I was beginning to think that the word “problematic” has become so overused in dissections of pop culture that it has become sort of a meaningless cliché. That is, until I became acquainted with Thomas Ravenel, a man who is so incredibly problematic that one could write hot takes about him every single day of the week and still have enough content to make another vlog, four Snapchat stories, and three posts of his nude photos into the world’s best subreddit, Ladyboners Gone Wild. (Trust me, you should Google that very NSFW page the next time you have a few spare moments in a place where you can take your pants off.)
Thomas Ravenel is a man who owns a property that he calls a “plantation” and from what we’ve seen of the place, I can’t find any visual evidence why you would call it that. Patricia’s house is more stately and antebellum than whatever it is that Thomas has on his land. It looks like a giant Sears shed on stilts because its might flood or something. It’s just like a boring suburban house with some wood siding. There are no architectural details that would make one think that this is an old plantation house, at least from my unschooled perspective.
Surrounding the house are not fields full of crops, but mostly just grass and trees. Yes, there is a polo pitch, but that makes me think more of steamy Argentine telenovelas than it does the land of cotton. So what exactly is it about this place that makes it a plantation? Sure, it might have been a plantation in former times, but now that it looks nothing like it, you would think you might want to call it something else like “polo grounds” or “country home.” But no, Thomas calls it a plantation because he is obsessed with showing off how old his family is and how much money they have, which is the antithesis of old money, but whatever. Thomas wants people to think he’s rich and noble and that his ancestors owned other human beings. He does not apologize for that and is sort of proud of it. Girl, that is problematic.
Oh, and that’s not the only problematic thing that he does in this episode. Let us not forget that he and Whitney sit on a couch in their pastel checked shirts (apparently the only shirts sold in South Carolina are pastel checked shirts) and talk about the “ass and legs” of a woman who is standing nearby. Even though she is quite shapely, Thomas dismisses her for having “cankles.” Whitney is a suitably disgusting cohort for Thomas, who yells, “Tits ahoy!” for no discernible reason whatsoever when approaching Shep’s boat party.
Later, when Thomas’s intended paramour Landon comes over, he tells her twice that she is OC, which he explains means “our class.” Each time he says this, he winks at her, his face like a sphincter clenching to hold in a fart so noxious that it would clear out the vegetation from three surrounding counties like it was the human biological equivalent of Agent Orange.
We haven’t even gotten to how Thomas won’t give his daughter a kiss when she’s screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” while being wheeled away by the nanny. This upsets Craig a whole lot and he decides to tell Kathryn all about it when they have dinner together. This is Kathryn’s first face-to-face interaction with a cast member we’ve seen and it doesn’t go very well. First of all, it seems that Kathryn has developed a severe allergy to getting her hair and makeup done. That is her prerogative, sure. But she is also on a television program and her lax beauty regimen is not doing her any favors at all.
It is stupid of Craig to put himself in the middle of the custody dispute between Kathryn and Thomas and say anything about the way that Thomas is raising the kids. There is reality-TV meddling, which is to be expected, and then there is messing with someone’s life, which is what Craig seems to be doing. That’s especially true because Kathryn says she is unclear about the rules to follow so she can get back partial custody of her children. Um, I don’t think an extensive knowledge of the rules is necessary. How about don’t do a ton of drugs, be a reasonable human being, and parent your children like they deserve to be treated? I’ve never been in a family court before, but that seems like it would cover just about everything a judge would want her to do.
Now I guess it’s time to talk about the Shep, Austen, and Chelsea love triangle, which seems, I don’t know, a little manufactured. It’s all just a bit too neat, rolling out in a very good way for a multitude of characters, including Cameran, who has no idea what French kissing is and whose only job on this entire program seems to be communicating between boys and girls who like each other like she’s the busiest gossip at the eighth-grade semi-formal.
While Shep is away, Austen (who not only lives in a tiny apartment, but lives in a tiny apartment with a roommate) goes out on a date with Chelsea. They get wasted and Austen invites her back to his apartment. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he is no better than Shep. We never learn if she goes or not, but we do know that she’s made out with both guys. For the record, she says that Austen is the better “kisser” because she feels more emotion from him, like he might actually care about her as a human being, whereas Shep treats her like a blow-up doll that a witch sprinkled with magic dust and one day turned into a real human.
When Shep gets back, he tries to rekindle things with Chelsea by letting her cut his hair. (Note to all straight dudes: letting a woman perform her job on you is not a good way to get her in a romantic mood.) But finally, at his birthday boat party, Shep seems to have completely lost Chelsea. She’s way more into Austen and goes off with him to talk on the back of the boat while Shep is chasing the coterie of skanks that he’s filled a cruise ship with. Other than Cameran’s urging otherwise, he seems to have given up on Chelsea altogether. See, it just seems too neat. It’s like they needed something to argue about so they manufactured this boring Young and the Rest of Us story line. But, and here is the problematic part, it isn’t up to either of them who “gets” Chelsea. It’s up to her to decide. She is a human being with her own wants and desires and is completely capable of choosing her own choice. Now if only these check-shirted man-babies will let her.