Five seasons of Southern Charm, and the characters have all come a long way. They’re older and sometimes wiser, and in the case of Kathryn Dennis, she’s way more mature than in her first days. Of course, a lot of that can be contributed to her age — Kathryn was so young when Southern Charm started filming, and now, she’s a mother and a woman entering her mid-20s. A lot changes in those formative years, and even Kathryn and Thomas’ relationship on Southern Charm is looking up thanks to her new mature outlook.
That’s not to say that Thomas is the pinnacle of being adult — the things he says and does aren’t always befitting a man who’s nearly 60. He and Kathryn had an intense relationship, going on-and-off for years, and then they had two kids. And then Kathryn struggled with addiction, and she wasn’t allowed to see those kids. A lot of people wouldn’t have been able to handle the pressure of dealing with an ex and endless custody agreements coupled with being in the public eye and on a television show, but somehow, Kathryn figured it out. She went to rehab, and she’s trying — she’s still young, of course, and who among us would come off smelling like roses if we were filmed from the ages of 20 to 25? (Not me.)
In Season 5, Kathryn has a new apartment, partial custody of her children, and she’s just gotten a job/internship at a local boutique in Charleston. More importantly, she’s letting a lot more stuff roll off her back — old Kathryn used to let Thomas get her goat, but now, Kathryn just smiles and nods, even when Thomas is saying something awful (which is often). Normally, Kathryn would have a catty remark or would get on the defensive, but now, she is a duck — even if she’s paddling furiously underneath the water, she is a cool customer on top of it.
Of her sobriety, Kathryn told Entertainment Tonight, “It feels good. I’m very proud of myself for the fact that, you know, one I did it and two, I can show [my cast mates] that I'm not just, like, an actual psycho or something. I'm just a normal person, just had a rough period.”
Which is why, in the May 17 and 24 episodes, that it’s reasonable that she wouldn’t want Ashley, Thomas’ very new girlfriend, to attend her son’s birthday party. Kathryn really doesn’t know Ashley — they’ve met a few times, and Kathryn wasn’t even notified that Ashley had met her children until after it had happened. Old Kathryn would have freaked out, but new Kathryn told Thomas that she wasn’t thrilled about it, and also that she wasn’t thrilled that Thomas, Ashley, and the kids had taken a photo and it was on Instagram. It made Kathryn feel like she wasn’t a part of the family, and she said so.
New Kathryn communicates, and she’s well within her rights to request that Ashley not be at Saint’s birthday party. It seems like the rest of the cast agrees with Kathryn here, and they think that Ashley shouldn’t push her luck. In another interview with Entertainment Tonight, Craig Conover said, "There's a lot of stuff that happens between Thomas' new girlfriend, Ashley, and Kathryn where you'll see, for the first time ever — which is wild — everyone actually comes to Kathryn's defense and, obviously, we're all on the same page for that.”
If everyone is on the same page, and everyone’s backing Kathryn, what comes next? Will Thomas rail against the group for excluding his girlfriend? Or will Ashley just have to deal? It’s hard to tell, but for now, Kathryn’s going about this in just the right way on Southern Charm — with her words.