Eight seasons into Southern Charm, life is pretty good for Craig Conover. Business is booming for Sewing Down South, which includes a store in the heart of Charleston. And in a match made in Bravo-verse heaven, his relationship with Summer House’s Paige DeSorbo is blossoming despite hundreds of miles between them.
On the other hand, it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies for the “Pillow King” when it comes to his friendships with Austen Kroll and Shep Rose. Then there’s the bad blood between the reality show’s OG and Madison LeCroy, not to mention his ex Naomie Olindo returning to town. The first episode sets the tone for the season with Kathryn Dennis’ 30th birthday party.
Before the premiere, Conover sat down with TV Insider to catch us up and tease what’s to come.
It’s hard to believe this is the eighth season. During the last reunion, Andy Cohen spoke about how you probably used the platform of the show the best and had found so much success as a result. How is it looking back at your evolution?
Craig Conover: For a while, I probably wouldn’t have relished the fact all those years were recorded. Even though a lot of it is embarrassing, I’m happy that it is recorded and people can watch that growth and journey because it ends in a happy place. Or it gets to a happy place. This season you’ll get to see a lot of Sewing Down South’s inner workings. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride, but I think viewers will get some encouragement and positivity. Tomorrow is the next day for the rest of your life. It has all been a lot of fun and driven me to the point where I am today.
It seems you’ve done a lot of soul-searching since last season, especially when it comes to who you want in your life. Where would you say you stand with Austen and Shep?
Everything really comes down to perspective. I think as you grow, sometimes that means reevaluating the people who are around you. And that’s OK. You are to an extent the sum of the people you hang out with. You have to put yourself first. I got to a point where I didn’t necessarily feel like some people in my life were having a positive influence on me. It’s OK to focus on yourself. I think you’ll see that as we get into the new season. I do start to grow. You’ll get to see people’s reactions to that. Whether they feel left out or not, everyone will have to make their own opinion about what is happening. Sometimes in life, you have to cut the negativity out.
Speaking of which, you weren’t too nice to Madison during the Season 7 reunion. Then came that viral TikTok between the two of you. Was that your way of burying the hatchet with the public?
She and I did a watch party for the reunion. I had never seen the reunion. It was a very humbling experience to watch together. Madison and I have been friends longer than I’ve been friends with anyone else on our show. Fortunately, we made up last year. I forget not everyone gets to see that. It was fun to bury the hatchet with her. I think we have conflicting stories with the TikTok. The way I remember it is we were at a wedding and she jumped on my back saying, “Can we stop hating each other?” I told her that I would like nothing more. It’s OK to move on and apologize. I was really embarrassed watching the reunion back. I was lucky she was right there with me and giving me a chance to be a friend again. A lot of my message is nobody’s perfect. I try to demonstrate that. It doesn’t get angrier than it got last year between us. It’s nice to be on the same team again.
We’re going to see more about your relationship with Paige and the challenges you face. How is it to have her more on this show?
We love to be demonstrative of a healthy long-distance relationship. As it goes on longer, it does get harder and harder to spend that time apart. We had never been five days without seeing each other at the beginning of this season. You’ll see as our relationship grows, we try to cut that time down. It was great having her in Charleston. It’s a lot different than New York City. It was fun watching her fall in love with the city and stumble over new styles and stuff like that. Summer House and Winter House are vacation shows. Southern Charm is more into day-to-day life. I’m excited for viewers to see more of my and Paige’s relationship outside the party atmosphere.
Then you have your ex Naomie returning this season. What was your initial reaction to her being on the show again?
When she was going through her breakup last summer, I was the first person she texted. I think I was nice about it. I gave her great advice. She asked me before contacting anyone if I would be OK with her trying to come back, which I respected. I was like, “Of course.” I think we are pretty inclusive. I thought viewers would love to see a familiar face come back. I’m all for second chances and reconciliations. You’ll get to see her transition back into Charleston. As she’ll tell you, she burned a lot of bridges when she left. I was fine with it. You have to run into exes all the time.
What are you most excited or not excited for viewers to see about this season?
If you’re a Southern Charm fan, you’re going to love this season. Just some crazy bombshell stuff happened. You couldn’t make up some of this stuff. We have a larger group this year—there is more story to follow. It’s going to be a little longer season. Moving a bit past COVID, it feels like Charleston has come back to life. It’s going to be fun and very dramatic in a classic Southern Charm feel. Of course, there is a question if I’m going to be able to watch this season. Some episodes are going to be easier than others. It’s an authentic year—a lot of yelling, a lot of laughing, probably some crying, too.
Southern Charm, Season 8 Premiere, Thursday, June 23, 9/8c, Bravo