the old school Hollywood Squares, where someone goes for "O" on a clearly soused Paul Lynde? I can't wait to find out.With that said, host Andy Cone looks into the camera and announced that the reunion is ready to begin. Oh shit. We're just getting started.
Our silver-haired host decides to serve from the left, first commenting that Kathryn's breasts look bigger, then asking Craig how he's doing and saying he wants a pillow so bad. Andy Cone eventually works his way around to Shep, who with his beard resembles a schlubby Errol Flynn. At this point, I realize that my actor references are slowly working backwards and I should bury myself in the TCM vault (beside all known copies of Angus.)
Reaching Austen, who is wearing his "take me seriously glasses," our host asks if he brought some beer. Between Craig's pillows and Austen's beer, Andy Cone is walking away with plenty of things he doesn't really want.
At the four-minute mark, we finally address the elephant not in the room – Thomas Ravenel. His absence is highlighted by a statement from his attorney, remarking on the pending investigation against Ravenel. All I can say is that there has never been an absence more welcome than that of Thomas Ravenel's. I can see Thomas' grade-school teachers telling him it's OK to take a break as they push him out of the classroom with a pack of cigarettes. Thomas Ravenel is so unwanted that he can't even get called for jury duty. Security cameras prefer to look the other way. If my hand rotted off, I would punch myself in the face with my nub forever to avoid looking at Thomas Ravenel.
The cast then weighs in, with Shep saying that Thomas is super cool and funny about 90 percent of the time. I guess, the other 10 percent is when he's alone with a woman.
Building on that, Andy Cone inquires about the strong theme of woman power or whatever that ran throughout this season. Craig rolls his eyes, saying that women speaking up for themselves wasn't necessary because they all dated "great guys" and then turned into "assholes." He says this immediately after his close friend's absence was excused due to a pending investigation.
With that said, I'm going to skip ahead while the cast rehashes a few events from last season and touch on something that popped up in this reunion special. At one point, the host begins his statement by saying "Linda from Pittsburgh said..." What fresh hell is this? Is Andy just going to read the internet to us while the cast trades misgivings? Is that what these reunions are about? With this in mind, the only reunions that I've participated in involve locking up everything you don't want stolen and serving beans to your albino cousins.
Back to the episode, we hear a lengthy discussion about JD, who is like a Lowcountry version of Captain Planet villain Hoggish Greedly. JD is the type of guy who begins to sputter when he laughs. He's a parking lot fireworks salesman with delusions of grandeur. Beyond that, I don't know what to say.
At this point in the episode, we've seen multiple hype packages building up Ashley like she's Chris Jericho or something. One of these involves a very professional woman backstage asking how Ashley wants her hair arranged and Ashley responding by saying "I've been known to do this thing. This hair-flipping thing."
No, Ashley. That's decidedly not what you've been known to do. Don't try to build some myth about all your nonsense.
Next we get a long line of questions about Cameran's pregnancy and childbirth. Apparently Cameran tweeted a comment about deciding to stop breastfeeding, which drew a lot of negative comments. It's at this point that Craig responds by saying, "I'm a formula baby." Hell yeah, Craig. Similac. I hear you.
The host then asks if the expectation of being a "perfect mom" is greater in Charleston. Cameran and Kathryn quickly expand that to the entire South, which may be true on a personal level, but overall children and mothers are treated pretty poorly in the South. A quick look at prenatal health services, postpartum care, and all the rest will show you that most Southerners prefer to yell at you for using the wrong type of mayonnaise than ensure your child has been inoculated and fed vegetables.
Finally, 20 minutes into the episode, we reach the biggest question of the season: What happened with Craig and the butterknife?
As Craig explains it, he had a whole slew of folks over one night and let them rage at the wall in his home that he hoped to remove. Feeling the bloodlust in the air, Craig stabbed at his wall with a butterknife and now his hand is curled up like the monkey's paw after you've made your first wish.
Craig explains that he is now a licensed attorney doing a lot of pro bono work. This makes sense because Craig is exactly the attorney I would choose if I had no other choice.
After Craig's heterosexuality is challenged, he suggests crafting a pillow that says, "Straight guys can sew too," which is great. Andy counters with "Real men watch Bravo," and with that, toxic masculinity has been conquered. Now all men – gay, straight, trans, and beyond – can just pursue whatever pointless nonsense we wish without fear of feeling we should make an angry face when another guy looks at us. Because if there is anything that unites all men, it's an extreme dedication to dumb shit like the Thundercats, antiquated cars, or sport.
After a long debate over whether or not Naomie is dating someone new, the conversation veers back to Craig's life coach and his incredible ability to lie. Displaying what does not pass as self-awareness, Craig says that he was always referring to his amazing ability to lie to himself, to delude himself, to convince himself "Yes, you are better at pillows than Dustin, the guy who writes that column you've never read. He could never conquer the dog pillow world single-handedly." "What a deluded fool," I say as I repeatedly try to post my own biography to Wikipedia.
Then there is a really long conversation about Naomie getting a nosejob, which I never noticed and is none of my business. What is my business is the conversation about sharing locations on you and your partner's phone. This became a point of contention with Craig and Naomie this season, but let me tell you, it is the best. I track my wife everywhere. Of course, she can also see my location, but everyone else I know makes it much easier. Simply by using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I can track their locations, as well as what they order at restaurants and the last cutest thing their dogs did. Shep exemplifies the purest sense of this, saying, "If you want to know where I am, come join me. I'll buy you a beer and a shot."
Oh, and where is Ashley? Is she just waiting in the wings like the Phantom of the Opera? Do they not have another chair for her? Is the production team convinced that she and everyone else will be rendered unable to discuss another topic in her presence? Yes. That is it.I am guessing that this episode will end with Ashley entering the set and everything cutting to black as the rest of the cast huffs and puffs.
Before that can happen, the best piece of news is that Kathryn has finally gotten a new phone after expertly cracking the shit out of her old phone screen. I would love to hear an in-depth dive regarding Kathryn's phone screen, but no one cares about my feelings.
After fielding online questions from online randos like "Mark from New Mexico," Kathryn says that she's finally worked her way to joint custody with her children. Asked why she seemed to get along much better with Thomas this season, Kathryn attributes this to being "numb" to a lot of his actions. You know? Being numb to it all? That perfectly healthy thing. But Craig's right about women these days being assholes. Well done, Craig.
With all this said, Kathryn says she hasn't spoken to Ashley since the season finale which was either a few weeks, months, or 1,000 years ago. Time means nothing anymore watching this show.
At this point, I expect Ashley to leap out from behind the curtain like some sort of creeper, but that doesn't happen. Instead, everyone breaks into tears as they describe how Thomas victimized Kathryn and gaslighted them all. I don't have anything funny to say about that. It seems pretty serious and catalyzes into a whole different thing. I wish that someone would have – I don't know – farted while all this was going on, but instead we just have to contend with a purely human moment. Full of sentiment. Without any farts. "Fartless," as Wordsworth would say. Pure poetry.
So here's the thing, remember how I thought there would be some sort of stinger at the end of this episode involving Ashley? Well, that didn't even happen. Instead they replayed the clip of Cameran calling Ashley inhuman that we saw earlier. That's, ummm, bad. And it makes me wonder where Ashley is. She may be a terrible person, but what have you done with her Andy Cone?! It's not up to you and your henchmen to be the law.
We’ll see how this all wraps up next week. I guess. Unless they conjure some new fresh hell for us all to wade through until the fall.