This is exactly what I hate about Shep. He wakes up the morning after a night out with the boys and calls his girlfriend, Taylor. He gets her voicemail and the message that it’s full, so when she immediately calls him back, he says, “Your inbox is full, which is really embarrassing.” Actually, Shep, it’s embarrassing for you. Who leaves a message? Even my mom knows enough to do the human thing and send a text if the person doesn’t pick up. That he was even listening to the voicemail is cringier than Claudia Conway’s mom, but then he listened to it until the end. Oh no. You are the one who should be roasted like the center of a S’more, my friend.
When Taylor asks if he had fun the night before, he says, “There were all of these girls. There were so many girls. There were girls giving me their numbers. There were girls asking me to donate sperm so they could impregnate themselves. There were girls showing me their edible panties, and I ate them because that’s not cheating. That is just having a very creatively delivered appetizer.” When she gets mad, he’s like, “No, I’m joking.” No, he means all of this. He means it about the voicemail; he means it about the girls. He’s just going to torture her, and if she doesn’t like it, he will be like, “God, you can’t take a joke.”
Thank God Taylor eventually gets her revenge when she makes Shep go to Olivia’s party with her in matching outfits with lemon-print fabric that looks like something that would be on the walls of Dorit’s Capri Room at the Buca di Beppo in the Valley. I have never in my life seen anyone look goofier, and I have seen Thomas Ravenel’s face, so that is an order taller than Kevin Durant on stilts.
Before we get to the party, there is the interlude where Austen, Craig, and Shep help Austen’s parents clean out their house in Charlotte. They arrive and his mother has turkey and ham cold cut sandwiches and a big old bowl of egg salad waiting for them. I am with Shep; egg salad is disgusting. It’s like eating rancid underwear. But who doesn’t want their mom to meet them with a cold cut sandwich when you arrive at her house after a car journey? That’s the best. You just want a cold plate, a hug from your mom, and the awkward feeling of being near the bedroom where you learned to masturbate.
Then there is a sweet scene where Shep, the fun uncle, takes his sister’s kids out for ice cream and tells them all about how he was awful in school and thrown out of class. An excellent role model, this one. These girls, presumably like Shep’s sister, totally have his number. That number is 69 because Shep had it tattooed on his big toe the night of his fraternity initiation. The irony of this being intercut with Taylor talking about how he doesn’t want to get married and have kids is lost on no one because it is about as obvious as the chorus from Katy Perry’s “Firework.” (Note the use of the singular.)
Just before Olivia’s shellfish oyster pool party, Venita calls her so they can set up a date to have the “talk” they need to have to get their friendship on track. They talk about meeting for happy hour, and then Olivia tells her she is having a party, but Venita is not invited. She thinks it would be “kinda fake” to invite her when they were uncomfortable at the party. This is bullshittier than the sewage system at a whorehouse for cattle. (Duh, how do you think we get more cows?) Why does she even need to tell Venita about the party? And if she doesn’t tell her, then she doesn’t have to explicitly say she didn’t invite her. Yes, Venita will hear from Madison, but Olivia doesn’t rub it in her face.
But it’s also bullshitty why she didn’t invite Venita. When Austen confronts Olivia at the party about why she invited Madison, she says, “It’s the Southern thing to do. We’re not friends. We can coexist. She came to my party; I went to hers.” Yes, that party was also Venita’s. So why would Olivia, who balks when the word “racism” comes up, invite her non-friend Madison to this party but not her non-friend Venita? Hmm, what is different about these two women? Hmm. I wonder. What could it be?
The other thing is, yes, it would be “fake” to invite Venita, but this whole show is fake. That these people are hanging out is fake. That Austen is dating Olivia is fake. The color of Kathryn’s hair is fake. The couture that Patricia wears to the party, well, is not fake. She has never faked a thing except for orgasms with her second husband. But this universe is based on fake. It’s based on the idea that everyone has to be invited, and then to single out Venita for not being invited, well, it sure doesn’t look good.
Why is Austen so mad that Madison is invited anyway? He’s skulking around the party like Alex P. Keaton, watching the Iran Contra hearings just because his ex-girlfriend is there. He says he’s upset because Madison didn’t tell him she was going to get engaged and that was the final “fuck you” to him. Seriously, my broseph? She had no idea she was getting engaged. That’s how engagements work. The dude surprises the lady with a ring and hopes she hashtag says yes. And he’s her ex for a reason. She owes him nothing, not even a heads-up. The reason she dumped him was so that she wouldn’t have to consider his feelings ever again. That’s the deal.
Pringle and the others were right; Austen should have been the bigger person, congratulated her, and kept it moving. But no, he had to be a widdle cwy-baby about it and cry in his Trop Hop to Olivia. Meanwhile, Pringle is popping shots to the ladies, who can not stop drinking them. Austen could have gone over in the group and had a very short moment with Madison. Instead, he’s off to the side shotgunning beers with Craig and trying to pry open the can with an American Express card. Sister, if you have an AmEx that is not your parents’, you are way too old to be shotgunning.
Venita is nowhere to be found, but there are Black people at the party though, and that is only because Kathryn and Chleb got their unconventional spellings back together. (OMG, I chortled for real when he told a woman at the bar that his name was spelled “schleb” and that it means bread in Russian, even though he is about as Russian as French dressing.) I don’t know what is going on with these two. Kathryn says that the dating pool in Charleston is small, and he is the first “real relationship” she has had. Basically, she’s with this guy because she doesn’t think she can do better. Yeah, not a ringing endorsement.
Meanwhile, Chleb is across the party telling Naomie that Kathryn is way too much drama and he’s a simple guy. It’s funny that Chleb knows that he has to hate the same people Kathryn does, but he also knows that she has beef with everyone, so that means he has to be just as isolated as her. When she starts spouting about her drama, he says he just tunes her out. Like Naomie, I’m questioning why he’s even with this person. Naomie tells him that he doesn’t need to be with her, that he deserves better, blah blah blah.
Chleb leaves Naomie, runs to Kathryn, and calls her a “fucking bitch.” Wait, who is the one who is all about drama? Naomie is telling Leva that Chleb doesn’t like Kathryn, but he’s telling Kathryn that Naomie was trying to get him to break up with her. No, she was just feeding off the negativity that he was feeding her about Kathryn. She wasn’t even trying to tear Kathryn down; she was trying to build Chleb up. It’s like a game of telephone, but the person who loses is us because, no matter what we do, there is no way we can hang up.