[image-1]Hey everybody. Last week sure was fun. We had a Southern Charm feature and I got my face — or faces — on the cover in a moment that was made possible by you, the loyal reader. I really appreciate all the support that this column has gotten over the past seven weeks, and I feel that way for two reasons. The first is simply that I crave the approval of strangers, which I’m told is a very healthy way to live. The second reason I’m glad people read the column is a bit more complicated.
My Southern Charm viewing experience is always a solitary affair. Each week, I sit on my couch, flanked by laptops. One is for streaming the show and taking screenshots; the other is for taking notes. I watch the show, drink myself to sleep, and when I wake up, the column is there waiting for me to share with the world. Other than editing out all the descriptions of what mine and Craig’s babies would look like, that’s pretty much the extent of my work. But then people start to engage with the articles, and it’s like we are all one big bunch of buddy-roes crowded around the screen.
This is why I keep my definition of “good TV” very broad. It is not just about being a compelling program, skillfully crafted and layered. This is all great, of course, but sometimes it’s just about being a show you can share with people. Now let’s see what the gang is up to this week.
[image-4]The episode starts with Craig and Shep meeting for lunch to discuss Craig’s failed attempt at assuming control of J.D.’s bourbon empire. A failed usurper, Craig is dressed like he’s hiding out from the police. What’s with the disguise, Craig? Do I need to pull the getaway car around back. Just say the word and we’ll blow this popsicle stand. Anyway, Shep tells Craig that he needs to be studying for the Bar exam and then invites him to the Shep family mountain home in Asheville. I guess the reasoning behind this is because the high altitude is conducive to learning. Once you get all that blood and oxygen out of your brain, it’s ready to be filled with knowledge.
In a moment of brilliance, Craig and Shep decide to extend an invite to Kathryn, knowing that she is far too pregnant to make a mountain excursion. Following this instance of cunning heretofore unseen on Southern Charm, Craig exclaims that he will make a great lawyer. In other words, Craig ain’t pass the Bar, but he knows a little bit, enough so you won’t accompany him on this trip.
And I agree with Craig on this. He’ll make a great bourbon magnate/attorney because what all great lawyers have in common is their desire to sell liquor. That is why Matlock was always working to perfect his famous bathtub gin and why Atticus Finch opened a margarita bar called — wait for it — Tequila Mockingbird.
Speaking of Kathryn, we visit her home briefly as Thomas arrives to assemble a crib for their unborn child. Kathryn has little to no furniture, and what she does have is either pink or clear. My natural urge is to mock this, but then I remember what my apartment looked like for the brief time that I lived alone. My style of decor could best be described as “last known whereabouts” — complete with newspapers on the windows and a smell that was both mysterious and frighteningly familiar. So tip of the hat to you, Kathryn.
[image-2]Next we find Cameran on her first trip to a new therapist. Now for those of you who have never seen the show, there is one clear sign that Cameran is the most reliable and well-adjusted person on Southern Charm. At the beginning of each episode, she provides the voiceover to remind us all what happened last week. This is a vital role because if you’re anything like me, you get blackout drunk on Perry Mason’s hard cider and need some help filling in the blanks. This also means that the producers knew that they’d be able to trap Cameran in a room for at least one afternoon to record all the episode recaps. She is literally the voice of reason on Southern Charm, and I think it’s great that she’s talking to a therapist. We all have things that we need to get off our chests. Some of us resent our fathers. No big deal. Others just want our dads to quit making fun of them and understand that journalism is a real career. That’s fine, too. Then there are those who write reality show recaps in the hopes that they’ll finally earn their old man’s respect. I mean, I’m no doctor (as my father has pointed out numerous times in front of company) but I encourage all those who can talk to a licensed professional to do so.
Anyway, Cameran’s visit to the therapist is brought on by her fear of being a mother. Although her husband, who does not have a uterus, is ready for kids, Cameran loves her life the way it is and fears that motherhood will ruin that. Also during this session, we notice that Cameran is holding a pen. Is she taking notes during her own therapy session? Is she simultaneously evaluating her therapist? Considering this, I wager that Cameran is the president of her local business group.
We then catch up with Landon, who is still reeling from last week’s meeting with the handsomely named Lockhart Steele. Landon says she only has a few weeks to create the prototype for her travel-arts-wine magazine before Steele pulls into town in his designer zeppelin. The Steele family crest is a lion investing in startups.
With that ticking clock established, we move on to a visit between Craig and Kathryn during which they discuss the past relationship between her and Whitney. Detective Craig uncovers that Kathryn and Whitney courted three years ago, and he suspects that this is the source of their current misgivings. More on this later because Shep, also known as your baby’s first curse word, has rented a party bus to take everyone away to his mountain home.
During the group’s drive up to Asheville, everyone begins interrogating their host about his romantic life. With who I can only assume to be Shep’s “regular Saturday night thing” noticeably absent, the cast is very curious about the nature of their relationship. Shep explains that a big part of being with him is knowing that he may disappear for a few days without explanation. Shep is our generation’s Don Draper.
Arriving in Asheville, we get an establishing shot of a guy on a unicycle, who I believe is the city’s mayor. Asheville’s motto is “Whatevs” with a smiley face emoji. Their mascot is a banjo wearing sunglasses.
Prowling the streets of the city, Whitney grabs a stranger’s guitar and begins to shred, while Thomas begins to ask young women about their piercings. These two weren’t born so much as they were torn from the thigh of David Lee Roth. It’s going to be an interesting evening.
[image-5]One highly sexualized game of Jenga later, and we find everyone out at the club. Thomas, the John Audubon of body piercings, continues his quest of making women uncomfortable. This ends with one woman very politely threatening to stab him before sending Thomas off for more drinks. Shep, the name of the doctor who decided that vaccines were bad for you, is excited that the trip is going well.
The following morning, the gang sets out for Shep’s mountain house. Cameran and Whitney decide to rent a car because they don’t want to die in a party bus. This is a valid concern.
Arriving at the Shep family compound, we learn that — holy hell is this place massive! Shep explains that he is descended from judges and lawyers. And as one of the highborn, the fact that Shep just wants to share this wonderful place with his friends is endearing. Also endearing is Craig’s decision to prepare steaks for everyone because he is a good man. Looking over Craig’s shoulder as he grills, Whitney fears cross-contamination, but Craig has much worse in store for everyone than just a little food poisoning.
As with every conversation on Southern Charm, the gang begins to discuss Kathryn. It is at this point that I give up and admit to myself that she is the keystone of this whole show — remove Kathryn and Southern Charm topples like so many sexual Jengas. Emboldened by the mountain air and cooked meats, Craig confronts Whitney about his past relationship with Kathryn. As things begin to get heated, the screen cuts to black and we see “To Be Continued.”
[image-6]What?! A two-parter? Southern Charm has really ratcheted up the tension. Will Whitney confess his love for Kathryn? Has Craig poisoned everyone with tainted meats? Does the party bus driver have to sleep outside? Only time will tell.
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