This premiere of Southern Charm had a really bizarre structure. Well, I don’t know if this isn’t what an episode of the show usually looks like because, full disclosure, I’ve never watched it before. However, based on how many fans of the show have told me about it on Twitter and kvetched about it in the comments section of the Real Housewives recaps here on Vulture, it is something we really need to be paying more attention to. You’ve finally gotten your wish, and we’ll be recapping this season. No, I am not going back to watch everything that happened before, I’m just going to jump in and figure things out. If I’m missing anything or there’s any history that I need to be aware of, please let me know in the comments. This isn’t just a recap, people, it’s a collaboration. In the name of all of Shep’s ironic Speedos, don’t let me down.
Anyway, the episode starts with Thomas, a 50-year-old man who seems unbothered by the fact that he is surrounded by 20-somethings and is trying to convince them to shed their tops. He takes Landon, a pretty redhead who looks like a Strawberry Shortcake doll that someone turned into a real girl, out for a walk. They sit on a park bench while the sun sets, and she asks about the future. Thomas tells her that his future is with her, and he thinks they should give their relationship a shot.
Then, immediately, we backtrack three months to find out exactly how we got here. This is a common reality-television trope, like when The Real Housewives of New Jersey initially started with Teresa Giudice flipping a table and shouting “prostitution whore” and then we rewind to figure out how these unassuming suburbanites eventually devolved into this chaos. Okay, so it seems like the big key to this season will be the Landon and Thomas romance.
But wait. As we get hip to the events of three months ago, there is one event that looms above all others: Kathryn’s return to Charleston. From what I can discern, Kathryn lost custody of her kids with Thomas because she failed a drug test. Thomas is now raising the kids in his guesthouse, because that seems like a reasonable thing to do for a man who owns a polo pony named Guapo. Anyway, Kathryn’s return from rehab in California is teased with the sort of drawn-out anticipation usually reserved for when Rachel Maddow has the first page of a tax return for a sitting president.
Based on that, the real moment to wait for isn’t when Landon and Thomas start dating, but just how the hell Kathryn is going to react when she finds out. She and Thomas are clearly the mentally deranged mint-scented paste holding this whole mess together, so why are we now trying to care about Thomas and Landon? I don’t care about them. I have only seen Kathryn for a combined 90 seconds and all I really want to know about is whether or not she passed her drug test. (I hope she didn’t.)
We learn a bit more about Kathryn and Thomas at the pool party that Eliza throws for everyone. She seems new to the show, but like a fun addition. She clearly knows how to throw a pool party because she hired some hot, shirtless bartenders and rented a giant, inflatable Slip ‘N’ Slide, which is basically just like a bouncy castle for grownups, and it is freaking awesome. Anyway, Landon and Thomas talk to Kathryn’s cousin, Shelby, at the party. Shelby, who looks like a blackout in a pair of wedges, told them she had to kick Kathryn out of her house. That can’t be a good sign.
The other thing we see at the pool party is Landon’s new boyfriend, Drew, who is as hot as the day is long. Drew has the deep pink suntan of someone who pays more attention to how much mud he’s getting on his truck than whether or not he’s applied sunblock. He also has as many abs as the South has red states. Too bad he shows up wearing a shirt that is absolutely drenched in sweat. Yeah, I get it, it’s really hot out. But you are ripped and at a pool party, son? Sun’s out, guns out, and all that.
What else happened at the party? Shep was there with his friend Austen, who not only spells his name wrong but also lives in a beer-bottle-strewn apartment that is the frattiest thing that I have ever seen in my life, and I used to be in a Dave Matthews cover band. They are basically like twins, and I sort of want to watch their sex tape. Do you think they have one? I bet they do. Oh, and did anyone notice that when we first meet Austen he disrobes to take a shower and we see his full ass? Like it was not even side ass or half-crack or anything like that. It was just a big, bright, full-on ass shot. This is Bravo and it’s not even 10 p.m.! What if the children see?
Shep and Austen both meet Chelsea, one of Cameran’s friends who seems like she’s going to be some sort of lynch pin to a love triangle between the two. Does this all seem a little Chasing Amy to any of you? Also, Shep talks to Craig’s girlfriend Naomi about whether or not Craig wants to be a lawyer. Why is everyone so obsessed with Craig’s career plans? I get that he lied to everyone about finishing law school, but if he wants to be a lawyer or doesn’t want to be a lawyer, why do any of them care?
My favorite part about Craig is that he is currently unemployed so he’s just building ugly things in his backyard to put next to the hot tub. He says that while he’s not studying for the bar, he is a professional gardener and contractor. Um, he taught himself watching tutorials on YouTube. That’s sort of like thinking he can take the bar because he’s seen every episode of The Good Wife.
The only people we haven’t really talked about yet are Whitney, who is like Kevin Spacey if he starred in Sliding Doors, and he’s the version where none of the good things that happened to Kevin Spacey ever happened to him. The only reason I care about him is because of his mother, Patricia, who has a butler and a magic button she presses, and she can’t figure out how to use it. I want to move into the antebellum house that Patricia owns and have tea with her every single day of the year. You people are all sleeping on Patricia and think we should care about Kathryn and Landon and Thomas and all this other nonsense that is going on with all of these blonde girls I can’t keep apart. I want to know what Chauncey thinks about all of these things. Don’t you?