The most one can hope for in this very awkward, barely recognizable era of Southern Charm is for one of the show’s fiery women to call out their male co-stars on their “Good Ole Boys” bullshit.
Luckily, that’s exactly what we get at the end of Thursday’s otherwise underwhelming Season 9 premiere of the Bravo reality series, which mostly serves a reset following the demotion of O.G. cast member Kathryn Dennis and departure of fan-favorite Naomie Olindo. After several dull scenes of the cast milling around their homes, we end on Taylor Ann Green (not to be confused with Marjorie Taylor Green) going off on Craig Conover for supposedly enabling her ex Shep Rose’s cheating. She even airs out what could be the juiciest infidelity news since #Scandoval.
The title of this supersized premiere, “Vows, Vendettas and Vibrators,” is way more exciting and salacious than most of the things that occur on-screen. First, we stop by Craig’s house, where his girlfriend and Summer House star Paige DeSorbo is visiting. They bond over their unique love of cow milk in an increasingly nut-milk world before checking out a giant pool Craig is having built for their “future abode.”
Watching Paige try to convey interest in this family pool is pretty hilarious, given the online consensus that she has no plans of giving up her Manhattan-influencer life to move to Charleston and start having babies. At least, not as quickly as Craig wants her to. When he points to a sun shelf that he thinks will be great for their future kids, she immediately responds, without missing a beat, “That’s for tanning.”
After staring at a cement for a few minutes, Paige can’t bear to envision her Southern-mommy-influencer future for another second. So she pulls Craig back inside to discuss their long-distance relationship for the 500th time. Craig wants Paige to spend more time in Charleston. But Paige maintains that she has to stay in New York for work, as if her job isn’t entirely virtual minus the two months she’s shooting Summer House. Craig tells Paige that he can’t fly to New York constantly, and she casually responds that she doesn’t need to see him that often. Sounds like things are going great for these two!
Speaking of long-distance romances, we also check in with Madison LeCroy and new firefighter husband, Brett Randle, who works in California part-time. They had a small, intimate wedding with just their families, but still need to celebrate their nuptials with their friends in Charleston. So they plan a “Sorry you weren’t invited to my wedding” cocktail party that was clearly forced upon them by producers.
We also check in on Austen Kroll, who’s feeling insecure watching all his friends—including his ex Madison—settle down while he’s still humiliating multiple women on national TV. The latest, of course, is his co-star Olivia Flowers, who he strung along last season. (Later on, we learn that Austen begged Olivia for a second chance after last season’s reunion before rescinding the offer just a week later, as he did with Lindsay Hubbard on Winter House.) In any event, it seems like we can expect this whole “self-tortured playboy” act from Austen throughout the season—as if being an honest man is like climbing Mount Everest! At least the fallout from his rumored hookup with Taylor later on this season will spare us from some of these annoying self-pity scenes.
Then we get into the already exhausting storyline that is Shep and Taylor navigating their breakup. After getting caught cheating (or at least attempting to) on Taylor last year, he fled to South Africa and then to Australia with Austen, like some sort of fuckboy retreat, to “clear his mind.” He tells his mother over FaceTime that he wants to be friends with Taylor (aka dangle the opportunity to get back together in front of her face). Despite Taylor’s anger over Shep this episode, I’m afraid he’ll end up getting exactly what he wants at some point.
Finally, we head to Madison and Brett’s very thrown-together party, where a planner is informing them about the menu as the event is starting. (Patricia Altschul and her son Whitney Sudler-Smith lucked out by not attending.) Cast members Leva Bonaparte and Venita Aspen are present, however. Although, I’m worried they’re going to spend this season feeling as disconnected from the cast as they did last year.
Venita, specifically, had a tough go last season, as her female cast members (and this show’s Trump-y audience) nailed her to the cross for the most minor offenses, including questioning whether Dennis had actually learned her lesson from her 2020 racism scandal. Regardless, she still wants to mend things with Madison, who just posted (then deleted) several FU-style photos with controversial country singer Jason Aldean and his transphobic wife, Brittany, on Instagram. So good luck with that, girl!
But back to this lifeless party where everyone is just standing around awkwardly. Austen and Shep keep joking about how uncomfortable they feel around their exes. Olivia tells Craig and Venita that she’s having a housewarming party now that her parents have moved to Houston, and she has the place all to herself. Craig mentions that he’ll bring Paige so she can spend more time with them, as if her cosmopolitan ass would befriend any woman living below the Mason-Dixon line.
Then Craig goes over to Taylor, who’s pissed that he didn’t support her after she broke up with Shep and supposedly laughed about him trying to cheat on her. (Of course, he did. But this is also another case of Austen being a pot-stirrer.) Craig maintains that Shep would’ve slept with the woman, aka total queen Mia Alario from Southern Hospitality, if he didn’t step in. However, Mia essentially called Shep a geriatric on Watch What Happens Live and said she DM’d Taylor about the incident. So let’s not act like she wanted anything to do with that man!
Taylor, now crying, asks Craig if her relationship was “a joke” to him—as if taking on Shep Rose as a serious partner and quitting your job for him isn’t total clown behavior. But it’s clear she’s just emotionally raw and wants to yell at someone. And I won’t bemoan any woman telling off Craig in a public forum. There’s nothing happening at this funeral of a wedding celebration anyway!
Finally, Craig’s had enough and tells Taylor that he should’ve let Shep cheat on her. (Again, it never would’ve happened with Mia!) Taylor says quietly but loud enough for the cast to hear, “What about your girl cheating on you?” Cue dramatic music.
It’s unclear whether Craig caught that diss on his way out. But presumably, he or Paige will shut it down at some point since they’re committed to presenting themselves as a perfectly happy couple. I’m slightly skeptical about this accusation considering it has somehow not appeared on the gossip account Deuxmoi, which has tabs on practically every Bravolebrity (particularly the stars of Summer House) and is oddly accurate with their reality-star tips. Paige also strikes me as too lazy to cheat, so I’m taking this “bombshell” with a grain of salt. For now at least! Let’s hope I’m wrong for entertainment’s sake.