Confessions of a Southern Charm Newbie: Sungazing and Shep's sperm count

Season six, episode 1

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Hey everybody. I’m back. You’re back. We are all, thankfully, in this together. It’s been quite an interesting time since we last left off with Southern Charm. I know I am grateful for this new season to start back, if only so I can empty out my notebook full of jokes — or as I like to call it, my Drollskine.

Bam! Right out the gate, we’ve still got it.

Anyway, while it’s been almost a year since my last Southern Charm column, some things haven’t changed. The world is still kind of ending, so there’s that, but the real ruckus seems to be more focused on how everybody feels about this last season of Game of Thrones. Lots of feelings there, but coupled with my experience with Southern Charm criticisms and professional wrestling reviews, I’ve developed a new system for evaluating the entertainment we allow into our lives in a time when the world is burning. Allow me to introduce — the Sungaze Test.

To understand sungazing, the actual practice of staring directly into the sun for extended periods of time, you have to understand the work of William Horatio Bates. As an eye-care physician around the turn of the century, Bates believed that glasses were unnecessary. Instead, he developed the Bates Method for improving vision. A key exercise in the Bates Method was “sunning” the eyes, or gradually exposing the eyes to more and more direct sunlight in an effort promised to improve eyesight.

Though largely debunked throughout the 1900s, a lot of people today still believe they can improve their vision by staring into the sun. Just looking right at it. And this brings me back to my theory of the Sungaze Test as it relates to television during the end times: You should feel OK with staring at whatever you want in your free time, as long as it isn’t (A) slowly killing you, while (B) lying about making you better.

Despite their faults, Southern Charm, Game of Thrones, or hundreds of other shows that draw so much ire don’t really claim to improve you as a person if you watch. Hell, if you’re going to complain about anything, save your vitriol for those old Mrs. Cleo commercials, Goop, and any “news network” actively ending civilization.

Now let’s get into this season premiere. It’s good to have you back.

Right off the bat, we pick up with the morning of Thomas Ravenel’s arrest. We see clips of our Charleston pals Harve Jacobs and Quintin Washington as they relay the news of the day. This got a real pop out of me. I can personally say that Harve and Quintin are great people. Cool to see them here.

We all see that purple nail, man. What’s the story with that? - BRAVO TV SCREENCAP
  • Bravo TV screencap
  • We all see that purple nail, man. What’s the story with that?
I’m glad the show has decided to steer directly into the charges against Thomas simply because to do otherwise would be disgusting. So we hop around to gather all our well-known cast members' reactions to the news of Thomas’ arrest. For some reason, everyone is aghast that the show’s vulgar, boat-drunk uncle has been accused of sexual assault.

“Yeah, everything he ever said, the way he carried himself and treated others were red flags, but you know, he wore belts and had little horses embroidered on all his clothes. I thought all that cancelled out,” said nobody.

Our voice of reason, Cameran, makes what is probably the smartest decision, announcing she won’t discuss Thomas because she doesn’t want to get sued. Also, wouldn’t it be funny if they recast Cameran’s baby as an 18-year-old this season and no one on the show mentioned it? Let’s run with that.

Over at Craig’s, we find he has set up a nice home office, but also one of his fingernails is painted purple. I like that he seems to have his act together and all that, but I’m gonna need to know the story about that nail.

Fair to accurate. - BRAVO TV SCREENCAP
  • Bravo TV screencap
  • Fair to accurate.

Jumping over to Patricia’s, she responds in true form, using her landline to call another room to order a martini and arranging a dinner party. Don’t ever think there won’t be a dinner party with these people.

Moving on, Kathryn is still recovering from a recent encounter with Thomas. They crossed paths, and she is forlorn that the birth-eyed ex-con she met five years ago has suddenly had his mugshot plastered all over town. This is an incredible take on the situation, because in every way perceivable, Thomas has aged like a gas station wine. If he was flea market underwear when they met, he’s a duct-taped diaper now.

Next, Cameran makes a brief visit to Craig’s house. When last we left Craig, both his personal and professional life were in tatters, as well as his home, which he had injured himself destroying. Seriously, the symbolism of Craig physically dissembling his house as his life fell apart was so heavy handed that even the rat at the end of The Departed thought it was a little too much.

But, while I assumed that Craig would be eating only raw meat and following a regimen of “height exercises” he found online to get taller, he’s actually built quite a nest for himself. Cameran, a new mother fighting to maintain the high standards of her career expectations, commends Craig on his house not looking like utter shit. To put this in perspective, Cameran is exhausted from the strains of raising a child and work, while Craig has spent the past few months in the Bahamas hacking at coconuts with a machete and now gets praised for having pillows.

“Wait, you made a person in your body, heaved it out of yourself, and now you have to teach it how to be human?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t frame the Boondock Saints posters that were formerly taped up on my walls. You are adulting well.”

While all this is going on, we cut to Naomie, who has moved on from Craig by finding a new, hot, gym boyfriend named Metul, the Sexy Anesthesiologist. That’s really the dream right, an attractive man who can put you in a manageable coma.

I’m steamed, pressed, and cleaned with these two’s interaction. - BRAVO TV SCREENCAP
  • Bravo TV screencap
  • I’m steamed, pressed, and cleaned with these two’s interaction.

The next scene focuses on Chelsea as she buys a surfbort. Suddenly a wild Shep appears, like this isn’t a TV show and they didn’t know he was around.

Anyway, they talk about how Austen’s new girlfriend Madison posted a video that apparently showed him cheating on her, but they are still together. Madison is shown to have an incredible insight into what is happening on the show. Later it is revealed that she is Patricia’s stylist, which is basically makes you Master of Whispers in the Southern Charm Extended Universe (SCEU).

That finally brings us to the big night of the dinner party. Whitney has recently returned from the Alps or whatever the hell he’s been doing. I imagine it was mostly making other people watch him play the electric guitar in whatever minimalist place he’s rented. Whitney really has that “your friend’s new stepdad” feel to him. Like he’s cool with you drinking underage as long as you do it at his house, but he uses it as an opportunity to quiz you about classic rock while you sip Smirnoff Ice.

Also at the dinner party is Patricia, who is dressed as a golden idol, openly defying scripture. Cameran arrives with Dr. Eddie. Have we met him before. He seems incredible. He has rapport with Patricia. Who is this man?

Fair to accurate. - BRAVO TV SCREENCAP
  • Bravo TV screencap
  • Fair to accurate.

At this point, a ton of other people arrive, all with dates who look exactly the same. Most notably, Shep shows up with a person named Eliza, who we learn is close friends with Thomas. At this point, there are so many people in this scene that Eliza could be my own mother and I would not recognize her. There’s a flashback of her from a previous episode, but I don’t know if it’s a fake CGI reconstruction like in all the trailers for the Avengers movies.

To further secure her proper billing as “third from the left” in every social situation, Eliza compares herself to an “elderly, crippled person” after playing polo and manages to work in that she graduated from college a couple of years ago. Eliza seems like the type of person whose main life dilemma stems from deciding whether she wants to be famous on YouTube for pranks or makeup. Like, she can’t decide if her vanity or her pettiness should dominate her personal brand.

To fast forward through the dinner party highlights, Patricia’s butler Michael calls Shep “Lord Sheppington,” which is pure gold. Unprovoked, Naomie compares mussels to vaginas.

On a related note, I started working at a tutoring center recently and a high-school student walked in and said she just wanted to focus alone on some work from health class. As I asked “Cool. What are working on in health,” she pulled out a couple of worksheets with a bunch on detailed illustrations of genitals printed on them. Turns out they are studying puberty. We both agreed that the human body was a nightmare and called it a day. Anyway, this Southern Charm dinner scene is like a Robert Altman movie written by teenagers. It’s just a lot of overlapping dialogue asking who boned most recently. Naomie and Austen decide dinner is the right time to litigate if Kathryn and Whitney had sex last summer like some drunken socialite version of that song from Grease.

Meanwhile, we learn that Dr. Eddie climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Why is this character on the periphery of this show?

As everyone enjoys dinner, each guest is secretly, yet not so secretly mad at each other for some sort of sex reason. It’s like The Country Wife in here, if you appreciate mentions of Restoration-era comedies.

Cameran wants to test Shep’s sperm count, alleging that his numerous sexual encounters without a pregnancy means he must be sterile. Eliza says Kathryn could be a surrogate mom for Shep’s fictional children because we are 12 levels deep into drunken hypothetical purgatory. After a bit of coaching from Cameran and Shep, Eliza apologizes to Kathryn for her comments, only to have her apology rebuffed by an exiting Kathryn.

Ghosts of dinner parties past. - BRAVO TV SCREENCAP
  • Bravo TV screencap
  • Ghosts of dinner parties past.

As this is happening, Cameran tries to get everyone to remain still and quiet like they are hiding from a T-Rex and Shep wishes he was dead. Truthfully, I can guess that Shep’s official cause of death will most likely be “misadventure” and I respect that.

And that’s our Season 6 premiere. I talked about something completely unrelated to the show for 500 words. All the cast had one-on-one meetings leading up to a hectic dinner party. Real comfortable territory here for us. Let’s keep pushing forward and I’ll talk to y’all next week.

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