I always say this is a show about awful men and the women who tolerate them. A friend recently said that it’s really a show about entitlement, and she’s not wrong. In this episode, we got to see Shepard Rose, the archvillain of entitlement, literally eat the food from someone else’s plate. Naomie says, “At least you ask now before taking food.” Wait, so he literally takes other people’s food without asking? I have never seen a better metaphor for entitlement in my long socialist life.
I think I found that moment so disturbing because there is really nothing else to focus on in the entire episode. There were only two fights this entire trip: the one where everyone tells Shep that he is an awful boyfriend to Taylor and needs to change and the one between Craig and Naomie, who made a deal with the devil to stay together in order to achieve low-level fame and pillow-selling success. There is a third fight at the end between Venita and Naomie, but that is really just an offshoot of the second fight where Naomie and Craig are mad at each other.
There’s just something about this whole trip at a not-luxurious-enough resort that made it feel like a conference. This doesn’t feel like friends hanging out having a good time. It feels like work. It feels like the choices were either this or a ropes course and none of the girls wanted to deal with the camel toe so instead they’re stuck drinking beers on a boat with the class of 2002 from Rape Culture University.
Taylor, who is stuck at work on this trip, knows that Shep is entitled and says that he acts like a 12-year-old when he’s drunk. He’s insisting that she sit next to him on the couch, and she says “no.” This is another way he controls her; he is determined to get what he wants not just because he wants it but as a way to exert his dominance. I think that Austen is right; Shep feels this relationship slipping away from him, so he’s holding on even tighter.
Shep is on the couch talking about how he is always being punished for his kindnesses, and I have no idea what he is talking about. First of all, who is punishing him? Second of all, have we ever seen him be kind. I bet Shep is so unkind he didn’t even rewind his VHS tapes before returning them to Blockbuster. (Both Shep and I are old, but I think he never rented First Wives Club for 12 weeks running at his local video store like someone I know.) Meanwhile, Taylor, Olivia, and Austen are in the kitchen playing a drinking game where they have to do a shot every time Shep says the words “love,” “happy,” or “done.” Dude, even his girlfriend knows he’s a joke. They’re in there laughing at him while he blabbers on about how unfair life is while he’s getting checks from his trust fund and scarfing chunks of meat off someone else’s flatware.
Eventually this turns into a real fight between him and Austen, which makes up for the fake fight between Austen and Craig in the gravel driveway. (Nothing says luxury accommodations like a driveway that can get stuck in the treads of your sneakers.) This, based on the trailer, seemed like it would be a real moment of tension, but instead it’s just Craig’s drunken antics before going back to his room and begging everyone to come hang out with him because he has Cool Ranch Doritos and his mom said they could order a movie from pay-per-view.
Shep comes down and starts whispering in Taylor’s ear about how everyone is attacking him. Dude, no one is attacking you. They are just mentioning, very calmly and nicely, that you treat your girlfriend (and maybe everyone else) like shit. That is entitlement, to see any sort of criticism as an attack. They’re looking out for both you and Taylor, and you can’t appreciate it at all. Whatever happened to the Shep in therapy, the one who was starting to understand feelings and being a grown-up? Did he and Carl from Summer House do a body swap?
Austen and Shep start drunken yelling at each other, calling each other a pussy and saying that each is an embarrassment. Shep screams he can’t believe he’s sharing oxygen with Austen. Yeah, privileged much. Even your air is better than everyone else like you’re drinking Perri Air from Spaceballs. This fight was so stupid, but if Austen, a man who treats women worse than he treats the crispy socks on his floor, can say that you’re bad in relationships, then your shit is severely busted.
We now interrupt this recap to bring you a recap of the show within a show called Leva Talks to Her Son in Her Kitchen. Today Leva and her son are in the kitchen. She is talking to him. They make chocolate-chip cookies, and Leva says she’s not a control freak anymore because she lets her son butter the cookie sheets. That was the entire episode of Leva Talks to Her Son in Her Kitchen. Tune in next week to see how the cookies turned out and what they will talk about.
The next day, Shep, Whitney, and Naomie go golfing and the rest of the cast goes shrimping. This is not really an activity. They just sit on a trawler as two other guys fish, and they sit around in knits and shotgun beers. It actually seems like a fun day, but why are we watching this? What even is this?
The boat does give us one of the many Craig and Austen bromance moments of the episode. We see Craig doing the Titanic on the boat with Austen behind him as Craig shouts, “We’re on top of the world.” He says that he got his distrust of women from this movie, but he didn’t bother to learn the one quote that everyone knows from it.
After shrimping, we see them get ready for dinner and they’re both wearing long-sleeved T-shirts with writing up the sleeves and hoods and backward ball caps. It’s like the Sigma Nu uniform or something. They then ride a tandem bike together to dinner. Oh, these two should just get married already. When Craig talks about inviting his girlfriend to the party he’s throwing in the next episode for the season finale (thank God), Olivia says, “You mean Austen.” Okay, good burn, Olivia. That is all you have given us this whole season, so thanks for that.
Dinner is tense because, well, Craig and Naomie should not be around each other. In any other universe you break up with a person so you never have to see them or listen to them ever again. I get why Craig is mad that he still has to listen to Naomie condescend to him, which she does, but to her credit she condescends to everyone. Hello, she’s French. She can’t help it just like Americans can’t help wanting enormous appliances and too much ice in their soft drinks.
At dinner, Naomie is mad that Craig didn’t apologize for blowing up at her the night before and “food and bev”-ing her into the ground. Again, this should not be a problem because they are not around each other. However, a reality show is an artificial construct. They do have to be around each other, so maybe Craig should be a bit nicer to her and she should give him a wider berth. You know, so that they can keep collecting paychecks and we don’t want to throw them into whatever body of water it is that Charleston sits on. The Ionian Sea? I don’t know. I’m still thinking about Austen’s ass from last episode.
As the fighting escalates, Venita tries to tell Naomie that she should at least recognize that Craig’s feelings are valid. That is not what Naomie wants to hear and she says, “Shut up, Venita,” which is no way to talk to anyone, especially a friend, and especially the one Black member of the cast. Craig storms off saying he doesn’t like the person he becomes when Naomie is around, which is a valid point, but it’s not her fault he is shouty and immature. He says he doesn’t want to be like Shep and yell at girls, so he goes and puts on his jammy jams and waits for Austen and Shep to bring him dessert and a glass of port.
At dinner, Naomie is yelling at Venita saying that she is “fake as fuck” for what she said. Actually, no. People on reality shows have this way of calling other people fake when they say something they don’t want to hear. I think Venita was actually being real as fuck. She was saying that even though Naomie may disagree with him, Craig still has feelings and she should respect them. I think it takes a real friend to stand up to you and tell you when you’re wrong. Being loyal does not mean always agreeing with you; it means always looking out for you. I think Venita was trying to do that by de-escalating this fight and just got an earful from Naomie about it. Loyalty is not blind devotion. Port is not wine. Doritos is not a group of friends hanging out in your hotel room. Shrimping is not just a boat trip. But most of all, entitlement is not cool. When will these jamokes learn that?