Doesn’t it feel like a billion years since we last watched Southern Charm, an antebellum sorority mixer at a plantation house? It’s been so long that I didn’t even remember John Pringle, a sexy character actor whose IMDb you have to pull up just to remember who he played on Ozark. It seems like not that much has changed down South, and certainly things haven’t changed with our cast of lovable dummies … and Kathryn, who is just a dummy.
First, we have to get reacquainted with the whole crew. Austen and Shep are still in the same bar, still drinking Trop Hop, and completely unaware that they are both too old to have no careers, no partners, and no children between them. If idle hands are the devil’s playthings, then Shep and Austen are Satan’s anal beads. Meanwhile, Summer House star Craig Conover has turned himself into a pillow magnate dressed like the shift manager at Best Buy. He’s actually doing well. He got all of the asbestos out of his house and half of his living room floor laid. In the old days he would have gotten half of the asbestos out and fully laid on the floor.
We only get a brief check-in with Patricia and Whitney, who is using vodka to disinfect the floor after he picks up all the dog poop. The sad news is that Michael, Patricia’s long-time and altogether charming butler, had a major stroke and is now paralyzed. Whitney is Patricia’s current servant and he’s about as good at it as Taylor Swift is at not writing about her exes.
This show’s Cruella de Ville, Madison LeCroy only makes a brief appearance and we don’t get much from her. The same goes for Pringle, but now that he’s popped, he won’t be able to stop. Newbies Leva and Venita are swanning around (and Venita is driving in a Land Rover whose headlamps flash like the floor of Dance Dance Revolution even in the middle of the day) but aren’t doing much other than serving lewks. They’re also hanging out with Craig’s ex Naomie, who is back after a ten-day move to New York where she found out that her fiancé was cheating on her and she scuttled back to South Carolina.
A lot of the story has to do with Craig and Naomie, who apparently hooked up a couple of times after she broke up with her ex and while Craig was dating fellow Summer House star Paige DeSorbo, but before they were exclusive. Is this why he was being so wishy-washy about being boyfriend/girlfriend with Paige on the in-all-ways-superior other Bravo show they star on?
There’s sadly not much drama between Craigy and Naom-Naom, as no one calls them. For the first time, Craig seems entirely over Naomie, and if she’s still pining away for Craig now that he’s gotten his life together, then she’s not really showing it. However, what’s up with them is certainly causing a rift between Craig and the other boys. Craig says that he hasn’t been answering Shep’s calls because Shep is busy with his girlfriend Taylor and because Shep always treats him like shit. Yes, this is the price of success. Before Craig just had to take all of Shep’s snide insults because he needed to stay on the show. Now he has a store, a girlfriend, and another show. He’s washed that condescension right out of his hair and sent it’s on its way. (I feel like South Pacific references and Southern Charm go together like my lips and that little spot right behind Tom Holland’s earlobe.)
Craig has also pulled away from Austen for a very good reason. He says that he was hanging out with Paige and Austen and Austen started squabbling with him. Then Austen blurts out, “Well, are you going to tell Paige that you slept with Naomie?” Apparently, Paige said, “I already know, and you’re some friend.” Sick burn!
The only problem with this story is that when the three boys sit down at Kathryn’s party, Austen says he didn’t know that they hooked up and Craig says he kept it a secret from him because he would tell everyone. Okay, so did Austen know about Naomie and say something in front of Paige, or did Craig hide the truth from him? Both of these things can’t be true. While Craig’s story about calling out Austen may not be factually true, I also believe that it is spiritually true. Like that is something that Austen would totally do, and, to be honest, Craig is better without the two walking beer bellies that have been holding him back.
While this is the fight among the boys, there is another fight brewing among the girls and it is all centered around Kathryn, who is looking more and more like a Kommunity Kollege Kardashian with each passing year. She’s still living with her boyfriend Chelb (pronounced “Caleb”), who we all thought she was only dating so that she wouldn’t look racist. Well, she made it last at least a whole season. (But no more, since they broke up after filming.)
Kathryn is throwing herself a Roaring ’20s–themed 30th birthday party, which is dumb for at least two reasons. The first is this theme has been done more times than “Stay” was played on my CD player in 1998 when the first boy that I ever kissed moved to the school across town. The other reason is that she is entering her 30s with the ’20s. It makes no sense, but about as much sense as calling it a Great Katsby party which made me want to retch up a hairball big enough that it could open its own cat café.
She decides that she is going to invite everyone to the party, including Venita, who hasn’t talked to Kathryn since calling out her racially insensitive behavior last season, and Naomie, who hasn’t talked to her since Kathryn spread a rumor about Cameran’s husband cheating on her that was so bad that Cameran quit the show. She says she wants to start this new decade with a clean slate for herself and everyone.
The problem is that Kathryn still has the maturity of Violet Beauregarde before she ate the Everlasting Gobstopper. When Naomie arrives at the party, she greets Kathryn warmly and moves on. Kathryn, however, expected her to say, “Thank you for inviting me. I’m so sorry for what happened. Let’s go have a talk.” That Kathryn expects an apology for maliciously spreading rumors about a castmate is all you really need to know about Kathryn. And why would Naomie do that? This party is not the place where they should talk. Kathryn should be busy with her other guests (though this party does seem oddly empty).
But Kathryn gets drunker and drunker and her Retinol makes her chin redder and redder. She pulls Chleb to complain that Venita and Naomie haven’t made eye contact with her since arriving. Um, of course they haven’t. She should be busy celebrating her birthday and they should be busy socializing. Yes, it’s her birthday party, but it’s still a party.
Kathryn then starts whining about how she wants to go home, probably because she’s not getting enough attention in a room of people she has alienated by behaving like an ass over the last eight seasons. Well, that’s not entirely true. She spent several seasons being tortured by Thomas, then a couple of seasons gaining our sympathy when we realized she was the victim of his emotional abuse, and then a few seasons being free of Thomas and just terrible. Still, you get what I’m saying.
On her way out, Kathryn stops by Naomie’s table to say that Naomie should be ashamed of how she treated Kathryn. Naomie says, “But you tried to ruin someone’s family.” Yes, she did. If anything, Kathryn should be the one who is ashamed. She uses this as an excuse to say that Naomie isn’t better than her when, objectively, I think that is a lie. Naomie tells her she doesn’t like the way she fights. When Kathryn asks which way that is, Naomie says, “Dirty.” No lies detected, and we got the polygraph expert who asked Lisa Vanderpump if she had anything to do with Puppygate.
Kathryn reacts by calling Naomie a “petty little bitch” and saying she is “fake.” As for fake, I think that Naomie kept it pretty one-hundo straight to Kathryn’s face and wouldn’t let her get away with her past actions. As for a petty little bitch, Kathryn is the one who is upset that Naomie wasn’t paying her enough attention at her party, so she attacked her. She is projecting more than whatever is powering the holograms at that new ABBA concert in London. Naomie does the smart thing and walks away as Kathryn jiggles herself into an elevator while screaming at her friends on the way down. Oh, it’s been far too long since we’ve last watched Southern Charm, but I also think it hasn’t quite been long enough.