Austen Kroll and Craig Conover are failed businessmen, generally unpleasant people, and stars on the miserable Bravo reality show, Southern Charm. In unsurprising news, the two tested positive for covid-19 this summer, presumably while they were filming the show in quarantine. It’s an utterly predictable turn of events for Southern Charm, considering there is video evidence of both men seemingly shirking lockdown protocols and countrywide safety measures.
On Thursday’s episode, viewers were treated to the experience of Kroll and Conover receiving their positive diagnosis. Shortly after, Kroll yelled at his girlfriend, accusing her of giving him the virus. The entire scene was infuriating, particularly coming from a man who spent the pandemic partying—and documenting his hijinks on social media. In March, well into calls to stay home, Conover and Kroll were seen at a restaurant sharing crabs. They worked out at a gym in July, and Kroll even advertised a “booze cruise” bus service in August on Instagram. As a result of his and Conover’s fatalistic approach to life in the pandemic, said girlfriend, Madison LeCroy, also had to quarantine away from her 8-year old son.
At one point, Kroll admitted that he felt like he and his friends were “invincible” in the pandemic. As he was revealing his diagnosis, Kroll told his friends over Skype: “It’s really weird to be a part of a statistic.” It would have been less weird, surely, had he and this cast just followed the rules. Alongside Craig Conover and Kroll, cast members Natalie Hegnauer (Conover’s girlfriend) and Taylor Ann Green also tested positive. While they recovered, the four camped out at Conover’s house.
Of course, this being a Bravo show, producers didn’t waste any airtime to explain the network’s decision to let a group of reckless 30 year olds run wild in a pandemic. (Granted, according to Bravo, production did halt for three months as a safety measure.) Or, more broadly, why did the network chose to film at all as the show recovers from accusations of racism, which came to a head amid the national uprising this spring. At the time, I wrote that “the deep-seated convictions of the Confederate South are not gone” on Southern Charm, when cast members still boast of enslaving ancestors, or their plantation mansions. A public refusal to consider their the health and safety of loved ones, or their neighbors, falls well in line with the rose-colored vision of the South they all desperately cling too.