You know what’s so satisfying about a reality television reunion show? It’s the way the participants, who behaved all season long like witless troglodytes experimenting with crack addiction, finally take some responsibility for all of their questionable actions. The accountability they are now so willing to express is likely due to having watched themselves acting like barely evolved human beings – because you too are on crack if you believe these people don’t watch this show every single week – and learning to reconcile that they (at best) have come off as supremely foolish and (at worst) have come off as fucking imbeciles. Yes, that’s why it was so gratifying as a viewer of this show to bare witness to Kristen standing up and announcing, “Though I am five feet nine inches tall and fabulous, I am also clearly insane! I have blamed other people for all of the problems that have plagued me for my entire life! These patterns of being banned from places and events squarely come back to my own repulsive actions! I should not wear rompers! I am choosing a new path for my future and it leads first to a white padded room where professionals will nod soothingly at me every single time I glance up and tackle me if I try to escape!”
You think that was comforting to hear? How about the moment when Jax – who brought his own blotting papers to deal with his little sweating issue – admitted that he is definitely a sociopath and might now be willing to maybe entertain a future where he doesn’t tarnish the lives of those around him for profit and sport? And how spectacularly sweet was it when Ariana stood up and cheered after he said that and then bounded across the set to give him a gigantic hug to illustrate her absolute belief that what he was saying wasn’t just another lie? (It was also totally kind when he complimented her natural tits and softly whispered that it turns out that silicone is not the number one thing that makes a woman interesting.) And don’t even get me started on the joy I felt when James broke down in racking sobs and serenely declared, “I am a wimpy piece of hamster shit and the worst dressed man in this entire country. I have allowed the headphones I wear as a DJ in a small restaurant to deafen me into believing that I am desirable. I have behaved atrociously and, as penance, I will return immediately to England where I shall live inside of a ditch that resides on the grounds of a monastery until the monks can no longer stomach looking at me. I’m so sorry, everyone, for the disaster that is my life.”
Oh, the breakthroughs the Vanderpumpers achieved by being put on the spot by Dr. Andy Cohen – who did his dissertation on the strategies needed to fuel narcissism in dickheads – were nothing short of awe-inspiring and I for one feel like I have just come out of a ten-day mediation retreat where cell phones were turned off, “bravo” was only a word and not a channel that turns nobodies into pretend-stars, and levels of awareness were achieved by even the biggest dumbasses stomping around this fair planet.
Alas, I’m sort of devastated to have to admit that the above description was just an awesomely vivid fantasy; not a bit of that actually transpired on Part 1 of the Vanderpump Rules reunion. Still, I’ve been reading up a bit lately on the concept of Stoicism and I believe the ideas inherent in this Hellenistic school of thought are finally beginning to seep in. See, the theory behind Stoicism is that one can train oneself to endure all aspects of grueling pain and crippling hardship without complaint. Not only that, but ultimately those who master these techniques will even be able to experience pleasure and remain indifferent. I’m not particularly interested in that part of it – and the men I know well seem to enjoy that I’m rather vocal when it comes to indicating that I’m being pleased – but how much calmer would life as we know it be if you could stumble through the symbolic fire and not even allow yourself to feel the heat? The way I see it, Vanderpump Rules – especially its never-ending reunion show where the cast continues to baffle me with their shock that Jax is a dick and their eye-rolling that Kristen is a real girl and not an extended acid trip gone very wrong – is a fucking inferno and, unless you can rewire your very soul to not feel stunned and offended by this group’s collective lack of humanity, something important within you will corrode and die.
Me? I’m choosing to be a stoic survivor. But should this practice not work – should it turn out the ancient Greeks were full of shit –I’ll book the white padded room next to Kristen’s and eventually gnaw my way through those walls to safety. Either way, I figure I’ll get a story out of it.
The harsh reality is that the reunion begins just as you’d expect it would. A group of people who have already said far too much are assembled in a room where both everything they have gotten over and everything they will never get over is about to be revisited. I'd feel badly for them, but I can't even see a hint of a shackle anywhere within the frame. They're there on their own accord – or because they heard there would be booze in the green room. Speaking of what's going on backstage, we get footage of James plucking his eyebrows before the show and Kristen ironically asserting, "Some people change. Some people never will." Frankly, I'm already terrified and I hope someone frisked James and took away that tweezer before he headed out onto the set. I figure if the TSA took mine last time I got on a plane because it was in my makeup bag, no way this dipshit should be permitted to be packing one during what's sure to be a contentious gathering.
Andy welcomes us to SUR (which I pray was hosed down after the event) and makes sure to mention that there's a ton of celebrities who love the show. Then he says hello to Jax's newest nose, waves hi to Scheana's tits, comments on Sandoval's Miami Vice-inspired look, tries to find out if Schwartz and Katie have banged yet, and reminds James of his expletive-laden appearance on Watch What Happens and then waits patiently for yet another insincere apology from the guy – which he gets because he's the boss. And with the hellos complete, Andy would like to explore what's new with this happy group.
Turn out that James has again been suspended from Pump for being drunk at work. Why not fire him for good, a normal person might wonder. The real answer? Loathsome people make for good reality television and if you can get one slimeball to battle continuously with another slimeball, well, that right there is golden. Speaking of slime, Andy wants to know why it is that Jax hates James so much and the answer is not exactly an explanation but more of a declaration: Jax wants to hurt James really badly and it's a damn good thing he's on probation so he can't rip the guy’s larynx from his throat. I’d set my DVR to see that. Maybe they're saving the bloody moment for Sweeps.
Now it's time for Andy to ask some rational questions to someone who is so out-of-her-fucking-mind-crazy that I legitimately fear for the safety of everyone in and around Los Angeles. "Kristen," he asks, "did you ever consider not going to Scheana's party because you weren't invited?" "No," smiles the lunatic while those around her giggle nervously and allow their eyes to dart around so they can locate the nearest safety exits. It’s an exercise in futility, people. Those exits will surely be blockaded when they're needed because Kristen at the reunion is basically Carrie at the prom –except she doesn't have a reason to be this nuts. Tell me she's got a religious zealot for a mother who called her breasts "dirty pillows" during her formative years and I'll give this chick a break. But if that wasn't the case, I will continue to call her on her psychotic tendencies because she's just so very proud of them.
James is then confronted about that one little time he cheated on Kristen. How did Kristen even find out about her boyfriend's indiscretion? Oh, she just went through his email and made sure to check the trash folder as well because that's what she learned in her advanced class at Cyber-Stalking school. She got a 4.0, you guys! As for how Kristen reacted when she saw the episode where James reassured her that he hadn't slept with some random (and, I’m hoping, blind) chick before chortling to the camera that he totally boned the girl, she was disgusted. Hearing about her pain now, James just shrugs. Honestly – why has nobody bludgeoned this guy yet? At the very least, just stab him with his tweezers.
Just to put this moment into perspective, Kristen is sitting on a set with two of her ex-boyfriends – who both hate her – and Ariana and Lala, who will probably end up wearing red to her funeral. She stays there, though, with a proud smirk on her face and I'm pretty sure it's because she thinks being there makes her look strong. The thing is, it doesn't. She appears nothing but oddly pathetic and as her two exes brazenly discuss her promiscuous ways, I can't help but wonder why she hasn't just walked away from this nightmare for good. I mean, when you can't even appear flattering next to James, you're a fucking mess.
Did James apply to SUR just to get on the show? Is it possible he pursued Kristen simply because she was a cast member? I know – it's really hard to believe he wasn't smitten entirely due to her adorable personality and the flat deadness in her eyes, so I'll venture to say that Andy is on to something here with this line of questioning. But aren't they all still at SUR because of this show? Lisa Vanderpump is a smart businesswoman; there's not a huge possibility that she wouldn't have already canned several of them for their depravity if not for this series, so let's all stop pretending that they're really working at SUR because of the flexible hours and great dental benefits, shall we?
Now it's time to talk to Lala! How did she come to work at the world’s most dysfunctional restaurant? How I'd love it if she answered, "I met with a casting agent and told her I'd disrobe at least once per episode!" but unfortunately Lala does not say that. No, she claims that she snagged the job through a friend in an action that is either fortuitous or the very worst mistake she'll ever make in her life – and this is a girl who has chosen to fondle James' dick. As for her relationships with the others, they're not nearly as perfect as the ones she's had with the countless rich gentlemen who have flown her to faraway places because she's just so entertaining and winsome to be around. But get your minds out of the gutter, people – and while you're down there, please grab my mind as well – because Lala claims she's never slept with a single one of those men. Who here believes her? Those with their hands raised: do you believe in unicorns as well?
The moment Jax is asked about his attraction to Lala, the guy looks petrified and it's sort of fun to see. He kind of shrugs it off by maintaining that she just seemed fun and their interactions were only mildly flirtatious, but at least he has the decency to look embarrassed when it's brought up that he lied to Lala about having a girlfriend. He probably shouldn't worry; if Brittany hasn't ditched him yet, I'm guessing she's here to stay. She is, after all, the single luckiest girl on the planet – as long as it’s a planet that has long been destroyed by an asteroid that looks like a hybrid of Trump's hair and James' chin had a baby and then hurtled towards Earth to kill us all.
Shay shows up next so Andy can ask him about his addiction issues. This is serious stuff and addiction is a disease and listening to these peoples’ pain is upsetting. I do get why Scheana wanted their friends around when she confronted him about his problems so she could have some moral support and so they could help her keep her emotions in check. What I will never understand is how either of them decided it would be a good idea to have that discussion with cameras in their living room. Please don't attempt to tell me it was all done that way to maybe help others out there struggling with addiction because I will scream bullshit and I will scream it from the fucking hills. This was not about a public service; this was about a lack of boundaries. That said, I hope the guy gets well because addiction is an abysmal thing to live with, whether you're the addict or not.
Also: Jax just learned the meaning of the word "colander" so it’s a big day for him. Tomorrow I'll teach him the words "superego" and “id” so he can finally understand the only things that fuel him.
As for Scheana's desire to have her addict husband drink sometimes so life will be more fun for her, Andy lets us know that she got slammed on social media for those remarks, which means I need to meet those people who wrote those comments because we should all be best friends. Scheana owns her comments and explains that they were made out of pure ignorance and you know what? That explanation works for me. I wish her luck moving forward. I also wish she'd take down one of the twelve poster-sized photographs of herself lining her foyer, but one step at a time.
Also: the talon-like nails half these chicks are rocking are truly terrifying and I desperately hope they're just a phase like Paris Hilton was.
With Vicodin chatter over, it's time to revisit the time Sandoval ditched his girlfriend on her birthday so he could go to Vegas with the friends he sees every day where they could crush shit with monster trucks. Seems Sandoval regrets that decision, but there's little time to discuss it because now is the moment for every girl on that set to reveal that yes, each one of them has hooked up with other women. Listen, if that was what they wanted to do, more power to them. Embrace your sexuality, ladies! I just hope it wasn't done to fulfill some guy's faux-lesbian fantasy, especially when the boys on this show engage in more homoeroticism than I have seen outside of movies playing at 4:00 AM on Cinemax.
Also: avoid getting an ass tattoo.
Clearly feeling brave, Andy would like to hop in a time machine and whizz back to the night Kristen marched into SUR to apologize to Ariana for all of those times she plotted her death. Sure, she had plans and shovels and research about the countries that don’t have extradition agreements with the United States and a map marked with a great big X on her person for well over a year, but the past is the past! As Kristen giggles inanely, Sandoval and Ariana sit stone faced and their lack of humor about the whole thing is matched by James' assessment that Kristen's motives were fueled by bullshit and only done so she could try to weasel her way back into a group of friends who had systematically banned her because none of them travel regularly with metal detectors and they couldn't be certain they'd remain breathing if Kristen and her rage stopped by for a visit. Ariana explains that she's now cordial to Kristen and her way of being cordial is to flat-out ignore her. The comment might very well be the most lucid thing said during this entire reunion and that means Ariana wins! Her prizes are a bulletproof vest and her very own portable panic room where she can take shelter the instant Kristen's meds run dry.
Also: Kristen is a very happy person. Legitimately gleeful people everywhere are currently swallowing fistfuls of downers so as to differentiate themselves from this asshole.
Think Kristen's fury is over for the night? Stop being silly! Lala also hates her and James shouts that Kristen should shut her fucking mouth, but nobody can break this girl! She's too strong for that! So what that she called someone there a “bagful of whore”? These people (um, Jax?) are her dear friends! And besides, even if they maul her later on in the parking lot to finally get rid of her for good, her spirit will undoubtedly show up every single place they all go and it will do so without an invite because sometimes you can't even gain some dignity in the afterlife.
Just to be safe, I'm off to throw away my Ouija board. Stoicism can only get you so far when you’re dealing with total madness.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.