Southern Charm. What We Learned. Round Table Discussion 2.

Hunter Gardner

The sultry scene has been set, we’ve met our characters and know their primal motivations—or so we thought! The second episode of Southern Charm brought us new twists and turns while bringing back familiar themes of creepiness and obvious, lowbrow sexual innuendos to add a whole new level of charm. I sat down with my comedy pals Peter Schwartz and returning commentator, Jeremy McLellan, to see what all we learned from this past week’s episode. 


What Hunter Learned: 


We open on Thomas Ravenel, interior SUV, breathing into what at first could be mistaken for a handheld breathalyzer, only to realize that he is on speakerphone with his father, Arthur Ravenel. T-Rav is on his way to his plantation home in Edisto to do what else, but play polo—this time with a lady who he speculates could be the one. 


His date is Danni, Shep’s ex-girlfriend, who he has deemed much more mature than his former fling, Kathryn Dennis. At the horse stable, Thomas compliments her by saying that she looks like she just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue, which could have been a half-witty polo joke, but that’s giving him a lot of credit. After what I’m sure was a very structured lesson in equestrian sport, Thomas invites Danni back to the house for a glass of wine, which quickly becomes a game of cat and mouse in which T-Rav is the overtly forceful cat and Danni is the somewhat level-headed, not-falling-for-the-c’mon-one-more-glass-of-wine-trick mouse. Conversation goes as follows:


Danni: "I have to drive home."

Thomas: "There’s a spare bedroom.""

Danni: "Uh-uh" [shakes her head]

Thomas: (incoherent mumbling) [shakes his wine glass]


Cut to Cameron, waiting on Craig to grab brunch. He’s hungover. According to Cameron this is because, “It is pretty common to wake up still drunk on a Saturday in Charleston”—which is also true for everyone between the ages of 18 and 35, 100 miles within driving distance of a bar, and not Mormon. At brunch, Craig suggests that they go shopping. Perfect. Shep meets them there with a girl who is either his friend, or an extra with no lines, hired to consistently even out the guy-girl ratio throughout the episode, I can’t tell. Anyway, Shep has been having some serious girl problems lately. He’s been texting a new love interest, MJ, who has been giving him the cold shoulder. He explains that girls either text way too much or not enough, which totally bums him out. He also has a real problem with the English language, contemplating if “thunk” is the past participle for “think.” Spoiler: It’s not.


A small beat in the episode is devoted to Whitney and Shep’s master plan to really get into the growing demand in Charleston for…another bar. Whitney describes his “vision” as, “a cool rock ‘n roll bar, you know, like the kind I would go to.” Later, during a dinner between Whitney, his personal assistant and his mother, Whitney says he can, “see the look of disappoint in my mother’s eyes when I talk about my bidness” (his words, not mine). 


Cut to the beach, where Shep has set up a get together on Folly, including MJ. According to Craig, Shep’s plan is to make himself look as cool as possible by surrounding himself with people, therefore not making him look like a serial killer. But, oh no! It doesn’t work. MJ gives Shep about as much attention as a guy begging her to go to prom—and then maybe later murdered her family. All hope is lost until a familiar face, Kathryn Dennis, shows up to the shoreline. Close up on Craig, as the audience now knows via a conversation with Cameron and subtle camera work that Craig has a, “Kindergarten Crush” on Kathryn. Will she talk to him? No! Instead she asks Shep to show her how to surf. Oh man, what a turn! This show is so not scripted or influenced by on-set producers in any way, it’s awesome. 


But now it is time to turn our attention back to Plot A: Thomas Ravenel’s love life. He invites Danni to a dinner party at JD’s house, which seems to be going swimmingly until it is apparent that T-Ravenation has had way to much to drink, and Danni once again drives off into the Lowcountry sunset, but not before Thomas gets in a romantic game of forceful-grab-and-smooch in which everyone appears to be a loser. He debunks this the next day at lunch with his famed father, Arthur Ravenel. His senior is a glowing, very likeable man, until he advises Thomas to keep a girl by getting her pregnant and then bribes him $10,000 for a son. I still want to like him, though. Damn those editors and on-set producers. 


Meanwhile, the deck has been stacked in Shep’s favor when Kathryn Dennis meets him at a bar downtown. Their conversation goes as follows:


Shep: "Are you excited to see me?"

Kathryn: "Totally. Are you excited to see me?"

Shep: "I’m f*cking taller than you."


This completely wins Kathryn over, and Shep breaks Bro Code 101 by hooking up with her that night. This is confronted the following night at Taco Boy, with all the interested parties in attendance, including the ratio-evening extra. Shep defends his ground by saying that it is chauvinistic to lay claims to any one girl, because, I mean, when does something like that ever happen on this show?


What Peter Learned:


Is it always the weekend? I have no idea what these people do with their time. And why is this show so incestuous? It’s not like an actual TV show with a script and a cast, it takes place in the real world—don’t they know more than six people? And why are they even friends with each other? It seems pretty clear that everyone on the show thinks that everyone else is a pretty big asshole. 


Danni instantly accepted T-Rav’s invitation to the BBQ dinner, but I haven’t seen someone look so disinterested in another person in a long time. Maybe she just wanted to drink fancy wine?


Here’s one thing I learned about trust funds: they make you seem successful, even when you’re doing nothing. Whitney has a personal assistant. For what? What does that man do? How do you even hire for that: “I’m not doing anything…yet!” Also, I want to know how old Whitney is. He looks like he’s had some work done. He also looks like a love child of Adam Lambert and the lead singer from Train.


So far it seems like the only person not getting any on this show is Whitney who is clearly announcing himself as single and ready to mingle. 


Okay, so in the scene at Republic with Kathryn and Shep, did Kathryn refer to her butt as a, “baby butt?” Was she trying to pay herself a compliment? I don’t know. Maybe her butt is really smooth?


I’ve never seen a man [Shep] call himself a, “testosterone monster” that I was so sure I could beat up.


I hate all these people so, so much.


What Jeremy Learned:


The success of Southern Charm depends largely on whether viewers want to watch rich powerful people behave terribly. That is, watch them behave like everyone else.


The show’s central insight seems to be that rich men act stupid around women. Know who else acts stupid around women? Everyone. Tonight we saw Shep get frustrated and act stupid because MJ didn’t like him back, and then it got awkward when it turned out MJ slept with the other men on the show. That IS awkward! We also watched Thomas woo Danni with blankets and wine and at one point ask if she’s a “cunnilinguist.” How gauche! I’m much more sophisticated. I invite women to open mics to hear my great jokes about soundtracks.


Yes, Thomas Ravenel did drugs and went to prison, but the fact that no one belongs in a cage for doing cocaine is somehow lost on the critics who like to bring it up. (At least, unlike Bush or Obama, T-Rav has no interest in visiting injustice upon younger, darker versions of himself.) When his 87-year-old father Arthur showed up, he told his son to get a woman pregnant, then said mean things about Abraham Lincoln. Know who else says sexist, neo-Confederate shit? 87-year-old white men. I'm not defending him, but if you condone the War on Drugs, even when it comes to Thomas Ravenel, you support Jim Crow more than his father ever did.


I know, I know. The show is cringe-worthy, but so is life. People act stupid. Sometimes those people are rich. Like everything else on Bravo, nothing is particularly compelling apart from the bank accounts of the main characters. Personally, I’d rather watch a show centered on the entire Ravenel family. Actually, scratch that. I’d rather watch True Detective.