Bravo, Stop Forcing Olivia & Taylor As The Stars Of Southern Charm Season 9

"Southern Charm" is back with Season 9 and the iced tea is chilled and ready to be served ... but is it sweet enough for Miss Patricia or will it flop harder than Danni Baird's engagement?

Kathryn Dennis announced her exit after Season 8's reunion, dealing a major blow to dedicated fans. Naomie Olindo, while yet to make an official statement, is also thought to have left the show for good after joining in Season 3 as Craig Conover's girlfriend. Though they started out as love interests (who can forget Dennis' longtime entanglement with resident Charleston master of controversy Thomas Ravenel?) both became beloved personalities with solid storylines of their own that exceeded their humble beginnings. Now they're gone, producers were left with the worrying dilemma: Who's going to bring the drama?

If you were expecting a drastic shake-up, you'll be waiting 'til the cows come home. Instead, producers have decided to work with what they've got, pulling Taylor Ann Green, aka Shep Rose's ex-flame, and Olivia Flowers, Austen Kroll's ex, to the forefront. In a worrying pivot, they've built an entire season around this young friendship, which has been tarred by Green's alleged off-camera hookup with Kroll.While reality TV fans thrive on dirty dealings and betrayal, this bizarre concoction leaves us pondering just one question. It's not how, when, or where, but simply, why should we care?

Olivia and Taylor don't have the it factor

Almost two decades Shep Rose's junior, Taylor Ann Green's involvement in Season 8 was complementary at best, acting as a near-silent buoyancy aid to Rose's entertaining roguish behavior. As for Olivia Flowers, she was introduced as a punchier personality who tumbled onto the scene to steal the heart of lovesick Austen Kroll.

Now reintroduced as single girls about to shake up the city, Green and Flowers have taken center stage, but there's a problem. Both women lack the chutzpah of the best-loved Charleston gals about town. Gone are the days when fans could enjoy Cameron Eubanks' razor-sharp wit or Kathryn Dennis' bountiful shouting matches. Instead, Season 9's premiere offers us a blink-and-you'll-miss-it summer montage of how Green and Flowers suddenly became diehard best friends. Just like that, we're expected to be invested in a friendship that we're not really sure existed in the first place, aside from the occasional Instagram photo from last year. 

Of course, this makes perfect sense when one takes into consideration that the season teaser hints at an illicit hookup between Kroll and Green, followed by an explosive fallout between Flowers and her new BFF. This is the bait we're supposed to take, spurred on by thoughts of a sisterhood gone sour. On paper, it has all the elements to get viewers madder than wet hens. "Southern Charm" stars have opened up to the strain that reality TV puts on relationships, after all, and those strained relationships often make for good TV, but there's just one problem. Storylines like this only have the desired effect when viewers are attached to the people in question — and we aren't. 

There's trouble ahead

It's not that producers haven't tried their darndest to make it believable. Taylor Ann Green, made over with a lick of red lipstick and a black dress, appears in confessionals as the vengeful ex in a switch that seems like something Disney's "Cruella" writers whipped up in between takes. With her screentime in Season 8 comparable to the length of a Pixar short and Olivia Flowers' personality resembling the color beige, there's nothing to keep us tuned in and switched on.

In comparison, hark back to the biggest-ever reality TV love triangle that unfolded earlier this year thanks to the cast of "Vanderpump Rules" and their "Scandoval" whirlwind. Viewers saw Ariana Madix's decade-long relationship with Tom Sandoval implode thanks to his affair with their friend, Raquel Leviss. The devastation that followed wound up gaining the show an Emmy Award nomination. The key here was that everyone involved had been on the show for several seasons, allowing viewers to become acquainted with them and invested in their relationships — something that "Southern Charm" producers should have taken note of.

Given time, Flowers and Green could have become great understudies to cast members worth the focus, whoever they may have been. Instead, they were given the burden of the season's main storyline too soon, putting them in an impossible situation. It's sink or swim for these Southern belles, and it looks like a storm is coming in.