It looks like a case of the clickbait “To Be Continued…” strikes again. That’s how the last episode ended, with all the women on the cast sitting around at a tea party. It was about to kick off between Kathryn and Venita, Venita and Olivia, Kathryn and Patricia, Venita and Madison, Madison and the ghost of A-Rod and J-Lo’s relationship, and just about everyone else who was drinking champagne and trying not to eat more than one finger sandwich. I was so excited. I thought it was going to be like a snake going through a field full of land mines or at least a fireworks display set off by a car crash. But no. All we got was one damp sparkler that wouldn’t even light, just like the one on Venita’s cupcake.
It didn’t have to be that way — or did it? What we get is Kathryn going to an immature and defensive place almost immediately, as per ush. When Venita tries to talk to her and ask what she needs to get them on a path to being friends, Kathryn responds, “I don’t need shit.” Okay. That’s it. Kathryn is checked out from this conversation. All that’s left is for her to make fun of Patricia for asking that no one say the F word, and this scene will be complete. Oh! There it is. Cut to black. Roll the credits.
Venita took Olivia to the side at the party to discuss the confrontation they had at Naomie’s birthday party. (Why does that episode feel like four COVID variants ago when it was just like three weeks?) There are so many problems with what goes down here, and I think all of them can be blamed on the one flowing arm of Oliva’s top that looked like a wilted banana leaf was trying to take over her body like an invasive parasite. Once they’re aside, Olivia says she didn’t like how Venita ganged up on her with Naomie, Patricia, and The Other Madison. Venita says she didn’t like when Olivia told her to calm down and put her hand in her face.
Then Venita says that what really upset her is when Olivia walked away from the conversation. Olivia says she heard the word “racist” and “I’m not about to stick around for that.” Venita then asks her the hardest, sharpest, most baller question I have ever heard: “Are you not here for it because you are racist or because you’re not racist?” This is a sort of “Do you beat your wife?” question because there is no right answer. If Olivia says she’s racist, then, well, she just admitted to being racist on reality television. If she says she’s not racist, Venita can ask, “Well, then why are you not going to have a difficult conversation?” Olivia, who seems dimmer than an exhausted lightning bug, walks right into a trap of her own making.
Olivia responds, “When I just hear that word thrown out, I don’t even know what the reason was you said it. I’m checking out because it’s not okay to throw that out.” Okay, let’s go through this sentence like we’re in freshman English and this is the text of Romeo and Juliet. Olivia puts a lot of extra ranch dressing on “thrown out,” so it sounds like an insult, like Venita was using the word to describe something completely benign when what she was referring to was Kathryn using the monkey emoji in an online fight with a Black woman, which brings us to the second point. Before she should get worried about the word “racist” or why it’s being “thrown out,” maybe she should, I don’t know, inquire as to what it was referring to. How can she just shut down whenever the word comes up? If you are checking out when a difficult discussion about race comes up, you may not be a racist, but you are definitely not anti-racist.
When Venita tries to respond, Olivia says, “You’re not going to cancel culture me out on this.” Oh, the Tucker Carlson fan cam is strong with this one. Venita points out the kryptonite to use on every right winger who rages on about “cancel culture.” How can there be a “cancel culture” when someone like Kathryn, whose racist behavior was exposed several times last season, still has a job on the show? No one has been canceled, and no one will cancel Olivia for talking about race. We will cancel her for her reaction to someone trying to have a conversation with her. BREAKING NEWS: The Supreme Court just overturned Olivia’s cancellation 6-3. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes, “I love Bravo, but this right here is some bullshit.”
The bullshitiest part is what comes next. Olivia says, “I’m all for having these conversations…” Um, what? She literally just said when the word racist comes up that she checks out. So, are you here to talk, or are you here to bolt like Austen the second he hears someone he’s talking to at the bar is over 25? Both can’t be true. She adds that she will have these conversations, but not when they’re heated. This is called tone policing, a way to stifle debate and keep people from showing emotion when the topics under discussion are very emotional.
Other than this exchange, the rest of the episode is a total snooze. I like this Marcie character, but I only met her like three seconds ago. I don’t care that she can’t figure out how to put a crib together. I like St. Venita, who was canonized for the miracle of the patience she has dealing with these white women, but I don’t care how organized her spice rack is. I love Paige, but I don’t need to see her teach Craig the very obvious lesson that having a lunch date alone with his most recent ex is a very very very very very (How many “very”s are we at? Add 20 more) bad idea. I don’t like Olivia (or Austen), and I really do not care about the date the producers set up for them, where he just talks about Madison the whole time. Also, if you’re sitting at a picnic table and it is not out in the wilderness, you are not paying enough for this date.
I’m also having difficulty caring about this road trip that Shep, Austen, and Craig are on. While we’re at it, I’m having a hard time with this season. It all seems so disparate and diffuse. It’s like no one wants to hang out, no one is really together, and the cast isn’t hanging out in big groups. It seems like it’s the boys on one show and the girls on the other, and never the twain shall meet. Southern Charm is now the changing rooms at a Korean spa.
Back to the road trip, Austen has dragged these two beer-soaked trucker caps along with him to Charlotte so that he can meet with a supermarket chain about selling his beer and to clean out his old room before his parents sell their house. Austen is about to go to his meeting and stops by Craig’s room for his seal of approval on his outfit. Austen is wearing a French blue shirt, khakis, and a belt with so many beads on it that it has been to the Smoking Grooves festival. He asks Craig if the shirt should be tucked in. “Yes,” Craig says. “You’re going to do business.” He does not look like he’s going to do business, he looks like he’s going to a fraternity semi-formal, but in either case, he should tuck that shirt in.
Craig also has some good advice for Shep. I’m sorry, but if a pillow salesman who also lends his name to a chain of Saul Goodman-esque law offices is the sanest person in the squad, then you are all busted with a capital USTED. Shep calls his GF Taylor, and she’s not thrilled that he’s going out with the boys. Shep tells her to stop being crazy and that everything will be fine. What he leaves out is that Shep has made out with other girls when he’s been out of town drinking. She isn’t crazy for thinking this might happen. She’s the sanest person on this whole damn show. (Oh, look, she’s so sane she broke up with Shep yesterday.)
Craig says, “That will be the consequence of the scars of infidelity in the relationship.” How did Craig go from not knowing he can’t go out to dinner with Naomie to totally having Shep’s number in the course of 20 minutes? The boys all go bowling and order too much food and Shep is already talking to some girl at the bar about waking up in jail, and you know where this ends, in Jaegermeister, infidelity, and Fukashima levels of destruction. Craig says that Shep isn’t made for relationships, that no one can tie him down. That’s cool. That’s fine. The problem is, why is he wasting a fine young girl like Taylor’s time if he’s not going to marry her and have children like she wants? It can’t always be on the woman to move on. At some point, Shep needs to stop wanting to have his Buffalo wings and eat them too.