Tonight’s episode of Southern Charm sees JT and Rod try (and fail miserably) to stage some sort of reckoning over Austen’s behavior towards women. For the most part, it’s been refreshing to finally have men on this show who are willing to call out the “good ole’ boys”—specifically Austen and Shep—for their manipulative ways. But at what point does this sense of protectiveness turn into possessiveness? How much of JT and Rod calling out Austen and Shep’s toxic masculinity is just a ploy to get into Taylor and Olivia’s pants? Why do neither of them feel creepy for having an entire argument about Olivia’s left-behind bra without her present??
I mostly found tonight’s “bra-gate” to be extremely boring and pointless. I’m particularly done pretending that Rod has any chance with Olivia when they’ve had two scenes together this entire season. But this whole debacle really underscores the spectrum of misogyny. On one end, you have men like Austen, who feel entitled to women’s affection and completely ignore boundaries. Then you have JT and Rod, who think of themselves as “good guys” and allies to women. But it seems like they mostly want to be seen as these knights in shining armor to the show’s supposed damsels in distress.
At this point, I don’t want Olivia or Taylor to touch any of these men. I also just wish both of them were a lot smarter and had better taste, but I guess we wouldn’t have anything to talk about this season. That said, Olivia ends up back in Austen’s clutches following her brother’s death. She also may or may not have let him remove her bra.
We all saw this coming. Austen saw an opportunity to trauma-bond with Olivia, and he dove right in like a vulture spotting a carcass. I get that talking to someone who’s also lost a sibling may have been genuinely comforting for Taylor. But she keeps applauding him for “stepping up,” as if bringing a gift basket to someone whose brother just died deserves a badge of honor. Anyway, Olivia tells Austen that she’s still not sure if she can trust him when they meet up at a park. She says this with a lot less conviction than when she told him off at Shep’s pheasant dinner. Austen basically says he’s going to keep texting her until she likes him again, and Olivia seems flattered by his promise of harassment.
The rest of the episode is split into two separate, pretty uneventful trips. Both take place in Linville, North Carolina, which is apparently a very poppin’ destination for white people. Taylor’s visiting her very vanilla, Christian family at their massive lake house. And the guys, minus Whitney, are going to Shep’s family’s lodge for a sad Valentine’s Day getaway to get drunk and eat heart-shaped burgers. We spend an unreasonable time watching them travel for several hours in a bus with nothing important to say to one another. However, I enjoyed watching Craig get frustrated that the flowers he sent to his girlfriend, Paige, hadn’t been delivered on time. He also asks the group if they think panda bears are real and not just humans dressed up in costumes.
These guys truly aren’t doing much once they get to the lodge either. Rodrigo manages to find a years-old photo of Shep where he looks attractive and is reasonably shocked. They also attempt to make “heart burgers” by dumping a concerning amount of seasoning on a pile of ground beef.
Finally, Rod attempts to spice things up with some Olivia gossip/hate fuel for JT. He tells JT that one of his girlfriends was over Austen’s house and that she saw a bra laying on his ottoman. Apparently, Olivia was at his house when she got there. (Austen later tells us she came over to watch a movie.) Initially, Rod and JT try to make this an issue of Austen being a fuckboy and using Olivia, which he is. But Rod is also upset that Austen is intentionally coming in between him and Olivia—as if there’s anything really happening there!
I get the whole bro code thing, even though Austen and Rod don’t seem that close. But Olivia’s going to sleep with who she wants to sleep with, and Rod just has to accept that he doesn’t own this woman’s genitals just because he has a crush on her. She also doesn’t need two men trying to dictate her relationship with Austen either, even if it is gross. I can’t believe Craig, of all people, has to be the one to say that Olivia isn’t just some “helpless sex creature” with zero agency.
So Rod plans to confront Austen at dinner. Unfortunately, there’s nothing intimidating about Rod, and he just relays his frustrations to Austen like he’s conducting a work meeting. Craigs sends them both outside to have an even less explosive conversation. Austen denies that he’s trying to sabotage his chances with Olivia, and Rod just accepts this answer. At one point, Austen casually admits that he’s “going to hurt Olivia” eventually, which I’m honestly glad we have on the record. It seems like post-therapy Austen is just as evil as the Austen who was running away from all of his problems.
But we already knew that.
I do need some sort of change from Austen in order for him to remain a compelling villain, though. This is literally the same BS we watched him pull on Summer House and Winter House with Lindsay and Ciara—and pretty much every woman on this show. And I need him to find new, creative ways to be a monster. When it comes to being terrible, though, I’ll always have faith in these boys!
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