There was at least one giant shock during this episode of Southern Charm, but before we can get to that, we have to have a little discussion about names. Did you see when Madison’s babysitter showed up and her name is Camdyn. Camdyn?! What sort of ungodly collection of letters is that? I don’t blame the poor teenage girl; I blame her parents, who either think they’re clever or have no idea how to spell. Also, a confusingly spelled first name lines you up perfectly for a future job as a blood-thirsty reality star. Just ask Candiace Dillard.
When Craig is awoken at 11:09 a.m. with a sink full of empty Bud Light cans by his assistant, her name flashes onscreen and it is Anna-Heyward. A double-barreled first name! What are we? French?! I would guess this might be a southern thing, but she doesn’t seem to have an accent at all. Again, I can’t blame her for having a first name that sounds like an entire name of a studio-system-era romantic-comedy star, but seriously, parents, what’s wrong with just plain Mary or Margaret or Myrtle? That last one even has a seemingly inappropriate but totally justified Y in the middle of it.
Not everything in the episode was horrible, though. I must draw your attention to the Barrell, the bar that Shep and Danni visit with their dogs Craig and Lucy. (Everyone who lives in Brooklyn has a pair of friends named Craig and Lucy.) This is a bar with a dog run attached so that owners can have several pints at picnic tables while their dogs play with other canines and generally have the best day a good boy or good girl can possibly have. This is the most brilliant idea I have ever seen on television, and it’s not even on Shark Tank. I would invest in a whole chain of these and I would open the first one in Park Slope and it would be called Craig and Lucy’s.
The website for the bar says that the backyard is totally fenced in, except they don’t fence off access to the creek that runs alongside the property so Craig and Lucy keep going and splashing around in the muck and getting all covered in mud. No one wants to have to deal with dirty dog mess when you’re three Trop Hops into a lovely afternoon. Maybe there should be an optional doggy door to the creek?
Shep also takes his girlfriend Taylor out to dinner with Madison and Austen as a way to smooth over his tumultuous past with Madison. They seem to get along great, even though both Shep and Austen order for their dates, which makes me want to go find a ’50s-era filmstrip about courting, turn it into a Molotov cocktail, and set the patriarchy on fire. Madison gets her revenge, however, when she finds out that Shep and Taylor have not DTR-ed, or “defined the relationship.” “Why don’t you have the talk right now?” Madison chides as discomfort reigns across the table.
Shep says, “Okay, we’re together. That’s the talk.” That’s sweet that Shep is finally willing to settle down with someone — something his therapist seems to be helping with — but also awful in that it wasn’t so much a discussion as Shep declaring what he wants and citing the matter closed before Taylor even gets to put down her pinot. She seems happy with it, which is good, but still. Give the lady an opinion and her own menu with the actual prices on it.
The big shock happens at Leva’s Persian-themed dinner, where she and her mother cook Iranian food for a bunch of ladies, including Madison, Kathryn, and Danni. While at dinner, Kathryn gets a text from her lawyer confirming that Thomas has gotten another woman pregnant and she’s keeping the baby. She is six or seven months along. Apparently, her lawyer had to confirm this news with Thomas because he wouldn’t tell her.
Okay, let’s break down everything we learned. Kathryn tells Danni that she heard that Thomas was spotted at an OB/GYN with a woman that was showing. She also says that she found a positive pregnancy test in the house she is currently sharing with Thomas and their children while she is finishing renovations on her own home. So, she knew about all of this and still she needed her lawyer to confirm what happened. Still she was harboring fantasies of a reconciliation? There is denial, there is the river in Egypt, and then there is drowning yourself in that river with the delusions that you could get back together with this man and have a happy, stable family.
When she asked Thomas why he didn’t tell her, he says, “Why would I tell you,” which is the most awful Thomas thing to ever be uttered and all of this makes me even more upset that Bravo thought it was acceptable to sully our television screens with this human skid mark during the season premiere. The only positive in this whole scenario is that the woman he got pregnant is not Ashley. Now Kathryn has to go back home knowing all of this and live with the man. Oh, Kathryn. Just move into that garage sale of a mess you call your house and get it over with. This man is a dog, and it is time he is left alone with his fleas.
The dinner is actually nice, though, and it’s lovely to hear Leva talk about what it is like being a brown woman in lily-white Charleston. She says when she first got to town, she would see the lines outside of clubs and they would be either lines of white people or lines of Black people and she didn’t know where she belonged. That’s why she wanted to open a club that was for everyone. It’s also nice of her to talk openly about how many people weren’t as open-minded or accepting as she would have liked.
The real kicker, though, is when someone asks how different it is being Persian in Charleston and she talks about how her parents left an oppressive country when her mother found out she was pregnant with a girl. She wanted to move to North America so that her daughters would have equal access to education and opportunity that they wouldn’t have in Iran. She wanted them to be able to decide who they wanted to be and what they wanted to wear with the church and state, because they’re the same thing, dictating what they could and couldn’t do. This was the bit of multiculturalism this show has been missing all along, and it is heartwarming to see that this worldview can be compatible to life in the American South, even though it is still contentious.
While the girls are at dinner the boys — Craig, Austen, Whitney, Shep, and new dude John Pringle — pop off to a fratty-looking Charleston bar where they can’t stop hitting on some 25-year-old girls nearby. This was the first time I ever looked at their antics and thought it was sad. Here are a bunch of middle-aged men taking shots on a random weeknight and trying to seem like cool bros about town with people half their ages. No, guys. Seriously. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
At the next bar they go to, Shep wants Pringle to ride the mechanical bull (which is a euphemism a female friend and I used to use when she would have some quality time with her vibrator) because last year he tore his MCL while doing it. That, right there, is the sign of an old man who needs to hang it up. Pringle decides to give it a shot and whips his shirt off before hopping on. Guys, John Pringle is fit. He may not look it, but he is poppin’-pecs-and-flat-stomach ripped and covered in a healthy coat of chest hair and I just want to crawl into that firm crevasse between his chesticles and never get out. We’re the same age and shirtless he looks like a rack of grade-A beef and I look like, well, a half-eaten Jell-O mold.
The mistake Pringle makes, however, is telling Austen that his girlfriend, Madison, is a “smoke show” and that he has designs on getting with her. Seriously, dude? Right to his face? What kind of alpha-male bullshit is this? Is it him exerting his authority or him just being so stupid that he doesn’t know it’s a bad idea to tell a guy he wants to bang his girl like an M-80 in a trash can while putting his arm around him?
While that is bad, the saddest of all of these dudes is Craig. He has been going out every night and doing shots and getting wasted and it’s starting to affect his work life, as his assistant Hedy-Lamarr tells him on the phone. He says he needs to stop going out because it’s a “loose slope” and that, right there, is Craig all summed up in one phrase, excitedly chasing a ball across a beer-laden dog run, only to wind up stuck in the muck of his own making.