Southern Charm. What We Learned. Round Table Discussion 7.

Hunter Gardner

Southern Charm is reaching the end of its eight episode run on Bravo, and while the show seems to be reaching for any semblance of meaningful conflict (as pretty much every question can be answered by viewing Facebook) Jeremy McLellan and I still found some valuable life lessons.


What Jeremy Learned:


We've arrived at the second-to-last episode of Southern Charm. Here's what I learned:

  • Every line of dialogue is delivered with flat affect and little-to-no eye contact. Even the show has issues with executive functioning. That's right, everyone on the show has Asperger's.
  • Every episode fails the Bechdel Test. At no point do women talk about anything except men. If the men were more appealing, I might forgive them for that.
  • Whitney is the human equivalent of a white van. Despite being an Executive Producer on the show, he sleeps with the cast members and makes rape jokes.
  • Everyone else on the show hates Kathryn because she wants to have a baby with someone she loves and respects. Gross!
  • It turns out I've been pronouncing "Kathryn" wrong this whole time. (It's pronounced "Kathryn")
  • Mr. White Van says Shep "can pop up at 5:30 AM to hunt some feral wild boar, but when it comes to work he couldn't give two shits." In case you didn't know, "feral" means that it's descended from domesticated pigs like Whitney.
  • Shep is such a good hunter he doesn't even need to own ammo or know how to carry/hold a gun correctly. 
  • It's easy to stay clean when you hunt as long as you use the hood of your a car as a tripod.
  • Frankly, I'm surprised the hunt master wasn't Sarah Palin.
  • T-Rav can't use firearms because of his felony conviction. He doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he doesn't seem to have any emotions whatsoever. Does he like being on the show? Is he mad he went to jail? Does he even like Kathryn? Do things make him happy and sad? He says that when he's with Kathryn he doesn't need drugs. I disagree.


What Hunter Learned:


If someone offered to put you on a reality television show would you say yes? I don’t know about you guys, but for me this is a starting to become a weak “maybe.” And that’s what I learned from Southern Charm this week: it may be in the front end of shows that burst the reality show bubble. Right now we are sitting on the cusp of the “TV” in "reality TV" still having just enough allure that it is attractive to those who are not professional actors, but are still given the opportunity to act. The idea of being on television is enough.


This may be fading. With so many reality shows, people have now become aware of the formula and expectations, and by pure volume, we have become bored by them. Maybe that is why the Shep-Craig-Danni-Cameran-Jenna crowd, who grew up watching The Real World (in Cameran’s case of course being on it) seem to have a little bit more awareness in this area while Thomas and Whitney are the ones most aware that they’re on a TV show, making them performers who consciously say and do what needs to be said or done in order to create a story. Lastly, Kathryn is left thinking that she simply deserves to be on TV. This is true of most 21 year olds. I remember being that age (did I just write that?) and thinking that my life could be on television, when in fact I was living a completely comparable (and probably for the most part, boring) life when viewed in correlation with my peers. 


At this point the show has completely broken the fourth wall in on itself. It has become the new kind of reality show: the post-self-aware reality show. 80% of the cast seems to be aware of how absurd it is that this is on television 90% of the time, which actually does cause them to act naturally—not to the world around them, but rather to the fact that they are on television. In the past, people on reality shows suspended this truism for the sake of “show.” 


This really hit a note, almost to a metaphoric level, when Kathryn Dennis returns to Thomas’ living room after blowing off some steam and when he offers her a glass of wine, she concedes with a robotic, “fine.” In this same scene, Shep and Danni can’t stop giggling because Shep’s phone keeps vibrating on Danni’s butt as she sits on top of him. It feels inappropriate for the scene, like an SNL sketch in which every cast member is breaking. We feel bad for laughing at home because the show obviously wants a dramatic moment—but Shep and Danni are aware of this, which makes it all so damn funny to them. 


Later in the show, the boys go on a hunting trip to Boykin, South Carolina on Shep’s family’s land. Shep shows Whitney what animals look like, a la the mantle. JD shows up and calls people, “brother.” They all wake up the next morning to go hunting. Shep actually looks the part, every other guy literally looks like he is about to go to a camouflage themed sorority mixer: in other words, people playing pretend. They start hunting at 9am, get nothing, and upon arriving back are told by Shep that it is time to eat because the house cook, Ed Robert, has been preparing food since 9am. Either Shep or Ed Robert is pretty darn cheeky. 


The girls join the boys at Shep’s farm, and in cutaways between their hunting trip and the girls’ car ride we witness one of the most unfair conversation in television history. In the span of thirty seconds Kathryn is bombarded with questions about if she wants to marry Thomas and have kids with him. We learned from Cameran (via confessional) that Kathryn, “is beautiful with lots of eggs and men can smell that.” We learned from Jenna (via confessional and hand motions) a barbaric sign for ejaculation. To make this conversation even stranger (though it feels totally normalized) Kathryn asks Danni how she feels about the fact that she hooked up with Shep, given Danni and Shep’s past. In turn, Danni says, “We’re not going to talk about that.” This is not a fair trade. 


Honestly, there are moments in this show when I cannot tell if it is scripted, or showcasing people who just don’t know how to express actual feelings. Every conversation they have with one another that involves an explanation of their emotions feels and looks like they are doing it for the first time. 


In all fairness, I’m probably not great with this either. I once wrote a poem to a girl that metaphorically described her as, “the water to my sea stone.” I was also in seventh grade. I also did not end up dating that girl. And now, I’m a comedian.


Hunter and Jeremy will be hosting Happy Hour BBQ Bingo at The BBQ Joint in Park Circle this Saturday, from 5-8PM. Free.