Man, oh man, the men on Southern Charm. Just listening to them makes me want to drop to the ground like Danni after a long day of drinking everything but water. If only my fainting spell would cause them as much alarm. The ultimate irony is that they have the women of this show to school them on their bad behavior and they still don’t get it.
Let’s first take the easiest case: Austen and Chelsea. At the final black-tie dinner party, Chelsea is staring across the room as Austen gets really comfortable with Shep’s date, Bailey, whom Shep is royally attracted to because she reminds him of Irish coffee. When Austen sits back down next to Chelsea, she says to him, “Do you know when you come with me and another girl sits on your lap and you rub her back it makes me look like an idiot?” She is absolutely 100 percent right. It’s one thing to be a little flirty, but to be so obviously physical when he is there with someone else is caddish behavior that not even a professional lacrosse player would deem appropriate.
Of course Austen’s response is, “I didn’t know.” None of these guys know. None of these guys know how to treat women with the respect they deserve because they’re used to getting whatever they want and if they don’t, they move on to the next in a long string of sorority blondes who don’t mind their attention as long as they get some validation and free drinks out of it. After Chelsea tells him this, he turns it around and makes it sound like her fault because she won’t be exclusive with him. I can understand the confusion, but the fact that they’re not exclusive doesn’t mean he can’t treat her with common decency. Chelsea then calls Austen’s bluff and says, “Well, we’re exclusive now, so keep them hands to yourself.”
Meanwhile, Cameran was dealing with all of the guys because, apparently, she has to explain how to be an actual human to these grope factories. I don’t get what she sees in them. She even loves Craig after he makes her a “Coming Soon 2017” onesie for her yet-to-be-conceived baby. This gift makes no sense. When the baby finally comes, is it going to wear something that says “coming soon”? No, it’s already arrived. Is the “coming soon” a reference to the smelly poo load it’s going to drop in its pants once every three hours? Is that it?
At the end of the Key West trip, Cameran has to sit Craig down and explain that he can’t talk to Naomie like he does in public, because it’s inappropriate and it’s making him look like an asshole in front of the group. He counters that Naomie says mean things to him in private and he’s just acting out. That is true, but if Craig continues to tell her she’s stupid and awful in front of everyone, he is going to lose if and when they break up — and it’s really a when at this point.
Maybe it’s something that Cameran says to him or maybe something that Kathryn says to Naomie that gets them to reconcile. Yes, take a minute for that to seep in. Kathryn Calhoun Dennis, an eye streaked in mascara and wet with tears that grew an entire body around itself, is giving Naomie mature and insightful relationship advice and it’s actually working. The world is currently spinning in the other direction and making all of us motion sick.
Armed by these women, Craig and Naomie have a deep conversation and they both realize that they’re treating each other poorly and Naomie takes responsibility for her actions for the first time. Craig seems to come around slightly, or at least seem a little less wounded and they agree to work things out in their relationship. I think they should start by taking Gizmo to a farm upstate with lots of room to play and leaving him there. He looks like one of those cats that just exhales evil into a room like secondhand smoke. Regardless, I think it would be easier for the two of them to break up, but at least they’re giving this the old middle-school try. (That is because Craig has the vocabulary of a middle-schooler.)
When Cameran is trying to teach Craig what’s what, she also has to teach Shep a thing or two. That is because he decided to spend their last morning in Key West tottering around drunk on beer like the least popular kid at the junior prom. She warned him to switch to water and he didn’t listen and ended up so wasted that he is kicked off his flight and winds up getting in a fight with some man in the airport after he spilled his water all over the guy. He then proceeds to choke on a chicken bone, which ends up lodged in his throat for six hours. He is obviously so numbed by his Irish coffees that he doesn’t even notice.
The episode ends with Shep and Craig, who missed his own flight to babysit Shep, getting in a fight because Shep is so drunk that he won’t even let Craig talk. Shep keeps throwing out historical analogies that have nothing to do with the situation that Craig is trying to fix between Landon and Cathryn. Just like Vizzini says in The Princess Bride, trying to fix this relationship, like getting into a land war in Asia, is one of the world’s biggest blunders. Craig shouldn’t be meddling, but Shep meddling in his meddling and the resultant charley horse that Craig gives him make them all look like a bunch of idiots.
Now we have to talk about Thomas, the worst man of them all. In the last episode, we saw Landon tell Thomas not to treat Kathryn like crap in public anymore, which leads him to break off their barely nascent relationship with a text that quotes Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever,” he texts Landon and also tells J.D. Um, sorry, Thomas, but the point of that quote is that Mr. Darcy is displaying the pride of the title when talking to Elizabeth and it’s only after he gets over that pride that they can fall in love and be happy. So, yeah, that quote doesn’t really mean what he thinks it means. It’s like he says, “He who laughs last laughs best” while cackling his way to the electric chair.
While discussing this with J.D., Thomas says that women should revere him and cherish that he would even consider a relationship with him. “I gave her the opportunity to date me,” he says, as if every woman in the world is waiting to be with him if only he would deign to give her a chance. Then he says he’ll be nice to Landon, like she’s a waitress and he’ll make her get him a drink and then tip her. Say what? What kind of awful knee-slapping skullduggery is that?
This turns Landon off even further. As she tells her sister, a grown woman unironically named Bam, “I hate it when men like that try to control us with money and power.” Yes, I know you all hate Landon and she has a voice like skinny dipping in a lake of razor blades, but she is right on this account. She knows the score and she won’t be condescended to by these rich, entitled bastards. That is, as she reminds us, why she got divorced in the first place. If even Landon, a woman who can’t find a name for her travel website, can figure out that a guy is a turd flirter (that is an insult I just invented) of the highest order, then he must be really damn busted.
Still, there is nothing worse than Thomas and Kathryn. He’s totally manipulating her by using her children as pawns and it is almost as gross as Kathryn’s beauty look when she was lying on the beach in Key West. (Seriously, she looked like an albino kewpie doll with alopecia who ate too many cherries.) When Kathryn tries to get Thomas to negotiate with her and get the lawyers out of it, it seems to almost work. However, when Kathryn comes over to discuss things at Thomas’s house, he doesn’t comment on her fitness as a mother or her qualities as a sober person. He only talks about her ass. Yes, he is only concerned about how attractive she still is to him.
After what seems like a good discussion, he then hugs her like an otter trying to seize the last salmon living on Earth. He’s sniffing her and rubbing himself against her and she just has to lie there and take it so that she can continue to see her kids. But there is still something about her that loves him. They kiss and we all hear about it at the party that ends the season. At that party, Kathryn and Thomas have another discussion and once again affirm their love for each other. They are reality television’s Taylor and Burton, two mutually destructive forces who can’t stay away from each other. They are like a storm cloud and lightning, forever entwined in each other’s wrath, a cycle of anger and passion, of tumult and ruin, that can’t possibly stop because it is not natural, it is elemental. I can’t stand to watch it for even one more second, and if I turn away my eyes will wilt from boredom.