RHOP: This show utterly sucks.

I tried, but I just can’t with this show.

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Southern Charm Recap: S5, Ep. 3 – “Groovy Baby”

It’s another beautiful morning in Charleston and Thomas’ unabashed lechery is on display once again as he tells Ashley he’s glad he found a woman with a good heart, then asks if he can feel her heart up. I think my 10th-grade boyfriend used a similar line on me once, and it was cheesy coming from a 15-year-old. Ashley’s not fazed by it though–she just simpers and giggles and feeds into Thomas’ image of himself as a Rhett Butler-type roguish devil, just like a good gold digger should. And just like a good gold digger target should, Thomas puts Plan B in Ashley’s morning eggs.

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Patricia calls Cameran to tell her she wants to throw her a baby shower/party, but when Cameran tries to gives her some input on the guest list, Patricia informs her that as the hostess, SHE will be in charge of the invites. Of course this means Kathryn will be excluded, as well she should be. Cameran is worried, but has the sense not to challenge Patricia on the issue.

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Why would anyone think Patricia would ever want Kathryn in her house? Aside from going after Patricia’s son Whitney like a coked-up Tasmanian Devil, Kathryn has made a spectacle of herself at every single social gathering she has ever attended. That is, until last season when she decided to pretend like she was getting her shit together in order to get her kids back. Even if Kathryn could be trusted to be on her very best behavior at the baby shower, Patricia has seen her true colors and is not fooled by her little performance of late. So no, Patricia is not going to invite Kathryn anywhere, and no one should expect her to.

Patricia isn’t fooled, but apparently the courts are, because Kathryn has moved into whatever phase of her and Thomas’ custody agreement that allows her to have unsupervised visits with the children. Kathryn’s drivel about being a mother and how much it hurt to lose custody of her kids fails to interest me. I think they would probably be better off if she remained–at most–on the periphery of their lives, but I don’t really care one way or another.

Nor do I care about Cameran’s birth-coaching session with Kathy the childbirth “educator.” This scene seems totally contrived–I highly doubt Cameran is that ignorant about the process–and “childbirth educator”, like “accountability coach” and “feng shui consultant,” seems like just another term for snake-oil salesman. And what is Whitney doing there? Whitney seems even more disconnected to the child-bearing process than Cameran is pretending to be.

Craig and Austen meet for drinks and Craig tells Austen his life would be so much easier if God would just make him gay. Whatever, Craig. Does he think drama and confusion are unique to heterosexual relationships? Craig doesn’t understand why Naomie was crying over their breakup at Shep’s party when it was so obvious she didn’t want to be with him anymore. I kind of wonder about that myself, since they were so clearly mismatched and Craig was so awful last season. But relationships are complicated, and just like the editors made me #TeamNaomie last season, they’re kind of making me #TeamCraig this season, so who knows what really went on between them?

God, more baby stuff. Cameran and Chelt-sea go to a place named “Bond with Baby” so Cameran can get an ultrasound. Yawn. After the requisite cooing, they settle in to discuss Chelt-sea’s relationship with Austen. Chelt-sea doesn’t have a problem with Austen, per se; it’s his lifestyle that turns her off. He’s unemployed, parties all night and sleeps all day. How exactly does that make him different from most of the other guys in Charleston?

Cut to Austen, who sure enough is in the bar in the middle of the day ordering a beer flight and wondering what his next move should be.

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Chelt-sea and Cameran lament the state of the region’s dating pool and I can’t help but think Cameran is mentally patting herself on the back for landing herself a doctor.

Thomas is talking to his father on his phone, and we learn that he is paying for Ashley’s apartment downtown. I bet that tidbit sent Kathryn into a tailspin. Thomas and his father agree that Ashley has a good sense of humor, which Arthur Ravenel approves of, because after all, if you can’t “eat it, spend it or make love to it,” you have to laugh at it. No wonder Thomas has such a healthy respect for women.

Kathryn comes over to Craig’s new house where he shows her his new endeavor–making pillows. Some of his pillows are cute. I can’t fault Craig for not practicing law now that he’s passed the bar and is an actual attorney. I’m an attorney and I’m much happier waiting tables–law is not for everyone and sometimes it takes awhile to figure that out.

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Craig thinks that since he and Kathryn have some sort of bond, they represent a “safe space” for each other. Of course Craig buys into the idea of safe spaces. How did Craig become such a pussy? He seems like a completely different person from the Season 1 Craig who called out Kathryn for sleeping with everyone in the cast and told Thomas she was “trouble.” Now he thinks she’s some kind of soulmate? Good luck with that–Craig is nothing more to Kathryn than an easily-manipulated mark who furthers her sinister agenda.

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Speaking of that, while she and Craig are talking about Thomas and Ashley, Kathryn “lets it slip” that she and Thomas hooked up after the Season 4 reunion. Craig is sure to spill those beans later in the season and Kathryn will sit back and smugly watch the drama she wrought play out. She of course thinks Ashley is playing Thomas the way she tried to play him, but Craig disagrees. So do I. Thomas is way better at this game than Kathryn is giving him credit for–if a full-blown sociopath like herself wasn’t able to play him into marriage, how does the simpering Ashley stand a chance?

It’s baby shower day, and everyone is getting ready for the festivities. Patricia explains that the theme of this party is Slim Aarons, a photographer who chronicled social life in the 60’s. And not just any social life–ultra WASP-y Babe Paley-type social life–so the Southern Charm crowd should be able to relate. I’m not sure if Babe Paley would approve of Patricia’s get-up, but she would probably approve of the spread Pat has set out for her guests–finger foods and lots of booze, just the way we WASPs like it.

 

Naomie is upset that Kathryn hasn’t been invited and tells Chelt-sea she thinks she should say something to Patricia about it. No, Naomie, you shouldn’t. Chelt-sea agrees that if Patricia would just give Kathryn one more chance, she would see the change in her and all would be well between them. How are these people so obtuse? Patricia will not see a change in Kathryn because there has been no fundamental change. She has changed her behavior to achieve certain goals, but she is still the calculating, “hillbilly femme fatale” (tm Whitney) she has always been.

Even though Naomie is French and therefore inherently superior, she’s still a millennial and prone to the arrogance and entitlement that characterizes her generation, so she makes a major gaffe by taking Patricia aside and trying to plead Kathryn’s case.  She barely gets a word out before Patricia makes up an excuse about someone being at the door and walks away from the conversation. Patricia thinks it’s inappropriate to come to someone’s house and air their grievances to that person, and she is right. To her credit, Naomie realizes she crossed a line and has the decency to be embarrassed about it.

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While Cameran is opening gifts and being presented with a vaginal birth cake in the next room, Naomie recounts the Patricia episode to Craig, who is supportive of her efforts to stick up for Kathryn. Naomie thinks that Kathryn feels like she is nothing, and this statement is indicative of the kool-aid everyone except Patricia has been drinking. Kathryn does not now and has never felt that she is nothing. To the contrary, Kathryn is a narcissist and as such believes that Kathryn is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But Naomie and Craig have both believed her bs about rehab and think she has grown. This prompts Naomie to ask Craig if he’s grown. Uh oh. He mumbles that he’s been really busy and has gotten a lot of stuff done, and Naomie pounces on him by asking why he thinks he’s been able to get more done in the two months they’ve been apart than in the three years they were together. Craig recognizes this as the loaded question it is and refuses to answer. He thinks this is Naomie’s way of calling him a loser, and he’s probably right because the reason they broke up was because Naomie thinks he’s a loser. She tells him he needs to get out of bed and accomplish something during the day instead of sitting at home and pretending to do things.

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Craig wonders why sewing and owning two properties isn’t good enough for her when he’s the same guy he was when they started dating and “traveled the world” together. Naomie says it’s because she got her shit together and stalks out of the room. To her retreating form, Craig calls out that she’s still living off her parents, which, although true, probably wasn’t the best way to make his point since he also lived off her parents for a couple of years.

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Minutes after this confrontation, who walks into the party but Liz and JD–together. This has really been a bad day for Naomie. She is seething as JD and Liz walk into the party and JD gladhands everyone. Shep and Whitney give her some really good advice–basically telling her in a nice way that JD and Liz’s marriage is none of her business and she needs to suck it up and be polite to both of them. She greets them half-heartedly then sits down with the rest of the girls tl pout. She is galled by JD’s smirk and knows he’s thinking that he’s won whatever battle Naomie started at Shep’s birthday party.

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Now it’s Chelt-sea’s turn to step in with some good advice when she tells Naomie she’s done her duty as a friend, but it’s not her fight anymore. JD and Liz know they’re the talk of the party and beat a hasty retreat. When Naomie ignores Liz’s good-bye, Liz admonishes her not to do that then tells the girls she loves them, despite the fact that she knows all of them are going to gossip about her the minute she walks out the door.

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Naomie returns Liz’s attempt at a gracious exit by giving her the finger, which is not very French of her. Quel dommage.

 

 

RHONY Recap: Til Brunch Do Us Part

It’s Veterans Day weekend, and everyone is headed to the Hamptons for Bethenny’s birthday. Bethenny is a Scorpio–that explains a lot. Sonja as usual is a flustered mess trying to pack, and ends up dragging the equivalent of the contents of three bag ladies’ grocery carts plus her dog onto the Hampton Jitney.

 

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It would be a nightmare to be seated next to Sonja on the Jitney, or a plane–anything really–and have to endure her harmless but inane chatter for the entire trip. But is she really harmless? The other ladies aren’t so sure.

Dorinda is driving Tinsley and Carole out East and they spend the drive ripping on Sonja.

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They all agree that Sonja is “nasty nice,” couching her digs in seeming compliments. Tinsley is mad at her for saying Scott pays for Tinsley’s life, which, as Tinsley indignantly points out, is ridiculous because she has always lived in the style to which she is currently accustomed–she was a debutante and grew up in the biggest house in Richmond, for God’s sake! (And this was before she married a Mortimer and ruled the Manhattan social scenes.) Tinsley doesn’t really have a problem with being a kept woman, but the point is that she doesn’t have to be one in order to maintain her lifestyle. I love Tinsley–she’s a Lu in training, mugshot and all.

Lu stops into a lovely little cheese shop in Sag Harbor to order a gift basket for Bethenny. She fills it with wine, cheese, aged balsamic vinegar and other specialty products from the area. I would LOVE to receive one of Lu’s gift baskets, but I’m pretty sure Bethenny will find something hateful to say about it–she just can’t help herself.

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While the gift basket is being prepared, Lu heads over to the local hardware store to begin fulfilling her weekend house guest Sonja’s list of demands. Sonja is juicing, so to begin with, she needs a blender. I wonder why Luann doesn’t already have a blender, but apparently she doesn’t. I also wonder how regular people like hardware store workers and cheese shop owners can afford to live in the Hamptons–either they have long commutes, are independently wealthy, or their families have lived there for generations and bought land when it was going for about ten cents an acre–which probably means that by now they are independently wealthy.

Bethenny seems mildly miffed that Carole is staying in a hotel with Tinsley instead of with her, but thinks it could be for the best since her daughter Brynn is at the house this weekend. Just to make sure, she calls up one of her trusty sycophants–this one is identified as “Meghan–Brand Manager”–who naturally validates this notion by telling Bethenny that she needs her space. I feel like most of the people who work for Bethenny bear vague, courtesy titles like “Brand Manager” or “Product Specialist,” but are really only there to alternately stroke her ego and talk her off the ledge. I guarantee you they are earning every dime they make.

Ramona has a fancy new car that she thinks is sexy, powerful and energetic–just like her. She is revamping her Hamptons home and has purchased some new art for it. The artist and his friend for some reason are standing in her driveway when she arrives, and she immediately ropes them into helping her carry in her luggage, move her new furniture around and fix her TV. As Ramona herself points out, she is not one to let an opportunity for underlings (Ramona perceives pretty much everyone as an underling) to do her bidding go by.

I wonder if the editors are as over Sonja as Tinsley and Dorinda are, because, after showing us Luann’s sporty new 2-seater Mercedes and Ramona’s Maserati or whatever it is, they show Sonja pulling up to Luann’s house in her circa 1997 Mercedes, baggage and dog in tow. She neglected to tell Lu she was bringing her dog, but the Countess takes it in stride. I’m sure Lu is long-resigned to the fact that Sonja is the rudest, most exhausting house guest on the planet. (Well, next to Ramona, but since Ramona has her own Hamptons house, she doesn’t have to inflict herself on her friends.) Lu and Sonja hang out in Lu’s charming kitchen and dish about Tinsley and Carole.

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Oblivious as usual, Sonja thinks she and Tinsley are fine even though she hasn’t heard from Tinsley, and Sonja and Luann are both annoyed by Carole’s terse responses to their congratulatory emails regarding the marathon. Luann got an actual “Thanks,” while Sonja only received a “Thx.”

Dorinda, Tinsley and Carole arrive at Ramona’s after spending 5 hours driving approximately 95 miles–why don’t these people just take the train?–and all of them head out for Bethenny’s birthday dinner. Despite being 12 minutes late, Bethenny is the first to arrive at the restaurant. This of course sends her into a fit of anxiety so she stamps her well-shod foot in frustration and–wait for it–makes one of her obligatory, tired “quips”–it’s her party and she’ll cry if she wants to. Good one, Bethenny.

Everyone shows up pretty soon after Bethenny does, and this will be a typical Housewives dinner. The first problem is that Tinsley doesn’t want to sit next to Sonja. Bethenny points out that the table is the size of a postage stamp so pretty much everyone is going to be sitting next to Sonja. The next problem is that Sonja refers to Carole’s new ash-blonde hair color as gray. Nasty nice? Or just nasty?

While Sonja settles in at one end of the postage stamp, at the other, Dorinda and Carole are complaining about her to Luann. Luann is noncommittal, and before Sonja can overhear the conversation she goes in on Carole for the “Thx.” Carole is not having it and basically tells Sonja to zip it–something more people should tell Sonja more often. But Sonja isn’t the only one who feels offended by Carole’s lack of communication. Bethenny texted her throughout marathon day and claims to never have received a response. This prompts Carole to pull out her phone to prove that Carole did indeed respond to Bethenny’s texts, which prompts Bethenny to pull out her phone to prove that she didn’t. This petty exchange goes back and forth, with Bethenny calling Carole defensive and Carole claiming she’s just “correcting” Bethenny (which amazingly doesn’t send Bethenny into apoplexy).

This fight is not about whether Carole responded to Bethenny’s texts about the marathon; it is an excuse to release the tension that has arisen between these two because their friendship is not what it used to be. Bethenny feels replaced by Carole’s new BFF Tinsley, and Carole has a new BFF because she was tired of being Bethenny’s meek little yes-man.

Ramona is just happy that Carole has found her voice and is using it to stand up to Bethenny. Usually Ramona is the only one with the balls to contradict her, and she’s always ending up in “the hot water” for doing so. Ramona doesn’t end up in “the hot water” for contradicting Bethenny, she ends up in the hot water for saying things like Bethenny slept her way to the top, has no friends and will inevitably screw up every relationship in her life. That’s not really contradicting someone; that’s going for the jugular. Bethenny is no stranger to such tactics, so I don’t feel bad for her when Ramona does this, but…semantics.

Next we move on to Luann and Tom. Lu tells Bethenny she wishes she would have listened to her, but she was blinded by love and refused to see what was right in front of her face. Bethenny is not satisfied with this meager mea culpa and needs Luann to tell her she was right, which Luann does. “You were fucking right,” she says–not once but twice, and all is well with Bethenny and Lu.

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Luann tells the table she is tired of talking about Tom and feels she doesn’t need to, since the whole tawdry business was splashed all over the tabloids. She just wants to move on. Sonja chimes in that Luann doesn’t live in the past–which she doesn’t, and I applaud her for it–but Ramona wants Lu to know that her friends want to talk about it with her so they can support her through it. It’s a kind, articulate, un-Ramona-like thing to say, and I’m proud of her for saying it. When Tinsley adds that she wasn’t trying to be mean when she lambasted Lu over her marriage at their lunch, Lu tells her she was kind of mean, then, having made her point, masterfully turns the conversation around to the Tinsley/Scott situation. Tinsley would have gladly packed up and moved to Chicago if Scott had asked, but he didn’t ask.

Despite all the conflict at the table, the dinner ends well with Luann rasping a Marilyn Monroe-ish rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Bethenny, and all the ladies dancing around the restaurant. Can I just point out that this scene depicts every restaurant worker’s nightmare? The place has completely emptied out except for this one VIP table that lingers and lingers, oblivious to the fact that most of these people just want to get the fuck out of there and go home, or to the club, or wherever else. I hope they tipped well enough to justify keeping the restaurant open and making the staff stand around and twiddle their thumbs until they deigned to leave.

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It’s the next morning and the titular brunch is up next. Before that, I have to point out a pet peeve. Carole is talking about how she doesn’t bother to lock doors while Tinsley does, and says, “that’s the difference between Tinsley and I.” Everyone makes this mistake, but Carole is a writer and should know better. In this context, it’s “Tinsley and me.”

There are two brunches going on simultaneously. In Bridgehampton, Brunch 1 consists of Carole, Tinsley and Bethenny. Bethenny is irritated on arrival as Carole and Tinsley are too engrossed in their conversation about Tinsely’s frozen eggs to care that Bethenny is going to use the restroom.

In Sag Harbor, Brunch 2 begins with Sonja shuffling downstairs in a caftan wearing Luann’s slippers. She is happy she’s not at Dorinda’s because here, she can go “shopping” in her hostess’ closet without repercussions. Sonja is so rude. I cannot wait for the Dorinda smackdown. Speaking of Dorinda, when she and Ramona arrive everyone starts rehashing last night’s dinner until Sonja has to start babbling about herself. She can eat and drink anything she wants and remain thin; she’s only gained weight because of the antidepressants she’s on. She insists she’s not depressed but rather riddled with anxiety because of all the stresses in her life. Blah, blah, blah.

Dorinda is over it. She is sick of Sonja thinking she’s the only one who’s experienced hardships in life–she’s not the only mother whose kid has gone to boarding school and is worried about what college she’ll get into, she’s not the only person who’s been divorced, and she’s not the only person who’s had financial problems. As usual, Dorinda is right. Look out Sonja, because the Dornado is gathering righteous steam.

The ladies at Brunch 1 are also rehashing the previous night, and Tinsley explains why she’s mad at Sonja. She thinks that Sonja saying she moved to New York to find a rich man to take care of her is tantamount to calling her an escort. Bethenny thinks that since Tinsley’s claim to fame is being a socialite, becoming a kept woman is the next logical step and that there’s no difference between a kept woman and a trust fund baby. Um, there is. Kept women have to work for their money. The three of them leave the restaurant to go tour Bethenny’s new house, but we’re going to have to wait until next week for the real estate porn, because over in Sag Harbor, Dorinda is about to go off.

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Sonja makes some crack about Ramona using guys then dumping them–most recently her contractor, Mario–which upsets Ramona because it’s not true. Dorinda tells Sonja this is where she gets herself into trouble and she needs to stop making sweeping generalizations about people about whom she knows nothing. Ramona tries to make peace by saying they should make a pact to be more thoughtful about how they talk about each other, and I have to say that this has been a good episode for Ramona. Who is this rational, mature woman?

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Sonja is still sputtering that what she’s saying about Ramona and her discarded men is true when Luann tries to divert her by saying Sonja’s been through a lot. That is all it takes for Dorinda. She is sick of people making excuses for Sonja. Sonja is not the only person who has been through a lot and everyone is tired of hearing about how bad Sonja has had it. Sonja is still whining about her divorce when the marriage ended 12 or 15 years ago and it is beyond time to move on. Dorinda BURIED her husband and she’s managed to move on. Sonja says she’s sick of hearing about Richard all the time, which is a terribly insensitive thing to say for someone who was just blathering about how sensitive she is to everyone around her.

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Terribly insensitive and really stupid, because Dorinda rises out her seat to point in Sonja’s face and drive home the fact that Sonja’s husband LEFT her and Dorinda’s husband DIED. She tells Sonja not to compare her “fucking marriage,” which ended because Sonja was “fucking around” in the South of France, to Richard’s death. YES, Dorinda! Let’s hear the dirt about the real reasons why Mr. Morgan left Sonja!

Dorinda takes things to Defcon 4, but she is absolutely right most of the time. Sonja is really insufferable and it’s time people called her on her shit. When she was a drunken mess, her behavior could be attributed to alcohol; now that she doesn’t drink, it’s become obvious she’s a self-centered weakling who has no idea what it means to be a grown woman or a friend. “Nasty nice,” indeed.

Dorinda’s not done yet–the tirade continues next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Charm Recap: S5, Episode 2 – “The Break-Up Bunch, Part 2”

People are trickling in to Shep’s house for his birthday as the main players are on their way to the party. Whitney arrives first, then Cameran, who immediately starts stirring the pot by asking Craig if he invited a date. To Craig’s credit, he tells her he thinks it would have been distasteful to bring someone to the party when he knows Naomie is going to be there. Cameran wonders why he thinks bringing a date would be in bad taste. Um, duh. What a good friend Cameran is–constantly talking out of both sides of her mouth and encouraging her supposed friend’s ex-boyfriend to bring a date to rub in her face the first time they’re going to see each other since their breakup. I never thought I’d live to say this, but I am impressed by Craig’s maturity and sensitivity in this moment. Cameran appears to be disappointed that there will be no Craig/Naomie/date drama.

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Cameran also takes the opportunity to get in a sideways jab at her good friend Shep while she’s complimenting him on his new house, saying that if he took the time to renovate himself the way he renovates his rental properties, he’d be a perfect ten. Some things may have changed in Charleston, but Cameran remains judgmental and snide. I am over her “sanctimonious” commentary (tm Thomas) and her endless two-faced shit-stirring.

Ashley and Thomas are discussing the new nanny, and Ashley wonders why Kathryn has to approve of who is watching her children. Kathryn is the worst, but isn’t it a little too soon for Ashley to be inserting herself into Thomas and Kathryn’s custody arrangement? Regardless, it’s definitely too soon for her to suggest to Thomas that they get married so she can be the children’s caregiver. Slow down, girl.

In another car, Naomie, Danni, Kathryn and Chelt-sea are getting themselves all riled up for a confrontation by discussing how awful JD has been to Liz. Turning the conversation around to herself–as always–Kathryn complains that Thomas did the same thing to her that JD is trying to do to Liz; that is, made her look unstable and crazy. Um, Kathryn? Thomas did not make you appear unstable and crazy–you did that all by yourself.

All of this is just a prelude to what we really want to see–all these ex-couples, new girlfriends and wayward husbands thrown together for the first time and the juicy drama that will surely ensue. At first, everyone just awkwardly greets each other and engages in innocuous chitchat. Kathryn and Ashley briefly meet; Ashley extends her hand and tells Kathryn it’s nice to meet her. Kathryn of course snubs the gesture, mumbling that she needs to hide Shep’s present in the house. Upstairs, Ashley and Thomas engage in a little too much PDA while Kathryn and her posse look at them with varying visages of disgust.

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What is Kathryn wearing here? The red lipstick, the flouncy sleeves, all for a backyard barbecue? Overdone and attention-seeking, as always.

Shep gives Naomie some really good advice about why she and Craig should honor the time they spent together by remaining friends, but in her talking head Naomie brushes it off, saying that she’ll take advice from Shep about how to drink heavily and avoid hangovers, but not about relationships. That was pretty bitchy of her. I’ve been 100% Team Naomie thus far, but I’m not liking this angry version of her so much.

JD arrives, and this upsets angry Naomie so much that she has to leave the house to get away from him. Why is she so invested in what’s going on with JD and Liz? Outside, Kathryn snarks to Naomie and Danni that Ashley should have shown more “respect” during the two seconds they met each other (huh?), and wonders why Ashley would tell her it was nice to meet her when clearly it wasn’t. It’s called manners, Kathryn. Kathryn thinks Ashley seems dumb, which she does, and Naomie thinks she seems nice, which she also does. Kathryn isn’t having that–she’s used to these girls doing nothing but enabling her shitty attitude and abominable behavior. Somehow she keeps it together, her disdain for Naomie’s comment revealing itself only through a twisted grimace. For now.

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The food is finally ready. Cameran and JD talk about her pregnancy at the table–it’s not as bad as she thought it would be, but she doesn’t love it. She likes having boobs, but is not looking forward to six months down the road, when she’s expecting them to resemble teabags. When Cameran is being candid and not dispensing advice about her friends’ lifestyles from her lofty perch of being better than everyone else, she is quite refreshing.

Craig and Shep’s friendship seems to be back on track as Shep is impressed by how Craig and Naomie are handling being around each other. Craig remarks that everyone is working through their respective awkward situations to be there for Shep, and I am filled with confusion. Who is this Craig? Where is the sniveling pussy I have ardently loathed for the last 3 seasons? If the showrunners can make me like Craig this season, they are magicians of the highest order.

Kathryn approaches Thomas while he is standing by himself, sipping his cocktail. Thomas, ever clueless, compliments her new hair color by telling her a lame blonde joke.

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They have a conversation about the new nanny, and even though Kathryn is upset that Thomas has already hired someone without her final approval, she manages to articulate her position without turning into a screaming harpy. What is going on here??!!! Thomas tells us in his talking head that if Kathryn had acted like this when they were together, things would have turned out differently. No shit. Kathryn has obviously processed how badly she has come off during the course of this series (to sane people, at least–there’s is no fathoming how her legions of rabid stans have excused her behavior all this time) and is determined to rehabilitate her image. So far she’s doing very well–almost Camille Grammer well–but I doubt it can last. The real Kathryn will rear her ugly head eventually. Tick, tick tick…

Ashley approaches Thomas and Kathryn and says all the right things. She’s heard a lot about Kathryn, respects her as a mother and thinks her children are beautiful. Kathryn seizes onto this statement to throw a dig at Thomas–“oh, you’ve met them then,” she says, as it she didn’t already know this. She comments that she’s taken aback by all this because Thomas didn’t tell her he had a girlfriend. This is Kathryn at her disingenuous worst. No one–but no one–buys that she is surprised by the situation. As if she doesn’t troll Thomas’ social media 24/7 and is not hyper aware of every move he makes. Please, girl.

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The conversation teeters on the brink of major awkwardness after Kathryn’s feigned ignorance about Thomas and Ashley’s relationship. While Thomas shrugs in the background and wishes he were anywhere but standing between these two women, Ashley manages to defuse Kathryn and the three of them part with no scorched earth in their wake. Again, I’ll give it to Kathryn. She’s doing a really good job of pretending she can behave like a mature adult. For now.

Shep gives a gracious toast after everyone sits down at the table, and it looks like dinner may turn out to be a convivial gathering–except we know it won’t be, because we’ve seen the previews and know that Naomie is about to blow a gasket. Whitney asks JD if he’s dating someone, and JD makes the mistake of joking about the end of his marriage. Naomie, Kathryn and Danni all squirm with outrage over his cavalier remarks and I’m sure Naomie is going to lose it, but then the tension is cut by Shep opening a present–it’s a blanket from JD, in case JD needs to crash on Shep’s couch (because his wife has thrown him out and he is just a good ol’ boy bachelor about town these days, get it?). JD’s jokes are in really bad taste, especially around these people who are all friends with his estranged wife.

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Cameran gets up from the table, and WHERE IS THE DRAMA? She, Shep and Craig are in Shep’s living room talking about the demise of Craig and Naomie’s relationship when Thomas and Ashley go into the bathroom together. And apparently have sex there.

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Eww. What is this girl thinking? I don’t expect any better from Thomas, an unabashed lech who told an entire party that he was going to “seal the deal on site” as he followed his girlfriend into the house. But this is the first time Ashley has met many of these people, she knows Kathryn is a ticking time bomb, and she chooses to have sex in a virtual stranger’s bathroom during a party? It doesn’t get any tackier, and all the points Ashley has racked up so far are gone. Gross.

Back at the dinner table, here we go. Naomie attacks JD, telling him he should be a better husband, that she picks his wife up out of bed every day, and that he’s a piece of shit who is going around town sleeping with 20-year-olds.

Danni gives her two cents, Chelt-sea calls him a con man, but surprisingly it is Kathryn who definitively puts JD in his place with a coherent dissertation peppered with big words she actually uses correctly. This is the first evidence of the superior intellect Kathryn is always telling us she possesses, and I am stunned. We are no longer at Shep’s beach house; we have all fallen down the rabbit hole and stumbled into the Mad Hatter’s tea party. It is a parallel universe indeed where Kathryn actually deserves some respect.

JD weakly defends himself during this 4-pronged attack, then, realizing he is not going to win here, does the right thing and leaves the party–gracefully, given the circumstances. Maybe there is something to the southern gentleman thing. The entire exchange was ugly and unnecessary, prompted by JD’s inappropriate jokes about his marriage and Naomie’s disproportionate outrage over it. All the women need to shut up with their #metoo/#timesup narrative–that’s right, I said the women need to shut up. Everyone was wrong here except for Whitney, who knows when to GTFO of a situation and escapes upstairs where he tells Craig, Cameran, Shep, Thomas and Ashley what just happened.

Craig is alarmed when he hears how Naomie tore into JD and immediately goes to find her. We are still down the rabbit hole, because when he finds Naomie, Craig is AWESOME to her. He says she did the right thing by sticking up for her friend and he has her back. He calmly and articulately explains why she shouldn’t jump to conclusions about things she’s heard he said without knowing the context. They discuss how hurt they both are over their breakup and how disconcerting it was for both of them to think the other wasn’t having a difficult time with it. It is sweet and sad to see them like this, and again–what show am I watching and who are these people?

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The next morning, everyone is going about their daily business. Shep surveys last night’s detritus, Chelt-sea warns her trainer she’s a little hungover (but she still made it to the gym–impressive!), Cameran is fiddling with baby stuff, and Naomie and Kathryn are rehashing the party. That is, they rehash the party for about 2.6 seconds before Kathryn yet again turns the conversation around to how Thomas victimized her, making everyone who didn’t know her think she was crazy. While the world rolls its eyes, Naomie has the decency to let this comment go by without a response. Poor Kathryn is happy to have Naomie to confide in because she doesn’t know how to have girlfriends since Thomas dominated their relationship to the point where she pushed all her friends away.

We have exited the rabbit hole. Here is Kathryn rewriting history again. Kathryn doesn’t have girlfriends because she’s a paranoid narcissist who sees other women as either enemies in competition for Thomas’ affection or strategic allies in her attempt to Camille-ize her image–so she can win back Thomas’ affection. Naomie doesn’t have a clue what she’s dealing with here and thinks she and Kathryn have begun a true friendship. She, like Jennifer Snowden, will eventually learn.

Thomas and Ashley are at dinner, where she resists his repeated urging to do mescal shots. She wants to stick with wine, but he thinks shots will spice things up. Why does Thomas think Ashley needs shots? Clearly she’s a sure thing. They talk about Kathryn. Thomas believes she doesn’t want him, but that she doesn’t want anyone else to have him or for him to be happy–she just wants to win. In his talking head he says that whenever estrogen is involved, it’s all about women not wanting to look like the loser. Please shut up, Thomas. You’re an idiot.

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In case making inane statements about the role estrogen plays in women’s behavior didn’t drive the point home hard enough, Thomas proves how utterly clueless he is by telling Ashley that if Kathryn had been the “nice Kathryn” when they were together, he’d still be with her. Dear God, not this again.

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Wait, what?

 

 

Southern Charm: A Kathryn Tutorial, Part 1

The Daily Mail published a disturbing report alleging, via leaked texts, that Kathryn’s reckless behavior may have endangered her children’s health, both in utero and beyond. If these allegations are true, this bottom-feeding piece of white trash should never have contact with her children again. But even if they aren’t true, her abominable behavior throughout all four seasons of Southern Charm has continually shown her true colors–and they, like her outfits, are unbecoming, unfit for public consumption, and downright ugly.

Following is a refresher course that all Kathryn apologizers should be required to take. It will re-examine Kathryn’s immaturity, irresponsibility, lies, delusions, embarrassing outburts and violent rages. She is despicable, and it not because she is young, it is not because of drugs, it is not because Thomas corrupted her, and it is not because Thomas didn’t fulfill his drunken “promise” to put her on easy street for the rest of her life. Kathryn is despicable simply because she is rotten to her very core.

SEASON ONE

We hear about Kathryn before we see her. First we see her belongings strewn about Whitney’s bedroom, indicating that she has spent at least one night with him.  Next we hear Will Folks (Thomas’ political consultant and editor of FITSnews), suggest that Thomas, in order to shore up his political career, should abandon his playboy ways and pick one woman to settle down with, and that woman should be Kathryn. In his talking head, Thomas refers to Kathryn as a “celebutante” and tells us that Kathryn is a scion of two very old South Carolina families, making her a suitable mate. Even more impressive is that when she was a page in the South Carolina Senate, she was known as ‘Senate Barbie.’ Obviously this moniker was a nod to her superior intellect and political acumen.

Kathryn makes her first appearance at a pool party wearing Ginger’s outfit from Gilligan’s Island and sporting a shade of red hair that even Belle Watling would find garish. She and Thomas flirt and the next day she wakes up in his bed. This is the first indication that Kathryn may be a bit promiscuous, which doesn’t make her a bad person. She possesses plenty of traits that make her a bad person, but promiscuity isn’t one of them.

The next reference to Kathryn is when Craig admits to Shep that he has a “kindergarten crush” on her. Of course Craig would use a juvenile phrase like that. It appears that Craig has invited Kathryn to a group beach outing, but once she gets there (wearing a fringed bikini that would make Sissy from Urban Cowboy proud),  she ignores Craig and cozies up to Shep. At Republic that night, Kathryn is all over Shep and he tells her he “wants to take [her] home and use [her].” No girl could resist such a chivalrous proposal, so when Shep asks her if she wants to stay at his place, she immediately says yes. At this point I can understand why people might be inclined to feel sorry for a girl who appears to suffer from such low self esteem that she’ll go home with anyone who pays her a skerrick of attention. If that was the case, I’d feel bad for her, too–but as we soon find out, low self esteem is the last thing from which Kathryn is suffering.

Cut to Jenna’s pool party. Kathryn arrives and after being blown off by Danni, a drunk Thomas is feeling vulnerable and zeroes in on Kathryn. This is the first time you can see Kathryn’s cunning and manipulation on display. She tells him he hurt her because he didn’t call her after their one night stand. Then she asks how could he do that when HE put HER in the position of possibly becoming pregnant. Thomas admits they had unprotected sex, but I’m sorry. Kathryn put herself in that position just as much as Thomas did. People can whine and cry about the double standard for men and women, but this is the reality–if you don’t want to get pregnant, you as a woman are in charge of that.

Thomas, however, falls for Kathryn’s victim act and insists they get a pregnancy test. Kathryn says she doesn’t want to because she’s “not ready to find out.” That is a lie. She doesn’t want to take a pregnancy test because she knows she’s not pregnant, and only told Thomas that to manipulate him into paying attention to her and doesn’t want to be found out. They get an EPT on the way back to Thomas’ house, and–lo and behold–after Kathryn refuses to let Thomas into the bathroom with her, the test reads “error.” Kathryn is good. She knows it’s going to be negative, so to keep Thomas on tenterhooks, she does something–dips it in the toilet, pours alcohol or soap on it, whatever–to ensure it comes up inconclusive (just like the paternity test for Saint will, a couple of years down the road).

Thomas’ drunken ramblings in the next scene lay the groundwork for Kathryn’s (and her crazed minions’) delusional expectations. He tells her that if she got pregnant, she would have his entire fortune behind her, and their child would have a wonderful life. Kathryn, knowing she’s not pregnant (yet), lays her plans.

Thomas and Kathryn go to the doctor, because Kathryn wants to know “for sure” whether or not she’s pregnant. In the scene she makes up something about having abdominal pains, but the doctor confirms that she is not pregant.  Thomas is impressed by how poised Kathryn has been throughout this pregnancy scare–of course she’s been poised–she knew all along she wasn’t pregnant. They go for drinks and Thomas tells her he thinks she’s an “old soul.” She avidly agrees with him, and this would be laughable except… Kathryn, like Mephistopheles, IS an old soul. In fact, I’m sure Satan has dispatched Kathryn to wreak havoc on the world many, many times over the ages.  Faust should feel fortunate that he made his bargain with a kinder, gentler demon. Thomas was not so lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90 Day Fiance Ep. 5 Recap: Just Say NOOOO!

As Nicole and Azan are leaving Casablanca, they make a pit stop so Azan can show Nicole and May its famous mosque. Nicole couldn’t be more disinterested. Two-year-old May is better able to grasp its architectural impact than her mother, whose only concern is that she and Azan will be able to sleep in the same room when they get to his aunt’s house in Agadir. She has heard that unmarried couples can sleep together in private homes in Morocco, and has no compunction about forcing Azan into the awkward position of asking his aunt to openly disrespect her culture. She’s a randy one, that Nicole.

Elizabeth lands in Ireland, and is immediately on edge when Andrei says he has something to tell her. This scene has already been teased ad nauseum, and in true TLC-style, it’s a complete nonevent. The thing Andrei has to tell her is that his interview with US Immigration will take place two days hence. Control issues aside, Andrei is cute as a button and he and Elizabeth seem legitimately in love.

Since Molly works all the time, Luis spends a lot of time with her daughter Kensley. He likes kids, and he and Kensley seem to have a sweet rapport until Luis starts badgering her about how she feels about him becoming her new padre. She tells him in no uncertain terms that she already has a dad and shows her burgeoning diva-ness by telling him exactly how it is: “You’re not my dad. I don’t love you. Sorry.” Ouch.

In Thailand, it’s the day of David and Annie’s traditional engagement ceremony, and guess what? David is nervous because he has to shell out cash he doesn’t have to the entire village. No wonder the villagers have been so welcoming to him. What a sap. Like I called last week, David has borrowed more money from his friend Chris to get through the ceremony.

It’s time for Spanish David’s welcome to America party. Evelyn’s aunt, clearly recognizing the foundation of a solid marriage, thinks they make a great couple because they’re easy on the eyes. David tells everyone that he wants to live somewhere warmer, like Virginia, for a few years. Coming from Spain, he’s not looking forward to months of cold and snow, and he thinks this is the time for him and Evelyn to have adventures and new experiences. He is absolutely right, but Evelyn’s family is horror-struck at the thought because, in Evelyn’s father’s words, such a move would be a “deathblow” to the family band. Are these people for real?

When David reasonably suggests that they could get a replacement for Evelyn for a couple of years, her mother reveals how Evelyn became the insufferable monster she is by saying, “Evelyn IS the band.” Evelyn tries to shut down the conversation by saying it’s making her angry, but David reminds her that he’s not asking her to go to Spain, just to another state. The band’s mouth tightens with displeasure at this affront to her authority.

Fortunately Mikayla (sp?) walks in and Evelyn’s wrath turns from David to her. As Mikayla calmly tries to explain her concerns about their hasty marriage, David and Evelyn gang up on her. Evelyn says that by not trusting her judgment, Mikayla is disrespecting her. David chalks up her attitude to being a lonely spinster, which makes Mikayla cry. This douchebag move makes me think that maybe David and Evelyn are a match made in heaven, after all. Mikayla and Evelyn hug it out, but I think this one-sided friendship is doomed. Evelyn obviously expects Mikayla to toe the line when she lays down the law, and is only tolerating her rebellion in order to ensure her wedding pictures have the proper composition. The best thing that could happen to Mikayla would be to get out of Evelyn’s shadow and find some friends that appreciate her honesty and thoughtfulness.  #TeamMikayla.

In Dublin, Andrei’s casual attitude towards his upcoming visa interview is making Elizabeth nervous. If he is denied, she would have to move to Ireland. The horror! I truly do not get why these people are so dead-set against moving to Europe. The Philippines? Sure. The DR? No-brainer. Thailand? Okay. But Europe? I’m scratching my head.

Wait a minute. Nicole and Azan have just arrived at his aunt’s house–a woman Nicole has never met. Nicole expects Azan to ask a woman she has never met, whose hospitality she is taking advantage of, if they can flout the rules of her culture and have sex in her house?? Nicole has no shame.

Azan’s family is extremely welcoming to this clueless blob, and immediately envelop May with love and affection. Do they have Child Protective Services in Morocco? If so, Azan’s family should call them immediately and get custody of May, who might actually have a chance in life if she gets away from her clod-hopping disaster of a mother.

Azan, visibly squirming but feeling that he has to knuckle under to Nicole’s wishes, asks his aunt–in front of the WHOLE FAMILY–if he and Nicole can have their own room. Why would he agree to making such a brazen request? How does Nicole bulldoze everyone around her into getting her way? Why are her family and Azan so susceptible to her manipulation? It’s maddening.

Thank goodness for Azan’s aunt, who denies the request. Azan breathes a sigh of relief, and Nicole congratulates herself for not complaining or getting angry at the denial. Wow, Nicole has really grown. Azan claims he want to have sex with Nicole, just not in his aunt’s house, surrounded by his family. I don’t think Azan would want to have sex with Nicole on a desert island after ingesting a triple dose of Molly and a fifth of tequila, but that’s just me. Apparently they did have sex during Nicole’s last visit to Morocco, but I have a vision of Azan squeezing his eyes shut and gritting his teeth as he perfunctorily performs the act, praying to Allah for it to be over soon. I just don’t get what Azan’s endgame is.

David and Annie are back in Thailand, having drinks somewhere with a spectacular, panoramic view of the city. How can David afford a place like this? Oh–he can’t. They’re meeting Chris and his wife Nikki there so Chris can pay the tab. Not only is Chris paying the bar tab and footing the bill for David’s entire romantic folly, we learn that David and Annie will be living with him and Nikki when they get to America. That’s because in addition to having no money, David has no apartment, no house, no car and no bank account. I give David credit for being such an unabashed loser, but what exactly is Annie getting out of this relationship?

David, Annie, Chris and Nikki discuss the living arrangements once they all return to America. Even though Chris extended this offer to David without consulting her, good sport Nikki tells Annie she and David are welcome in their home. They will have private quarters in the basement and full kitchen privileges, just like in an SRO in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. It’s even better than a Tenderloin SRO because they will have their own bathroom. All Chris and Nikki want in return is for Annie to cook them Thai food and maybe give Chris Thai massages by the pool.

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Wait–did I just hear that? Did Chris actually just ask Annie if she’ll give him Thai massages in exchange for her room and board?! Dear God, this has to be the last straw. Annie has accepted 2 baht of gold instead of 11, a lowball dowry and two small water buffalo instead of a proper dowry and a nice, big water buffalo, and endured David’s endless grousing about his inability to afford the expenses associated with their engagement as well as his physical attentions (yuck). She is leaving everything she knows to go to a strange country with a man who has no worldly possessions and no way of supporting her, where she will be unable to work herself. And now, not only is she going to be a guest in the home of virtual strangers, she is expected to earn her keep–and work off David’s debt–by giving massages to this creepy, red-faced lech?? At this point, Annie AND Nikki should run away as fast as they can. I’m actually kind of sick to my stomach right now.

David does not say a word during this exchange and leaves it to Annie to deny the request. What a pussy. David does not have a single redeeming quality, and the only thing I want in life right now is for Annie to get up from the table and never look back. And I thought Mark rousting Nikki out of bed with a train whistle was bad. What a naive lamb I was back in Season 3. Honestly, how bad can Annie’s life in Thailand be if she’s willing to put up with this nonstop humiliation?

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Molly takes Luis to meet her father, who surprise, surprise, is not receptive to their relationship. Molly thinks he just needs more time but Luis understands that he has not been accepted and probably never will be. Poor Luis–first Olivia, then Kensley and now Molly’s father. Thank goodness for Jess, who’s just happy to have some help taking care of the lawn and a buddy to drink beer with all day.

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Elizabeth and Andrei prepare for his visa interview by role-playing. She is the stern interviewer and Andrei is himself. Elizabeth is unhappy with his cavalier attitude and Andrei is frustrated with this exercise because Elizabeth is grilling him. This doesn’t bode well for his interview, but this is TLC, and all the tension and build-up being created around this interview will be for naught when his visa is granted 5 or 6 episodes down the line.

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Azan, Nicole and May are eating out. Nicole reminds Azan not to order any vegetables for May and surprisingly, Azan pretty much lets this slide. That’s because he has more important things on his mind, like where he and Nicole will live once he comes to America. Nicole’s father–and Azan’s sponsor–wants them to live separately before they get married. Azan initially seems concerned because he will have no friends and no job once he gets there and will be sitting around the house, but it turns out that is not the real issue. He wants to live with Nicole to keep tabs on her. He doesn’t trust her because–get this–SHE cheated on HIM! Not only that, but when she got back from Morocco last year, one night she took off her engagement ring before going out with a friend because she wanted to feel “free” for the night.

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In their interview, Azan is shocked when Nicole reveals that friend was a guy. Nicole tries to say he was just a friend and it was no big deal, but Azan’s issue is that she told him she went out with girlfriends that night. Nicole stops the interview and demands to be de-mic’d. She follows Azan outside and pleads with him listen to her. It sounds like they’re both crying and I’m amazed that Azan seems genuinely upset over her betrayal. Can he possibly have real feelings for her?

Josh, who we haven’t seen in a couple of weeks, is going to the airport to pick up Aika, who emerges from the plane looking like an Asian blow-up doll come to life wearing pink hooker pumps, a micro-miniskirt, and full make-up complete with fake colored contacts. Maybe she and Paola shop at the same store. Nothing like a wholesome girl to bring home to mom–or in Josh’s case, a house full of roommates. Here’s yet another one who has been less than honest about his circumstances in the US. Aika wonders why he’s picking her up in a jeep when he promised to buy her a Porsche. At least David has been forthcoming about his penniless loser-dom.

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Poor Luis is bored being stuck out in the sticks with no friends, nothing to do and Molly working all the time. He video calls his family and even though he tries to put a brave face on his circumstances, his loneliness is evident. The Family Luis (tm Pedro) encourages him to hang in there and love Molly’s daughters and family even though they don’t accept him at the moment. Luis agrees to try, even though it’s not as easy as that. Poor Luis.

Evelyn has decreed that it’s time for her and David to send out their wedding invitations, even if they have to stay up all night to do it. She’s not a rigid despot, she just likes things a certain way. What Evelyn means when she says a “certain” way is “her” way, which includes demanding that David address his envelopes in cursive. Really?

David makes the mistake of pointing out that it would be easier to have a website rather then sending physical invitations, which of course it would, since most of his guests are coming from Europe. In a controlled fury, Evelyn responds that a website would NOT be easier, since the invitations have already been printed. Remember, it’s HER wedding and it will be done HER way, with the fluffy pink invitations she’s been dreaming about her WHOLE life.

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David blunders again by broaching the subject of accommodations for his friends and family. Evelyn refuses to ask her friends and family to host them because in Claremont, NH–the only corner of the world that matters–people don’t feel comfortable inviting strangers into their homes. Except for Pastor Tim, who had no problem putting David up for 90 days.

Evelyn scoffs at the idea that she should put any effort into finding David’s wedding guests places to stay because there are cheap hotels in the neighboring towns. Is he aware that if they stay in other towns they will have to rent cars to get where they need to be? She is actually annoyed that they might not come to the wedding just because, after spending thousands of dollars to travel to the US and shelling out an extra $100 to rent a tux–per Evelyn’s edict–they are still expected to find and pay for their own accommodations. Someone needs to tell this little bitch to go jump in a lake, pronto. Evelyn is a monster, created by an insular community of marginalized fanatics and parents who worship the ground she walks on, who have all deluded her into believing her mediocre warbling is some kind of great talent.

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Josh and Aika arrive at his home. She changed clothes somewhere along the way and, incredibly, looks even more whorish than she did when she got off the plane. Aika sizes up Josh’s roommate like a piece of meat, giggling that he is a “big, handsome man.” Red flag. Josh’s skeptical friend Joe shows up and after presenting Aika with a cheesy Welcome-to-America kit, proceeds to grill her about all the men she was talking to online. Welcome to America, indeed.

Back in Morocco, Nicole and Azan are meeting for lunch to discuss Nicole’s wanton and deceptive ways. Since Azan only trusts Nicole “like, 40%” he wonders if marrying her is a good idea. The answer is, it’s not. Nicole assures Azan that she’s told him everything and he can trust her. For some reason he agrees to give her another chance, and that’s it for this week’s episode.

 

 

 

The Absent Mother in Game of Thrones

Here is a link to an article I contributed to Winteriscoming.net. I have identified a theme throughout literature that I call the “Absent Mother.” I am particularly sensitive to it because my mother died when I was eight and her absence shaped my life. The Brienne post is the first in a series, and I’d love to hear what people think and if an absent mother has affected other people’s lives as it has mine.