[image-1]Hey everybody, I’d like to start out this week’s column by addressing some interesting allegations made in the comments on last week’s Southern Charm recap. I first noticed these claims last season, but I’d finally like to discuss on some of the talk that’s being bandied about.
Ya see, when new episodes of Southern Charm start up and we begin writing about the show, someone inevitably claims that we are being paid to promote the program. Well folks, sadly the truth is much darker than anyone could have imagined.
I, like other Southern Charm recappers, was grown in the laboratories of NBC Universal. We were raised in Bravo’s content mines, pumping out listicles and hot-takes for 16 hours a day. Today, this is known as an internship.
But we Southern Charm recappers fared better than most. The cancellation of Caroline in the City in 1999 left many of us despondent, hopelessly awaiting the inevitable Y2K disaster. Some were forced to make the violent transition from The John Larroquette Show directly into The Jeff Foxworthy Show, shattering their minds. And then, none of us saw the cancellation of NBC’s greatest television sitcom, 2010’s 100 Questions. Bold in their aspirations, the creators wanted each episode to focus on one of those 100 questions designed to help a woman find Mr. Right. The show only made it to question six, but it still has one of the best theme songs ever created.
It would be four years after 100 Questions’ cancellation before Southern Charm made its debut. Bred only to produce content, my brethren and I gladly returned to our keyboards. So, no — we are not paid to promote Southern Charm. It is a birthright that few share. Now to this week’s show.
We open the second episode of this season with Southern Charm’s favorite method of beginning the show — the wacky morning wake-up montage. And this one’s got it all: Cameron is performing her morning ablutions. Shep is calling his mom. And Craig is playing with a kitten in bed, because he won the lottery when it comes to being alive.
We then stop off at Thomas’ house as his pal Whitney pays him a visit. Whitney is dressed in a long khaki trench coat with studded epaulets like he’s auditioning as an extra in Escape from New York. Of all the small, little absurdities that litter this show, Whitney’s willingness to dress like a blade runner is perhaps my favorite.
[image-3]Whitney’s big news is that he has recently broken off a long-distance relationship and is ready to go out tomcattin’. Thomas advises Whitney to really throw himself into the single lifestyle and “close deals on-site.” Whitney, being of sound mind, asks Thomas to explain exactly what he means by this. Let’s pause here and throw out a few ideas about just how disgusting what Thomas is saying actually is.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, “close deals” could mean getting a nice lady to provide her contact information or agree to wear your class ring. Those are all fine things to suggest. Men can pursue romantic relationships with women without describing them like game animals or business exchanges, right? Of course, as with most things Thomas says, it’s best to assume the worst.
Thomas doubles down on his previous comment, encouraging Whitney — a man he seems to consider a friend — to have sex in public bathrooms. Not just once or twice, but, like, all the time. This is great because what better way to disrespect as many people as possible at once and turn your body into a cauldron of disease? Maybe Thomas is just a big James Joyce fan and likes to conflate weird bathroom stuff and sexual arousal. Or maybe the best way to enjoy an intimate exchange with another person is in the humid, crampness of a bus station restroom, your passionate moans muffled by the sound of frustrated bowel movements, flushing toilets, and the roar of hand dryers. Yes, this is really the best way to celebrate the single life.
We then have the season’s first chat with Kathryn, who has started down the path to reclaiming partial custody of her kids by passing a drug test. She meets up with Danni, a human woman who leaves no distinct impression. Danni asks “How’s life?” which is a question no one has asked and expected to hear good news. If Nietzsche was alive today, he’d have “How’s life” tattooed across his knuckles because it is the most nihilistic question one can pose.
[image-4]Meanwhile, Cameran visits a woman called Snowden who has just delivered a baby. This is interesting because last season Cameran vacillated not so much on whether she wants a baby, but rather worried that something is wrong with her for not wanting to have a baby. This is perhaps the most interesting narrative thread on Southern Charm. Not the fights and parties, but one successful woman’s struggle to reconcile her actual wishes with what the world is constantly telling her she should want.
The show continues to display how everyone around Cameran chips away at her decision not to be a parent. She tells the camera that she doesn’t want a baby, just a dog. Then we see someone hand Cameran a newborn and ask how long before she has one of her own. No one is being malicious. This is apparently just how societal pressures manifest. While Cameran tries to navigate that minefield, Shep and Craig head to the batting cages.
It’s been a while since the two old pals have had a talk, but it’s finally time the pair discussed Craig’s subterfuge related to the whole law school thing. If I’m following this Talented Mr. Ripley scenario correctly, Craig never finished his final book report to earn his law degree, or something like that. This didn’t stop Craig from sending a fake application to the Bar exam to appease Shep. This is all very complicated, but one thing is certain — Shep is a helmet guy. Maybe Shep should always wear a helmet. It really suits him.
[image-6]Anyway, Shep spends about 30 minutes going yard in an empty warehouse full of batting cages until Craig finally arrives with a massive swollen eye. It turns out he’s allergic to that cat that he slept next to, but he’ll get no sympathy from Shep, who is ready to have some real talk about Craig’s law school deception. Shep jokes that maybe Craig has a secret family in Utah and that his name may not even be Craig. This is a pretty funny joke, and I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t make it. Maybe Southern Charm is going to borrow a page from the last rap battle in 8 Mile and start making fun of itself so that others can’t.
Back to the farce surrounding Craig’s fake Bar exam application, did he seriously not expect people to ask him about being a lawyer? Like, that’s something people might be curious about. Was he just going to put on a suit and tie every day and go sit in the park until it was time to quit pretending to be a lawyer?
“How was court today?” someone would ask.
“Attorney-client privilege,” Craig shouts in response as his briefcase busts open to reveal stacks of Wendy’s placemats instead of legal documents.
Later in the episode, we join Shep as he introduces his new No. 1 pal, Austen, to Whitney. Whitney is like Bruce Wayne if his childhood had been pretty OK. He has traded in his khaki trench coat for a black duster, so he looks like one of the Lost Boys if they kept aging. The three talk about how good they are at getting women to sleep with them and then laugh like this.
[image-2]Shep says he has a date planned with Cameran’s friend Chelsea, who we’ll talk about later. We then cut away to Austen telling the camera that Shep is not allowed to meet his sister, and he threatens castrate Shep to protect his sister’s virtue. OK, man. Cool talk, I guess. We’re just going to maintain eye contact as we slowly back out of the room. Pay no mind to the screams for help once we clear your eyeline.
Shep and Whitney then talk about the weird love triangle between Thomas, Landon, and Kathryn from last season. Shep ultimately dismisses the whole thing by declaring “This is America — people fuck,” which is a campaign slogan waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Austen just kind of stares off into the distance until the discussion turns back to his thoughts on genital mutilation.
The big event that will anchor this week’s episode is the unveiling of Landon’s travel website. Shep reveals that a few fellow entrepreneurs recently told him about an unsuccessful business lunch they had with Landon, during which she said she doesn’t have lunch with millionaires — she has lunch with billionaires. This is a fascinating brag because it in no way elevates your own standing. It’s like going to a job interview and saying “My mailman drives a Volvo — just like Kurt Cobain.”
Back at Craig and Naomie’s home, the couple sits down to recount their day. Naomie is working hard to earn her master’s degree and admits that she has no idea what Craig does all day. This comment is followed by a wonderful montage of Craig’s day, which included, gardening — with the cat positioned proudly in his wheelbarrow, watching the cat clean itself, and preparing dinner as the cat sat on the kitchen counter spreading as much dander as possible.
[image-5]Now, I totally understand this lifestyle. I was very unemployed when I first moved to Charleston, and I spent a lot of time hanging out with a cat. Together, we would bitterly look out of our apartment window at all the tourists passing by — their pristine image of Charleston spoiled by a man and a cat bitterly peering down as I ate mustard sandwiches. In fact, Nathan the Cat just celebrated his birthday. Happy birthday, buddy. You have no concept of mortality.
Now we get to the launch party for Landon’s travel website, ROAM. We see our cast members getting dressed and entering the party.
I’m no businessman, but are your friends really the best group to look to for honest feedback on your digital enterprise? It’s either going to result in feeble praise or hurt feelings. I remember when I provided honest criticism to my former friend John Napster, the founder of Google. The fledgling entrepreneur hit me in the face with a keyboard. That’s why to this day I still use AltaVista.
Back at the party, Cameran asks Landon and her studly beau Drew if they “are a thing.” Landon deftly defuses the situation by joking “Yeah, we’re having 10,000 babies.”
“I don’t have babies with millionaires. I have babies with billionaires” would have also been another cool comeback. “I have billion dollar babies. Whatevs.”
Whitney then shows up with a woman who he introduces as his “escort,” which is not a good way to introduce anyone, ever. Whitney’s friend is wearing long black ballroom gloves like she’s expecting this to be a murder mystery dinner party. She begins charming the room by mocking Cameran’s Southern accent, which is horrible. She then redeems herself by asking Shep about his name, which he explains is “like Shepherd’s pie.”
[image-7]While Shep is comparing himself to a meat pie, some dude starts flirting with Cameran’s friend Chelsea. Cameran pulls Shep aside and instructs him to “lay claim” to her pal. Why do we keep describing relationships with women like real estate exchanges?
“Oh, last night turned into a real Seward’s Folly, if you know what I mean.” No. Stop it.
Shep, a true feminist, tells Cameran that they should let Chelsea make her own decision about which suitor best suits her. Rising through the drunken scrum as a voice of reason, Shep then decides to talk business with Landon. Shep advises humility and patience in the tech industry. Landon denies her whole millionaire/billionaire dining preference and refuses to accept any criticism or advice from Shep. Oddly, Shep is holding an arrow throughout this entire conversation.
The episode ends with Chelsea and Shep’s first date, which also happens to involve Cameran. Shep opens things up by saying “Let’s just get drunk.” Interestingly enough, this is exactly what Watson said to Crick about 12 drinks before they discovered the double helix.
We’ll have to wait until next week to see how the date went, but you can leave your guesses in the comments. Here are few possible scenarios:
Austen kicks in the door of the restaurant where Shep and Chelsea are eating. He shouts “Defiler!” at Shep and lunges at his privates.
Thomas shows up and tells the two that the changing tables in the bathroom are great for boning.
Shep and Chelsea are moved to another table as Landon and a squadron of hungry billionaires arrive for dinner.
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