Bravo TV, Reality TV

#SouthernCharmSavannah: Should You Be Watching?

Having debuted on the heels of a catastrophic, yet incredibly captivating season of the original Southern Charm, the Savannian counterpart of the franchise seems to lack luster. Its ratings reflect that too, but there is a contingent of devoted fans, including those who watched Season 1 last year, who are committed to seeing Season 2 through to finale.

While I tune in weekly to Southern Charm Savannah (reneging on a previously tweeted resolution not to), it is with a mix of emotions. My favorite cast member, Ashley Borders, was demoted from main character to one with a select few cameos this season. Allegedly, (and according to several inside sources) this demotion was due to the fact that one stuffy “main” made a stink, stubbornly refusing to film with her.

Borders incurred the wrath for being more offbeat than the others during Season 1, and after interviewing her and meeting in person, I can attest to how kind, sweet and personable she is IRL. Since then, we have kept in touch and viewers have contacted me to relay that they are “bummed”, thinking she would have been an interesting individual to follow up on.

Watching the show last year, I took issue with one major theme: Southern Propriety that demanded keeping what’s unconventional closeted….Or, making it a struggle for the characters who feel harshly judged. Then again, that is in fact the backdrop of the Southern Charm franchise: young people – white people at that, let’s be real – navigating modern life while struggling internally with antiquated, austere and unspoken Southern rules, and concerned about perception.

Many viewers were surprised that this show was granted a second season after the first one seemed to fall short, but since I’m tuned in, I wanted to provide you with my thoughts on why you might want to check it out and why you might not:

The Good: Hagood

I like this new cast pick for Season Two with her peaches and cream complexion. She somewhat resembles actress/model Brooklyn Decker and when I say “like”, I mean that she hasn’t offended my sensibilities thus far. Hagood Coxe is somewhat vanilla and benign. There is this though: She’s great at pulling a prank when she convinces Brandon to drink “wild boar’s blood” or so he thinks.

Truthfully, I preferred Ashley’s flash and bohemian vibe and the fact that Ashley had a cool Persian friend, a jewelry designer, who we saw briefly last season (and who I think added diversity and should have been made a main cast member).

It also helps to know that Ashley’s group of friends who weren’t featured on the show are an incredibly diverse crew. Diversity is something that Southern Charm Savannah lacks, which is not reflective of the city itself.

Hagood does seem to have all the qualities of a delightful debutante on paper, but desperately needs to rebuff her mother’s incessant nudging and bossiness. Mom wants her to focus on her artistic pursuits rather than wasting time brewing sake (which Hagood pronounces “sah-kay!”). But lay off, Mama Coxe! – Hagood is an adult now.

She grew up a huntin’ and a fishin’ and her dad owns a farm, which he hopes to bequeath to her some day. Oh, and she may have dabbled in witch craft. Yes, you read that correctly: She got kicked out of camp when she was young for being a “witch” – no word on if that camp was headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692.

Hagood also confessed, during a truth or dare-style game (minus the “dare”) with a few of her cast mates, that she has dipped into the lady pond. Her boyfriend hasn’t been shown on camera yet, but the footage has highlighted Hagood’s confession more than once – perhaps in an effort to make her seem more interesting? Perhaps to explore some sort of mini bisexuality storyline in future episodes? We’ll have to stay tuned, but so far, Hagood seems intriguing enough for a new addition. She’s also eye candy.

The teasers haven’t been exceptionally tantalizing, but I’m hopeful. I should mention that it’s a little strange that Hagood’s roughly a decade younger than her cast mates (She’s in her 20s, they’re in their 30s). But, well, that fits the OG Southern Charm template when you consider Kathryn Dennis.

The Bad: A Ban on Borders

I am not alone in expressing the sentiment that Ashley Borders was the most interesting character last season. I think Haymaker has left us hanging because I doubt Ashley’s cameo appearances will do her the justice she deserves after being slut-shamed for golfing in a one-piece last season. You’ll have to take my word for it that there’s more to this philanthropy-conscious mother, the daughter of a noted pediatric surgeon, than meets the eye. She did make it known last season that she’s one Savannian who didn’t vote for The Donald. So, there’s that.

The Good: Brandon

This season we have an openly gay cast member whereas last season, fans speculated on the sexuality of a man who identified as straight. Which was kind of rude. However, it was also kind of inevitable because it’s what viewers do…..(I’m not excusing it.)

The thing about interior designer Brandon Branch is that he is the sole Savannian featured who is in a healthy, steady, committed relationship. Viewers have expressed their delight about seeing a gay married couple serve as an example of the healthy relationship that the other single cast members should aspire to have.

Brandon possesses snide wit, scoffing and calling out his close bud Catherine Cooper while being affectionate towards her. He’s so truthful that it can be biting, but to his credit, Brandon Branch doesn’t beat around the bush.

The Bad: Brandon Branch can be overboard obnoxious

I enjoy Brandon Branch. Hell, I had a great tweet exchange with Brandon Branch last night because I tweet about all the show characters I find entertaining.

However, I’m not a fan of the slut-shaming statements uttered by Brandon Branch about Ashley Borders last season. And I could forgive that – You know, it was before the whole #MeToo shift in this country – but I didn’t like his line in Season 2 previews about the newly single Savannian. It was something about how there was a stripper pole in front of them but no Ashley. Sorry, Ashley is not a stripper and Brandon recently declared his affection for women, how he relates to them, in light of the fact that he grew up with sisters and always had female friendships.

If you’re reading this Brandon, that was not a statement about Ashley that reflects a priority of female empowerment. That was entirely uncool. Save for that, I like this new cast member. If he takes my constructive criticism to heart, I’ll like him even more.

The Good: Daniel, My Brother

So Daniel Eichholz is a “member of the tribe” (my tribe, that is – Jewish) and last year he had to deal with some insensitive statements addressed to him as the lone Yid in the group. He also wondered if he couldn’t be a part of a certain exclusive club because he wasn’t Waspy. Who knows what the real reasons were for the exclusion, but Daniel was the odd one out being the lone Jew of the clique. Interestingly, prior to attending the overly-mentioned (last season) Savannah Country Day School, Daniel was educated at a Hebrew day school in his elementary years.

I love seeing someone on television who had similar schooling to me and I’ve also found myself subjected to curiosity in social groups of all gentiles. I’ve gotten the same weird questions he has fielded in the past, and when Nelson (who did not return for Season 2) made him uncomfortable bandying around a Yiddish semi-slur word….I’d been there too.

Dave Quinn of People magazine recently tweeted out his appreciation for Daniel’s fit physique. Daniel has an insanely intriguing workout that consists of push-ups and planks off of park benches and bathtubs. Because I’d kill to be half as muscly as Teresa Giudice, I may take him up on his tweeted offer of a workout walk-through. That would first entail a trip to Georgia. For now, I’ll continue Sweating to the Oldies with a retro Richard Simmons.

The Bad: These 3 Are Cool, But What Exactly are the Storylines?

So the 3 characters highlighted above are the ones who stand out to me most at the start of this season.

I want to whisk Catherine Cooper away from this show and cast the bubbly blonde with the OG Southern Charm group in Charleston.

Haymaker Productions is going hard on the storyline of Catherine not being as into Lyle as he is into her. She rejected his onscreen proposal last season, and a highly connected source informed me that she also rejected his off-screen proposal.

I get the sense that she’s with him out of habit (a long, albeit terse, relationship, can become similar to an addiction), fear that someone “better” won’t come along and concern about what others think.

I want Catherine to feel free to fly and I’d like to see her soar. Instead, she strikes me as stifled.

Stifled in Savannah actually sounds like a great name for a spinoff show for her. I, for one, would like to see her happy ending.

I’m not interested in Lyle or the relationship between Hannah, the fashion brand starter (I think that’s what her thing is at the moment), and Louis, the socktrepreneur. I can’t help how I feel. Hannah seems ahead of him maturity-wise and should probably be with an older man – on paper, at least – but the heart wants what it wants. Yawn. Who cares?

The truth is: I’m sticking around to see how Ashley Borders deals with a cast that acted judgmental and elitist towards her (while I realize she was only granted a few scenes this season).

I’m hanging in to hear more about Hagood’s romantic life and to see if she’s less concerned about what others think of her than I think Catherine is.

I’ll be back in front of my TV next week for Brandon: I want to hear his clever barbs and the way he tells it to everyone straight, without seeming embarrassed or possessing any sort of a filter. That said, I’m also tuning in for his apology to Ashley, which I’ll acknowledge as pure fantasy on my part — at this point.

Savannah may not stack up to the competition of Charleston, but I think it’s worth checking out. Perhaps you’ll even discover more to it that you think I should write about.

Southern Charm Savannah airs on Bravo, Monday nights at 10 PM EST.

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Reality TV

#RealityTV: Remember, You’re Tweeting About A TV SHOW, Fans!

Robin Thicke is not the only one to identify where there are “blurred lines”…

When blind items hit the Internet, readers scramble to figure out all possible allusions. Paragraphs that are so murky can be hard to solve…unless a reader is entirely familiar with the situations – and in terms of what I frequently cover, the reality show. Lately, there have been a slew of blind items clearly pertaining to popular reality shows.

It is one thing to see oblique references on the Internet, but what about when targeted information about an individual is blasted out on social media platforms? In recent times, we’ve seen it is an effective strategy for shaming those who are in the wrong, and getting that “news” out to the masses. In this post Harvey Weinstein scandal world, the Internet has been an asset to enforcing the message that a certain type of conduct is intolerable. But what about when the Internet is used by the Harvey Weinsteins to smear victims?

Perpetrators of bad behavior are notorious for ensuring that they have a platform to spin stories negatively – in order to feed the press info that shifts focus away from their own atrocities.“The Internet is a void that everyone is screaming into,” my own father reasons, “Who in the world is listening?”

It’s clear he doesn’t believe that many people are really taking inane reports they read as truths. The problem is that people very easily believe what they read in a blog established to malign someone without merit.

We laugh at individuals who fall for National Enquirer headlines while on line at the grocery store, but we also easily witness how a false story takes off with alarming speed. And my father did not grow up with the Internet, nor does he rely on it for his work, unlike another man his age who sits in the oval office and has taken to Twitter in erratic fashion.

Covering reality television, I recently saw how viewers – more accurately, fans – escalate from discussing who their favorite characters are and trading barbs about what’s seen on TV…to hurling outlandish and abusive personalized attacks at one another.

“I said that I found Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta to be frightening,” my friend David relates, “and suddenly I see tweets about me, including a poll, weighing in on how racist I am. I reiterate: The poll was about ME. Racist?! Because I happen to find a reality character frightening due to her intense behavior on a reality show?! How in the world did people make the stretch to ‘racist.’? I was trolled for months by these same multiple accounts. When I reported it to Twitter, an email came back saying that Twitter didn’t find the tweets abusive. I felt completely let down by the social media platform.”

A woman who chose to identify herself for this piece as “Carly” explained her similar vexations with Twitter: “I’m being taunted mercilessly by the same series of accounts because I dared to comment on a Real Housewives franchise. What ensued were below the belt tweets that included personal information about me. These sick individuals had apparently visited my other social media pages to check details. As a single mom with a very young child, I was terrified and immediately set all my accounts to ‘private’. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I contacted a lawyer and asked family members to stay at my house with my child and I for a few days. It’s insane that conversations via social media can lead to this much panic. I am still considering closing my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for good.”Family members have also advised me in the past to “get off social media” when I privately shared anecdotes of that nether world (I now mainly avoid doing so). I think that due to the type of work I’ve conducted over the years, predominantly in the area of marketing, I have to be on these platforms generally for outreach.

In a non-professional capacity, I love to promote the good work of my friends. Facebook and Twitter are ideal for sharing a podcast link or one to an article. It does frighten me to see how fans blur the lines between reality and reality TV on Twitter though. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It’s also quite the phenomenon that Real Housewives franchises specifically are the ones to garner this much negative attention and breed such a level of hostility between fans who simply want to opine on a silly TV show.

Why do you think the Real Housewives inspire such a reaction in the Twitterverse?

Would you steer clear of social media if you were personally attacked?

If not, what measures would you take to protect yourself?

I would love to hear from you readers and get your individual takes. For now, try to remember that television viewing is typically described as “leisure time.” It is an experience you are supposed to enjoy and do while you’re relaxing. Perhaps it is best to limit yourself to one screen and ensure that you screen out the rest!

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Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

An Abundance of Ashleys

Between the years of 1983 and 1988, “Ashley” was a top choice for American parents naming baby girls. It was, in fact, the second most popular girl’s name in the nation in 1985, which means if you are a Millennial, there’s a good chance you know an Ashley or two…or seven as I currently have programmed in my phone.

On reality television now, there are three Ashleys – within the aforementioned cohort – who have people talking. Perhaps there is a special formula for all Ashleys to crack (one I wish I knew!) because each of the three Ashleys I’m about to discuss have either had to overcome hurdles in the maze of reality TV, perception and reality, or are still bumbling through that complicated labyrinth.

Let’s begin with Ashley Iaconetti from The Bachelor franchise. This Ashley first came to our collective attention during Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor. She was the emotionally overwrought Kardashian lookalike who seemed to cry on a whim. She also quickly became known to us for another more notable characteristic: being the virgin and was rapidly embraced by Bachelor Nation, the dysfunctional franchise-family that feverishly recycles favorites in spinoffs. So of course, Ashley appeared, and shed a ton of tears, on Bachelor in Paradise and later found lust on Bachelor Winter Games.

After many overly emotional scenes and plenty of loud sobs regarding being relegated to the “friend zone,” Iaconetti’s long-time pal and crush from Paradise finally started to reciprocate her feelings. She had cried over him in Paradise and had been encouraged to give up hope by their mutual friend (former Bachelor) Nick Viall. Years and too many tears later, after baring her soul to cameras ad nauseum, Ioconetti has been publicly vindicated, I guess: The object of her documented obsession, Jared Haibon, recently proposed. The perpetually pining princess will need to be recast as the fiance who turned her commitment phobic pumpkin into her prince.

Another Ashley who some of you are familiar with is Ashley Borders of Southern Charm Savannah. I wasn’t wild about the show, a sentiment not uncommon among Bravo fans, but I found this Ashley endearing even before I had the chance to meet her in person and confirm this.

A crowd of white, somewhat wealthy Savannians were introduced to us as a group of friends – except immediately, we got the sense that Borders was more of a free spirit. This was especially so when juxtaposed with the more traditional, snooty Southerner cast mates. They seemed stuck in the past and we witnessed how they were so bothered by Borders’ bathing suit-clad bod and the effect it might have on the taken men. It was clear that Borders was merely an on-camera friend to those who shunned her on the show, and we got a glimpse of the more liberal Savannians who accepted her, like the cute jewelry designer who appears in one episode.

According to one of my sources in Savannah, Ashley was demoted from a main cast member to a “friend of” for the soon to be airing Season Two. This was because the least likable, most stodgy and snobbish cast mates refused to film with her. Luckily enough, not all of them are total dicks, so although Borders will not get the redemption season she deserves after cast mates lambasted her last season, she will appear in a few scenes this time around.

Last season, while focused on her fashion career, she had a side gig with Delta airlines that afforded her travel opportunities. Her cast mates made a big deal about the side gig, calling her dishonest because she didn’t talk as much about it. In doing so, they unwittingly brought attention to their elitist and classist notions about career choices.

Ashley Borders’ liberal views and openness towards those from all walks of life, made her a breath of fresh air alongside this catty and cliquish crew. It will be interesting to see if she gets some redemption in her diminished role this season. Perhaps refraining from having to hang out too much with elitist cast mates is vindication enough for anyone.

The last of the Ashleys on my mind is the most talked about currently. Ashley Jacobs of Bravo’s Southern Charm (the original Southern Charm, as Savannah is a newer addition to the main franchise) is getting a lot of attention for her missteps on the show, as well as backfiring efforts to repair her image via social media.

Jacobs has had a really tough season and is in over her head as a reality television rookie. The hospice nurse attached herself to a paramour with a personal baggage, including the fact that he and his ex (the mother of his two kids) film together seasonally. It has not gone well for Jacobs who clashes on camera during the current season with Kathryn Dennis, mom to her beau Thomas Ravenel’s children.

While initially welcomed by the rest of the crew, they have taken several steps back from Jacobs and rallied around Dennis. The shifting allegiances, and the apparent disdain for Jacobs that has grown since cameras stopped rolling, attest to several complicated off-camera storylines.

The gossip blogs have played their own part in pitting the Charmers against one another.

While everyone loves a comeback and a redemption tale, many fans feel she is beyond reproach and that the influences behind her behavior, the motives and some of the individuals who nudged her behavior along (i.e. those bloggers), will never be revealed to the public.

To me, it would be a shame if we don’t get to see how bloggers contributed, how Jacobs’ relationship with Ravenel factored in, and whether or not Jacobs will acknowledge her bad behaviors after the upcoming reunion airs…Even more so, when ample time passes and realities (beyond reality TV) set in.

Whether Jacobs will have her opportunity to turn the tide and change the minds is something that seems more uncertain than what is likely for the other Ashleys. Her words seemed more astounding, more regrettable and her actions post-filming more shocking. However, when a person takes major initiatives to revamp their life and starts to see things differently, it’s a beginning towards healing all that has been greatly damaged. Having seen young reality stars mature and become more humbled by public reaction, who knows what could happen in the future after life changes offer new perspectives….In the United States of Amnesia, (to borrow the late Gore Vidal’s term) I’ve witnessed fans change their minds when it previously seemed impossible.

Perhaps there is some formula for all Ashleys to follow in order to become successful – especially in this arena of reality television. Or maybe you don’t believe there’s anything significant about a particular name. Rather, that the three Ashleys above coincidently had rough starts, and faced the challenge of being scrutinized by cast mates, viewers and the world of social media.

In the event that it’s not a fluke, here are Things To Know About the Name Ashley if you happen to be an Ashley yourself or know someone who is.

(The title of this post was inspired by the title of John Green’s novel, An Abundance of Katherines.)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV, Uncategorized

#SouthernCharm: Breaking Down the ‘Blind Gossip’

Someone who is way better at updating her website than I am, as well as more impressively diligent about frequent postings and keeping current with numerous reality shows is Tamara Tattles. Personally, I’m just starting out with this website, ShirasGotTheScoop, and trying to manage other jobs and endeavors (including a gaggle of offspring) simultaneously, but I’d like to post as often as I can. In that regard, I look up to Tamara who is admirably a #SuperBlogger – #Goals. I’m in awe of friends who post multiple times daily and I’ll admit that I’m not sure of my aspirations for this site yet as I fret about other work. What I can tell you is that sometimes, the savvier website- keepers inspire me greatly to weigh in… So tonight, I’m going to delve into Tamara Tattles’ most recent post.

Tamara has authored a blind item that I shall attempt to interpret as one would explore Talmudic text (my Jewish day school contemporaries may or may not crack a smile at that. They may or may not eschew the reference entirely, deeming it despicably sacrilegious). There will be lots of commentary and speculation on my part, and I’ll make sure to pepper my postulations with allegedlies – in order to be as fair as one can possibly be here.

Tamara Tattles’ site, which I urge you to check out, is TamaraTattles.com, and she currently also has her blind item on the website BlindGossip.com. Before I weigh in and break it all down as if it is a tractate of Gemara, here’s the full item:

On a certain reality show, there is one evil b* that is worse than anything we have ever seen. EVER. She has literally hooked her way on to the show by way of another aberrant creature we recently got rid of.

In an odd turn of events, I totally warned the male in this story about the female in this story very, very, early on when she was trying to sell stories to the sites that pay for the dirt.  He was polite, but didn’t really believe me so I just bowed out to watch nature take its course.

Now I am finding out that she has been constantly digging up the dirt on her “beloved.” She has gone through his phone, she has gone through his computer, and she has a lot of information to share. She has attacked a woman relentlessly who politely declined to play the role she is currently playing. She’s psychotic.

Here just a few things she has on her equally despicable “mark”.

◦ Very early on, his sisters tried to pay him to send this female back to where she came from and try to get the female who declined “the opportunity” to reconsider. That was never a possibility but the sisters didn’t have the full story.

◦ She was particularly incensed about his will. She was not happy with the beneficiaries.

◦ Some sort of lesbian sex tape with toys. I presume he was on camera but my source was not clear about that.

◦ She was also pissed about him asking people via email about her call girl reputation. She was not working and living with her mother at the time they were introduced.

There is a lot more. He is terrified. He’s tried on multiple occasions to break up with her but she is threatening to sell stories. Oddly, that is the very thing I warned him about months and months ago. At least I tried, and honestly, knowing what I know now, that I didn’t know then, I’m hoping these two drag each other to death. Neither one of them need to be breathing our air unless it is behind bars. At least we know that neither of them will be on out TV again unless it’s on the news about their court cases.

See You Next Tuesday has a significant meaning for this blind. Because she will be speaking unsupervised next Tuesday. And she’s a loose cannon. Expect bizarre social media posts from him on Tuesday as well and more from me as soon as I get the tea.

So here’s the deal…and be prepared for potential **spoilers** in this post. It has been rumored that Ashley Jacobs, Thomas Ravenel’s girlfriend and the Southern Charm “villain” of the season, is not just a Cali girl but a call girl!!!!

I’m not sure that I’m “buying it” personally, but in the episodes ahead, you may very well see one of the other ladies in the cast bring it up to the group.

At this stage, rumors are just rumors, and of course, there has been smoke —but is there fire? That question could very likely be the cliff-hanger of the current season. If Thomas Ravenel and Ashley Jacobs are kaput post reunion (meaning: not slated to return next season), we’ll be left with a lot that is unanswered. The reunion is being filmed tomorrow – hence the reference above to “Tuesday.”

I’m sorry to disappoint readers, but I am doubtful we’ll get our answers to the “call girl” question. Thomas’s contract actually expires after the reunion, and we do not know (and frankly, it seems DOUBTFUL) if it will be renewed for another season.

The friend who introduced Ashley to the show is said to be Landon Clements (a cast member from last season). Rumor has it (and again, keep in mind the above disclaimer about rumors merely being rumors) that after Ashley went through Thomas’s emails, she concluded that a former Ravenel girlfriend of just one week, Luzanne Otte, was to blame for the cast’s dislike of her.

It has also been alleged that Landon assisted in planting these particular seeds of doubt in her friend Ashley’s mind.

In the next few episodes of Southern Charm, you will see Ashley and Thomas’s relationship deteriorate as Ashley is plagued by insecurities. Thomas does little to reassure her (or to be nice at all, in my opinion).

It seems he “checked out” earlier on when his new squeeze attacked Kathryn, who impressively maintained her composure amidst the volatility.

From what one can decipher in the item, Tamra Tattles tried to warn Thomas that Ashley might have found allies in a group of curmudgeons running a revenge-slanted blog.

Twitter users have noted that said blog has been the only outlet to praise Thomas amidst multiple sexual assault allegations. It has also been pointed out that the site unabashedly slut-shamed the daughter of a Ravenel sexual assault victim, deliberately posting one sexy photo after another of her (she’s a model and realtor) between article paragraphs. The intention is beyond transparent.

Before the sexual assault allegations garnered media attention, Ashley Jacobs allegedly went on a tear: She blamed TRav’s ex Luzanne Otte (the ONE WEEK “relationship” gal who ended things with Thomas after witnessing absurd and temperamental behavior) for animosity she felt from cast mates.

Sources claim Ashley fed the aforementioned blog many of the stories they ended up running. This was much to the dismay of privacy-craving Luzanne Otte, a woman who would never go on realty TV and who would really rather that folks not even know her name. Unfortunately, she was forced to go public in order to clear it.

You will see in the episodes ahead how Ashley’s relationship with Thomas Ravenel unravels. I was informed that Ashley even asked Shep Rose if he would date her – should things not pan out with Thomas.

What else would she possibly do in Charleston otherwise?

You’ll get the sense that she would really like a reason to stay.

Tamara alludes to the fact that Thomas’s family members had suggested Ashley go back to Santa Barbara and that might have been the best move, but the harder things have gotten, the stronger Ashley has fought to stand her ground and stay.

There are implications in the above blind item that Ashley has some secrets she’s keeping about Thomas (the “lesbian sex tape”, whatever that entails, may be a part of it…or it might not be). There is so much more to Thomas (risqué sexcapades? More information about sexual assaults? Other TRav troubles? The manner in which Ashley and TRav truly met?) that Ashley seems to know. She may be lording all of that knowledge over him, essentially blackmailing him to stay in the relationship and allow her to remain in his home.

Again, all of the above is ALLEGED, but pay special attention to the dynamics between Thomas and Ashley in the coming episodes.

If I’m interpreting things correctly, Tamara Tattles tried to forewarn Thomas about the mess that lay ahead…whatever it is exactly.

It seems quite clear that the issued warning went unheeded. The blind item implies that Thomas may be desperate to break up with Ashley.

However, for once, the powerful, affluent, former politician and alpha male of the notorious “All boys club” (a monster of Haymaker Productions’ making) is powerless.

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