Hey everybody. You’ve made it back. Now, let’s get personal.
Tasked with trying to make sense of Southern Charm on a weekly basis for the past four seasons now, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to understand how this show fits into my life. Having first experienced the show from a place of complete ignorance — thus the poorly considered name of the column — it’s surprising to consider the show has always smacked of a disquieting familiarity for me. But now I’ve figured out why.
The year was 1998. I was in the sixth grade and was selected to take part in a special school program. I was to be a peer mediator.
Our job was to individually go from class to class once a week and counsel any students who recently had some manner of dispute or outburst. Arriving late to our orientation meeting, I was assigned the unenvied position of policing the kindergarteners.
On my first day as a peer mediator, I carried my very professional-looking clipboard that was roughly the size of my entire body to the first classroom. Knocking at the door covered in a clumsily hand-crafted collage of construction paper, I was greeted by an adult teacher. She quietly stepped into the hallway with me, pulling the door behind her.
In a hushed voice, she explained “the incident” that I, an untrained 11-year-old with no experience in professional counseling, would be addressing. Apparently, three of her students had been caught on the playground touching each other in their “bathing suit areas.” While you might think that the parents or authorities should field this problem, the teacher re-entered her classroom and sent the students out alone to meet with me.
So to reiterate: An adult person with a job and all the experience of life decided that I, an 11-year-old with zero experience in licensed professional counseling, was the best person to explain sexual propriety and social norms to three five-year-olds.
I don’t remember exactly what I told them, but I can guarantee two things: A) It was definitely not the right thing to say, and (B) at least one of those kids now has a scrapbook full of severed nipples. They’ve killed and they’ll kill again. That’s my fault. It’s fine.
But to bring me back to my point, trying to interpret the clumsy sexual fumblings and internal bickering of a group of immature individuals with no shame or impulse control is basically what I do when I write about Southern Charm. I am definitely not the best person for the job. Others definitely have more institutional knowledge. But I’ve been doing this since I was 11. I was broken in long ago. Now, let’s get on with the show.
We start things off this week as Cameran gets a pedicure. Eliza soon arrives and takes a seat next to Cameran, announcing that she brought her own drinks to the salon.
“I basically have a cooler in my purse,” Eliza says. Cameran explains that she’s known Eliza since she was a child, so she must be very proud to watch a child full of hope and potential grow up into someone who stuffs their bindle with hootch before setting out for the day.
Eliza explains the trappings of her Charleston heritage and the Limehouse family name. She complains that there is really no way to escape her family’s reputation, but I would suggest not detailing your lineage to a national audience like you are participating in the Preakness.
We soon learn that Eliza is attempting a return to high society after a widely reported extramarital affair splintered her family and wounded their reputation two years earlier. This is a completely respectable cause for Eliza, who has determined that day-drinking on TV is a more effective route to clearing her name rather than trial by combat or whatever happens in high society.
Next, we hop on over to Kathryn’s new apartment in downtown Charleston, where the monthly rent is $6,600 and they eat doughnuts in the courtyard. Seriously, Austen shows up and they go eat doughnuts in the courtyard, which I guess is a more sensible wealthy pastime that doesn’t involve hunting plebes on your private island.
Jumping over to Craig’s base of operations — that being his home — we see him fielding a call from his “operations manager” as he attempts to kick back with a beer. Now he has to stage some elaborate scene to prove that he was actually being productive, but I don’t understand what “operations” need to be managed in Craig’s life.
Since the producers of Southern Charm want us to pit Naomie and Craig against one another as eternal foes, we join Naomie as she arrives at work, trying to wrangle her cat into the office door. Naomie informs us that she started an online clothing business over the summer, and all her employees are shown in various states of recline on the main office’s couches. Apparently we’ve moved beyond standing desks to the full-on bedridden workplace of the future.
Back at Craig’s, Anna-Heyward arrives and immediately asks Craig if he got drunk and ordered a box of beef jerky as she balances a large cardboard box labeled “Jack Links.”
As Craig sifts through the 30 lbs. of fine eating leather he can’t recall ordering, Anna-Heyward begins addressing the business of the day, which is … answering a few emails.
Having learned from last season’s failure to launch his pillow empire with Patricia’s help, Craig continues striving to be the Southeast’s preeminent pillower, or “cozy boy” to use an industry term.
Jumping over, we find Shep and Danni sharing a burger for lunch. They immediately begin ragging on Austen and his girlfriend, again bringing up the infamous video of Austen’s girlfriend catching him allegedly mid-coit (I’m trying to make “coit” a thing) with two other women. For Danni, this is a dealbreaker, but Shep’s responds by saying, “Sometimes good guys have threesomes.” This claim is really tested in some of history’s greatest threesomes, such as Dorothy with the Scarecrow and Tinman while the Cowardly Lion watches, adult Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione go on class reunion, and the episode of the Wahlburgers where they run out of gas.
Anyway, Shep adds that if he would have been in Austen’s apartment at the time of the affair, he would have gotten in the pile as well. Hey Danni, maybe don’t share any food with Shep. Maybe avoid an awkward line of questioning from your doctor.
Anyway, we learn that both Shep and Danni are in new relationships, but while Danni is worried about the societal pressure she feels as a woman in a casual relationship, Shep is shown having his girlfriend of one week physically burp him in a public setting. I am serious.
Jumping ahead Cameran, Naomie, and Danni gather for a meal. Cameran invokes the spirit of Thomas’ new girlfriend Ashley, who has been awarded for being a nurse. Remember, if they say Ashley’s name four more times, she will appear. (Note: We are playing by Candyman rules and not Bloody Mary rules when it comes to Ashley this season.)
Finally reaching the party portion of this week’s episode, we arrive at Chelsea’s housewarming celebration. Having personally restored the house she’s purchased, Chelsea is on edge about everyone she knows coming over and ruining her life. Not helping matters is the fact that she seems to have ordered multiple kegs that require a team of brewers to deliver. Chelsea then jokes about keeping an eye on where Shep sits so that she can put a towel down.
Again, I think that it’s Shep’s hands you want to worry about. He really seems like the type of guy who pets every stray dog he sees en route to some sort of intimacy or chili cookoff.
Guests slowly start to arrive at Chelsea’s, including Bruno Mars after he took the Super Soldier Serum.
Notably, Austen arrives and is immediately offended that Chelsea isn’t featuring his line of beer at her personal housewarming party. He then notes that his beer business has taken a backseat due to “cost difficulties,” which I believe is an insider term for “operating a business.”
In a welcome distraction, Chelsea brings her guests outside for a drinking game that involves hammering a nail into a tree stump. She says everyone will need to “bring out their redneck side” to play, but this is a new one on me. I grew up in the South, and our drinking games were more “Who Can Buy Booze on a Sunday from a Storage Shed” and “You Can Smoke That Pill if You Crunch It Up First and Put It in the Tip of the Cigarette You Packed,” but those are much less romantic forms of backyard fun.
Ever the ghost at the feast, Shep is at the party describing his recent break-up, which involved him actually losing his new girlfriend during a beach bike ride. To make things better, Shep went home first after not realizing his girlfriend had crashed into a ditch.
This conversation is cut short as Chelsea interrupts everyone to draft her visitors into playing games from MTV Rock N’ Jock Softball.
Now that everyone is lit and their eyelash extensions are starting to peel, it is publicly announced that Kathryn and Whitney went full coit (I just really want “coit” to be a thing).
Moving on, we join Whitney, Austen, and Craig for lunch just across the way from the City Paper office. There was a time when you probably would have seen me in the background, frantically chainsmoking in the parking lot because I couldn’t come up with a new term for “having sex” (It’s “coit,” y’all. I cracked the code.)
My genius aside, Austen begins to interrogate Whitney about his relationship with Kathryn. This is, of course, no one’s business, but everyone on this show behaves as if they were at a cookout and fell face first into a kiddy pool of sodium pentothal. Thankfully, this scene violently drifts away from the topic of Kathryn and Whitney.
Next we visit Cameran’s house as Shep pays a visit. Checking Cameran’s crab traps, Shep reaches inside, only to be bested by a crustacean. A man of honor, Shep lets the crab go after it snips up his hand, drawing blood.
Admitting that he admires the rebellious crab, Shep says it reminds him or himself — defiant, free … Am I writing a children’s story now? Let’s all message Shep this week and tell him it’s time we join forces for a nautically themed children’s book.
Until then, keep it coit.