What “Southern Charm” lacks in charm, they make up for in trashiness and probably sex.
Along with ratifying the constitution of the Confederacy, publicly wearing “Cocks” paraphernalia with reckless USC abandon and former Gov. Mark Sanford’s fake Appalachian hike, the new Bravo reality show “Southern Charm” is now on the short list of questionable decisions to come out of the Palmetto State.
Bravo is bringing the reality show “Southern Charm” to Charleston. Featuring “Charleston’s elite” (aka people I’ve never heard of before this show), the Holy City now joins the ranks of Beverly Hills, New Jersey or wherever else real housewives live (as opposed to fake housewives?)
The cities with an edition of Real Housewives are spread around the country, but recently shows specifically depicting Southern families have come to the forefront of American television viewing. We hang on to every drawn out syllable from the stars of “Duck Dynasty,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Swamp People,” and the formerly beloved buttery chef known as Paula Deen.
A press release by Bravo makes “Southern Charm” sound like a public service, finally sharing the Holy City with the rest of the country: “The notoriously closed society of Charleston, South Carolina unlocks the gates of their centuries-old plantation homes for a real-life look at how modern-day Southern aristocracy lives. Get charmed by the social scene which is bound by tradition and ostentation unlike any other culture in America, through a group of the city’s most charismatic gentlemen and their Southern belle equals.”
In researching for this piece, I also came across a quote from one of the cast members, explaining that the show’s scandal will presumably pull viewers in: “Because in Charleston, you’re only as good as your last garden party and one social screw-up can taint generations to come.”
What? I’m a Southerner, born and bred, and I’ve never been to a garden party. Then again, I am average; this sounds like a problem that the less than one percent face. As with every alternate reality show, the socialites are intended to be the focus of the show, rather than us “average” folks.
However, using the city as a backdrop means that what “Jersey Shore” did to New Jersey might just happen to Charleston. While intellectually we know that what we see on Jersey Shore is not real life, that these people are atypical, we’re primed to believe that the things they do on the show could be true. For example, because the only experience I have with New Jersey is from the show, whenever I hear a Jersey accent, my mind automatically goes to the Shore.
Charleston will be stereotyped and judged in the same way, by what happens on this show, real or fictionalized. Playboy millionaires who can’t handle real-world responsibilities and women who pray for you after publicly humiliating you will be the only Charlestonians America cares about. Non-local readers, beware: As far as “Southern Charm” is concerned, “the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.”