I've never had more of a conflicting feeling when recapping a new show. On one hand, I couldn't wait for the train wreck that is Bravo's Southern Charm. On the other hand, it's a train wreck that's filmed in my backyard of Charleston, South Carolina. Okay, so maybe it's not technically my backyard because I am certainly not living South of Broad (anymore…I did rent a carriage house for two years in law school that was in the exclusive area blocks from the Battery, but it didn't have central air or any form of heat which made it less hoity-toity!), but this is a small town. Everywhere I went yesterday I heard people talking about the show with equal parts disgust and intrigue…which is exactly how I approached it! I do have to applaud Bravo for finally making dudes look like total d-bags instead of focusing on women who eat, sleep, and breathe drama.
And so it begins. In the opening montage, I see my office and my church. It's surreal, but I have a feeling it's something I'm going to have to get used to as the season progresses. I apologize in advance for being all "fan girl" over the city…not the participants in this debacle! Thomas Ravenel, the state's former treasurer, is just ridiculous. I'm going to have the hardest time not being horribly snarky when it comes to T-Rav. I once saw him making out at an oyster bar, and it was sloppy. Then he went to jail. As he's being introduced, co-star Whitney Sudler-Smith (who is also listed as an executive producer on the show…really, Andy Cohen?) does a spot-on interpretation of the name-dropping Southerner. T-Rav opens by reinventing himself on a radio show. Good times.
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Shepard "Shep" Rose's claim to fame is that is family is so old and prestigious that the state dog is named after them. He's a Vanderbilt grad who is "passionate about leisure." He's lunching with Cameran Eubanks. Welcome back, Cameran. I'm glad to see she's ditched the Clemson sweatshirt she sported throughout her season on the Real World in exchange for outfits that I covet. The pair runs through the bases that Shep has attained with a recent make-out partner named MJ. MJ is playing hard to get as she didn't come over to watch a movie/give up the goods. Shep believes that Cameran is one of the rare hot girls who is totally one of the guys. I can actually see that, and she's clearly the most likeable, although I'm not sure that's saying much at this juncture. She's hoping to groom him into the perfect Southern husband who runs around on his wife with girls who haven't been born yet.
Whitney has a hybrid accent…it's not quite the Lowcountry drawl of T-Rav and the other South of Broad royalty with their their slow speak and sing-song inflection (it's really a pretty accent when–WHEN–it's authentic). Instead, it sounds like he's trying to pretend like he's Irish. His mother (and roommate), does not sound like this, so I know it's got to be something he's rehearsed. I'm already championing for a Whitney's mom spin-off. She loves her gin (and hence, I love her) and wonders why her son has a bag full of Ann Taylor clothing on his bedroom floor. You may think she's wondering why her grown-ass son shacks up with girls in her home, but really she just finds it tacky that her son is hooking up with girls who shop at Ann Taylor instead of the high end King Street boutiques.
I just threw up in my mouth. T-Rav is meeting with his political consultant Will Folks who is one of the most inflammatory, derogatory "voices" in the South Carolina blogosphere. His website is like Nik Richie's The Dirty under the guise of political awareness. It's basically a bunch of local stories peppered with pictures of hot chicks in bikinis. I realize most of you have never heard of him, but when our, ahem, Governor was campaigning, Will claimed to have had an affair with her…and that's one of the nicer instances on his rap sheet. I can't even. The two men discuss the fact that T-Rav needs to settle down with a woman of great pedigree to further his political aspirations. They give a full genealogy report on a potential bride named Kathryn, and all I can say to this girl is: RUN!
Let's meet Craig Conover! He's currently in his third year of law school at my alma mater. Do you hear that? It's the sound of my degree plummeting in value. Thank goodness I have a job. He touts his "job" as a reason that he can't day drink…like he used to, at least. His boss implores him to come into work on time, but Craig is too busy "embracing what Charleston stands for" which is being a socialite. Craig explains to his boss that his new Bravo friends like T-Rav aren't forced into this ridiculous work schedule. Welcome to how the real half lives, Craig.
The gang convenes for a downtown drinking party. Cameran reminds us that girls in Charleston outnumber the men ten to one, and it's these girls' life mission to marry well and pop out kids ready for private school. Shep finds fault in this line of thinking, but sadly, I think it's just his angle on flirting. T-Rav arrives and denounces Will's advice. He can't pick a wife like he'd pick a croissant. Craig then joins his friends after a hectic day "in court" where I'm guessing he just sat next to his boss while ordering him lunch on his iPhone. T-Rav hones in on the aforementioned Kathryn who he calls Senate Barbie for her semester paging in the state house. He also calls her a celebutante. Somewhere on the West Coast Paris Hilton is fuming. It's also the second time in five minutes he's likened Kathryn's family to a powerful scion of the South. He must have just learned that word. P.S. She's twenty-one and often the butt of nasty jokes on Will's site. T-Rav is forty-eight according to his Bravo bio. Which means fifty-one in real life.
I'm a little disappointed that Thomas doesn't have Kuerig…isn't he supposed to be rich? He's making two cups of coffee this morning because a Southern gentleman should always bring his hook-up a nice mug of java after doing the dirty. Kathryn is lounging on his four-poster with the requisite amount of bed head a sorority girl sports after an especially fun frat party. T-Rav is explaining that he may have been thinking with his "little head" when he brought her home. #hisfamilyisn'tmortifiedatall
Jenna King is introduced, and she's a world-traveler with a funky haircut who hails from the smallish town of Sumter. She bores easily. Jenna and Whitney are besties who like to shop and dine at premiere downtown establishments. Whitney likes Jenna because she doesn't look like Lilly Pulitizer threw up on her (that's definitely a thing here), and she isn't afraid to push the envelope. I will certainly give her credit where credit is due in that department. Across town, Thomas is meeting up with his pal J.D. who reminds us that Charleston is all about day drinking. Who can keep up with A.M. or P.M. when bourbon is involved? His bow tie is almost as big as T-Rav's ego. Thomas shares that Will wants him to pick a lady for his future political campaign. He kisses and tells (such a gentleman!) about his night with Kathryn and wants his friend's advice. Thomas says he may be understating the fact that she's "a little young." That's code for "she could be his daughter."
Cameran, Jenna, and Whitney are meeting up for cocktails. Cameran and Jenna have been acquaintances since high school. Welcome to South Carolina, the place where girls who grew up three hours apart were on each others' radar back in their teens. It truly happens. Cameran has just finished her real estate exam after a long career in make-up sales. The trio is dishing on T-Rav's upcoming polo match. They joke about him getting a tramp stamp of the Ravenel bridge while in prison. I think wine may have just come out of my nose. Well played! Could I be starting to like these people? I think so!
country house plantation, he's prepping for polo. Polo has been T-Rav's therapy since leaving the big house. The girls are getting decked out for the big event, although Cameran finds it ridiculous and hilarious that rich people feel the need to dress up to walk around in horse shit. Amen, sister. She's by far my favorite. Before taking to their horses, Thomas and J.D. are taking pulls off some Woodford Reserve. Y'all know he's put over a million dollars into this polo field! Of course he has! Shep shows up pretending like he just won the Masters in his green blazer while Whitney is bucking tradition in an outfit more fitting for Def Leppard's Behind the Music. Craig is just so excited to be there as he's taking an absence in Con Law for the event. I may have made that up, but I wouldn't doubt if it's true. Craig is enamored by the polo field, but if it were up to him, the money would have been better spent on a bedroom water slide. Jenna arrives, and the guys compete for her attention while adhering to the strict rules of the Bro Code. Barney Stinson just hung up his suit in utter disappointment. T-Rav's army of caterers descends upon the party with copious amounts of sausage. This show just writes itself. T-Rav says a hybrid prayer/toast before Cameran starts trying to figure out Thomas' type with a Gone With the Wind reference. A part of me just died.
Over dinner, Shep is hitting on Jenna and her Michael Jackson glove, and Whitney knows that all he can think about is motor-boating. Shep believes that he's bringing his A-game, but Jenna is clearly not interested. Cameran decides to bring up T-Rav's less than stellar reputation at the table, but it's okay, because he's #blessed. T-Rav jokes that he never had a problem with cocaine (the trafficking of which ended him up in the slammer…I maybe should have mentioned that earlier), he just likes the smell of it. He's a witty one! After hopping off the dock fully clothed for some good, clean fun, the crew changes clothes. Whitney approaches T-Rav about dialing it back a bit in an effort to revive his career. No more coke jokes. No more man-whoring. Whitney, quit when you're ahead. T-Rav explains that he was never reckless…it was the laws that were reckless. Eff public perception. T-Rav then quotes MacBeth to prove his point. Geez. Is this for real?
I realize that I may seem snarkier than normal, but I think it's because this show literally hits so close to home. It will be interesting to see if it holds the audience's attention. Even if I didn't recap it, I would have watched out of sheer wonder, but I'm not sure if it will continue to appeal to Bravo's loyal fan base. I am sure half of these people are folks I'd laugh with over a cocktail. It just pains me to know that they'll be in the Watch What Happens Live clubhouse soon. Also, if you didn't watch Southern Charm in real time, might I recommend viewing with Charleston's local paper's drinking game?
TELL US-WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PREMIERE OF SOUTHERN CHARM? WILL YOU KEEP WATCHING?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]