One of the newest highly-rated Bravo shows has become Charleston’s Southern Charm. Originally debuting in 2014, Southern Charm unraveled the concept of “southern hospitality” and propriety among Charleston’s socialites. The show has since captured the attention of reality television fans and developed a friend group of 10-15 Charlestonians. After nine seasons of drama, new cast members, and huge life changes, it’s time to do a Southern Charm season 9 recap and see where the series has landed.
Southern Charm Season 9 Cast
First, let’s do a quick introduction of each Southern Charm season 9 cast member and how they relate to each other in the friend group this season.
A veteran on Southern Charm, Craig is everyone’s favorite person to make fun of. But, he actually has his life together in season 9, which gives him the upper hand. After founding and running Sewing Down South, Craig is thriving in Charleston and happily dating his long-distance girlfriend, Paige.
Austen is usually the slightly immature, but friendly bachelor. This season, he is a source of drama and is stuck between two best friends: Taylor and Olivia. His friends with others in the group are also put at risk based on this dynamic.
Speaking of bachelors, Shep is the original bachelor on the series. He gets older every year and yet still acts like a 20-year-old living on his own for the first time.
Olivia is arguably the main character of Southern Charm season 9 as everyone rallies around her and the hard times she experiences. She’s searching for a relationship, but won’t settle for anything less than what she wants.
Taylor Ann Green
Taylor is in her post-break-up era, which means leaning into her female friendships and trying to find purpose in her new single life in Charleston. However, she still seems to be struggling with her heartbreak and makes poor choices as a result.
Madison was a long-time single mother but is newly married as of this season. Her relationship with the friend group has changed over the years. She went from being labeled as “Austen’s ex” to becoming the surrogate mother of everyone on Southern Charm this season.
Venita is the classy friend that everyone aspires to be, but she’s also slightly removed from the group. As a busy influencer and girlfriend, she never takes any backtalk from the Southern Charm cast.
Jarrett Thomas (“JT”)
JT is another bachelor who was friends with Shep, Craig, and Austen before he joined this larger group. As a divorcé, he is a bit immature, but looking for a new, more stable relationship in his life. He’s Taylor’s biggest cheerleader.
Another kind of mother figure, or at least a mature friend in the franchise, is Leva. She is the owner of several popular Charleston bars and restaurants, but at the end of the day, she’s a girl’s girl in this friend group.
Rod is the sweet boy of the friend group and actually knows Leva the best out of anyone. He is looking for a girlfriend (Olivia) but also respects the complicated dynamics of this friend group.
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Southern Charm Season 9 Recap: What Went Down
Now that we’ve all been acquainted, it’s time to dive in and recap season 9. This is no small feat because the infamous friend group went through several trials and tribulations this year.
It’s important to recall the end of season 8 because, at that point, Shep and Taylor were still happy together and about to travel to Europe. Fast forward to season 9 where the show opens with Shep and Taylor recovering from their tumultuous breakup, which worsened due to Shep being unfaithful. The very first episode of season 9 is meant to celebrate Madison’s marriage to her new boo, Brett, but also happens to be the first reunion of Shep and Taylor since the breakup and “cool down” period.
From there, we see the friend group divide between Shep and Taylor and then again between Taylor and Olivia. If you’re not familiar with Taylor and Olivia’s relationship, all you need to know is that they became very close until Taylor used Olivia’s sort-of-ex-boyfriend to comfort her after Shep broke it off.
It wouldn’t be a Bravo show without several trips throughout the season contributing to the friend dynamics and drama. As a result, let’s look at each location from the season paying particular attention to the two trips that led to new revelations.
When this group is at home in Charleston, they seem to find common ground with each other and remain grounded. This keeps some of the more volatile drama at bay until the vacations come into the mix.
This season in Charleston, both the boys and the girls make an effort to hang out in groups. The key relationships at home in season 9 are Taylor and Olivia, Austen and Olivia, and Shep and Taylor. Without these one-on-one relationships, there would have been far less drama this season.
Right off the bat, we can see that Taylor acts differently than she did in the past. For years, she was known as Shep’s fun and bubbly girlfriend. However, in Southern Charm season 9, she appears resentful, upset, and lonely. She and Olivia became best friends because they were both navigating being single after past relationships. What shakes this group to the core is that Taylor confides in Shep’s close friend, Austen, who also happens to be Olivia’s ex.
The secrecy is apparent as Taylor and Austen continually hang out alone and don’t share that with the others. As soon as word leaks to the group, Olivia feels completely betrayed and the group rightfully sides alongside her after Taylor’s sneaking and lying. Not to mention, shortly after, Olivia’s brother suddenly dies from an overdose and the group comes together to mourn the tragedy.
Linville (North Carolina Mountains)
Things between Taylor and Olivia and Shep and Taylor come to a head in Linville.
Olivia visits Taylor and her family in good faith after they have barely spoken since the information about Taylor and Austen came out. During their conversation, Olivia can’t get past the lies, so she does not accept Taylor’s apology. Even though they hoped it would be a makeup, their chat was awkward and I wanted to escape just as much as the two of them did afterward.
Originally meant to be a boys’ weekend at Shep’s family mountain house in Linville, Taylor and Olivia decide to crash. While the whole group is together and drinking, Shep starts picking a fight with everyone, particularly Austen and Taylor. Shep’s infidelity is brought up leaving Shep to admit that cheating on Taylor “was fun.” This tense moment erupts in a huge fight where Taylor makes it clear that she can’t get their breakup out of her head.
After all the betrayal and tragedy in season 9, the series ends with a group trip to Jamaica. This trip is mostly full of good times, but also awkwardness between Taylor and Olivia as they still haven’t worked things out. Also, this is the first time Shep honestly confronts Austen about going after Taylor soon after their break up. As Craig kept saying, “Friends don’t hook up with friend’s ex-girlfriends.”
The fighting and pent-up aggression go to show that regardless of Austen being in therapy and trying to work on himself, he still made a sneaky decision and never owned up to his friend about it. Shep, on the other hand, needs to look in the mirror and try to work on himself. On this trip, you can see that he is still manipulating Taylor emotionally even though they aren’t together. Their connection still appears strong, which is why Shep is so upset with Austen and why Taylor remains distraught.
Southern Charm Season 9 Takeaways
To sum up my takeaways from season 9, here is one question: Why are we blaming women for men’s behavior?
At the heart of this Southern Charm season 9 recap, we can see that Taylor and Olivia are struggling the most and being blamed for choices that were also made by the men. Shep and Austen are responsible for everything that is happening. Shep is a cheater, has a lack of empathy, and refuses to distance himself from Taylor or change his behavior. Austen lies, refuses to confront issues head-on, and can’t decide which woman he’s in love with.
While Taylor should try to move on from Shep and should not have lied to Olivia when Austen asked her to, it’s not fair to blame her alone. Clearly, she is emotional after her relationship and recognizes her mistakes, but no one can start to move on because Shep and Austen never have to answer for their actions.
Austen betrayed Shep just as much as Taylor betrayed Olivia. Plus, Shep actively hurt Taylor by asking her to quit her job and go away with him while he was cheating on her and did not know if the relationship would last. Worst of all, he doesn’t feel remorse for his behavior and doesn’t see why he and Taylor can’t be as close as they were before. His entire presence in season 9 was off-putting and this should be what we’re talking about. As the saying goes, “Cheating is impossible to take back.”
Southern Charm Season 10 Predictions
There was a lot of drama that needed to be unpacked in the Southern Charm season 9 recap. But now, the question is, who will be back for season 10, and what will happen then?
As a Bravo and Southern Charm fan, I think that all cast members will return except for Rod and Madison. I don’t think Rod meshed with the group well enough to stay and I think Madison will be too busy trying to become a second-time mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if Olivia pulled out of season 10 to explore her new life on her own, but I do think she’ll give us the comeback she deserves.
Another prediction is that Paige, Craig’s long-distance girlfriend, will make more appearances in season 10. She may not move to Charleston full-time, but it’s very clear that she added a refreshing honesty to the group and the audience adores her.
I do not think that Shep will grow up or change his ways, which will make it harder and harder to watch him sit alongside Taylor. Next season will be Taylor’s moment to move on and show off a side of herself that can reclaim the reputation she earned in season 9.
Until then, cue the Southern Charm theme song: “Ba ba doo, Ba ba dee.”