Light on the charm, heavy on the vapid

I have finally been suckered into watching and thinking about a reality TV show. It’s obviously scripted and not actual real reality, but if you’ve seen “Southern Charm” on the Bravo network, you know it follows the lives of several people in Charleston who have too much money and spend their time drinking, arguing, hooking up, wearing different outfits and drinking. I should note that I’m not a fan of reality TV because I generally dislike things that are stupid. Probably the most dreaded thing I’ve ever heard my wife say was, “Oh, I think The Bachelor’s on tonight.” The only reason I’d have to suffer through “The Bachelor” on Mondays was directly related to her suffering through golf on Sunday. We used to watch a reality cooking show wherein three really unhappy chefs hated everything prepared by several folks who cook for a living and who apparently enjoy being berated by loathsome “celebrity chefs” because, you know, money. As a general rule, I do the cooking in our house because I like food and I like to eat good food and I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking good food and then eating it. My first real job was washing dishes in a restaurant when I was 12. I’ve been an excellent fry cook, an average grill cook and a pretty decent bartender. You probably already know I was a terrible waiter -- see Mellencamp, John Cougar. So as much as I like television shows about food, the cooking contest show grew tiresome because the chef judges disliked everything put before them. Hard to believe, too, especially when the contestants were given an ingredients list of cactus, opium and Cheeto dust but were unable to concoct a suitable soufflé. We started watching “Southern Charm” out of curiosity more than anything else. The other two South Carolina reality shows — “Myrtle Manor” and “Party Down South” — certainly have a Dickensian quality, and by that I mean the cast members are dirty, unlikeable and probably diseased. Now, if you know even a little bit about our state’s politicians you know Thomas Ravenel was our treasurer way back in 2006 until he got in trouble for accidentally doing a lot of cocaine. He apparently used to just give the stuff away during parties at his spacious South of Broad home, but I guess federal and state authorities weren’t into the whole 1980s retro thing at the time, so Ravenel ended up in prison. The bridge in Charleston was named after his father, Arthur Ravenel Jr., because it looks like his teeth. Thomas Ravenel is the star, more or less, of “Southern Charm,” and his friends call him T-Rav, because his friends are highly imaginative. He likes polo, likes to spend money, likes to talk about his material possessions, likes to show off his material possessions, and drink. And he hooked up with Kathryn Dennis, a brilliant 21-year-old who heads up NASA’s Astrophysics Data System at Harvard University. Just kidding. She’s dumb. There’s also a guy named Shep, a woefully immature Golden Retriever puppy of a man. You can’t help but like him. He’s really good at smiling. His hobbies include chasing women, drinking beer, sleeping late and making jokes. He’s trying to get his friend Whitney to open a restaurant so Shep won’t have to go anywhere to chase women, drink beer and make jokes and won’t be expected to start smiling and joking until 3 p.m. at the earliest. Probably the creepiest cast members are Whitney and his mother, Patricia, who is a socialite. I think that means she likes art, is rich, does nothing. I bet she knows great places to go for lunch in Charleston. Whitney is pretty good at doing nothing and has an assistant, who I assume helps him update his Netflix queue and decide which $70 T-shirt to wear. He and his mother are also both good at getting plastic surgery and obviously got the two-for-one special. Jenna is a cast member originally from Sumter. She has sort of a mohawk and a boyfriend who she says is 55. Which means he’s 65. She does nothing except wear one glove and touch her hair a lot. She argued with Whitney’s assistant about their sources of income. To be fair, the assistant was probably just tired from an exhaustive day of cleaning sunglasses. Jenna said her money comes from “investments,” which I think is Latin for “I’m a liar.” Kathryn, the 21-year-old dating Ravenel — he is pushing 50 — is a descendant of Vice President John C. Calhoun, who was an ardent defender of state’s rights, which means he thought slavery was awesome. And that worked out really well for the south and our nation. She is also the granddaughter of Rembert Dennis, a powerful state senator who was in office for 173 years and then died. So she’s from good stock. And there’s a guy named Craig. No one cares about Craig. Cameran, a skinny blonde, can walk around and talk at the same time, so she was given a plum gig selling high-end real estate. She’s good at smiling and explained that she’s working hard to achieve financial independence. As she drove around in a Mercedes. So if you’re awake at 10 p.m. on a Monday, you should watch this show. These people are making all of us proud. What’s that slogan? Smiling (botoxed) faces and beautiful places (you and I can’t afford).


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