Bravo’s New Show Southern Charm Is Quite Lacking in Charm.

southernCharmRavenelWhen I told y’all about the new shows Bravo is putting out this year, my comment about a reality show set in Charleston, SC  called Southern Charm was simply, “Charleston, SC is my favorite city in the US. Please, Please don’t screw this up, Bravo.” I lived in Charleston briefly as a child, and during my youthful random job phase, I worked for an airline and had free flights as a benefit. With only one exception, every trip I took was to Charleston. A few months or so after Hurricane Hugo, I boarded a plane against my parents wishes and flew to Charleston by myself with no idea where I was going to stay. When Charleston came into view I began to cry on the plane. The ugly cry. Where everyone looks at you funny. I have an abnormal obsession with Charleston.

That is why my head began to hurt and my stomach began to churn last night when a reader from Charleston sent me a tip on who would be featured on Bravo’s show, Southern Charm. I saw the name Ravenel. My immediate reaction was, “Please God, No.” I remember being upset when the Real Housewives of Atlanta premiered. I found them all a disgusting representation of Atlanta. I still do. But I watch for the train wreck factor and promote the show here despite myself. But doing a show on Charleston with Thomas Ravenel as the poster boy has more than crossed the line.

SoutherncharmthomI am not going to go into too much detail about the Ravenels here. Thomas Ravenel who is pictured above in the lovely lavender shirt is on a yacht that is probably part of a club in Charleston that is beyond lily-white and male. His criminal record is summarized by Wikipedia thusly:

In June 2007, Ravenel was indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges by US Attorney Reginald Lloyd.[7] The filed charges allege that Ravenel purchased less than 500 grams of cocaine through an intermediary in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2005, prior to his election as treasurer but after his abortive entry in the 2004 Senate race. Governor Mark Sanford suspended Ravenel from his duties as state treasurer upon learning of the charges, and appointed Columbia attorney Ken Wingate to replace Ravenel on an interim basis. Meanwhile, Ravenel decided to enter a rehabilitation facility, according to prosecutors.[8]

Ravenel had been volunteering for the Rudolph Giuliani presidential campaign, serving as his South Carolina state chairman. Ravenel resigned from that post after the indictment, according to Giuliani campaign officials.

On July 24, Ravenel resigned as Treasurer.[10] Ravenel underwent a rehabilitation program in New Mexico, and then returned to plead guilty to “conspiring to buy and distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine” in September 2007.[13][14] ) On Friday, March 14, 2008, Thomas Ravenel was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for drug charges against him, but was not immediately ordered to report to begin his sentence.[15]

People in the Charleston area have a lot to say about the Ravenels. Nothing I have heard personally has been good. I will not repeat it here; however, if you wish to hear it all in coarse vernacular with lots of racially charged terminology, the you can go here to a site where Ravenel himself has been commenting. Ravenel is a part-time contributor to the site. Last night as I was reading through the comments, Ravenel made several threats to sue a variety of comments for libel. There response was that if the allegations are true then he would lose the case. He has since removed those threats. I frankly expect the whole post to go poof soon. Since, despite your generous contributions to the legal defense fund for reality show participants I cannot match Ravenel’s legal preparedness, I will simply suggest you visit the link.  The commenters there are locals who are the best sources I can provide for Charleston’s attitude to their former state treasurer.

The sad part is, Bravo had a great opportunity to show a beautiful city in a positive light. While it is true as one commenter in the linked post says “No one with breeding would agree to be on a reality show,” perhaps the pool of wealthy Charlestonians who lack breeding could have been more closely vetted. This is a disaster of epic proportions. An an insult to a very fine southern city. Damn you, Bravo. Damn you. And we thought Thomas Kramer was vile…


Filed under Bravo, News

38 responses to “Bravo’s New Show Southern Charm Is Quite Lacking in Charm.

  1. steve

    i dont know anything about the show but a few years back i remodeled a news store in the airport and had a really good time there it is a beautiful city and the people i met there were very friendly.

  2. Dawn

    I only spent a few days there about 30 years ago. It is a true gem of American cities and our history. I have enjoyed novels about the society people and average ones. I think all were close to factual history and occurrences. The richness of culture and personalities would make a beautiful TV show. It is too bad Bravo must not be presenting it as a look at a lifestyle like Rachel Zoe but more RHONJ gutter style by this choice of star.

    I agree Tamara, a real missed opportunity, I am afraid. This city could offer so many interesting flavors if using reputable cast.

  3. Swiper-no-swirling

    Hi Tamara,

    I’m a long time lurker, first time poster. I love your site and thank you for the time you take to entertain the masses.

    I live very near Charleston and I’m saddened by Bravo’s choice to feature Thomas Ravenel (YUCK!). Charleston truly is a beautiful southern city ripe with culture and history. But this IS a Bravo show. So, I’m not surprised. I’m almost positive I won’t be watching. After all, I’ve managed not to watch any of Myrtle Manor.

  4. I’ve always wanted to go to Charleston. I have a close friend who visits there often & he tells me how beautiful it is. What a shame that Bravo couldn’t highlight the beauty & history. I’ve never heard of this Ravenel dude, but if he’s on the level of or worse than Thomas Kramer I definitely won’t be watching.

  5. Rosie

    When is this on?

  6. steve

    Bravo wont show the bright side or tell the history of a place thats travel channel what i miss was the S.C. Bbq, i grew up in tex but carolina bbq was the best flavored ive had

  7. I am so obsessed with the comments in the link I posted. I keep coming back to read them.

    • Lisa

      My family have visited Charleston many times, we consider it our 2nd home, and at first I thought this MIGHT be a good thing. I was wrong, so, so, wrong. But, then again, it is Bravo, and I guess they thought they couldn’t do a show about Charleston, and the people there without bringing out the spoiled, have too much time and money, lushy brats out. Because that’s what they’ve done. The Charleston I know is no where close to the bratty children who have nothing to do better with their time, I guess, than to sleep with anybody and drink from sun up to sun down. The people I’ve met that live there, and some of them live in the neighborhood this show is filmed in, and they have all been nothing but nice and kind and answered all our dorky questions and said, “Well, thank you” as only a Southerner can when I gushed about their beautiful gardens and homes. I, like you Tamara, LOVE this beautiful city, maybe a little too much, and Bravo did it such a disservice with this show. I watched the first show to see if it was going to be as bad as I was thinking it would be…and it was worse. The ONLY good thing I heard was when Whitney told Thomas Ravenel, basically, to grow up. Really, Bravo, Charleston deserves so much better.

  8. Oh I totally forgot the whole thing about him swearing he was going to renounce his US citizenship and move to another country back in 2011 because he could not own a firearm anymore.

    I guess that didn’t work out so well because most countries don’t let people who have felony drug convictions into their country. Let alone let them have firearms…

    So I suggest he try to hookup with Thomas Kramer. Maybe he can get him a place in his new Pakistani island resort in Bhandar. I am sure it will be lovely, and he can probably have a gun there.

    • Joan

      I’m with you Tamara! Several friends live there and we visit from time to time. I think Steven Colbert lives there as well. It’s one of my favorites, after NYC. It doesn’t have the same humidity as Savannah, yet the majestic beauty is there. I’m tearing up, really. Wish we have the numbers to start a boycott of show. Maybe a grass roots campaign? Wish we could get everyone to shoot out an email to their friends to boycott this?

  9. steve

    Tamara ive been bouncing between 4 of your threads doing that just to see if my thoughts are connecting with anybody elses

  10. BigBabyFace

    Hey Tamara, I’m born, raised, and currently living in Charleston. Words can’t express my disappointment in Bravo! I just can’t right now; the last thing our city needs is his drug addicted, racist a** or his racist family on tv representing Charleston.

  11. momadison

    Tamara, I too hold a special spot for my low country home! My daughter and I spent a lovely Christmas in Charleston a few years ago and one day she smiled and said, “Mama, I get it now!” We live in Seattle now but my family and my family’s people (if you’re Southern you know what this entails) are from Va, NC, and SC, all coastal marshes and down home cooking. I had been wanting something like The Real Real Housewives of ‘insert Genteel Town name here’ where women are sassy and Bless Her Heart cuts more deeply than any Brandi-uttered STFU! Alas they have seemingly gone for the lowest of all cliches, the Southern Good ole Boy with a heart of Brass and a crook to boot! This is darn sad, what is Bravo doing these days?

    • Everything you just described in the beginning of your comment is something that I would LOVE to have watched on Bravo. I came of age as a young girl in the 80’s where the glamourous life was a big part of pop culture…but with that, also came REFINEMENT, and a respectful nod to common sense etiquette and manners—not so these days, and especially not on most of these shows.

      As Andy Cohen has already stated before in the press, the brainchild for the current programming on the Bravo network is to encapsulate how a certain segment of the Nouveau Riche live in America… and unfortunately for us, instead of Dynasty/Falcon Crest style champagne wishes and caviar dreams, we’re being served up helping helpings of Jerry Springer-esque bile cloaked in Roland Mouret dresses.

      Blech to all of that. The whole idea of some of these shows is just turning me off now, making me wanting to boycott the network, and drown myself in a marathon of vintage Dallas episodes and Designing Women re-runs. I was initially stoked to check Southern Charm out…but…maybe I have to pass; I’m tired of ratchet parading itself across the screen as viable entertainment. I’m even ready to let go of the idea that “one can only hope”… Boo-ooooo, Bravo. This one sounded like it could have been a winner.

  12. Lavender

    This man makes my hair hurt…

    How can he waive the libel card around for actions he (very publically and unmistakably) made? It’s sad when one has no accountability for their actions but even sadder when someone (in this case a whole city) has to pay for it.

    God Bless sis.

  13. I spent my college days (C of C) in lovely downtown Charleston, and I still have great affection for my adopted 2nd hometown. When I saw the news about this show, wretching commenced. When I read that TR would be a featured star, I decided I would NEVER watch. While I don’t wish ill upon any person or venture, I do hope this lamebrained idea/show flops……… or that there’s enough public outrage that Bravo reconsiders. The Ravenels may be Charleston “aristocracy” but hardly a representative of the many good people of Charleston.

  14. dorothy porcher holland

    Why thank you so much for judging the entire, extended, Ravenel family by the actions of one. There are many kind, generous, upstanding, bright, pleasant, polite and classy Ravenels in Charleston and beyond. As with all families, and all of humanity, there are those who make choices that are not so good. Let’s be real here though. How many members of any genuine aristocratic Charleston families are going to want to be featured on a reality show? This is a city that does not even publish the names of each year’s debutantes in the paper, unlike Atlanta and NYC. This is a city in which the families are members of the oldest and most exclusive debutante society do not discuss it in public, as that would be tacky. For Thomas, the classy boat sailed out of the Charleston harbor long ago. He remains a part of one of the oldest families of Charleston because family is always family, but his words and actions do not represent them. Get over yourself.

    • Bryan Hunter

      Dorothy, you hit the nail on the head in every respect. I know quite a few of the Ravenels and they are warm, charming, down-to-earth, caring, honorable people with sterling records of public service. I’d venture to guess most of the people who try to paint this whole family with the same broad brush that they do its black sheep have never met a member of the Ravenel family and are speaking from pure envy. And you are absolutely correct, anyone who would denigrate themselves by being featured on such a show should check any claims they might have to aristocracy or gentility at the door. The people who are lamenting the fact that the show isn’t featuring any genteel Charlestonians on the show just don’t comprehend the fact that any real lady or gentleman would politely show the producer the door with firm instructions not to come sniffing around again.

      • Dorothy Porcher Holland

        Thank you for your kind words, Bryan. Obviously you have class and brains to go with it. Thank you for also standing up for a family of wonderful people.

  15. Ericzku

    Tamara, although I’ve never been to Charleston, I think I know how you feel. Washington, DC is my hometown. I was excited when Bravo announced there’d be a RH show there…thinking they might show some of the vibrant, beautiful city “beyond the monuments”…then they cast trash like the Salahis. Obviously, the truly socially/politically connected wouldn’t be caught dead on reality TV, but I didn’t think they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel like that. I guess infamy is an equal substitute for achievement in this genre.

  16. chucktownqt

    I was born and raised in Charleston and I LOVE my city!!! I left and went in the Army after high school so I don’t keep up with too much of the goings on–even though I visit ALOT. I’m sad to hear Bravo is going to make a mockery of my hometown. I pray it does not end up like ATL– which is becoming well-known for its ratchedness rather than its history. What people do for money and 15 minutes of fame…SMH

  17. Ginger

    As a southerner I view Charleston as the epitome of the true south. It’s quaint and genteel…dripping with old world southern charm. I travel all over the world and even though I am from North Carolina…when I get to Charleston….I’m home. I just hate that they are going to pick the worst of the lot and exploit that beautiful city for tabloid gain.

  18. Dylpeyt

    Have you by any chance read this article? This man has bigger balls than Rush Limbaugh. America’s senseless War on Drugs is a war on black and Latino men
    End Prohibition Now
    by Thomas Ravenel

  19. Michelle

    As a 47 year old woman who was born and raised in Charleston, I find this show to be disgraceful, nauseatingly disgusting and a complete farce. There is not a single true Charlestonian that would be in this show, because they have too much class. In addition, BRAVO would have cancelled it before airing, because it would be boring. We are good people, raised well, treat people well…we were raised this way.


    • Mari Anne Souza

      Don’t worry, Michelle – we know. My son was stationed (US Navy) in Charleston, for a few months during 1993-94. He loved it, and said that I would love it, too. I haven’t been, yet, but I hope to.

  20. Anne

    I completely agree with all you stated! I loved and taught school in Charleston for 6 years and it’s my home away from home!

  21. cb

    This is BravoTV, not surprising

  22. justin

    I think it is a shame that Bravo has to try to shove this Thomas Ravenel ,a convicted drug dealer whose dad paid off the judicial system to get him out of jail time down our throats. The entire state of sc should be outraged by this disgrace

  23. What I heard so loud and clear was T.Ravanels father lay down a tip,a five declaring he wanted to get rid of the five because it had Lincoln on it…

  24. Nika

    Thomas Ravenel is a class act and I believe compassionate and humbled….he has paid his dues and good for him for standing up and holding his head up proudly, eventhough BRAVO has focused on every detail regarding Thomas’s mistakes. Heaven forbid truths would come out regarding transgressions of the other cast members. Personally, I’m more concerned about what legal activities are paying for Jenna’s lifestyle.

  25. MzVicky

    I honestly don’t get it. This series has gotten better and better and honestly I think it depicts Charleston exactly the way it is. I think it’s beautiful and I think it’s filled full of charming people and some snobs. Unfortunately, I’ve ran into too many snobs when I’ve visited but because of this series, I’m willing to give it another chance. I think the people who don’t like this series are not being realistic. No city is perfect and all have the privileged and elite but I think the positives outweighs any negatives this series may show. Just finished watching Episode 5 White Ties and White Lies and the episode was marvelous and can’t wait for the next episode. I doubt the series will be renewed but if the audience keeps growing each week, then there is a shot.

  26. Williesmom

    I know Charleston well since I have looked for real estate there. I don’t especially like the kids on this show but I still think the show is very entertaining and DOES show you a lifestyle in the city.

  27. Pat Woods

    Whitney had the perfect opportunity to belt “T-Rav” in the mouth when they went outside at the “Carolina party” (barf). If he had, I would’ve tuned in for another exciting episode of “BORING, TRUST-FUND BRATS”.

  28. I love Southern Charm! It was a relief not watching all the house wife shows of always watching them fight and bicker at each other all the time! I can’t wait to watch Southern Charm and hope it is not cancelled !

  29. SJ

    2 of the latest, most repellant characters on reality TV are on the loose in Charl’stn. It’s poetic that they both ended up procreating: He couldn’t find a vessel for his progeny FAST enough, & she was spread eagle in town square. (There’s nothing Genteel about that scenario. Sorry, not “Charming”) ?However…the are a *Perfect* match. You really don’t wish either of those train wrecks on nice folk.
    (Just from the Yuck & Yawn factor though- I wish this show would go away)

  30. Joan

    My husband and I both love this show and look forward to one of the few shows on t.v. we can stand!
    Must say, don’t think Katherine wants to be married. She’s so annoying,
    picks anything she can to fight. When she was smoking the cigarette she
    truly seemed to be faking drama.

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