We have finally arrived at the first installment of Southern Charm’s seventh season reunion, and if you thought the drama that preceded this gathering was heavy on yelling and accusations then buckle up, folks … because everyone is throwing down tonight, and everyone has an agenda.
As most of you know, this reunion is filmed at Bravo TV headquarters in New York City as opposed to Charleston, South Carolina – where the show has been based since 2014. So the cold front that moved in is both symbolic and literal.
Let’s break down the folks on the stage, starting with the lovely Madison LeCroy. You know that feeling when you like someone, but dislike their behavior? This is how I’m feeling about Madison this season. She has a temper and a big mouth (I can relate) and always has a sense that people are gunning for her.
This is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, in that if you are always scrapping for a fight, you might just find one. This time, it’s not Shep Rose coming for her, it’s Craig Conover, which is a bit absurd. My question for Madison is this: If you are looking for a man who is accomplished, and can hold his own, why do you seek out dopey men, or perhaps boys? Miss Madison is a lot like the boys – and they find this scary and confusing. She doesn’t need them, and isn’t trying to lock them down. Like I said, confusing.
Next, we have John Pringle, who was a newbie this season. Viewers learned a little bit about the guy who is simply called “Pringle,” but what did we really learn about this old friend of Shep’s? Other than he’s freshly divorced, and has two sons?
Why did he return to South Carolina? Was it just for Southern Charm, or is there more to the story? It’s obvious he is torn, but I must admit I’ve enjoyed finally having a man on the show who has kids, and seems to give a fig about them. But while he puts on an easy-breezy front, don’t come for his kids.
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Leva Bonaparte was another new member of the cast this season, and did she ever come in like a lion (unlike Pringle, who tried the lamb approach). This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s perfectly on-brand that production finally brought on a woman of color only to have her clean up one of their messes. This, I’m sure was a hard lesson to learn, but after viewing the season and shooting the reunion, Leva and Kathryn Dennis have gotten together and hashed things out.
My advice to Leva would be this: RUN! You dipped your toes into reality television, but to come back for seconds would be insane. Let the boys clean up their own messes!
Onto Shep Rose … once the bandleader for the ‘Lost Boys,’ this season he tried his hand at domestic bliss with girlfriend Taylor Ann Green. After last season’s reunion, Shep got checked hard after stretching his trustifarian muscle while filming (and then posting the video of) a homeless woman while still in New York.
I’m guessing this got Shep schooled by many friends, and perhaps a parent or two, because he’s made some serious changes. If you follow Rose on Twitter, you’ve certainly read all about his newfound political leanings, and how he might just be the first member of his family to vote Democrat in a presidential election.
Part of this new Shep thing seems to be a new respect for women, but wait for it, this will come up in the reunion.
Craig, Craig, Craig … what can I say. Kudos on your pillow empire. As a DelMarVa girl, I raise a glass – but minding your own business would go a long way to avoid being the yenta holding the bag again and again. Your goofy buds need to learn things empirically (better known as the hard way), so just let them, and concern yourself with your own business. It would be a lot easier to believe you are happy if you would stop yelling and saying things like, and I’m paraphrasing, “I won’t be happy until I make Madison cry.”
This isn’t a good look …
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It was Danni Baird that I thought caught it from both sides this season, and she really didn’t deserve it. Danni holds her cards close to the vest, but this doesn’t mean her feelings don’t get hurt. In seven seasons of Southern Charm, I’ve never seen her look so stressed – largely because she doesn’t fit the mold of someone who goes on a reality television show. I’m not pointing a finger at anyone in particular, but Danni is not a narcissist – and I don’t think she loves the sound of her own voice. Instead, she’s an empath who doesn’t just feel her own pain, but feels the pain of others. As I mentioned earlier in advising Leva, RUN! Sure, the money is nice, but at what price is your soul and your mental health?
Austen Kroll made some leaps this season, but he still has a long way to go to be the adult man his family expects him to be. In the treehouse, he was absolutely right to handle Madison calmly and politely – as he had started to move on. The manner in which he raises his voice to women is totally not okay, obviously, and as I mentioned in a prior article the way he spoke about Ms. Patricia Altschul was definitely not okay. You don’t go to a person’s home, eat their food and drink their alcohol if you’ve just spent a golf cart ride disrespecting them with your sidekick.
Lastly, on the far right is Kathryn. Girl, you have had quite the season. You knew coming into it that you were going to take a beating. Some of this was self-imposed, and you were due for a reckoning. Not knowing a monkey emoji was offensive to people of color is baffling. When you know better you do better, and I think KD would be the first to admit that she’s got some catching up to do …
Now that we know the main players, let’s get down to business. First, we must admit that reunions don’t bring out the best in anyone. This reunion was filmed on one long day, and everyone was ready to rumble, bless their hearts. Maybe we should call this episode Southern Charm: Unleashed?
While everyone filed into the building with their host, Andy Cohen, a masked man commented on Craig’s outfit and he admitted that he “picked it out when I was hammered.” So that means you packed on a Monday afternoon? That jacket would probably make a headache worse. We also get our first real peek at Kathryn’s boo, Chleb Ravenell, a product specialist for Apple who is there for moral support. Perhaps the best line of the pre-reunion goes to Leva who tactfully suggested that Austen go to the loo and choke his chicken to relieve some stress from his tanned-ankle self.
The cast on the stage is spaced farther apart than usual, per COVID protocols, but in the end, this might be a good thing. Andy launches right into it, asking about outfits and revenge bods. He gets one burning question out of the way fast, asking KD if she’s pregnant, which shocks the rest of the cast, because at the time of filming, they hadn’t seen the ending of the final episode.
Nobody can say that Haymaker isn’t good with an edit, considering the way the cliffhanger was meant to look. By the way, she was not pregnant then, and is not pregnant now.
Andy Cohen admits that this season was stressful to watch, and stressful for the cast, and then he plays a little game called “What Could You Have Done Better In A Pandemic?” Craig is gently asked about his time as a COVID denier, and thought his answer was truthful, he once again showed his childish and selfish side. Next, Leva, dubbed the most serious Charmer about the virus, spoke as a restauranteur saying that it was doubly stressful to be shooting the show while her livelihood was being threatened. The boys made fun of Whitney Sudler-Smith, but as the oldest cast-adjacent Charmer, I think he was totally right. Us over-50s have to stick together.
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When asked what she thought of the Instagram Craig and Austen Show, Madison (above) says that’s what they are up to every night, to which Craig responds with a total non-sequitur, “and you were flying around the country sleeping with married men!” Did I miss something, or black out for a moment? I think Craig came with talking points (mostly about Madison), and thought he would throw them out there as there was a lull in the conversation. As part of a tribe of barflies, if I were Craig and Austen, I’d watch out if I lived in a glass house of promiscuity.
The trend of the talk is about flying to Miami to allegedly schtupp a former MLB (Major League Baseball for those not into sports which involve spitting). Craig once again shifts into tantrum mode, calling Madison trash. So, let me get this straight, when one of your “boys” do it, it’s called being a playboy or a stud, but when women do it, they’re trash? WTFU Craig. It’s 2021, and even in South Carolina, people aren’t going to take this. Whether you like Madison or not, as a single woman, she can tap whomever she wants. If a married man is stepping out on his wife, that’s on him. I am not advocating sleeping with married people, but you very well know that Craig and Austen would have flown from New York to Miami to have a beer with said MLB player without calling him trash.
I have a guess about the identity of the infielder, but it would be tacky to name him, or I might get kicked out of the writing game.
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You’d think after being involved with Madison for years that Austen (and by proxy, Craig) would know they aren’t going to win this one. The more heated they become, the calmer she is – like a cat swatting mice. Use your big boy words and indoor voices, or this is going to be a looooong reunion. Did Austen just put his fingers in his ears and do a toddler, “blah blah blah, I can’t hear you!” Because hat alone would make you unf***able. But Miss LeCroy is holding some cards of her own, saying that Craig is just mad that Austen had relations with his COVID girlfriend.
Seriously, do these guys reduce every woman they meet into the town bicycle? As I said about Plan B, what kind of woman drops everything and moves in with a guy they just met? When Craig mentions the term “cross swords,” I threw up a bit in my mouth. I think these guys take pleasure in the conquest of banging a gal who has also done so with their friends. Creepy and a bit unhygienic, but you do you – and perhaps everyone within a zip code. By the way, did anyone notice that Austen’s hands were shaking while talking about Craig’s girlfriend Natalie Hegnauer and her appearance on Love Connection?
Also, do you think Andy will ever call any of these guys out for misogyny? He’s had so many openings working with reality stars, housewives, and Thomas Ravenel the nanny groper that it’s about time …
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Next on the hot seat is Shep, who talked about his now year-old relationship with Taylor. Andy asks Shep if he’s been faithful, and the squirming starts. He mentions that they have had “a few hiccups,” and then goes on to share them with the viewing audience. It’s interesting that the boys do romanticize cheating and getting black out drunk, which gave Andy yet another opening to call the ‘Lost Boys’ out, but … crickets. Have you noticed that every time Shep does something dumb, he follows it up with “I was drunk?”
You might be what they call an alcoholic, which does not bode well for the future of any relationship. Grown men can’t excuse missteps by saying those three magic words.
Madison and Shep have seemingly made peace, which pisses Austen off, and he calls both of them out, to which Madison responds, “Shut your muppet mouth” seeming to refer to Scooter, the stage manager for The Muppets.
Andy quickly changes tracks to give Craig and his pillow empire props, and provide Shep an opportunity to eat some crow. Then, as quickly as he had calmed down, Craig was set off by the mention of Patricia and her own housewares line (refer back to the note about enjoying someone’s hospitality and then dissing them). Poor form, dude. Then Craig states that he’s all about truth, but we all know that’s a porky pie from a guy known to throw down some serious gossip about friends when he’s under the influence.
After a break, Andy turns to Leva, who made a few appearances on Southern Charm prior to being brought on to carry water for d-bags who talk about “the days of cotton.” As a business woman of Persian descent, Leva agrees that Charleston is progressive for a southern city – but she still claims she can list times where she has been treated badly by racists who want proof that she is an American citizen. Then the questions for Leva turn to Cameran Eubanks who left the show before filming started. It sounds like Cam ghosted Leva since she joined the cast, and there are differing ideas about why she left in the first place.
On this topic, I posted something earlier this week about the Cameran rumor that was making the rounds. After talking off the record with other writers who cover the Bravo shows, all agreed they had caught wind of the rumor long before this season’s filming started, so the insinuation that Kathryn made it up is ludicrous.
Part one of the reunion ended with the same intensity as occurred throughout the season, including Leva and Kathryn arguing, and next week is going to be even crazier judging by the “scenes from next week.” After part one, I have to say it’s difficult to see this group coming together for another season!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Amy Feinstein is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing professionally for more than 25 years. She has a degree in English literature and a degree in British history. Amy enjoys writing about entertainment, sports, lifestyle, television and movies. When not at the computer, Amy can be found in the garden or at yoga class.
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