For a long stretch of time, nothing brought the sting of anxiety to my life quite like the possibility of an ending. It almost didn’t matter what the ending encapsulated or if it was an ending that needed to come about in the first place; whether I had to bid adieu to a place or a person, I’d find myself all sorts of out of sorts. In the aftermath of one of those endings, I’d often spend the pitch-black hours of night when the normal people were asleep staring at the tippy tops of the trees outside my bedroom window and I’d quietly pray that maybe one day someone would invent a contraption that would allow me to unzip my skin and shimmy it off so I could finally know what it meant to feel free and then I’d glance over at the clock and see it was already after four and I’d flip my pillow to the cool side and wonder if everyone sometimes has nights like these.
When you’re someone – and I’m guessing many of us sadly fit into this category – who has experienced a profound loss exactly when it was least expected, I think you unconsciously spend much of your life mentally strategizing how you can keep such a shocking stab of pain from ever puncturing your soul again. From my own coping mechanism bag of tricks (it doubles nicely as a supple leather hobo), I’d often whip out the Think Ahead card. Of all the cards in my bag, it’s the most worn; the edges are so flimsy they’re practically translucent. While it’s purely metaphorical, should that card ever turn into something tangible with a tarot-style illustration, the image on my Think Ahead card would likely be that of a woman with hair so sleek you just know she sleeps with her flatiron and she’d be wearing Tom Ford sunglasses to cover up the crusty goop from that time she gouged out her own eyeballs because one day she finally realized she’d spent way too much time trying desperately to gaze into the future and she’d forgotten to enjoy living in the moment and painful blindness seemed like the best option because therapy would probably bring up all kinds of other shit.
Now listen: under no circumstances am I alleging that being a grand-scheme-of-things kind of girl is the very worst thing you can be. Thinking ahead and looking at the totality of a situation can be pragmatic – but can also be stunting. Part of what I’ve finally realized is that one of the toughest aspects of endings for me is having to face that I didn’t revel in the seconds or the years I’d spent in a place or with a person because I was always too concerned with figuring out how it all might nestle into the big picture, the one I kept changing by coloring outside the proverbial lines. And should there be anyone out there reading this and thinking I’m also like that! I want you to know that you are not alone, that there are legitimate reasons for your behavior – and then I want you to go outside and throw your head back and scream in the direction of the stars that you will stop living this way because doing so may temporarily make you feel safe, but in actuality there is no way to maintain a total control over a life you invite other people into and besides, what with all these recent threats from North Korea, maybe the only thing we should all be concentrating on is stockpiling canned goods.
I understand now that I’ve made certain endings far more tragic than they needed to be, especially when it turns out there was not really all that much to mourn in the first place. And with this fresh and optimistic mindset firmly in place, I feel more than ready to wave goodbye to this season of Vanderpump Rules. I’ll miss certain things, of course. Monday evenings just won’t be the same without my practice of checking the bracket that hangs on my refrigerator to see if this is the week I wagered Kristen would finally be dragged away to an asylum. It will be strange for a Tuesday to arrive without knowing for sure who Stassi is currently plotting against or exactly when Schwartz plans to arrive at Sandoval’s apartment in the dead of night so he can implore his truest love to run far away with him to a place where his new wife (who smells vaguely of stale tequila whenever she exhales or tells him that he’s wrong) will never be able to locate him. What I will not miss, however, is everything else and I think it’s because, much like Katie’s breath, this show is starting to feel stale. I don’t care a bit if Jax marries Brittany – I just don’t want the wedding to be televised. And sweet though she clearly is, I also don’t much care that Brittany should know better than to marry a man who is such a proud moron. I don’t care if James is faithful to a girl I know nothing about and I really don’t care if he ever becomes famous for something other than being a douchebag who was born with an inferiority complex so staggering that it somehow morphed into a superiority complex. I don’t care if Lala ever reveals who her married boyfriend is – and I swear I’m not just saying that because I signed a NDA after frolicking with her in a bathtub – and even less of me cares about watching Stassi go on first dates or wondering exactly what must be clinically wrong with a man for him to consider marrying Kristen. Who these people get along with is pretty much set by now and who they hate will probably never change and Jax will always be a sweaty liar and Schwartz will only stand up for himself if Sandoval cries enough tears and Ariana will never think Stassi is anything but a power-craving jerk and Stassi will never accept that the totality of her televised behavior over the years has caused some people to want to have very little to do with her and James will still be peddling his PUMP compilation CD while Kristen and Katie and Stassi shout in unison that they are not mean girls and if anyone has the audacity to claim otherwise, they will stalk that person’s social media until their collective enemy hightails it to Death Valley because living amongst the ruins of the Manson Family seems a far more appealing option than convincing this three-headed beast of anything that vaguely resembles logic. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that I truly want to thank the powers that be for not making this a year-round series and I hope when it does return, a few new people are part of the cast because these storylines just aren’t all that compelling anymore. That said, I’ve got some stipulations about these potential new cast members and I’m willing to offer to personally deep throat someone in a power position over at Bravo in an effort to guarantee that chick GG will never become a Vanderpump Rules regular because anyone willing to sleep with James Kennedy to get on TV is far better suited for Intervention – or a sanitarium.
There is still one more installment of Vanderpump Rules to go, so let’s hold hands, limp into the final part of the reunion, and get ready to watch the fallout that comes with a woman announcing to her husband that she wants a divorce while a camera crew is present. We can also, I suppose, find out what Lisa Vanderpump’s thought process was when she initially refused to officiate Katie and Schwartz’s wedding. My guess is she was afraid her Wedding Officiant rating on Yelp would plummet if she presided over a marriage so clearly headed for eventual destruction. Whatever her reason, she gave in so I’m not quite sure how much there is to talk about now, but Andy Cohen swore he would deliver a three-part reunion to the evil geniuses over at Bravo and that he’d manage such a feat even if the last fifteen minutes of the show ended up being Jax reciting all the times over the last year his credit card has been declined. Still, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude; this reunion is merely three weeks long while over in Atlanta, those women and the roadkill they’re using as wigs have just settled in for a four-part reunion. Let’s think about that for a second, shall we? The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion will go on for a fucking month. Thank goodness I’ve started building my collection of canned goods because I think we’re all catching a glimpse of what the End of Days could look like.
We begin tonight by exploring the hideously flawed decision for Schwartz and Katie to do a joint bachelor/bachelorette party recorded by cameras in a city drenched with alcohol when the main concern about the bride-to-be is her potential predilection towards alcoholism. Making matters worse was the choice to lug all their friends along for the trip after loudly announcing to those very friends that they were the sole cause of the strife between the otherwise blissful couple, a claim Sandoval loudly and quickly calls bullshit on. He knows blaming him and Ariana for Katie’s tyrannical behavior was a ruse to try to hide the deeper issues that were plaguing Katie and Schwartz and it’s something Schwartz readily agrees is true and now I’m rather concerned for the guy’s safety when he leaves the set because this moment right here – though accurate as fuck – strikes me as precisely the kind of incident Katie will use in her next PowerPoint to prove once again that her husband never has her back. From there we move on to the tearful apology Jax gave Stassi for being such a monster of a boyfriend during the years they were together, but the sanctity of that apology is immediately doused in the kind of piss a prostitute would pee out after a bout with the longest bladder infection ever recorded in the annals of medical history. See, Andy Cohen decided to ask Brittany how it felt watching Jax pour out his heart to Stassi after stalking away from her mother and spreading rumors that she was going down on Kristen and demanding all sorts of sandwiches with the crusts cut off – and if you thought this would be the moment Brittany and those ridiculous sleeves she’s wearing decide to take a real stand, you’d be wrong. She admits it was weird for her to see her boyfriend express those emotions to another woman when he never apologizes to her, not even through interpretive dance, but the two are still together and Jax is still a dick and soon people will get to watch him act like a dick on a farm in Kentucky.
As for Schwartz, he was bordering on blacking out during eighty percent of the trip, something he attributes to the emotional pain searing his insides because he was due to marry Katie in just a few weeks. Upon seeing their friend having a mental breakdown of epic proportions, Jax and Sandoval did recommend that he consider whether or not the wedding was the right thing to do and their advice infuriated Katie because they are her friends too and it’s not all her fault that Schwartz was miserable and fuck both Jax and Sandoval because those dish towel invitations already went out and there’s no way she’d allow Schwartz to back out after spending all that money mailing rags to their nearest and dearest. Look, I suppose we could spend more time on the fact that Katie still looks miserable and Schwartz still looks shell-shocked, but let’s instead rate which guy looked the best in a dress (Sandoval, hands down) and then discuss the blatant idiocy of Kristen deciding that the moment Schwartz was drunk, wearing a skirt, and about ready to flee from his fiancé was the exact right time to sit the guy down and implore him to come clean about a cheating incident that happened years prior. Yes, Kristen nods sagely, she chose precisely the right moment for the confrontation and she accompanies that nod with a small smile because only nonsense makes sense to a girl so fully batshit crazy that I cannot believe she hasn’t been studied by a cavalry of professionals by now.
When it comes to why The Cheating in Vegas hurt Katie so deeply, my dimestore assumption is that, yes, being cheated on is absolutely devastating, but I think having a friend like Kristen who can only view others through her own warped lens of existence confounded the matter massively. I mean, we have watched Kristen on television for several years investigating the actions of the men in her life with more energy than it takes to hold down a job, which might be why she doesn’t work. She still clearly believes Ariana stole her boyfriend away and that it was Sandoval cheating on her that ultimately destroyed their relationship, not the fact that it was a relationship so toxic that I could smell it from my couch several time zones away. I think Katie has the right to have felt wildly betrayed by Schwartz and I think Kristen genuinely loves Katie, but when one’s closest confidant is a person who is so psychologically myopic, that kind of damage will invariably spread like herpes and I think, despite her best intentions, that Kristen passed on to Katie quite the blistery flare-up.
As for who will be the next to get married, Andy thinks maybe it will be Kristen. Her reaction? “Maybe I’ll be able to trick him into it!” Carter? Fucking run. Run like the wind. Run like Forrest Gump ran to Jenny through the water of the Washington Memorial. Run like I run to Starbucks and like Jax runs to The Implant Man. Run however you’d fucking like, just start running and don’t stop until you reach Jupiter – and then somehow make your way through the atmosphere until you land on Saturn.
Also: Sandoval admits he has all the feelings in all the land and every last one of them came crashing onto Ariana during Katie and Schwartz’s wedding because he loves her so deeply.
Also: in the moment Sandoval declared that love, Kristen’s head exploded.
And now it’s time to talk about DJ James and the night Kristen and Jax showed up to gleefully destroy whatever was left of his career. “Mission accomplished,” says Jax smugly – and I’d think Jax was the worst person in that semicircle for sure except James followed that comment up with, “You don’t come up to the one and only James Kennedy after a performance…” and that’s when I stopped listening because it turns out there is a threshold for viewing horseshit and my brain has finally reached capacity.
The only real event in this third part of the reunion is the meeting between Scheana and Shay. They haven’t spoken in four months and that their first interaction after all this time will occur on a Bravo soundstage makes me kind of sick. I get that they’re contractually obligated to fight while wearing microphones, but watching the whole thing go down just feels awkward. Scheana is not looking forward to any of it, a statement that proves there’s some lucidity swimming through her mind. She also proclaims that she’s way too sober to talk to Shay, an odd sentiment to express before an addict walks onto the stage. But I feel badly for Scheana. Relationships with men who are liars are draining and I’m happy for her that she gnawed her way out of there.
Shay shows up and the tension is palpable. Even Scheana’s eyelashes look nervous and her voice shakes as she confronts her almost-ex-husband about buying six hundred dollars worth of pills from some guy while he shakes his head and maintains she’s the one who’s crazy. Yes, he took out money – a thousand dollars here, a few hundred dollars there – but he claims it was to fuel his music career, not his pill addiction and fine, it was her money and that’s the kind of thing she always held over his head and so he dealt with that kind of annoyance by never getting a job that paid well because maybe that would show her.
Shay’s having a tough time expressing his thoughts and maybe it’s because he has an audience and maybe he’s just too emotional to think or speak clearly, but it’s Ariana who finally tells him that he starts sentences and never finishes them and he never really says or explains anything; all he does is ghost the woman who once stood before him in a crop top and married him. There’s maybe nothing more irritating or fucking insulting than someone who refuses to discuss an issue in which he played a massive part, but Shay finally starts speaking. He says Scheana chose going out over staying home with him and helping him maintain his sobriety. She alleges the trust was broken only three months into the marriage because that’s when she found out he was addicted to pills – and the texts she saw about him wanting to be on top of some other girl didn’t help matters.
Also: Scheana whipping out a compact mid-conversation and obsessively checking her eye makeup would normally be the kind of thing I would totally make fun of, but I feel too badly for her to do that and I’m also hoping she’ll let me know the brand of adhesive glue that held those eyelashes in place after all those tears because whatever product that sucker is will be something I’m buying stock in tomorrow.
There is, though, something really disgusting about watching people say sentences to one another like, “You hurt me, I fuck you over.” Scheana chose to reveal Shay’s addiction on camera – and that’s not really something to do cavalierly or out of revenge. There are long-lasting implications to such a public revelation (and I’ll agree that it’s entirely messed up for her to have told him she wanted a divorce on camera) but when Shay turns around and puts all of their problems squarely on her shoulders, it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone can totally be on this guy’s side. I don’t know if Shay’s currently an addict, but he’s evasive and willing to project to such a degree that I’d be surprised if he’s not. Still, it’s terrible watching Shay find out about Scheana’s new boyfriend and the emotions in that room are raw enough that everyone else just sits there quietly looking devastated until finally Shay is permitted to leave and he and Scheana hug one another goodbye in a way that looks very final.
Not willing to end on such a depressing note, Andy makes sure the last segment focuses on happy things like how James and Jax temporarily don’t want to murder one another and the way Lisa offered the two Toms the possibility of running her newest restaurant. Just revisiting the illustrious moment makes Sandoval cry (again) but there’s no time for his weeping because puppies and Pumptinis all of a sudden appear so the group can toast to their dysfunction and stroke animals dressed in silks and satins and when those drinks are finally empty, those puppies will leave that set and return home to a castle with the Queen and probably the finest selection of canned goods in the stratosphere.
And now we’ve reached the end and I would like to take this opportunity to truly thank all of you who have read these recaps. It’s been a bumpy journey and we should have been given some Dramamine – or at least a fistful of Katie’s bridal day edibles – to get through it. I’ll be back next season to chronicle the televised evolution and devolution of our trusty Vanderpumpers, but in the meantime, make sure to check in on my website periodically (nellkalter.com) because, you guys? I just started watching Southern Charm.
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. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com Her Twitter is @nell_kalter