A Conversation With A Son of the South: Todd Chrisley of ‘Chrisley Knows Best’

July 16, 2015 | By | Comments (6)
Image: Parade

Image: Parade

While preparing to interview Todd Chrisley—the patriarch helming USA’s reality show Chrisley Knows Best alongside his wife and gaggle of children—one question kept popping up from the outer reaches of the Internet to the inner reaches of my editor’s office: Is the show scripted? After all, Chrisley speaks in quotes, perfect nuggets that can be Tweeted, Pinned, and Snapchatted without any editing.

Fifteen seconds into our phone call, he tells me “I am a son of the South,” and the answer is clear. The show isn’t scripted. Difficult as it might be to believe, Chrisley speaks this crisply, this quotably. I’ve heard it with my own ears. Happily, I might add, as it’s made my job that much easier. What also made it easier is that Chrisley, an Atlanta real estate agent, is truly a Southerner at heart, one yearning for a place forgotten by the modern world.

“My brother and I would get on our bicycles, and we’d ride all day long,” he says, remembering his childhood in rural South Carolina, but his tone changes sharply when considering today. “Nowadays I wouldn’t even think of letting my children ride their bicycles by themselves. I worry about my kids no matter where they go, and now I have two grandchildren.”

This becomes a common theme. The iron fist he rules with on the show, that remnant of the Old World, isn’t about pride. It’s born from love of his progeny, a love so deep, he’s never let anyone else care for his kids.

“We’ve never had a nanny,” he says. “The kids have never had a babysitter.”

It’s what we discuss for most of the interview, during which Chrisley doesn’t sound like a television star or a millionaire. As our allotted twenty minutes stretches to forty-five, he simply sounds like a loving father.

Photo: Courtesy USA Network

Photo: Courtesy USA Network

A funny, loving father, of course: “I’ve had so many people say to me over the course of my life in rearing my children – ‘You guys do things differently in the South. You’re a little slower.’ And I say, ‘We are a little slower. And we take the time to tell our children why we’re going to smack their ass.’”

His goal, with the show and his life in general, is to raise his children to be “kind, respectful, and courteous,” which isn’t something that can be scripted. “Those are qualities that have been instilled in my children since they were a year old,” Chrisley says.

In some ways, the conversation places the man from the silver screen in a different context. Sure, he can be demanding, but that no longer feels like show for the cameras, which he claims the family forgot about within hours of their placement. Instead, his words ring more clearly: “I had to make sure my children knew I was present, 24 hours a day.”

He was so present, he brought them to television. To support them, and to support others.

“What I hope we’re delivering is a glance at a real family with real issues that deal with problems with patience, love, and understanding.”

Whether you feel the show’s scripted or not, it’s a difficult goal to argue against.

“At the end of the day, families from the South pull together,” he says. “We may fight amongst each other, but we all stick together.”

There’s one more chance to catch Chrisley Knows Best this season, so tune into USA next Tuesday at 9/8c for the finale.

Travis M. Andrews is an associate editor for Southern Living. Follow him on Twitter @travismandrews.

COMMENTS

  1. Todd Chrisley Kids | Solutionfor | Post

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  3. jsnorris1125

    I LOVE this show…and I LOVE the Chrisleys!! I had a Daddy who was about as strict and watchful as Todd is…I knew he was that way because he loved me! I love Todd’s straightforward way of handling situations…and I love how he doesn’t mince words…he says exactly what’s on his mind! Sure, they are a well-to-do family…but, those kids are raised to respect others and treat others with kindness. He & Julie have done a wonderful job with their kids…and grandkids!! This is the one show on TV that litally makes me laugh out loud…I can’t say that about many (or any) other shows!! Great article!

    July 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm
  4. Susan mays

    Love, love ,love this show. Just wish it was an hour and had re runs to fill in. I belly laugh and I can’t say that for other shows.

    July 19, 2015 at 6:18 pm
  5. Anthony Bishop

    All I have in response to this is the Chrisley family IS NOT the typical Southern family. His is a family of privelege living in financial bliss with many more financial resources at his disposal than the typical Southern family. Therefore, their “Struggles” have more to do with which excess they will choose and not how to protect, shield and raise their kids in less than ideal conditions and neighborhoods, and sometimes where the next meal is coming from or whether they will have power or water next week when the bills some due. The show is in no way representative of the typical Southern family.

    I watch the show occasionally strictly for the entertainment value, laughing at the way they deal with their many “struggles”. I mean, really? He buys his daughter a boob job? I’m sure she needed that to survive her very stressful life.

    July 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm
  6. Melody McCray

    Wonderful article!! I just love the Chrisley family, being raised in the South and now raising my own children in the South, I get Todd and Julie’s values, I get the slower pace of life and I get the love deep for family and for traditions!! Thank You for this article!!

    July 19, 2015 at 4:19 pm

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