About halfway through my second viewing of the premiere of Southern Charm, in the cold sober light of morning, I realized that Thomas Ravenel’s “friends” were hell bent on getting him to see himself for the rube that he is. The show was more of an intervention than the political redemption story that T-Rav thinks he’s starring in. And for that reason alone, it’s hard to watch. 

The way T-Rav sees it, he was arrested because of those stupid drug laws and not because he was a reckless drug addict throwing raging coke parties while he was state treasurer. He may have kicked his habit, as Whitney is clear to point out, but he still likes the smell of coke, you know.  

He really likes women too, and he drawls cheesy come-ons without a drop of self-consciousness. This guy is confident of his own awesomeness. He just wants a religious girl who can cook and wants kids — oh, and that one he so gentlemanly brought coffee to the morning after? She’ll do just fine, because not many girls with candy red hair would be charmed by a guy asking, “So what color is that anyway?” Most modern women — like perhaps Jenna King — would roll their eyes and snort, “It’s fucking green, asshole, what color do you think it is?” But in Charleston, certain girls do just what Candy-Red did — giggle awkwardly and then just go ahead and take their panties off. You can’t fight Southern charm. 

The rest of the man-children in this show don’t come off much better. Locals are used to the bro-tastic culture that prevails in this town, but seeing it personified on national TV by cute little Shep Rose? Well, I do declare, that’s just our worst nightmare come to life. Dressed in a green blazer and wearing his party pants, Shep is living the life, jumping from one bed to the next — drowning in the miasma of adolescence, misguided enough to think he’s really excelling at this thing called life. Poor guy. We see him as Jenna does — a doofus with absolutely no game. 

And then there’s Whitney. I don’t even know what to say about this character. Seemingly from Mars, he mumbles his way through the episode, talking about things like stabbin’ cabins. His chic mother and her gay best friend looked utterly horrified at his attempts to bro it up. Just embrace your NY/LA effeteness, Whitney, and stop trying to compete for biggest douche-bag on this show. Your mother will thank you for it. 

The fourth dude, Craig the aspiring lawyer, will never come out on top in the weird world of Southern Charm because he’s just a working schmuck. He can’t get to the party until his job at Extreme Akim’s is complete. And for that, Shep will always fuck the girl Craig wants, because who wants to go home with a guy who has to get up in the morning for work?

The only bright spot in this misogynistic wasteland are the two women sent here to pity these fools. The funny and charming Cameran and the rockin’ Jenna come off as worldly brainiacs — and it’s not because they’re that smart. The men are just that dumb. A girl with just a modicum of intelligence would see them for what they are, but in South Carolina it’s easy for these guys to surround themselves with dim-witted belles looking to bag a big wallet and a polo plantation. Bless their hearts.

Some other observations:

•  Cameran, please, the game is called Maryann or Ginger — not Scarlett or Melanie! Get with the program and stop pretending like anybody ever talks about Gone with the Wind in casual dinner conversation. That shit just does not happen without a producer prompting it.

• Shakespeare’s hard. T-Rav loves to spout quotes, but it was Polonius, “the foolish prating knave” in Hamlet (not MacBeth), who said, “To thine own self be true.” I think he may want to go back to that source material and see just what character he’s quoting, because Polonius is, as described over at shmoop, “self-absorbed, long-winded, and dull” — which is sort of perfect.

• The drinking depicted in this episode is so fucking true of Charleston social life. Grand Ma shots for everyone! 

Next week: bro code violations!

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