Talking South With "Southern Charm"'s Craig Conover

by Jaime Lin Weinstein

Not all Southerners are from the South. Sure, some of the earliest settlements like Charleston may still be rampant with descendants of families from the Antebellum era (see Kathryn Dennis), but believe it or not, Southern cities have long been luring people from all over the nation with its charming way of life. Case in point: “Southern Charm’s” Craig Conover. “I’m from the eastern shores of Delaware, but it’s actually very similar to Charleston … you kind of have the beach town, where I’m from, and then a bunch of corn fields and chicken farms,” Craig shares of his hometown. But geography is where the similarities seem to end. “I remember noticing that people dressed up, which was new to me and I really liked that. Coming from kind of the beach town atmosphere, you only wore suits to a funeral or a wedding. And you only wore Uggs and sweatpants to high school. I never saw the amount of style and fashion that Charleston had. And I remember being in the grocery store … and the lady in front of me let me in front of her, and was like go ahead, and I was so surprised at how cool people were … Like, it’s okay to be nice.”

Craig certainly appears to be like a bona fide Southerner at this point — style and niceties included. But we recently chatted about some of the differences he’s noticed between lifestyles in the South and everywhere else — at least as far as Charleston is concerned — and how some of these variances come to light during upcoming episodes of the Bravo reality show’s second season.

On Old Money v. New Money:
“I’ve never figured out if this is politically correct or not and I’m really not trying to offend anyone but I think through my time in Charleston I’ve been around a lot of people like Shep and Whitney and a lot of my classmates were like that in undergrad [at College of Charleston] and I started to see a big difference between first generation money to multi-generation money. And I’m not categorizing everyone like this. But I’m fortunate to come from a really well-off family but they were the first ones in their family to be successful so they have really driven into me, basically they don’t want me to turn into a spoiled brat, I’ve been fortunate enough to go to school and everything, but when it comes to the money, I have to make my own money … cause I’ll get lost and I’ll go to these thousand-dollar dinners with Whitney and Shep but then the next week if Whitney’s travelling, then I can’t go to those thousand-dollar dinners anymore because I have to realize I haven't made my money yet. And sometimes it’s hard to go from living a very lavish lifestyle to grounding yourself again.”

On Hanging With 50-Year-Olds:
“Yeah it’s super weird. Whitney’s been to my house before in Delaware. I remember at the dinner table we’re talking about how my little brother has brought home a few girlfriends and I’ve never brought home a girl and I was like alright guys I promise this is the last time I’ll bring home a 47-year-old man home with me for the holidays instead of a girl. Thomas is one thing, I tend to stay away from Thomas as much as possible unless we’re doing a group event now because Thomas is kind of toxic with his breakdowns and you never know what’s gonna happen … With Whitney, I mean even with Shep, Shep’s like seven years older than me but it gets so clouded in Charleston because they act my age, so you know, (Whitney) will go out with me and all my college buds and everything and I know it’s still weird but people have kind of gotten used to it because you almost kind of forget how old Whitney really is … They’re living the exact same life as a mid-twenties kid because they have never had to change. So their personalities are still that of a twenty-year-old.”  

On Having a Family:
“I want to have a family. I would love to have family. I’m not against that at all. Before this show I had always said I’d be married to my job for a few years and it would be selfish to have a girlfriend cause the level that I want to get in the legal field, you know I was working like 70-hour weeks. So it is tough unless you’re with someone who is very, very understanding or doing the same thing as you to really have a girlfriend … now it’s more or less like if I meet someone and I fall for them and I have those feelings then I’m not gonna just break up with them because I don’t want to have a girlfriend and we get to two months and I’m like oh I’m breaking my rule. You know what it really comes down to is we live a very fun life right now and we have so many options out there that I am just very against settling. I hate seeing my friends settle. I think it’s why the divorce rate is as high as it is, especially in the South. It’s engraved in [young girls’] brains that they have to find their husband after college and you see so many unhappy people … so I’m not rushing. Kind of like what Cam did. She didn’t have a deadline. She wasn’t like I have to be married by like 25. She waited long enough and found her soul mate. With this episode coming up … there’s a few scenes that Thomas and Kathryn and you never see them smile and I say to Cameron in a completely unrelated scene, I’m like, ‘Cam, when was the last time you’ve seen them smile when they were together?' I just don’t think they’re happy … But they're both, you know, nuttier than this world. I never know what either of them are talking about.”

On Work v. Play:
“Now is a lot more boring than it was on the show. When we were filming, you know it was during the summer and we had a lot going on and everything. And I started to take more time escaping away to home after Christmas, because it’s just such a healthy environment up here in the winter. Charleston is an enabling place. I love it to death, but all the fun is just three blocks away. At home, it’s a beach town in the winter up north so no one is here and I was able to reestablish my love for working, making money and got my goals straight again … [During Season 1] I still had the excuse that I was a law student. So if I was still doing really well at school and on the road to graduation then it didn’t matter what I was doing the rest of the time. But now it’s 180-degrees different. It’s like well Craig, you graduated. You don’t have that excuse anymore, you’re supposed to be a lawyer, so now are you spending too much time doing that other stuff instead of focusing on your career. So that’s been a challenge and I think that by spending so much time home now was the only way to really comfort [my parents]. Because if I was still in Charleston full-time and this was all coming out I don’t think my mom would be able to sleep … This season is definitely about to become focused on the downfall of Craig … I’ve had some funny comments from my grandparents already. They’re like ‘Well if Cameron’s worries about you, something really must be wrong.’”

Craig assured us that his “downward spiral” we’re about to see as the season progresses is well over now. He’s scheduled to take the bar this July and hopes there’s a Season 3 so we can all witness the upswing. But in the meantime, we’re looking forward to tuning in to all the shenanigans Mondays on Bravo at 10/9c.