Olivia Flowers wishes she weren’t as shocked as she is by what went down on Southern Charm season 9.
“What you see is a very raw, organic, real reaction,” she tells ET, sitting down with new co-star Rod Razavi at Uptown Social in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I don’t know if she was expecting to be the center of attention this season, but you know, here we are,” Rod adds, referencing the scandal that rocked their adopted hometown when it came to light that castmates Austen Kroll and Taylor Ann Green hooked up between seasons 8 and 9.
It was a double betrayal for Olivia, as she considered Taylor her best friend and had only recently called things off with Austen, whom she dated on season 8. It all comes out on camera over the course of this season.
“There was a lot of times I just heard it as gossip, and I trusted what I was being told by the people I was friends with, and I mean, it really, honestly wasn’t until I had more time with Shep, and seeing Shep all hot and bothered about something, was a first,” Olivia reflects. Shep Rose also finds himself in the scandal storm, being the recent ex of Taylor and good buddy of Austen.
“That was really when I kinda felt something shift a little bit, and that’s what you see, but I guess I wish I’d paid attention to the signs a little earlier,” she continues. “If I kept shrugging off what I was being told, then I would kinda look like an idiot at the end of the day.”
Taylor and Austen side-stepped confirming their dalliance when it first came up, with Taylor going so far as to swear on her life she didn’t hook up with Austen, though Taylor hinted at a game of semantics at play on that label.
“Honestly, my head’s still spinning from it,” Olivia says. “I haven’t, honestly, processed a lot of things from the season, so I feel like watching it back, I’m gonna be as surprised as the viewers, because I haven’t been caught up with the reality of it.”
“It was a roller coaster,” she adds. “It was a lot of me just trying to– my No. 1 priority this season was she and I’s friendship, so a lot of it was me trying to navigate how to best work through things, that she and I work out OK at the end of this, but in this town, everyone’s got an opinion, so I have to balance out what I’m being told from other people, so… I don’t know. It’s tricky.”
“At the beginning, I really did want it to be, she and I, OK out of it,” she continues. “But it wasn’t that easy, and at the end of the day, you kinda have to listen to yourself and take a step back and look at bird’s eye view.”
Olivia describes her relationship with Taylor now as “surface level,” a big change from calling each other “sisters” when they started filming season 9. She won’t go so far as to call Taylor a “friend” at this point.
“It’s certainly not what it was before,” she explains, but notes that suffering similar tragedies did create some space to start healing. Both women’s brothers died within months of each other. Olivia’s brother, Conner, died in February in the midst of filming; Taylor’s brother, Worth, died in June, after cameras went down.
“I was sure to reach out and let her know I was like there because one thing I learned in this season is that things really get put into perspective,” she shares. “Like, the bulls**t, surface-level drama, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter as much as the deeper-level things. So, I wanted her to know I was there for that, and always would be, but we’re not where we were before.”
Olivia confesses that losing her brother forced her into an “emotional blackout” while filming, so she’s still piecing parts of what happened together. She asks the audience for grace as they watch all this play out on TV.
“I don’t want the ‘Team Olivia,’ ‘Team Taylor’ thing,” she pleads. “Just because she and I have gone our separate ways doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be rocks thrown at her.”
“It’s a wild ride for sure,” Rod admits, and not exactly what he thought he was signing up for. He’s been part of the cast’s larger social circle since the show’s inception and jokes he only joined now “to have a new answer to, what have you been up to?”
Rod’s a friend of Austen’s, which caused a little awkward tension between the bros after Rod pursued Olivia. He gave Austen a “gentlemanly heads-up” about their date, but only after the fact.
“We’re on good terms… now,” Rod teases. “You know, we definitely butt heads throughout the season, and probably rightfully so on his side and my side. You know, we both have our perspectives.”
As for where Olivia stands with Austen, she says they’re “friendly.” She was less rocked by Austen’s involvement in the hookup situation than Taylor’s.
“The shock really came from her, not him unfortunately,” she makes clear. “[Our] friendship, you’ll see on the season, very up and down. And I just, I don’t know. I kind of feel like I lost two people at once. … I mean, it’s cordial, and that was about as good as it’s gonna get for us.”
Olivia does consider Rod a friend, though — but just a friend.
“Timing was not out our side,” Olivia says of pursuing a romance. “But we both appreciate each other’s friendship. I mean, I go to him throughout the entire season just, like, getting advice and what to do.”
“I’m also excited to show that,” she continues. “There’s never been, if you look back at Southern Charm history, there’s never been someone who decided to go the friendship route after being romantic.”
Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
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