Before we get into the drama of this episode, and there was about as much of it as there are edible treats in a vegan bakery, can we talk about the fashion? The past several seasons Kathryn’s really stepped up her game and has given us some truly excellent and editorial looks. (Remember her amazing skiing ensembles?) Now it just seems like, well, she’s trying too hard. She shows up to get manicures with Danni and she’s wearing a pair of tight, pink high-waisted pants, a ’60s-inspired pink-and-brown patterned top, and a pink “cheerleader ribbon” in a high pony that can only be described as “cover of MILF magazine” hair. To cap it all off, she’s wearing pink strappy heels with tiny white socks with lace around the ankles, which she apparently stole from her daughter.
This is not high fashion. This is not couture. This is someone playing dress up and hoping that she’s going to look great. She also shows up to Austen’s booth at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival wearing a sheer magenta dress that is too cold for the spring day. Maybe she could have sloughed off some of the makeup on her face and turned it into a shawl and she would have been okay. Could Kathryn not afford a Priv technician this season to do her makeup, because it looks very high-school girl going to prom and trying something new she saw on a YouTube tutorial and failing? It’s thicker than the crust on a Chicago pizza.
The guys do not escape mention either, and something needs to be done about all the denim jackets going around like some kind of fashion flu. When John Pringles pops over to Patricia’s, he can’t stop himself from wearing a denim jacket. When he arrives, Patricia’s son Whitney is wearing an almost identical one. These are not, like, cool biker denim jackets or the short of hip thing you’d see on a young actor in Hollywood. These are stiff Wrangler jackets that smack of middle-aged men dressing the part to go to an Old 97s concert. It’s like the cover of the O Brother, Where Aren’t Thou soundtrack.
When Pringle wears either the same denim jacket or a similar one (if he has two of these, then I’ll be a monkey’s nut sack) to the Food Fest, Madison tells him that Austen was also going to wear a denim jacket but she thought it was too girly. However, she says, Pringle doesn’t look girly in it at all. He looks the very definition of butch. That’s because he walks around in a hirsute cloud of entitlement. At a young age he was given the mantle of the patriarchy and he wears it well. None of us can help falling for it because it has fooled us into thinking that it is the most attractive thing in the world. Don’t be hypnotized, Madison. This man is a day trader. He’s basically a gambler with an MBA and a lip full of dip.
Speaking of clothes, we discover this episode that new roommates Craig and Austen are dipping into each other’s wardrobes. Well, maybe that’s incorrect. Craig is swiping Austen’s polos and wearing them, but other than the fact that they’re extra baggy on Craig there is no way to differentiate who the clothes actually belong to because they both wear the same preppy uniform. As a member of a homosexual couple, I will say one of the extra joys we are afforded is swiping each other’s clothes. I also have the added benefit of sharing a shoe size with my partner, which is absolutely amazing when poppa needs a new pair of shoes and absolutely horrendous when my favorite pair of sneakers goes missing. Craig seems to be taking advantage of this new perk of roomie life.
There are other suspicious behaviors of Craig’s. He’s asking Austen when he’s going to be home and cooking all their meals. He hates Madison, Austen’s girlfriend. It seems like Craig has either stopped dating or put his romantic life on hold. Is he … in love with Austen? When they’re talking about their new living situation, Craig says, “I’d make a hell of a boyfriend.” Is that a desired role? Is that what Craig, a future pillow magnate and (ahem) interior designer, wants in life? Whitney tells them that they should try out a relationship. “We have been trying it out,” Austen tells him. Is there more to this story than we know? Are the two of them going to settle into domestic bliss and discover that their real affection is not for the floozies they chase around but for the deep abiding masculine love of Walt Whitman and Lance Bass?
That was only a blip in this episode, as was Leva, whom we learn a little bit more about. She is married to a nice gentleman named Lamar and they own a bunch of bars that are all on the same street, sort of like a strip mall of debauchery. The only thing she really did, other than give her adorable son a cake pop from Starbucks, was to show up to Shep’s Dumb and Dumber party to totally read Kathryn for lying and saying that Cameran’s husband Jason was having an affair. She shut that down with a swiftness.
After Leva says that Cameran has a beautiful family and she doesn’t want Kathryn ruining that, Kathryn says, “Well I thought I had a beautiful family too,” and says that Cameran is getting what she had coming for being mean to Kathryn for five years. Okay, here’s the difference: Based on the clips we saw (and, you know, watching the show), Cameran was always saying that Kathryn was chaotic and she didn’t want any part of that. At the time, Kathryn was as chaotic as Britney and Kevin’s reality show. Remember her running down the street in her fur chasing after Thomas? It is one thing to say that Cameran didn’t want to be around her energy. It is another thing to spread rumors about someone to get back at them. Kathryn needs to learn the difference.
The other big drama at the party is that Shep invited both Austen and Madison, whom he’s trying to make amends with after their falling out last season, and his friends Peter and Liz. Apparently Peter had sex with Madison not that long ago and Liz is pissed when Madison shows up. Shep claims he did it by mistake and is very sorry indeed for the double booking, but it was still awkward for everyone involved, especially Austen, who didn’t know about the hookup and was then confronted by Liz at the party and told he should “make better choices” in his personal life.
I think Madison handled it brilliantly and says, essentially, “This was a one-night stand that happened when I was single and it’s no one’s business.” Amen, sister. Austen says he’s only upset because he had to find out about it at the party and not from Madison. I get that, but also, why would she bring it up? Does she have to divulge every mediocre D to ever come within a three-foot radius of her? The problem with the whole scenario is that after Shep was a jerk last season and brought the girl who Austen cheated on Madison with as his date to a party to humiliate them both, they think that Shep set them up once again.
When Shep, Craig, and Austen go to pump iron together like a bunch of circuit queens trying to get jacked before a group trip to Mykonos, Shep apologizes to Austen and says he didn’t know it would cause an episode, and he seems very sincere. Craig is shocked because he has never seen Shep apologize before.
Everyone finally converges at the Food Fest, where Austen shows up nice and early with a petite blonde in a pink hat who is helping him set everything up. I thought to myself, Oh, Madison is so supportive. Then, two minutes later, Madison strolls up to the booth in a sexy tank top and a killer blowout, and then I thought, Wait, who is that other chick? Does Austen just have, like, clones of her lined up to do all of his work for him?
But it seems like there isn’t a ton of work getting done at King’s Calling Brewing Company. Austen brags that it is on tap at several popular bars in Charleston. Okay, that is fine for a hobby, but what about national distribution? What about ordering it online? Loverboy has a bigger market share than King’s Calling’s one product. While at Patricia’s, she’s trying to set Pringle up with Madison because she thinks that Austen doesn’t deserve her. Whitney tries to use his beer label to show that he’s hustling. “He’s in three shops in Charleston,” Patricia drawls with venom. “That’s not Budweiser. Madison deserves Budweiser.”
Shep finally shows up at the booth and he and Madison start to have words about what happened at the party. Austen tries to tell them to do it another time. They continue to fight anyway. Austen asks them to move it to the back of the tent. No, they’re still going hard at each other.
“Seriously, knock it off guys.”
“Hold on, one minute we’re almost done.”
“Yeah, this is the best time for this conversation.”
Austen lets out an exhausted sigh as he goes to sell another Trop Hop hat.
The fight really is dumb, though. Madison is mad that Shep set her up again, Shep apologizes and says he honestly didn’t mean to and didn’t really know about Madison and Peter until that night. She is mad to be mad and he is sorry to be sorry and neither of them are really progressing. It’s going to be a long season of, as Shep describes it, a cold war where they have their missiles trained on each other but are smiling.
In a similar situation, in the front of the booth, Austen and Craig also have their missiles trained on each other and are smiling. As the fight roils behind them, Craig reaches his hand over toward Austen’s, out of sight so the crowd can’t see, and Craig wraps his pinkie around Austen’s pinkie, like two kitties settling in for a warm nap.