Anyone who still thinks “RelationShep” is a boring show isn’t watching it correctly.
Or maybe they’re just mentally healthy people who don’t have that thing in their brains that makes them love flawed and bad-for-them men whose goofy and harmless-seeming charm and earnestness are actually just subterfuges to mask their true unappealing beings — men with thick outer shells that are actually very easily and, once you know what you’re doing with your words and their ears, very predictably cracked and, once cracked, expose a pack of snarling and wounded animals one minute and a daycare of warm and sweet-smelling infants (who need more touch time) the next. Either way, they’re both traps. And suddenly, you, the temporary object of these men’s affections, will find yourself older and wiser and wondering “What happened?” while watching Bravo and eating cheddar-flavored Quaker Popped Rice Thins because chips aren’t an option for you at your age and fitness level.
I like the show now.
But I’m also confused by it.
The search is over?
Does Shep even have enough women to bring home with him to Charleston? Sarah the Producer didn’t seem to think so.
Also, I thought he was supposed to “travel the country.” He went to four places: Los Angeles, New York City (kind of, I guess), Dallas and Austin (sometimes at the same time, according to whichever Bravo entry-level editor geotagged the beginning of last night’s show).
And all he did is date the same-ish woman about a dozen times (if you count Cait and I do).
Producers really did not set up these dates right.
First of all, did they really think the likes of Jessy and Amber were going to be like “Yes. Please. Film me — a steady-minded professional woman who looks in the mirror each day and says ‘I see the glorious truth about myself’ — while I’m in a town far from my own and have to publicly duke it out with women who pose, not sit, and who pose, not stand, all for the love of a man who looks and dresses like every single day is Pajama Day because his sixth-grade class sold the most candy-grams”?
Second of all ...
Like I said, that cart of women heading to Charleston is a little monotone, in my opinion, and really should have an Eskimo woman in it, at least two African-American women (one of whom should be Faith from “Vanderpump Rules” because we need to hear more from her on this Jax and Brittany thing), a professor of women’s studies who is really trying to keep an open mind about this whole thing, an annoyingly chirpy little sister named Skipper to bring in a younger demographic, a taciturn storyteller (you figure that out) named Ruth Two Bears, a grandmother who is just happy to be here, and Lily, the chunky TSA agent he continues to ignore at the Charleston airport despite her loudly clearing her throat when he is next to her but only whispering “I love you, William Shepard Rose” after he’s been cleared by the X-ray machine.
The other women (were there two or three signed up as of last night?) can still come to Charleston — especially the woman who spoke Portuguese.
Granted, Shep doesn’t need to hear more of her feedback: “You’re dirty. You don’t work. And you’ve got no ambition.”
He already knows this stuff and it’s not actually true (see Mister Bubble below, This Show He Is On Right Now Because That Is Technically Work and He’s Doing This Show Plus A Lot of Other Stuff, So Shut Up, Priscilla).
But the viewers do need to see more of how he reacts to said category of feedback.
More on that in a second.
Here’s what went down on episode two:
▪ Shep got into a hotel bathtub, filled with (I’m guessing, based on the color, size and shape of the bottle next to his bed in a later shot) Mister Bubble, and all I could think was “Did Sarah the Producer just see his surfboard?”
▪ His first date was a double date to hit golf balls with his buddy Ray from 1989 basketball camp (which was in Alabama, the home of … not basketball teams, right?) and two women who I wish were going to Charleston because one of them asked for pink golf balls as if this were “Teen Mom 2.” Summer was Shep’s date, and Cait was Ray’s date, and both should be your primary suspects in any crime bulletin that starts “Be on the lookout for two women in crop tops, tight jeans and faces masked by yards and yards of Rapunzel-y clip-in extensions that the suspects wrapped around their heads, covering even their eyes and mouths, which led to some chaos and confusion at the bank they tried to rob.”
▪ Cait monopolized that date by sharing several facts she finds cute about herself, such as her Tinder tagline “Feed me queso and call me pretty” (we know you saw that somewhere, Cait) and her recipe for a cocktail called, I think, Red Wine That You Pour Dr. Pepper On Top Of, that won over neither the heart nor the mind of a blueblood whose DNA definitely has markers for “Ballroom Dance at a Cotillion,” “Thank you, Grandpa, for the Stock in Disney. My Fifth Birthday Party Was Fun” and “Golf Clap.”
▪ Shep, much like the viewers, at first misjudged Summer (who, as soon as they were alone, said the magic words “I read a book” to him, and everyone at home was like “OK, Summer. Sorry about that. We thought your favorite book was a three-minute video on YouTube about contouring”) but then the ground gave out a little and, for a second there, poor old Summer was hanging by her yards and yards of hair extensions, just dangling over Shep Valley. “I’ve had a cushioned life,” she told him. Oh no no no. Don’t you worry. Shep corrected her — because somewhere in his head is a tiny dork that stands up and is like “Allow me, sire.” And he can never pass up a teachable moment. “You mean ‘cushy,’” the tiny dork informed Summer.
▪ The judges have ruled. The verdict on “cushioned” vs. “cushy” is “Jesus, who cares? We knew what she meant and it kind of works anyway.”
▪ Shep and Summer, who had ditched Cait and Ray because of Cait’s aforementioned behavior, later made out on a basketball court, an homage to those heady Alabaman days ... with his good pal Ray, whose body Cait likely had to bury after he accidentally suffocated himself with the hand he had planted over his mouth to keep from yelling “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UPPPPPP” the entire time while she was talking.
▪ “Not again,” Cait mumbled, before retrieving a shovel from the back of her car.
▪ Shep’s second date was with Amber who is perfect for him and way too smart for this, which makes her even more perfect for him because you know he can’t possibly respect a girl for actually wanting to be on his dating show … I’m hoping Sarah the Producer convinces Amber to come and surprise him. Maybe she’s the mystery girl watching fireworks.
▪ The mystery girl watching fireworks is probably Sarah the Producer. Let’s face it. This ends with flowers in New York City (where Sarah lives) and a realization that Shep loves her and will come to her once he starts to fear death and baldness a little more.
▪ His third date was with Priscilla, whose family is Brazilian something she and Shep reminded viewers about several times. Priscilla is a straight-shooter, which means she’s rude and full of herself. The only interesting thing about her is that she got Shep to crack. His fun-loving, “I’m a guy who can totally take a joke” persona disappeared for a hot second when she called him dirty and hopeless. We got to see Angry Shep slide in and darken his face for a flash. “You can’t say you’re joking after every comment,” he sharply told her. You could almost see his legs nervously bouncing under the bar.
▪ Speaking of legs bouncing, poor Shep. His FaceTime with Jessy, during which he invited her to Charleston, was totally awkward … but I mean ... “Are you amenable to that request?” is something the guy who wants to marry your mom but knows he has to go through you first would say in a jokey voice after suggesting the three of you have dinner at, oh what a coincidence, your favorite pizza place.
▪ Jessy declined the invite obviously and called it a big pill to swallow. Shep’s nervousness about the whole interaction — and his later reluctance to go through that again with the others — is why he’s on this show and why we’re watching this show. Much like just about everyone else in the world, he has trouble making himself vulnerable to another human romantically because he doesn’t want to be hurt. He’s protecting his heart. This is no surprise to us or to him, obviously. He described the issue perfectly (and inadvertently blamed his mom for it, which isn’t exactly fair): He had the perfect childhood. It was safe. There were chocolate-chip pancakes and grilled cheeses for the neighbor kids. In other words, he’s always had his cake and ate it too.
▪ The show’s editors compared Priscilla’s potential to Kathryn Dennis making a scene with Thomas Ravenel. Heh. The good old days.
▪ Shep wore what appeared to be a child’s leather Members’ Only jacket to his next date — with 23-year-old Bella in New York City. They went to an escape room. Ooooh. Metaphor.
▪ On the way to that date, he called Amber to ask if she wanted to come to Charleston: She was like “I don’t want to be on film” and he was like “We can work around that” and Sarah the Producer was like “Why am I in this job?”
▪ Quote of the night: “You get back up on the horse when you fall down.” I take this very seriously from Shep, who knows about horses … see episode 1.
▪ Sarah the Producer forced Shep to invite Bella to Charleston. He suggested doing that later. And Sarah was like “Why am I in this job?”
▪ Sarah the Producer then forced Shep to call Priscilla and invite her to Charleston. He got Priscilla’s voicemail and just straight-up paniced. “People don’t do that anymore. I’ve heard that people don’t leave messages anymore!” Then he left a message and got off the phone in an even bigger panic. “Ughhh! I was too verbose.” Somewhere out there is a jump-drive that has secret footage on it of Shep Rose cry-screaming in the back of the car: “Stuck? Stuck?! STUCK! STUCK! ... Sarah, come back! Come back! Don’t leave me, come back!”
▪ Shep’s last date was with Sarah the Producer’s mom. Actually it was with Arden whose exposed shoulders said “Let’s party” and whose face and voice said “You’re interrupting my puzzle.” This trivia night date with Arden (who suggested “Plant a Rose in Arden’s Garden” as their team name and then said “I’ll wait” and looked straight at the camera for 10 full minutes as if she could see us as we all ran to our bathrooms, puked, brushed our teeth and then stood in the doorways of our living rooms while we got our bearings and wondered if we could ever watch anything on Bravo again) was interrupted by a crying Sarah, whose mom was admitted to the hospital after having seizures.
▪ Shep, adding fuel to the “He will end up with Sarah the Producer, his true and only love,” el pastored Sarah out to a waiting car, went back to Lilith from “Frazier,” canceled the date and went straight to the hospital.
▪ By “el pastored” I mean “he shepherded” her because, as Shep pointed out on his date with Amber at a taco truck, “El Pastor! That’s my name in Spanish. The Shepherd. I’ll have myself.” ... hang on. A tiny dork in my head has something to say: Shepard in Spanish is Shay-pard.
▪ Then we were totally and happily tricked into that feeling we get at the end of every good rom-com when the man runs to the airport or breaks up the wedding or gives the girl the diamond earrings that were meant for her all along, and tells this love of his life that he’s here now and he only wants to be with her ... he just didn’t see it first. At the hospital, Shep tells Sarah that he was always going to follow her there (I KNOW), jokes with Sarah’s mom that he’s going to reject all others for Sarah (ha ha, not funny, WE NEED THIS, SHEP) and then playfully hugs Sarah from behind (like a newlywed). Bravo fans, meet Shep’s new mother-in-law.
▪ The episode ended with a preview of next week when all the women come to Charleston and figure out that “being on this dating show” also means “you’re not the only person he’s dating, girl” so … we’re going to need to have a drink before that one, I think. Maybe some Dr. Pepper and red wine. Queso also sounds good, though.
For a recap of the first episode of “RelationShep,” click here.
Need to catch up on the fourth season of “Southern Charm”? Click here for recaps.