Bravo TV, Reality TV

#SouthernCharm: Shep Rose & The Wendy Williams Mantra

“I’m a woman and I’m allowed to change my mind.” It’s a quote often uttered by popular talk show host Wendy Williams and one I find myself using this season of Bravo’s Southern Charm. I interviewed Shep Rose at the beginning of last season for Huffington Post Contributor platform and I may have (mis)interpreted his confidence for arrogance. I see a kinder, gentler Shep this season, especially with regard to his treatment of one-time-underdog Kathryn Dennis, who is currently having a stellar redemptive season.

I read the Vulture recap analyzing the Chelsea and Shep dynamic of last season and wondered about it myself in a post. I wondered if Shep was being too grabby and feeling too entitled with Chelsea during a drunken moment. Perhaps I was too hard on Shep because I do know that with reality television, there’s editing, slicing, dicing and “franken-biting” (where parts of two different sentences are joined together). I know that contexts are often unseen.

A Bravo employee hinted to me (after the fact) that I had gotten the wrong take on Shep, that many people had gotten the wrong impression last season.

So Shep, if you’re reading this little blog (which I doubt you are), I apologize if I judged you too harshly. In my Huffington Post articles, I often gave my perspective as contributors do, but I like what I see of you this season. You seem sincere, humbled and determined to treat women, and all people, respectfully. This season, you appear to be a mensch. I’m a woman and I’ve changed my mind.

For old time’s sake, here’s an article with an interview that I conducted with Shep Rose early last season. It was published in my Huffington Post Contributor archive:

Shep Rose….He’s the guy I once dated. Well not literally, but many years ago before I was married, I met my own cultured playboy who seemed fearful of commitment. We quickly went from dating to just friends and I watched and observed his social antics wryly. I teased him about his many many dates and short-lived conquests, his incessant bar hopping, his seemingly unlimited freedom and how others had to maintain a demanding day job and stick to limited alcohol consumption.

Well, my own version of Shep Rose – the actual Shep being a main character on Bravo’s reality show Southern Charm – is not someone I stayed in touch with as my circles inevitably changed. However, the familiarity from this past friendship endears me to the person I see on TV. My own acquaintance was a New Yorker rather than a Charlestonian, but in many ways Shep reminds me of him.

Southern Charm is mostly about entertainment and observing a different way of life for me, but it’s also sort of a walk down memory lane with a major location change. Also, to be fair, many (but not all) of the surrounding characters in my experience were not as wealthy as the Charlestonians. (I personally was living paycheck to paycheck in a low-rent shoebox of a room in an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment). Watching this show is also a way for me to get to know the South and specifically, a part of the country I’ve never visited.

The notion of “Southern Gentlemen” is a puzzling one when you look at the eclectic male characters on Southern Charm – especially Shep. Thomas has a political as well as criminal past and now also has two children with his gorgeous ex-girlfriend Kathryn – who temporarily lost custody.

Craig was on his way to becoming a lawyer and the rest of the cast is harping on what happened to his aspirations (he recently purchased a sewing machine and we see him embroidering a lot). Austen is the new guy and he’s cute. He seems to have snapped up Shep’s prior love interest Chelsea.

As the biggest charmer, Shep doesn’t seem happy about this on the show. Whitney, who was a main character in prior seasons, now seems to sit on the periphery stirring up drama. (He is actually the one who introduced the Southern Charm concept to Bravo.)

The guy to get the most questions from viewers and to get me scratching my own head was Shep because things have taken a drastically different turn for him this season. As a longtime fan of the series, you can imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to ask Shep a few things viewers wanted to know.

SHW: Fans of the show wonder why you seem to pick on Craig for not being ambitious enough and not having finished on his path to becoming a lawyer. Viewers express how it seems like you’ve never really needed to work-

SR: Not true. I’m certainly not set for life! I have bills to pay and incoming and outgoing cash. My question to those critics and people on Twitter: How does that have anything to do with Craig? I don’t get the correlation. I do get guff about that on the Internet, but what is the connection between my 9 to 5 status and Craig?! I’m tough on him personally. I never mention finances. Craig begs to be ribbed. You don’t even know the half of it. He’s a sweet guy and a nice guy and I really like him. He just begs for it with the things he says and does and we ALL give him a hard time – Cameron and Whitney too. I don’t really have any problems with Craig and my relationship today. There are things you don’t see on TV. If they showed the extent of Craig’s insanity, you’d know he got off so easily. He was very defensive which is one thing I wish he wouldn’t be. I want him to be happy and it just so happens that he recently passed the bar exam. I’m very proud of him. There’s no conflict there and I apologize that there was.

SHW: We saw that you were interested in Chelsea, had hung out with her romantically and then Austen swooped in. The podcast Watch What Crappens just brought up that you said something in the first season about being “over-educated and under-motivated.” Could that be why you’re not meeting women with long term potential for you?

SR: No. it’s in MY mind. I’m not your Ozzie and Harriet person and that’s all I have to go by. I’m not that “Hi Honey, I’m home” conventional man and it’s something I grapple with. I think I need to find someone who is unconventional as well. I love this city and there are drop dead gorgeous women here. I’ve been in love before and I’m a big proponent of it, but the world of relationships is changing Things are different than they were even 15 years ago in this regard. You can be ready for a serious relationship but still not meet somebody. I’m certainly not going to force anything. I know what it feels like when you should get married and I’m not going to sell myself short.

SHW: So that actually brings me to the question of whether or not you think Patricia is telling Landon and Thomas to settle for one another?

SR: Um, I don’t know. They both can tell you all about themselves…a lot! Maybe that’s good. They can sit at home and be enamored with one another…I do think there were unrealistic attempts…to force them together. Ultimately, I don’t think it would work. I don’t know who would be perfect for Landon, but I think Thomas is too alpha and there would be a butting of heads down the road.

SHW: Did you really want to go after Chelsea – even a bit after Austen first started seeing her and we didn’t know if it was anything beyond a first date – or was that Cameron’s prodding?

SR: I’ve known Chelsea for a while. I know a handful of guys that have dated her so when we kind of made out before I went off to my friend’s wedding, I decided to explore potentially seeing her. I didn’t reach out enough when I was on the trip. I know what to do to hold someone’s attention but I just didn’t do it. It kind of bothered me that I was the last one to know about Austen and her. I mean, you see that we were all out and I was whispering in her ear. He saw that and didn’t say anything. I’m a free love guy so I certainly didn’t tell him to back off. Had I known initially, I would have said ‘if she likes you then I don’t want to stand in her and your way.’

SHW: So that actually brings me to the question of whether or not you think Patricia is telling Landon and Thomas to settle for one another?

SR: Um, I don’t know. They both can tell you all about themselves…a lot! Maybe that’s good. They can sit at home and be enamored with one another…I do think there were unrealistic attempts…to force them together. Ultimately, I don’t think it would work. I don’t know who would be perfect for Landon, but I think Thomas is too alpha and there would be a butting of heads down the road.

SHW: Did you really want to go after Chelsea – even a bit after Austen first started seeing her and we didn’t know if it was anything beyond a first date – or was that Cameron’s prodding?

SR: I’ve known Chelsea for a while. I know a handful of guys that have dated her so when we kind of made out before I went off to my friend’s wedding, I decided to explore potentially seeing her. I didn’t reach out enough when I was on the trip. I know what to do to hold someone’s attention but I just didn’t do it. It kind of bothered me that I was the last one to know about Austen and her. I mean, you see that we were all out and I was whispering in her ear. He saw that and didn’t say anything. I’m a free love guy so I certainly didn’t tell him to back off. Had I known initially, I would have said ‘if she likes you then I don’t want to stand in her and your way.’

SHW: Going into this season, were you at all nervous due to the political environment? There were some reactions to Thomas and Kathryn’s (pro Trump) Twitter posts.

SR: Oh my god! The opinions expressed there were not my own. Everything is out there so you can find out exactly what I think about the political situation. People who will agree with me will agree with me, and others, I can’t change their mind anyway! It’s just crazy today. That’s what I think.

SW: Do you see Kathryn regularly? I know she was going through very hard times. How is she doing these days?

SR: I don’t know. I sent her a message about someone wanting to find a dress store in Monk’s Corner, but didn’t hear back. I have no problem with her and when we see each other, it’s hugs and we kind of go into the corner and talk. But she keeps to herself. I am concerned about her well being as always and if she reached out, I’d be happy to talk to her. I think she’s doing fine, but I couldn’t fully answer that right now.

(Shep’s headshot courtesy of Bravo)

Standard
Bravo TV, Reality TV

#ShahsOfSunset: Shervin no longer Swervin’ Our Way?

Tamara Tattles has a ton of new tea on one of my favorite Bravo reality shows Shahs of Sunset: http://tamaratattles.com/2018/06/19/exclusive-tamara-tattles-has-the-tea-on-shahs-of-sunset-season-seven/.

According to her sources, Shervin Roohparvar wasn’t wiling enough to share details of his private life after personal scandals last season…And that girlfriend from Down Under, Annalise? She may just have been for show – an on-air squeeze “cast” as his girlfriend rather than the real deal. Attach a big red A for ALLEGEDLY to that.

As Tamara points out in her post, Shervin isn’t even mentioned in the press release announcing the new season. This may actually have come as a shock to him that scenes he filmed were cut out. Asa Soltan had also filmed for the upcoming season, but she too was demoted during the editing process to a “friend of” and we will only see her pop in from time to time.

Expect a mini storyline about Asa not being invited to MJ’s wedding, as Tamara mentions in her post.

When and where Sherv may swerve this season, if at all? Right now, it’s anybody’s guess.

(A link to my interview with Shervin from last season: https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_59828bbee4b094ff5a3f0bc7/amp.)

Photo source for Shervin’s headshot: Bravo TV

Standard
Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#ShahsOfSunset: Asa Soltan Not Returning Full Time for Season 7

Today, Asa Soltan announced via Instagram that she will not be returning full time for Season 7 of the hit Bravo reality TV show Shahs of Sunset. You may occasionally see her visiting her cast mates, but she will not be a regular.

The reality TV personality/entrepreneur/girlfriend of a famous Jackson – yes, that family! – became a mother recently (She reminded us continually that she was pregnant last season, lest you forgot!) and motherhood is the reason she gives for her departure from the franchise as a cast member.

Asa was incredibly private about her romantic relationship and chose to keep that part of her life off camera in past seasons, a point of contention for many of her cast mates. In their defense, they probably do deserve an Emmy for baring their souls. I should add: baring their souls to the point of TMI..if you remember that cringeworthy and you over-the-top anal waxing scene.

I agree with Asa’s decision to keep her baby away from the cameras and protect her tot from media scrutiny. However, this is totally on brand with Asa’s old routine and therefore, (yawn) predicable. Many viewers complained last season that Asa shared so little of her life and presented too much of a happy-go-lucky, hippie demeanor to be believed. On Twitter, fans urged her to go deeper, open up more about her romantic partnership and discuss the challenges of being a woman with modern views from a traditional Persian household.

Fans are now saying they won’t miss the cast member who didn’t deliver enough of a storyline, especially as compared to Mercedes (“MJ”) Javid, Mike Shouhed, Reza Farahan, Golnessa (“GG”) Gharachedaghi and Shervin Roohparvar.

Oh!! I also don’t want to forget my personal FAVORITE cast member, the one I did an impression of on Sirius XM’s Reality Checked with Amy Phillips, Vida Javid. I’m OBSESSED….It goes without saying that Vida was way more exciting than Asa.

Are you looking forward to a new season of Shahs? Will you miss Asa, or do you agree with fans and her cast mates that she wasn’t “bringing enough to the table”? Well, let me rethink that particular expression: She certainly showed us lots of exquisite Persian foods to make our mouths water like crazy…but you know what I mean!

You can peruse my Huffington Post archive which features interview with MJ, Mike and Shervin from last season. Here’s the first of that series, a chat with MJ: https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_596179afe4b0cf3c8e8d593c/amp.

(Photo of Asa Soltan courtesy of Page Six)

Standard
Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#SouthernCharm: Bashing Ashley Isn’t My Thing

There’s something I’ve been wanting to address for a while about Southern Charm. Yes, Ashley Jacobs is the villain of the season and she’s done some godawful things that have been captured on camera, but when it comes to her dramatic weight loss, her past escapades, or the rumors about her being an escort, I’m not going overboard in the discussions.

I feel that Ashley has approached Kathryn Dennis all wrong and I feel indignant about her scathing commentary on Kathryn as a mom, but I’m not going to respond by dredging up every salaciously “slutty” (please note, I use quotation marks) photo from her college years, or mocking her boob transformation. I understand the notion of “people who put themselves on reality TV are fair game,” but I feel these tactics are not only somewhat ludicrous and overboard, but also…besides the point. I can drag Ashley for telling Kathryn she’s nothing but an egg donor, but I wouldn’t feel good about myself ragging on the appearance of her hair texture in response, or hopping on her Instagram page to suggest she eats a hamburger.

Some of the “Trashley” posts seem a bit too much to me, targeting someone who – in my opinion – appears to be suffering physically and psychologically from doing this stressful show (she wasn’t paid either). And look, I’ve certainly lambasted reality stars in the past (I didn’t even pause after one reality star called me a “pussy” three times in a phone call and felt anything was deserved after that) and I’m not telling YOU not to do it. You all have free will and are afforded free speech, but I personally am trying to keep my commentary about Ashley linked to what we see on television and will call her out for rantings about others when cameras aren’t rolling.

I feel terrible for Luzanne Otte, a private woman who got dragged into the Ashley and Thomas story and I wrote about that, but I tried not to go too much further in saying anything disparaging beyond what was exhibited. I also did write a post about how the cast suspects some random Twitter accounts belong to Ashley as that’s been a major topic of discussion on social media prompting the hashtag #HiAshley. I try to address things that are happening in real time, but without getting carried too far away.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in a few episodes, Ashley will make the offhanded remark to Shep Rose “Would you date me?” (Meaning: because things are rocky with TRav, are there hypothetical scenarios and options so she won’t have to leave the Charleston area.) This is not something that is said in earnest necessarily, but it’s a comment that is sure to lead to tons of Ashley bashing on social media. There’s no way this is an incorrect prediction. I can see that the stress is already taking a toll on this woman. Is she desperate? Perhaps. Misguided? Possibly. Evil? I’m not so sure.

I think Ashley may one day have the hindsight to say she behaved badly on television. I think that we see her clinging to this relationship with Thomas Ravenel for one reason of another. Whether it’s money or fame, as people have concluded, I sense she is incredibly stressed out. Her alarming weight loss signals to me that she’s trying to maintain control over a situation that she feels, frustratingly, she has little control of.

I can’t help feeling some sympathy as I rage-watch her on TV and sometimes want to slap her for what she’s said to KD. This is the reason why I won’t tweet out the gifs and caricatures mocking her, or resort to name calling on Twitter. Something about it doesn’t sit right with me intuitively, but as a reality TV anthropologist, I’ll snark and weigh in on what’s said on the show.

I’ll feel a lot better about writing this post if/when we see a reflective Ashley, one who looks upon this past season and her time with TRav and realizes where she went wrong, when she spoke out of turn, and who she hurt while trying to protect herself.

Standard
Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#SouthernCharm: Is It Ashley or Bot Number 999?

I’ve seen a few posts recently – from my usual trailblazing reality TV writers (Amy Feinstein of Inquistr and Tamara Tattles of her eponymous site) – about how Twitter troll accounts are taunting Kathryn Dennis.

Today, one tweeted out that next episode of SouthernCharm will show us why Ashley’s been right about Kathryn all along. In next week’s episode, as we gathered from previews, Kathryn goes MIA for a bit, but a deep dive through her social media (and that of Thomas Ravenel’s during that time period) attests to the fact that she doesn’t neglect any her essential responsibilities. So I’m not sure what this “troll” thinks it knows.

Kathryn suffers from some anxiety and depression (and after years of being gaslit by TRav, allegedly, is it any wonder?! Not to mention two televised postpartum periods back-to-back) and I’ve known a few women in that position to withdraw from humans for days or weeks. We all need breaks. With challenging moods and related struggles, those aren’t so rare.

The aforementioned troll accounts have been called out on Twitter by both Kathryn and Patricia as belonging to Ashley Jacobs, unpaid nemesis of the season who (love her or HATE her) has probably increased Southern Charm‘s ratings.

Sadly, the sexual assault allegations plaguing Thomas Ravenel probably have as well.

The good news is that Kathryn will become even more beloved by most viewers at the end of this season rather than the alternative. Stay tuned to let me know if this prediction is correct. Tamara Tattles reiterates this and has intel from an inside source. I feel it is well-deserved and about time for the visibly maturing, former underdog to thrive.

Standard
#RHONY, Reality TV, Uncategorized

#RHONY: “Not Well, Bitch!” Dorinda & the Cast Divisions Between Seasons

I’ve written before about Real Housewives of New York‘s Sonja Morgan snaking in stinging jabs at Dorinda Medley. I’m not sure what it is about these women (and the viewers do relish this about the franchise), but they keep the drama going while the cameras aren’t rolling.

A source tells me that Sonja is talking all sorts of smack about Dorinda’s past relationships, revising history through tall tales. For instance, Dorinda gets along terrifically with her ex husband Ralph, but Sonja gossiped to one fair-weather friend that Ralph latched on to a close pal of Dorinda’s, who he ended up marrying. She was insinuating that the most amicable of divorces was anything but…

Those who know Dorinda and Ralph can attest to the fact that the parents of Hannah are in a great place, friends who communicate regularly. There is also no beef there with his wife.

This feud between Dorinda and Sonja has been going on for a long period of time. In fact, when I interviewed Dorinda for The Huffington Post last year, it was right before the season began and she and Sonja were not speaking. Dorinda also recently made the point of emphasizing to Heather McDonald on an episode of the podcast Juicy Scoop, that she and Sonja didn’t socialize before filming and it seems they’re merely on-camera frenemies. To the contrary, Dorinda and Ramona Singer are real life true friends and it was Ramona who actually encouraged Dorinda to do the show.

Sources say Dorinda is not having it easy in this seasonal interim. She and Bethenny have had some sort of falling out that previously led Bethenny to block her on social media. Dorinda is also quite peeved with cast mate Luann De Lesseps for hypocritically criticizing her drinking in a blog post. Remember, Lu herself went to rehab following her own drunken antics in Palm Beach (long story, but suffice it to say: “It was about Tom.)

On a happy note for Dorinda, the love affairs with Carole Radziwill and Tinsley Mortimer seem consistent and stable. The three recently took a vacation together.

To sum it up for those keeping score, there are two teams. Team A: Dorinda, Carole, Tinsley, Ramona and Team B: Bethenny, Sonja and Luann. Despite these divisions, the women of RHONY will continue to make terrific television together.

Standard
Bravo TV

#SouthernCharm: Patricia’s Had Enough of the Smarm! (Inquistr article)

Amy Feinstein of Inquistr.com put out a piece today addressing Patricia Altschul’s latest Twitter comments on her rift with Thomas Ravenel. As I reported previously, Patricia let me know privately that in addition to what she saw as a smear campaign, there’s much more to the story and that includes the current sexual assault allegations Thomas faces. Patricia said she would be able to address the specifics in more detail with me once the “gag order has been lifted” by Bravo.

Feinstein writes: “Little by little Patricia has come forward to tell fans of the hit Bravo show why she soured on Thomas Ravenel and his “Cali Girl” girlfriend she assisted on a shopping trip to Gwynn’s. On Twitter early this morning, Altschul responded to Thomas Ravenel’s recent behavior and explains in more detail why she decided to excise him from her life.”

““Why people ask? Because of his and Ashley’s smear campaign, character assassination, lies and purposeful defamation. It made me reassess everything Thomas said to me about @KathrynDennis who has clearly turned her life around while they are on a downward spiral.”

Besides Patricia, another subject of Trashley’s (that’s Thomas + girlfriend Ashley Jacobs) smear campaign is Luzanne Otte. She briefly dated Thomas and now lives to regret it. See my past articles on Luzanne Otte for further information. Luzanne, who is close with Patricia, is finally getting her solid reputation back as Ashley and Thomas’s shenanigans have become more well known. Both Luzanne and Patricia have bonded with Kathryn and a friendship between the Southern Charm matriarch and Kathryn (the former underdog of this franchise) is reportedly blossoming.

Here’s more from Amy Feinstein: https://www.inquisitr.com/4931454/southern-charm-star-patricia-altschul-says-thomas-ravenel-launched-a-smear-campaign-with-girlfriend/.

Standard