So much drama happens on Southern Charm that sometimes, it’s hard to pick out the bright spots. And yet, among all the screaming at Patricia’s Christmas White Tie Ball (or whatever they were calling it), viewers of the Southern Charm finale were treated to a bit of good news — Kathryn and Thomas are happily co-parenting their two children, and, what’s better, Kathryn finally has 50/50 custody of both her kids. That’s right — Kathryn’s Southern Charm custody battle had a happy ending.
Let’s backtrack, though, to how we got to this moment. After a stint in rehab and actually losing custody of her children a few seasons back, the Kathryn of Season 5 came out of the gate sober and ready to show everyone in Charleston that she was a new woman. This season, Kathryn had many chances to absolutely lose it in front of the Southern Charm gang, like, for instance, when Ashley, Thomas’ girlfriend, screamed in Kathryn’s face on a trip to Hilton Head about how Kathryn didn’t see her kids and that she was jealous of her. To paraphrase Whitney, the Kathryn of two years ago would have picked up a chair and starting swinging. But today’s Kathryn sat still and took some serious abuse, her friends instead sticking up for her.
And when Ashley dialed things up, Kathryn — with one spare moment at the very end — really did keep her cool, showing an encouraging evolution from young party girl to young mom to a woman who is growing into herself. Ashley called Kathryn names. Ashley told Kathryn she was just an “egg donor.” Ashley told Kathryn that she was just jealous of the life that Ashley has with Thomas. For the most part, Kathryn didn’t take the bait. There was one moment at the Christmas ball where Kathryn told Ashley that she needed to shut the you-know-what up and sit down, but even the most patient person on Earth would have needed to say something in their own defense after all of that haranguing.
Today, Ashley is much more diplomatic about Kathryn than she was during filming. In a recent interview with Bustle, she said, “You know, I think the only thing I can really say about [my relationship with Kathryn] is that I don’t think that Thomas has had a real, serious relationship since her, and so I think this is all a learning process for everyone including her."
What Kathryn and Thomas understand — and Ashley doesn’t seem to, at least from what we've seen on Southern Charm — is that they are irrevocably linked. They will be in each other’s lives forever, and they need to get it together for the sake of their children. Happy parents make happy children. Ashley’s attempt to assert herself in her relationship with Thomas hasn’t backfired, as Thomas and Ashley are still together, per the coda of the Southern Charm Season 5 finale, but it certainly didn’t ingratiate Ashley to anyone in the group, especially Kathryn.
Now, at the end of the finale, we also learn that Thomas and Kathryn are happily co-parenting (complete with a video of them having a dance party with their babies). After a long, hard road, it’s nice to see Thomas and Kathryn getting along. Mostly, though, it’s nice to see Kathryn grow into the woman she’s becoming. Far be it from me to judge a woman who was on television at the age of 20 — I doubt anyone’s early twenties would be that flattering — but Kathryn has absolutely come into her own. She has a job. She has a great group of friends. Patricia even likes her. (Seriously — Patricia has cast out Thomas and Ashley in favor of Kathryn.)
Kathryn’s strength of character is formidable, and yet she’s also allowed herself to be vulnerable, speaking about her problems with depression on national television. Kathryn now seems to be an open book — when Ashley asked Kathryn how she would explain to her children the time where she lost custody, Kathryn calmly said that she would just tell them what happened. That’s all. The news that Kathryn and Thomas have complete shared custody of Kenzie and Saint is the cherry on top of a self-reinvention sundae. If Seasons 1 and 2 of Southern Charm were Kathryn’s descent and Seasons 3 and 4 her downfall, Season 5 is her resurrection. And it’s a sight to celebrate.