It’s Thanksgiving in Charleston — sorry, Friendsgiving, which you know is one week earlier so they can all go home to their families — and the men’s shawl-neck sweater section at COS is absolutely exhausted. What a dud of an episode this was, mostly because its central conflict between Paige and Naomie fizzled out like a tab of Alka-Seltzer dropped into the wide Sargasso Sea.
But will any of the episodes be any good? Is this show even any good anymore? It continues to have a constitution that I just can’t figure out. First, we get a scene where Austen calls and invites Whitney and Patricia to the Friendsgiving. Whitney isn’t going out because he would much rather work on his Guinness World Record attempt to grow the longest pinkie toenail, and Patricia declines because her girl Madison isn’t invited so why even bother? Also, she is lit-rally allergic to Kathryn’s eye makeup.
Then we get a scene with Madison and Venita working out at a weird gym that just looks like a guy put a treadmill in a public restroom and then a bunch of free weights on the sidewalk in front of it. (What is going on with COVID protocols here? I would think everything is outside because there was a peak in Omicron or something, which is why the Thanksgiving dinner might have been outside on a cold day. But then everyone is still hanging out inside without masks on, so question emoji, shrug emoji, virus emoji.) Madison clearly isn’t invited to Friendsgiving because Austen hates her, but Venita isn’t invited either. Wait, so the cast either doesn’t or forgets to invite the one Black cast member, and it’s not explained at all. We need one of those Staples “Easy” buttons but one that says “Yikes!” and goes off repeatedly for the entire hour Southern Charm is bop-ba-doo-ing across your television screens.
Speaking of “Yikes!,” when everyone sits down to dinner, Leva, Naomie, Taylor, and Austen’s sister Katie all tie their white cloth napkins around their heads. It looks kind of like a babushka, but all the women are joking that they look like Pilgrims. Craig says it’s cultural appropriation and they’re all going to get canceled. First of all, you can’t culturally appropriate the white oppressors, so sorry, Craig. Second, this is a show where the cast unironically party at places they call “plantations.” This is a show where, as I just said, the one Black cast member isn’t invited to a party for no good reason. Craig’s worried that a napkin on the head is problematic? Oh sweet, sweet honey child born under the lunar eclipse. You are already cursed.
After an interlude in which Naomie and Whitney talk about their interludes with their respective mothers, Naomie’s mother, Carole, calls a cat “fat,” which is the most French thing I have ever seen on my television and I watched Call My Agent while eating an éclair, wearing a beret, smoking Gauloises, and telling people “non.”
Most of the episode is really about food prep. Craig takes Paige to the store and says he knows they have a good relationship because he loves grocery shopping with her. No one makes a joke about tossed salads. They do have to brine a turkey that Craig will fry the next day at Austen’s aunt’s house. The only problem is that Craig has a poultry phobia because he once went to a chicken roast at a firehouse where everyone got salmonella poisoning, and I think this is really a scene from Stand by Me that Craig thinks actually happened to him.
The tension of the whole episode is whether or not Craig can deep-fry a turkey. This mostly stems from an episode that aired years ago in which he said he could barbecue but had only watched one YouTube video about it 15 minutes before firing up the grill. Luckily (or unluckily because it’s boring to watch), this is a different Craig. He has a thriving business, a hot girlfriend who doesn’t hector him all the time, and a group of friends (who summer in the Hamptons) who are nice and supportive. We all know Craig has this, so the tension is flabbier than Shep’s undercheeks.
Speaking of Shep, he makes banana pudding, which is one of my favorite desserts, but he wants credit for cooking it. Banana pudding isn’t something you cook; it’s something you assemble. If you can do a ten-piece Lego set from a Happy Meal, you can make banana pudding. You get no credit from me, Shep.
Everyone else brings a variety of casseroles, including green bean. There are yams with marshmallows, which are two of my least favorite foods in one Pyrex dish. Leva brings stuffing, which is the only thing she has brought this entire season. ZING! Kathryn makes something called Grape-Jelly Meatballs, which sounds disgusting, but I’m sure it’s one of those things that when you have them you take a bite and then say, “Wow, that is really as disgusting as it sounds.” She does explain that her mother used to bake a pie made with Mello Yello, and I really want to taste that before throwing up on my own Converse.
Kathryn, whom no one likes or wants to talk to, has a great conversation with Paige about how awful Naomie is. For a moment, it reminded me of how Kathryn can be kind of fun and bitchy when she’s not being a complete monster with a dust bunny for a soul.
Because of the tension, Naomie pulls Paige outside for a chat; what she gets isn’t the clearing of the air she hoped for but a master class on the reality-television arts and sciences. Naomie wants to know why there’s tension, and Paige basically tells her she’s acting like she has feelings for Craig — and though Naomie told everyone on the cast, including Paige, that she doesn’t, she’s still acting like she does. Paige points out specifically that when Naomie pulled Craig aside at the dog wedding (I paid off my student loans to write sentences like this?), Naomie was acting like they had something to figure out. Even worse, though, was when she said Craig acts differently around her when Paige is there than when she’s not. Why would you even care about that unless you want to get back with Craig?
The difference between these two and normal exes is that they still need to work together. That’s the only conversation they should have, about the boundaries everyone will be comfortable with. That is not the conversation Naomie is trying to have. Instead she’s like, “Why are you being weeeeeiiiiirrrrrdddddd?” which is a whole different vat of turkey-frying oil.
Naomie thinks there will be a confrontation, but Paige reads her to filth, shows her she’s right, and is still cooler than the night air at Austen’s aunt’s house after the sun goes down. Paige tells Naomie they’re not going to be best friends and they’re not going to braid each other’s hair and talk about American Idol. Seriously, Brian? What year is this? Let’s try again. They’re not going to braid each other’s hair and talk about Yung Gravy at the VMAs. (So hip. So cool.) Paige does want them to be able to see each other at work functions, have a conversation, and not have bad blood. That’s all either of them needs from this. But that would mean they’re both a part of this cast. What even is this show? I don’t know. Tune in next week when a bunch of people who have no relation to one another continue not to have any drama or anything interesting to say. Can’t wait.