It gives us no pleasure to say this, but Bravo TV’s Southern Charm is struggling without former male lead Thomas Ravenel as part of its ongoing narratives. Well … specifically, without the enduring, engrossing interplay between Ravenel and the show’s female lead, Kathryn Calhoun Dennis.
This Charleston, S.C.-based reality drama became a sensation thanks almost exclusively to the tension and release associated with this erstwhile couple – who remain embroiled in a nasty custody battle over the two children they have together (one of many ongoing legal dramas related to this show).
Meanwhile, the show’s fifth season (in 2018) was driven by the interplay between Ravenel, Dennis and the former’s latest on-again, off-again girlfriend, Ashley Jacobs.
But Jacobs was essentially “jealousy bait” laid out for Dennis by Ravenel … and people tuned into the show each week to see whether she would take it (which she never did).
Who do we have to thank for all of this? Our founding editor Will Folks, of course, who not only put Ravenel and Dennis together but alerted Southern Charm producers as to the dramatic potential associated with their combustible relationship.
Seriously, somebody should be getting some serious mailbox money off of all this …
(Click to view)
(Via: Bravo TV)
Anyway, with Ravenel out of the lineup following his September 2018 arrest for assault and battery – which was exclusively reported by this news outlet – Southern Charm has struggled to define itself through the first few episodes of its sixth season.
Our intrepid columnist Amy Feinstein has been doing an excellent job recapping the transitional vapidity presented to viewers each week, but she has been given precious little with which to work. The show’s producers have tried (and largely failed) to brand bumbling, stumbling, fumbling Austen Kroll as their next “bad boy,” but he is poorly suited for the role of a villain.
Kroll is intellectually incurious … and chemically balanced. Villains need to be diabolical. And a little bit (a lot?) crazy.
Not even our big scoop on Kroll’s notorious “pants-down” moment last summer – replayed ad nauseam this season – is ginning up much in the way of viewer indignation, which is the oxygen required for sustaining reality television ratings.
Seriously … people addicted to these shows need someone to hate, and Southern Charm is no longer providing them with that someone.
Obviously we know from prior posts that Ravenel’s ex-girlfriend – who generated nearly as much scorn and derision as he did last season – will be making an appearance later this season. But will anyone still be watching the show at that point?
Southern Charm has thus far avoided a precipitous decline in its ratings, but last week’s episode marked a second consecutive weekly dip – with 1.28 million people tuning in (which is down from last season’s peak of 1.57 million viewers). That latest number is also down modestly from the same point a year ago – when its audience numbered 1.32 million.
Again, these are not serious dips … but the real concern for producers is that the show is no longer expanding its audience. Also, this leveling off in viewership has clearly coincided with the departure of Ravenel and his various hangers-on from Southern Charm’s narratives.
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