Well guys, Bravo is trying once again to franchise one of its fan favorites with Southern Charm New Orleans. Did Andy Cohen learn nothing from that Savannah debacle? Whatever. One of the gentlemen from the latest endeavor describes his town as “boobs, beads, and booze,” so there’s that. To say my hopes aren’t high is a bit of an understatement, but I’m willing to give it a go!
Tamica Lee heads to work as morning show anchor. She’s quick to remind us that her father played for the Saints and she’s quite the benefactress. Tamica is married to Barry Smith, who she asserts isn’t nearly as fun as she is. Barry claims to be Mr. Mom. He’s all about driving his kids around town to school and activities. Jeff and Reagan Charleston are married and are the parents to several dogs. Jeff is a former NFL player and Reagan takes a lot of pride of being New Orleans born and raised, with her ancestors basically founding the city (according to her). They are hosting Tamica and Barry at their home. It’s huge. There is a giant foyer that boasts three stories of stairwells. Reagan and Tamica are like sisters, which just means they fight all the time and are extremely competitive. Tamica and Barry are moving into a new house, but Tamica doesn’t want to talk about it with her pal…basically because of that whole competitive piece. Clearly these people already know the golden rule in reality television…keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The following day, Barry is lunching with his friends Jon Moody, Justin Reese, and Jeff. Jon is only twenty-four, but he’s already commissioned paintings for the former president. They commiserate over the traffic and people that Mardi Gras brings to their city. They hate it. Across town, Reagan goes to visit her friend Nicelle who lives in Treme. Nicelle will be riding in one of the parades, and while Reagan finds it tacky to talk about how much it costs to participate, she does it every year as well. Nicelle’s personal Mr. Belvedere provides iced coffee cocktails (Bravo, I see what you’re trying to accomplish, but he’ll never be Patricia Altschul‘s Michael) before other lady future float riders, including Tamica, join them. Nicelle’s massive house is haunted by a very famous madame. That’s significant, right? The girls try on their sexy bird costumes for the parade, and I’m sad that this is what they consider to be fun. Or maybe I’m jealous. Nope, sad.
The men discuss the parade, and Barry finds Mardi Gras to be a great last hurrah before giving up something for Lent. Jeff shares plans for he and Reagan to rent a home in the French Quarter, but Reagan clarifies to her friends that its just a place for her to live when she’s in the city for law school. She’s Elle from Legally Blonde but with bigger boobs. That is her comparison, not mine. I’m already exhausted by this crew. Justin heads home to see his mother Dottie who is poised to be this franchise’s Patricia Altschul. Bravo never deviates from its formula. Justin’s father is a judge and his mother is a successful philanthropist. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Justin is a lawyer whose specializes in being a sports agent. He lives in the house he grew up in (that his parents still own), but like a big boy, he hopes to buy it from them soon. The house was heavily affected by Katrina, and he’s hoping he and his girlfriend Kelsey can move back in with his folks while he renovates their original home. Is Dottie okay with that idea? Dottie is fine with the house guests as long as they clean up after themselves.
On the day of the parade, Reagan and her sister are prepping for their float ride. The sisters have a ten year age difference, but Reagan refuses to tell her sister’s age because it will age her as well. The men escort their women to the float and settle in to watch the craziness ensue. On the float, the women take an IV of vodka, and it’s uncertain if Tamica is still breathing, but whatever…it’s Mardi Gras! Four hours later, she’s conscious and tossing beads like it’s her job. Reagan calls out Tamica for not having sex with her husband in four months, because, that’s what friends do when they know they’re being filmed for a program that will air on national television.
The following day, the crew is recovering. Jon is painting in his studio with his sister. Reagan and Nicelle meeting with a voodoo lady who may be able to shed insight into Tamica’s dry spell. I’ve only been to New Orleans once (a year ago), and my friend and I asked a local for the address for the most legit voodoo person. We were given the name of High Priestess Miriam, and we proceeded to walk two miles outside the French Quarter (past the car lots and malls that define the outskirts of all major cities). She had a film scout in her shop talking about a show (not this one…something on the Discovery network), so we knew she was the real deal. She has a ball python—not a pet, but a prophet. I have a ball python–total pet, and he’s never once given me insight to anything important. I digress, but there is Miriam! I have a spirit doll she made prominently displayed in my den! And her “success and love” oil on the counter in my bathroom (it hasn’t worked for me, but I don’t fault her). I may like this show after all! Miriam gives Reagan some love powder to sprinkle on Tamica’s sheets. That’s not weird at all.
At Tamica and Barry’s house, the couple is getting ready for a big dinner party, and her cousin/bestie/boo/husband by another mother (her aunt?) comes to assist. Guests begin to arrive, including Justin and Kelsey. Tamica is dressed to the nines with Barry coordinating. Reagan brings center pieces, which is odd. Nicelle arrives with Priestess Catherina, who is no Miriam. She’s come to bless the house, and Tamica is equal parts creeped out and thankful for a hostess gift. Catherina glides around with frankincense and myrrh, because if it’s good enough for Jesus, it should be fine for Tamica’s crib.
Before the meal, Tamica welcomes her guests with a local jazz performer, and the guests appear as awkward to be a part of it as it is to watch. Jon gifts the pair with painting for their new home. The folks dine on cotton candy and gumbo before Nicelle presents Tamica with Miriam’s love powder. Tamica educates her guests on how lack of sex with your spouse is normal once you have children. She deflects to Justin and Kelsey. Are they on the pathway to marriage? Kelsey is frustrated and annoyed by this turn of conversation thanks to Justin’s hemming and hawing to avoid the subject. After the meal, Catherina comes around with some tarot cards, and Jeff’s reading says he should be encouraged to look to the future. Jeff isn’t keen on elaborating on what that could mean, but Reagan is quick to tell the party about his shaky relationship with his mother. Reagan’s wine intake allows her to spill the beans on Jeff’s mom shady dealings, and Jeff is forced to share his broken relationship with his parents with the table. Over/under on whether this marriage will survive reality television?
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PREMIERE OF SOUTHERN CHARM NEW ORLEANS? IS IT GOING TO BE BETTER THAN SAVANNAH?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]