Is ‘Southern Charm’ Surviving Without Thomas Ravenel?

When Whitney Sudler-Smith created Southern Charm his main focus was to design a show around disgraced politician Thomas Ravenel.

Although Sudler-Smith saw endless content that could be produced from a Ravenel-only storyline, his agent envisioned a bigger picture. “And my agent said at the time, ‘No, no, no, this should be a TV show, these characters are all compelling,’ and we just kind of built it out from there,”  he told Urban Daddy.

Ashley Jacobs, Thomas Ravenel, Jennifer Snowden Photo by Paul Cheney/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Even though Southern Charm is an ensemble cast, Ravenel provided a good portion of the drama. And since drama usually equals ratings, the show could always count on Ravenel’s many entanglements to keep the show ahead of the fray.

Why did Ravenel leave the show?

Ravenel and Bravo offer conflicting accounts of whether he was fired or quit Southern Charm. After Ravenel was arrested for second-degree assault and battery of his children’s nanny, he was no longer on the show.

He asserts he quit because Bravo took advantage of him. “I’ve got too much to lose and informed them I’m not coming back,” he tweeted. However, Bravo says he was fired. “The production company decided to let Thomas go,” a show insider told Radar Online. “They made the decision to fire him before filming wrapped. That’s also why he wasn’t allowed to go to the reunion.”

Ravenel and former girlfriend Kathryn Dennis continue to co-parent their children. He recently tweeted a picture with his daughter Kensie and Dennis. “Our little graduate from pre-k, Kensie. My heart’s bursting with pride.” Dennis also posts family pictures on her Instagram. “Our little graduate! Can’t believe she is going to be a kindergartner!” she posted along with a family picture.

Are viewers still tuning in?

Now that Ravenel is off the show completely are fans still coming back for another helping? Thus far, ratings point to a season boom with viewers tuning in more than ever.

In fact, the season six premiere bested last season’s finale of the show according to TV By the Numbers. The ratings site noted the current season premiered 0.5, which is up from the 0.2 from the last episode of season five.

Whitney Sudler-Smith, Landon Clements, Thomas Ravenel, Craig Conover, Jennifer Snowden, Kathryn Dennis Calhoun, William Shepard Rose III |Photo by Brianna Stello/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Southern Charm ratings boom continues, continuing to out-perform The Real Housewives of New York City. Southern Charm remained a steady favorite even after the season premiere. But most recently, the show really took off, taking the top spot for Wednesday night cable ratings.

What could be driving the drama?

The show has pivoted focus toward newer cast members such as Austen Kroll and his girlfriend drama. Bravo painfully continues to replay a voyeuristic video of Kroll caught in the act of cheating on his girlfriend.

Fans are also following the juicy gossip that Dennis and Sudler-Smith hooked up. The two had a brief affair during season one but then hated each other until recently.

But also the newest cast member, Eliza Limehouse is really stirring the pot. She kicked off her debut as a cast member with a bang by endlessly talking about Ravenel in front of Dennis at Patricia Altschul’s dinner party. Previews also point to friction between friends Craig Conover and Shep Rose. Plus there’s no lack of romance on the show either.