It was the reality TV birthday party that refused to recognize reality.
The smoke of an ever-elusive meat smoker could not mask the tension between Austen and Chelsea, whose season four fling has now flung itself into mild disaster; Kathryn ducked several near-encounters with the new girlfriend of her children’s father before being forced into small talk; Naomie and Craig managed to find a little (albeit seemingly temporary) solace in the wake of their breakup; and even the blustery JD, who initially showed no signs of slowing in the face of scandal, confronted the rocky fate of his marriage.
Shep, ever the strapping floppy haired 38-year-old birthday boy, dealt with the unfortunate gathering in the only way he knew how:
“I hope that we can all be in a relationship that makes as much sense as Cameran one day. Because none of us seem to be able to deal with that at all.”
He wasn’t entirely wrong.
Here’s a quick overview of where things stand for the (broken up) cast during the first four episodes of Southern Charm‘s fifth season:
Austen and Chelsea
You know how sometimes you just want to meet a nice guy who spends an entire season bickering with Shep over your affections, gets you to commit in the season finale, and then quits his job and becomes a generally useless human before moving on to date one of your best friends?
Yeah, neither does Chelsea.
Kathryn and Thomas
Thomas’ relationships have played out pretty much exactly the way one might expect from an alleged ex-cocaine partier of a certain age. After fathering two children with Kathryn (and leaving nothing short of a mess in his wake), he’s moved on and wants everyone (Kathryn included) to know it.
Still, something feels different this time around. For the past four seasons, the Kathryn-and-Thomas show has featured Kathryn doing something like chasing Thomas down a dock in full fur, or trapping him in a room from which he escaped through a window. And while the two have already expressed inexplicably lingering feelings for each other, there has also been an important shift this season: Kathryn, at long last, has the support of her female castmates.
With that, she has both the perspective and platform to speak out against Thomas. Maybe it’s the fresh hope of a new season, and maybe it’s straight up naivete, but then again maybe, just maybe, Kathryn is finding her voice.
JD and Elizabeth
Not even JD’s infectiously diseased laughter could drown out the accusations chucked his way. The Southern Charm ladies had been kept up to date on both the rocky state of his marriage and, much to JD’s dismay, his role in its downfall.
“Everybody at this table knows that you’re a complete piece of sh–,” accused Naomie, wasting no words on the show’s preferred passive aggressive approach.
However, Naomie’s involvement in the still-separated couple’s private life backfired relatively quickly, when the two showed up together at Cameran’s baby shower. But given the fact that JD seems to be getting his relationship advice from Thomas Ravenel, who once very publicly dumped the mother of his child via Facebook post, the future is not looking rosy.
Naomie and Craig
The breakup between almost-a-lawyer, almost-an-embroiderer, almost-a-who-knows-what else Craig and laser-focused Naomie was not tough to predict. Still, Craig’s boldly asserted, “I’m bummed that, like, it didn’t work, but, like, it didn’t,” belied the actual depth of the feelings between the two. Confronting each other only three months after breaking up, they both clearly still had some healing to do. But don’t worry, if heartbreak this raw is a little too real for your taste, they quickly slide back into their bickering ways after the first few episodes.
Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9pm ET on Bravo. Recent episodes are available Bravo on-demand.