Last night Lainey texted me about the Alex Rodriguez story and I jumped on it because I’m quite certain I am the only on Team LG who watches Southern Charm. Usually this is part where I’d express some shame and embarrassment about watching this trash but I will do no such thing. Climb into this garbage can with me, it’s warm and cozy in here.
Southern Charm is a mid-level Bravo show – it’s a mix of late-20 and 30-somethings who live in Charleston and enjoy the bustling social and party scene there. There’s a mix of Peter Pan men who spend their nights getting sloppy at the bar and the competent and slightly exasperated women dealing with them. There’s also a monied mother, Patricia Altschul, who dips in to school them on the ways to eat caviar (on a crisp potato chip with crème fraiche, blini are out!) and wears caftans in her luxurious and historical mansion. This season has centered around COVID (some tried to party their way through it, some took it seriously) and the urgency of Black Lives Matter. Bravo has an atrocious track record when dealing with race on their shows and this season is no different. A new cast member, Leva, is Persian and married to a Black man. She has tried to explain her experiences to these grown ass adults who at turns mock, minimize, and taunt her. She also has to deal with comments on social media that are awful. (For more on Bravo and race, I’d recommend this piece by Brian Moylan.)
The couple drama has stemmed from Austen and Madison; he is floppy man-child and she’s a firecracker who rose from “girlfriend-of” to polarizing main character this season. Like all reality stars, Madison loves the camera and doesn’t back down from a fight. Her on-and-off again relationship with Austen is high drama and pulls in other members of the group (last season, she walked in on him post-threesome and the subsequent video was posted on social media). This season was more of that, but at the reunion, her storyline took a turn.
The reunion was filmed on and around December 10 but it is airing now (part one last week, part two this week, Thursday in Canada). In it, party boy pillow entrepreneur Craig (who is friends with Austen) goes after Madison because he felt she spoke ill of his new girlfriend on WWHL (she told Andy that Craig’s girlfriend had slept with Austen the year before). Craig came in gunning for her, arguing that he felt that she was manipulative, narcissistic and leading Austen on while looking for something better.
In the heat of their back-and-forth, Craig loudly proclaimed that Madison was hooking up with a married ex-MLB star who she flew down to Miami to see. Every good reunion has a “gotcha” moment and this was it. Both he and Austen said that Madison was constantly FaceTiming with said ex-MLB player. Andy was gleeful about this, and Madison allowed him to look at her phone to read DMs and texts between the two. The ex-MLB player’s name was bleeped out.
Now enter the social media sleuths, who noticed that a while back, ARod liked one of Madison’s Instagram posts (it’s now been unliked). As we know, ARod is not married but I’m not hanging too much on that detail because during the reunion no one stops to fact check.
Messy Madison has been loving this attention because as the reunion story built, it’s dovetailed with her Kristen Cavallari/Jay Cutler drama (which is even too brain-melting for me – all the details are here).
On the Reality Life with Kate Casey podcast, friend-of-the-group Dani (who is, I think, the most solid person on the current cast and one who doesn’t seek out drama, as much as someone on reality TV show doesn’t seek out drama) said that Messy Madison told her she was FaceTiming with ARod months ago. (But it is important to note, just for history’s sake, that last season, Messy Madison was fighting with bon vivant f-ckboy Shep and accused him of giving Dani chlamydia. ON CAMERA.)
Then, yesterday afternoon, Messy Madison went to Page Six (the paper of record for reality TV stars) and said she never had a physical relationship with him, they just talked on the phone.
Hmmmm. Hmmm. This doesn’t sound great for ARod, even if they were talking as acquaintances. That means that someone reached out over DM and it progressed enough for him to give his phone number out. We need to remember that in all this, he is the one who is engaged, not her. She’s single.
When you watch a lot of reality TV, you get a real feel for planted stories and opportunistic stories – there’s a difference. I think this is the latter. Do I believe they talked on the phone? Yes, because Messy Madison loves receipts. She could easily produce proof and isn’t above posting texts and photos (like she did with Jay Cutler). Do I believe her that they haven’t been physical? Yes, because it’s very hard to travel and see people in secret right now. Do I think she is loving it and it probably secured her spot for the next season? Absolutely. Reality stars don’t live by the same rules as TV and movie stars because, reputation-wise, they don’t need to worry about their careers being destroyed by this kind of stuff. Quite the opposite – these kinds of mini-scandals get them to the next level. And that’s what’s happening to Messy Madison now.
Whether or not the “not physical” part comes down to opportunity or fidelity, well that’s a judgement call to make on ARod. On that end, I don’t think a denial will be forthcoming as they will just ignore it. This is absolutely something they do not want to be breathing life into as, like I said, reality stars are a different kind of beast who generally don’t value privacy, discretion, or reputation as much as they do the next headline. If he denies it, she will escalate (as that is exactly what happened with Jay Cutler).
One thing we can be sure of is that Madison is one acquaintance who will not make it on the Rodriguez-Lopez nuptials list. And while it’s all fun and games (for me), every reality star could stand to heed some of Patricia’s advice.
Actually, never mind. What would I watch?