The ‘Southern Charm’ Showrunner Breaks Down That Major Vape Moment: “It’s Quintessential Kathryn”
On the last episode of Southern Charm, there are nine seconds of Kathryn Dennis vaping during a confessional that could easily be labeled Iconic (with a capital I) as soon as they happened. In fact, we went ahead and did just that. It’s rare to see the stars of reality TV shows vaping on TV, even when they’re living their lives out in the wild, but especially when they’re talking to the camera in a studio during those confessional moments. And we’re not the only ones that realized what a significant moment this was, either. We spoke to Southern Charm executive producer and showrunner Jessica Chesler about that long, satisfying drag from Dennis and the accompanying comment that had us clapping at our screens.
As Dennis discusses the new man she’s dating, former Florida State Senator Joe Abruzzo, she takes a drag from her vape and confesses, “And I really, truly like the fact that he actually won the Senate seat because I thought it was gonna be a little bit of a fuck you to Thomas.” The brief moment starts with her exhaling the smoke, and ends with her leaning forward and giggling at what she just said.
So how did this moment not only come to be but also stay in the episode? As Chesler explained of the confessional scenarios, “We let them have drinks, we let them have their vape pens, whatever they need to be comfortable. The interviews are long. They give us a lot of time, they’re sitting there pretty patiently, and whatever they need to feel comfortable.” She also revealed, “We’re constantly rolling on the conversation, since it’s really more of a conversation,” than an interview.
“Kathryn, I think out of all of them, is the only one that smokes,” Chesler said. So it’s totally normal that “Occasionally Kathryn will reach over and take a drag. Sometimes she’s talking when she’s doing it, and sometimes she’s not.”
Chesler also told Decider that Dennis is even trying to kick the habit, and that “The thing she’s using to quit smoking is vaping, it’s kind of a funny thing.” Really, it’s lucky for us that we even got to witness it at all, since Dennis would normally need to go outside if she was going to smoke, but that’s not the case with this vape pen.
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And if you thought it was pretty great as soon as you saw it, Chesler and her coworkers at Southern Charm‘s production company, Haymaker, are right there with you. “When I saw it, yes, it was one of those moments that we were like, this is amazing. Our cast is so authentically themselves they can’t help it, Kathryn especially. When she does something like that, it just sort of perfectly encapsulates who she is sometimes so we all thought it was great.” She went on to say that “It was a perfect Kathryn moment. It’s perfectly Kathryn and we try to always find those moments.”
In fact, they were so pleased with it that when asked if they would ever have her share the same sentiment over again to the camera, minus the vape smoke, Chesler quickly said, “No. We try not to ever do that.”
But when asked if perhaps the cast members sometimes vape or use an object such as a drink cup in the shot, potentially to make it less likely for that moment to make it into the show, Chesler agreed that might happen from time to time, but that ultimately “They [might] think it, but deep down they know it’s not possible. Nothing they say in that setting is off the record.”
“They’re savvy, they’ve done the show, Kathryn especially, for six years. She knows that she’s wearing a microphone and she’s looking at a camera and she’s talking to us.” She thought about it some more and Chesler added, “Maybe she thinks, ‘If I’m vaping they would be less inclined to use it if it’s a little messy looking,'” but ultimately acknowledged that it’s likely not that thought-out quite yet. When it comes to Dennis, “She’s sort of processing the information as it’s coming to her, she’s thinking about it. So she took a drag and had something else to say.”
While Chesler could not point to another example of vaping on display during a confessional in this manner (and we’re stumped too!), when asked if there was any pushback about including it in the episode, she replied, “There was none.”
“We definitely don’t highlight smoking, I think as a rule,” she clarified, noting that with this cast it’s a combination of the fact that they aren’t seen, and simply aren’t partaking, in smoking that often.
Chesler said they did talk about it internally, and all agreed that they loved both what Dennis said as well as the imagery of that moment, but noted, “We don’t want to glamorize it because that wasn’t the intention. It was more just like, this is who Kathryn is,” and that’s what made it worth putting forth on TV. Ultimately, she said, “We always try to find authentic moments from them and it’s quintessential Kathryn.”
Southern Charm airs Wednesday at 8pm ET/PT on Bravo.