Why you should care

Because politician … reality television star … what’s the difference?

South Carolina politicians are famous for their career-derailing faux pas. (Please see: Mark Sanford’s “hike” on the Appalachian Trail and consequent resignation as governor.) But then, the South can be quite forgiving towards their good ol’ boys. (Please see: Mark Sanford’s election to Congress, post-scandal.)

If you are white, male, and Republican, it seems — at least in the Palmetto State — you can come back from anything. Which is why Charleston has been the perfect venue for disgraced former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel to stage a new sort of comeback … and why you should pour yourself a mint julep and tune into Bravo to watch.

Man in suit, smiling, looking into camera

Thomas Ravenel

Ravenel, a tall, dark and handsome rake with a killer accent and an eerily (even suspiciously?) young face for a man of fifty, was sentenced to ten months of prison and large fines after being indicted in 2007 for Federal cocaine distribution charges. On Southern Charm, he acknowledges his past, and repeatedly stipulates his determination to move on. “I never had a problem with cocaine,” he quips in an early episode. “I just liked the smell of it.”

It’s a silly show, revolving around Thomas’s romantic life, as well as those of his “friends” — though how or where he met this crew of mid-twenty somethings is blissfully unclear. The Wire, it ain’t. The pace is glacial, as is par for Bravo, and the characters’ main worries consist of what they’re going to mix up at cocktail time.

However, there is something honestly delightful about watching a confirmed political cad work his magic. “I always bring a lady coffee in the morning,” Ravenel says gallantly in the first episode, after bedding a very young drunk thing. As the show has unfolded, he has repeatedly asserted his aspirations to re-enter the political arena, hence his “search for a wife.”

So far on the show, Thomas’s chosen soul mate is twenty-three, with purple hair and a tendency towards slurring in public and sleeping with his friends. Who knows what will happen by the seaon finale, which airs Monday, April 21.

Ravenel might not be winning over potential voters with his concern for the South Carolina commoner, where, according to the 2010 Census, over 17 percent of residents live below the poverty line. (Polo match, anyone?) Still, his smooth-talking ways might win over some. At least, the man in question thinks they will. Last Monday, Ravenel announced his intention to run as an independent against incumbent Lindsay Graham for the Senate.

But wait … If he wins, what about season two?

New York Times best-selling novelist Katie Crouch was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and yes, OK, she has watched every episode of this ridiculous show.

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