Hey guys, I know what will be fun. Let’s talk about aging. Right? That’s terrible idea, but let’s do it anyway.
So at what point do you remember first considering your age as a determining factor in who you should be as a person? Not just “I’m 16, so I can drive now,” but that point when you considered “This isn’t where I thought I’d be when I turned 30” or 40 or however many years it took you to be really disappointed in yourself. It’s kind of a terrifying concept, but also one that’s not really based in anything concrete. Really what growing older comes down to is a perceived narrowing of possibility.
As a child, it’s generally understood that you can be anything — and some people hold on to this mentality. As a teen, you might feel pressure to rebel against whatever expectations have been placed upon you — and some people hold onto this. Then at a certain point, you just become satisfied with finding fewer ants in your apartment and consider drinking water as “Taking care of yourself.” This is called early adulthood. This is the point when you start getting invited to a bunch of weddings, which are like birthday parties except someone else gets all the presents and attention and you get to question the trajectory of your life and how drunk is socially acceptable. Meanwhile, the years just continue to creep by. The reason I bring up aging is because this week on Southern Charm we celebrate Shep’s 37th birthday. Now on to the show.
We open on a title card that says “Thomas’ Plantation” and my notes at this moment just read “gurg” and “eetch.”
Anyway, Landon is setting up for the big polo extravaganza that Thomas is hosting. Impressed by Landon’s preparation for the party, Thomas says he wants a woman who is good in the kitchen, well-behaved, and will reflect well on the Ravenel name — like a mom, or a bang maid.
We then have our compulsory morning wake-up montage and find Austen enjoying a bowl of cereal because he’s gotta have them Pops. Chelsea calls, and we see that Austen has saved her in his phone as “Dream Girl.” This is very sweet. The show unfortunately misses the opportunity to have the narration say, “This dream relationship is about to turn into a nightmare” — a misstep that I’m sure led to massive layoffs in the Bravo writers’ room. The only greater sin in reality television than missing a forced voiceover pun is when a cameraman fails to capture the moment a drink is hurled in someone’s face. This is of course a fireable offense.
So Austen picks Chelsea up for what we learn will be her first polo match. She confesses that the only thing she knows about polo is what she saw in Pretty Woman, which means Chelsea expects Jason Alexander to offer her money for sex.
Chelsea then admits to Austen that she and Shep had a brief “makeout sesh.” Austen, who miraculously refrains from driving his car into a ravine, says that Shep makes out with everyone. He’s very European in that way. That’s just how Shep says hello.
Back at the polo match, Cameran hands Whitney a baby against his will. Whitney holds the baby like he just arrived on earth. Seriously, Whitney being an alien would explain so much. He dresses and behaves like someone who learned about our culture from television waves that took decades to reach his home world.
“Ah yes, your younglings are considered most treasured in their pupal stage. I will communicate this back to the mother planet,” Whitney says.
It is slowly revealed throughout this episode that no one actually understands the rules of polo. It’s a real emperor’s new clothes situation, with the cast just looking on as people ride horses. To the best of my understanding, polo is like golf mixed with soccer if all the players were afraid of the ground and loved mallets.
It’s finally the point of the polo match where everyone stops pretending to watch the game and gets some food. Chelsea and Austen eat chicken wings seductively at one another in some strange mix of poultry and romance that I will call fowl play. Get it? It’s like foreplay, but with chicken. This is a very good joke.
Then Chelsea, in an amazing non sequitur, asks Austen to look at how long her arms are and says she could slap him from across the table. The show doesn’t show exactly what led up to this statement and I’m fine with not knowing. I want to live in a world where women brag about their wingspan before randomly threatening violence at polo matches.
Cameran, having already accepted the dowry on Chelsea in her fantasy marriage to Shep, grabs Whitney so the two can go run interference — because no one can diffuse sexual energy like Whitney. Whitney carries himself like someone who has had a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe his entire life.
Whitney, not of this earth, immediately asks Chelsea and Austen if they are enjoying a romantic moment. Chelsea responds that this is their first date, which perturbs Cameran so much that she invokes the bro code. I mean, how can Austen just step out with his best pal’s regular Saturday night thing? That is beyond the pale, fella.
Whitney then asks the happy couple “What’s going to happen afterwards?” as he adjust his human suit and radios back to his home planet that the earthlings suspect nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if later in the episode Whitney was shown eating an unpeeled banana and harvesting plutonium to power his ship.
The polo match then takes a break or enters halftime or whatever happens and the gang stops by to check in with Thomas to see who’s winning. Landon asks Thomas to briefly explain the rules of polo to Austen and the rest of the viewing audience. Thomas starts talking about a line that shant be crossed. Or it can be crossed if the horse is going slow. It immediately becomes apparent that not even he knows the rules of polo. The whole explanation sounds like a high-schooler giving a presentation on a book they haven’t read.
“He was the greatest of Gatsbys. He was the worst of Gatsbys. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of polo,” says Thomas, hoping that everyone loses interest before he stops talking.
Thomas’ kids then roll by in a stroller shouting “Daddy” and he tells them he’ll “chat with them later” because that’s what you do with children — chat.
Craig leans in and tells Thomas to go give his daughter a kiss because she was calling for him, but Thomas “needs to focus on the game.” He dismisses everyone and asks someone off screen how big a lead they need. His guess is seven, which sounds about right. I mean, you need at least seven more polo points than the next team. That’s polo 101.
Craig really latches onto Thomas not telling his kids bye. He asks Landon and Austen to imagine a world where their fathers didn’t tell them bye on occasion. Landon gets Anime eyes and says her dad didn’t say goodbye sometimes and she turned out fine.
If I were to rank all the things my parents did that damaged me as a child, not saying goodbye would not even make the list. You know what would? The unapologetic nudity.
Craig’s complaints fall on deaf ears and he goes into the stables to talk with the horses, fed up with the petty squabbles of man like Gulliver after his time with the Houyhnhnms.
“Why the long face?” the horses jokingly ask Craig because equines are notorious for diffusing tension with humor.
“Do you sleep standing up?” Craig asks on behalf of all humanity.
It’s later revealed that Thomas’ team won the polo match 4-12, which I, without any knowledge on which to base this, will declare the largest polo victory in the history of the sport. They thought they needed seven polo point lead, but they got eight! That surely means something.
Now that polo is behind us, we turn our attention to Patricia’s house where Whitney is getting a visit from Shep. As previously mentioned, Shep’s birthday is coming up, and he’s turning 37.
Anyway, Shep and Whitney enjoy some grilled cheese sandwiches, and Whitney informs Shep about the whole deal between Chelsea and Austen. Shep nearly chokes on his grilled cheese at the news, which would probably be a fitting end. Let this be a reminder that it’s never too early to start considering which sandwich should bring your demise. This is called the Mama Cass rule.
Skipping ahead, we then turn to Chelsea and Austen’s date. Chelsea orders them both drinks and says she rode her bike so she can drink whatever she wants. Perhaps the best way to promote alternate transportation is liquor? I remember when I lived in New York plenty of people drank on the bus each morning. I have found a correlation, so causation can’t be far behind.
Chelsea then asks if she and Austen can “get to know each other” before the relationship proceeds as if this is some grand imposition. This is actually how relationships work. You don’t have to act like every person you like is in the witness protection program. Chelsea follows up this reasonable request with an increasingly bizarre series of questions: When is your birthday? Do you want to have children? How many one-night stands have you had? That escalated quickly.
Chelsea then says she needs to go home and sober up before she goes to work the next morning and cuts hair. Austen says, “Let’s go back to mine,” and makes his sexy face. This is bad.
Cutting to the next morning, Shep calls Chelsea who is in the throes of a massive hangover from the previous evening out. Shep says he needs a haircut, so we know we’re in for some interesting relationship developments.
Shep visits Chelsea for a haircut, her hands shaking as the final drops of alcohol leave her system. She asks if he is bringing a date to his upcoming birthday party, which is taking place on a boat. What a cool way to add danger to one’s special day. Shep then asks how he got the reputation as the “village bicycle.” To be honest, he’s more of the suburban moped.
Skipping ahead because it’s almost 4 a.m. and I’m still writing about this show, it’s finally time for Shep’s birthday boat party. He shows up in a pair of pants that look like a photo negative of a fancy paper towel. He then quotes Tom Wolfe. This is the type of evening we have ahead of us.
Whiney arrives with his date who’s dressed like a fortune teller and remarks “Tits ahoy” because that is his prime directive. I’m now captivated by the idea of an alien spy who just happens to infiltrate a group of humans least representative of the world population. My pitch is that it’d be like Alf meets Arrested Development and it’s a license to print money.
Later at the party, Shep, who is now dressed like Thurston Howell III toasts to the bourgeoisie, saying, “May we always be in it.” Little does he know that below deck the proles are dancing to Irish music and showing an aristocratic young woman the simple pleasures of the lower class. Billy Zane will not be happy.
Cameran tells Shep that Chelsea and Austen “frenched” and Shep counters that he “made out with her first.” How about we wait and see who Chelsea takes to the Sadie Hawkins dance?
Cameran advises that Shep forget about sex for a second and starts thinking about serious relationships because he is getting older. Pointing to Thomas, she asks, “Do you want to be a 55 year old man and not have shoelaces?”
The profound nature of this question is so jarring and poignant that I spend the rest of my evening breaking all the mirrors in my apartment, ashamed of my own vanity.
Meanwhile, Thomas and Whitney are later found sitting on a couch talking about what they do and do not like about a specific woman’s body who is standing nearby. Thomas says he likes thin ankles, probably because it makes it more difficult for them to escape on foot.