Reality Roundup: If This is You, You Should be Watching ‘Southern Charm’

Since discovering that all (yes, ALL) prior seasons of Southern Charm are available on-demand, I have had precious little time to do anything other than…well…watch Southern Charm on-demand.  Following the lives and stumbles of the Charleston-based cast on the show’s second season this week, I’ve been entranced by the narratives that go, as one cast member puts it, “beyond anything that anyone has ever conjured in fiction.”  But I know I’m not alone.  There’s a little something in Southern Charm for everyone, so – particularly if you fall into any of the categories listed below – there’s no excuse not to watch.

1. James Bond.

The world has much to learn from Patricia Altschul (mother of cast member/executive producer Whitney Sudler-Smith)- from proper martini ice to the flat-out necessity of a dressing drink. With a nephew of (Bond-creator) Ian Fleming under her ex-husband belt, Patricia’s obsession with martinis is understandably all-consuming.  She opens the season by insisting that her butler (yes, butler) bring along a full martini kit for her personal use at the second (yes, second) christening of cast member Kathryn Dennis’ child.  Later, while interviewing for back-up butlers (because you can never have too many of those) she explains, “I don’t really care if he’s a serial killer as long as he can make a good martini.”

On Southern Charm, it’s entirely possible that she could find at least one candidate with both attributes – still, I’m positive that Mr. Bond himself would have very similar priorities.

2. Survivalist.

The cast journeys beyond the creature comforts of Charleston in Southern Charm’s second season and explores Georgia’s Jekyll Island.  Struggling to navigate the nuances of a resort town that offers neither wet t-shirt contests nor, as cast member Craig Conover observes, “people”, the group’s unbalance gives rise to escalating tensions during a nail-biting bike ride to the beach.

Despite the island’s initial challenges, however, nobody could have predicted what it had in store for Kathryn and Craig.  Drunkenly driving into the depths of the night on an ill-fated golf cart, the two found themselves stranded in frigid 45-degree temperatures, (three) miles from their hotel and exposed to all of the elements one might expect of a quiet beach town.  Shutting down speculation that their time together was nothing more than an illicit one-night stand, Craig described his actions that night in painstaking detail, explaining how he dug holes in the sand and used a blanket of branches to keep himself and Kathryn out of the near-grip of death. “Fortunately I watched enough Naked and Afraid to know what to do,” he observed.  And while it’s not as clear how Craig managed to survive the croquet-playing and salsa-dancing that filled his final days on the island, his bravery and courage in the darkest of circumstances will not soon be forgotten.

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3. Mob enforcer.

No matter the industry, even those at the top of their field need a little inspiration every once in a while –  and if this is you, look no further.  From Kathryn’s suggestion that Whitney ‘fall on a knife’ to Whitney’s insistence that he would rather stick needles in his scrotum than see Kathryn, this cast has you covered.  And if you’re looking for something a little more creative, you could always adapt “friend of” the cast Jennifer’s words and start sewing people’s eyeballs shut.

Of course, nobody on Southern Charm has started to act on their colorful turns of phrase…yet.  But with thoughts like these bubbling just below the surface, it’s no wonder that the show’s the second season was (and Southern Charm continues to be) so show-stoppingly explosive.

4. Musician.

I’ve heard the softly cooed “bap-ba-doo”s of the show’s theme song so frequently that they’re starting to trigger a Pavlovian response in my soul.  Yet, in sharp contrast to Southern Charm’s jovial theme, the cast mixes it up with music that pushes past all conventional norms. For example, “Renob” may not be a real word (except when you read it backwards), but it is the name of the band led by Whitney (who was, at the time of filming a 47-year-old, grown up, adult man – and not, despite his best botox efforts, a 14-year-old boy).  Still, that doesn’t stop him from “jamming with his bros” at the expense of a cast member Thomas’ dinner party early in the season (nor, for that matter, does he let his age stop him from cracking genitalia-themed jokes about “Vitamin P” later in the season).

But Southern Charm’s support of the musical arts isn’t limited to the lives of its own cast. Consider country singer Kelsea Ballerini’s controversial contribution to the second season finale’s charity date auction.  By purchasing Craig’s companionship for an evening (at the expense of poor, sensitive Shep Rose), she inadvertently unleashed a series of petty bickering that echoed for months to come, earning a spotlight on the second season reunion.  Even for those among us who have never heard a Kelsea Ballerini song (guilty), we will always be grateful for that $5,001 bid heard ‘round Charleston.

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5. Transformer.

There’s nothing the Southern Charm cast likes more than a good reinvention.  Landon adjusted from life as a trophy wife to life as a homeless divorcee on a boat; Cameran’s a former Real World participant who only lets that part of her past take over when she’s really, really drunk; Craig’s constantly vacillating between a wannabe lawyer and a wannabe model; and Kathryn spent the show’s second season shedding her party-girl past to become the political wife she saw on television. “I’ve gotten, like, 30 blazers…I’ve changed so much,” she earnestly explains.  With this show, you never know which iteration of a cast member you’re going to get – making each turn that much more deliciously unpredictable.

6. Political Pundit.

Cast member Thomas Ravenel (former disgraced state treasurer who was removed from office and sent to jail for sharing – not selling – cocaine), ran a US Senate campaign during the second season of Southern Charm (life lesson: never hire a campaign manager off of Craigslist). Filming what could just barely pass for a political commercial, he tried to drive home a point about taxes by grinding up against a gaggle of young college graduates.  Throughout the season, Thomas continued to live a laundry list of what not to do during a campaign, all the while refusing to acknowledge or include his baby mamma Kathryn (who, at 29 years his junior, was at times the only voice of relative reason – which is saying something).

Ultimately, and to the surprise of nobody (including Thomas himself), the campaign did not end in success.  Still, with this cast, there’s always a silver lining.  As his costar Shep helpfully suggests, “You gave it your best shot, you wasted thousands and thousands of dollars…just get stinking drunk and laugh about it.”

Wiser words have never been uttered.

7. Living, breathing human being.

Yes, I get it – reality television is not for everyone.  Still, if none of the above has you convinced, I’m already worried that you may not actually have a pulse.  Whether you’re looking for an escapist tale about a reality star-slash-politician (wait…) or just in it for the southern accents, Southern Charm has yet to fail to deliver.

The first three seasons of Southern Charm are currently available on-demand.  New episodes of Southern Charm’s fourth season air 9pm ET Monday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.

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