I realize there are a bunch of people who are tremendously busy right now counting the millions of votes that were apparently cast by illegal immigrants who are in fact so magical that they don’t even exist outside of the confines of our President-elect’s deranged mind, but when those recounts are finally complete, I have another quick assignment I’d like this detail-oriented group to perform. I’m not all that savvy when it comes to knowing things about geography, but I’m hoping it won’t be too inconvenient for a couple of them to hop from Wisconsin over to California and find some definitive answers that can be backed up with empirical data to finally explain the reason for James Kennedy’s very existence on this already-suffering planet. Seriously, I want to see graphs and shaded charts as part of the explanation process because otherwise it will be very hard for me to believe that this idiot wasn’t created in a laboratory by a group of reality television producers who were coming down from a night filled with strippers and blow and accidentally engaged in an experiment that sadly went fucking berserk.
I think every one of us – even the imaginary illegals who haunt Trump’s mind like his own rabid band of Furies – believes that there’s really only one of two possibilities that can exist when it comes to the least appealing Vanderpumper of them all: either this guy is playing the role of a cartoon villain in an effort to create what is at this point a totally unoriginal branding opportunity for himself, or he actually is this much of a tragic moron. Personally, I think every single thing James does is nothing but fodder for a very stale act, but I also think the lure of attention he craves is far too powerful for him to ever give up behaving this way. (My guess is he’s still trying to overcome a shitload of repressed insecurity caused by spending his middle school years getting stuffed inside of lockers.) What I also believe is that James’ entire revolting present existence is due to conscious choices he made after the two paths he could have ventured down divided in much the way Robert Frost once described – only in James’ case, it wasn’t poetic in the fucking slightest – and the world’s winningest DJ made a completely willful decision to continue wandering down Asshole Lane. I imagine he thought making this choice would eventually lead him to his very own record-shaped castle on Douchebag Boulevard, but shouldn’t he maybe have considered the greater likelihood that he’d instead end up in a rat-infested parking lot where former villains from The Hills and Big Brother now reside in a row of rickety trailers while they wait for the producers of Marriage Boot Camp to remember that they’re still alive?
Listen, I realize I’m not pointing out anything all that extraordinary here, but sometimes I think it’s important that we all remember that most reality television antagonists are given a very short shelf life before they begin to rot. Shouldn’t those who are so willing to become those antagonists think carefully about their predecessors and what happened to them in the long run? Remember that lady who announced she would sooner watch vultures peck at the body of a fellow Survivor contestant than save her from a painful dehydration death in the blistering sun? For about two years we all knew that woman’s name, but where is she now? Is she known for anything other than losing a competition and going out by saying something spectacularly vicious? The airways are virtually littered with the carcasses of reality stars who once really believed that they would always be relevant, but the public is fickle; there’s always a brand new asshole to focus on. Therefore – if my theory is correct and James is just pretending to be the kind of fool who chortles about his soaring importance while simultaneously begging to keep his job and taking smoke breaks in an alley before telling women that they’re fat – that would also mean he’s willing to present any persona to the world simply for attention and such a choice is fucking laughable. Don’t agree with me? Quick: out of all the reality TV villains who ever existed, name ten who have illustrated a real staying power and haven’t yet been tended to by Dr. Drew. Yeah, I can’t come up with that list either.
The other possibility here is that James is not acting in the slightest and he really just sucks this massively. So if he’s just being himself, that means the guy is a scrawny piece of walking pubic lice that smirks instead of smiles and talks on camera about how big his own dick is when he’s not rhapsodizing about his staggering level of musical prowess. If the James we see on the show is the real James, then it appears Real James is in fact so stupid that he legitimately believes that being a DJ in a random L.A. restaurant makes him the object of our collective and unrestrained envy. And if we’re to believe all the shit he drags out before the cameras is fully genuine, I suppose that also means we’re to expected to just nod affirmatively when James – who in addition to the numerous women he’s laid in the Niagara Falls area – also reveals that he’s got himself a girlfriend who adores his chin ass so completely that she’s willing to travel great distances to see it. (By the way, those of you who think this girl was selected at an open casting call when she arrived to audition for “Pretend Girlfriend of Total Fucking Weenie” and she doesn’t really love James, well, you’re all just very clearly jealous.)
We’ll get to James and his hired girlfriend eventually, but tonight we begin with something far more important. You guys? Sandoval finally let his teeny ponytail burst free and the result is hair that’s causing me to have a lot of feelings. I think I’m most concerned about where this look might eventually be going, but dammit if I don’t want to rake my fingers through that thing and maybe French braid the motherfucker. At any rate, this episode begins with Ariana, Sandoval’s hair, and Jeremy having lunch. Jeremy is Ariana’s brother and he lives with them now and a brother sleeping on a couch means Ariana and Sandoval have cut way down on the sex. (I’m almost positive that choice is related to them not wanting Jeremy to hear them while they have sex. I’m also almost positive Sandoval’s the loud one of the two.) Anyway, Lala pulls up in the car she did not suck cock to get and makes sure that everyone knows that she owes nobody an explanation for kind of living her life like a hooker. Then she explains that James’ girlfriend is coming into town today. Raquel is a pageant girl and I’m guessing she did not win the Interview Competition because any girl who even pretends to date James can’t possibly be running on a ton of mental steam. Sandoval is hoping this girl’s presence maybe will serve to keep James in line because, according to him, Lisa Vanderpump is running out patience. Since Sandoval sounds so solemn as he says this line of garbage, let’s just all agree to pretend that the real reason Lisa hasn’t fired the guy yet is because she’s such a good person and not because he’s also signed to a television show that’s filmed at that same restaurant. I know it’s hard to pretend such a ridiculous thing, but let’s all do it for Sandoval’s hair, okay?
And now it’s time to head over to James’ Love Palace, the one he shares with some older man, the one where his bed is not surrounded by actual walls. He’s decorated the place with balloons that look like you accidentally arrived at a baby shower thrown by people with no money or artistic talent, but at least he dusted the place. Raquel must be special! Then Raquel shows up and she’s a pretty girl who looks genuinely excited to see James and I stared at the joy on her face in much the same way I’ve stared at gorillas at the zoo. That’s right – Raquel has overnight become my newest sociological study. These two have been dating since New Year’s Eve when she became smitten by his ability to press play on a Beyoncé song and James claims the two are totally in love. Maybe they are. Or maybe this girl just wants to be on TV.
There is something different about the way James talks about this girl versus all the others he’s yammered away about over the last few years. His voice is softer. He doesn’t call her “a fucking bitch” even once. But Raquel does acknowledge the glaring truth about the cretin sitting before her in a shirt with flowered sleeves: there appear to be many people who don’t like James. I appreciate her directness, but she immediately destroys any goodwill I developed for her when she doesn’t burst out laughing when James maintains that every single conflict he has ever had with anyone stems from the bitter jealousy everyone is consumed by the second they walk into his rarified airspace. Then Raquel actually says, “Babe, you’re perfect!” and I think that pinch I just felt in the corner of my head is probably an aneurysm that’s been brought on by a pageant girl.
Across town, Kristen, Stassi, and Katie meet up for lunch since none of them hate one another anymore. They are even acting as caretakers and making plans to be there to help Kristen come through the agony of her upcoming veneer surgery. Then these excellent and very loyal friends launch into a discussion of whether Scheana was right or wrong to not have murdered Lala in that back alley and how fucked up it is that Scheana is still being chatty with Lala after Lala called Katie fat. The problem – well, the immediate problem at hand – is that Scheana did act in a completely loyal fashion when dealing with Lala. She unequivocally stood up for Katie, but sometimes it’s hard to get a table for four in L.A. and this group really needs to kick someone out fast and newly-skinny Scheana’s the obvious choice. Think about it. They can’t kick Katie out. She the bride! Stassi clawed her way back in with such resolve that you kind of have to let her stay now. I mean, it’s just a respect thing. And even if you kick Kristen to the curb, you just know that she will return and hump that curb. That chick is not going anywhere. Scheana’s the best candidate and though it doesn’t appear that she realizes her days are numbered, she does share her frustrations about being accused of doing something she didn’t do with Brittany as they polish silverware at SUR. Lala walks in next and she’s really trying to be friendly with a woman who was recently informed that she’s not permitted to speak with her and the whole thing is awkward as hell until Scheana comes right out and patiently explains why she can’t speak to her. After Lala rolls her eyes on camera and then goes into a closet so she can scream into a pillow, Scheana texts Kristen to let her know exactly how the latest confrontation went down. All three girls applaud Scheana’s moxy with the limpest clapping they can muster because the double secret plan each girl at that table is hatching depends upon cutting Scheana loose and then standing back and watching her cry every last one of her lashes off. It’ll happen. And if you don’t believe that prediction, go back and watch the Machiavellian gleam in Stassi’s eyes as she explains that Scheana should have just fallen into line from the very beginning.
Back at SUR, Lisa arrives and gets what she acts like is very unexpected news: James came to work drunk. “I seriously don’t like this person,” says the manager to her boss, and Lisa realizes yet another chat with this fucking jerkoff is in order. But before we can watch James explain why he flagrantly violated a decree from Queen Vanderpump, we tag along with Schwartz as he shows up for his first therapy session in a while. He’s struggling with the fact that he’s about to marry a women who sometimes scares him a whole lot and he’s actually so scared of her that he didn’t even tell her he was going to therapy. I think it’s probably a really terrible sign when someone you’re engaged to can be described as having an alcohol-induced dark side, and Schwartz is worried because seeing Katie so angry-wasted is “killing the Schwartz” inside of him. I really hate it when someone refers to himself in the third person because it’s both pompous and idiotic, but I will not make fun of him in the least because some days I think it might be nice to have a little Schwartz inside of me as well. Anyhoo, the therapist explains that Schwartz must tell Katie how much her rage hurts him, but he tells her he’s way too scared to say any of that. That’s about the moment when the therapist asks if he’s sure he wants to get married to someone he’s petrified of, but Schwartz knows there is no turning back now. “Yeah!” he says, a catch of dread in his voice. Poor guy.
Over at SUR, Jax announces to Lisa that spreading rumors isn’t a nice thing to do – and then he tells her that Scheana and Lala were just fighting. When Scheana is given her cue to wander over, Lisa explains that she doesn’t care why she doesn’t want to be Lala’s friend; this is a workplace and Scheana has to remain cordial. Scheana attempts to communicate that she is scared to death of Katie’s wrath and it’s Jax who nicely sums everything up: in order to be close to the one-brained creature made up of Stassi, Katie, Kristen, and Adderall, one must agree with everything that creature says. God, I fucking hate it when Jax sounds smart. I also hate it when Lisa Vanderpump, the closest thing we mortals have to faux royalty, says something so preposterous like, “We don’t want to make this place a hostile work environment.” Yes, everyone’s behavior immediately improves the second a camera crew is brought into the mix – that’s why there are so many reality shows about people doing random acts of charity.
Now that his therapy session is over and he’s spent the last four hours repeating positive affirmations to himself in the mirror of a bathroom at a gas station, Schwartz arrives home so he can tell Katie that he spent the afternoon talking about his problems with a professional. As they sit on the couch together, the words come rushing out of Schwartz’s mouth. “You know when you go to that dark place that’s it’s fucking scary as hell,” Schwartz says. “I feel like you just dropped a fucking bomb on me,” Katie responds. “Do you have anything else to say because I’m done talking to you,” she finishes, and their conversation is cut off and Schwartz’s balls might as well be, too.
It’s a brand new day and Jax and Brittany are bickering in their apartment. It’s not that he minds supporting his new girlfriend in the manner to which she’s become accustomed (fuck, that was the saddest sentence ever), but he would like twenty-five sandwiches lined up for him the second he walks in the door. As that seems like a rather reasonable request, let’s just focus on how badly Jax wants to beat the shit out of James and how the breasts Jax bought for Brittany cannot possibly be contained by a top with little buttons.
At her makeshift recovery clinic across town, Katie and Stassi arrive to see Kristen. She’s up and talking after her veneer procedure and she was given a parting gift of some Valium! (Kristen? Take two right now.) Scheana shows up next and Katie is immediately ready to interrogate her so everyone in the room can listen and then vote to decide if Scheana is “the kind of friend we need her to be.” (Scheana? Run for your fucking life, sweetheart. These people are just looking for the first excuse to banish you and your rational explanations for having to be cordial to a coworker will never be embraced.) Instead, Scheana gets to sit there and listen to Stassi’s Rules of Friendship (on Wednesdays they wear statement necklaces made out of your crushed dreams!) that include prefacing mean statements with a qualifier and not listening to a single nugget of truth that Scheana attempts to communicate.
Now it’s nighttime and James has made the very wise decision to get shitfaced at a job he was told he’d be fired from if he ever showed up shitfaced. Jax watches his nemesis do shots across the room and then says – with a completely straight face – “I don’t know how he gets away with half the shit that he does.” And speaking of shit James gets away with, cheating on his girlfriend is one of those things. Yes, he hooked up with Gigi, some girl who now works at SUR, and he called her “a whore” just a few nights ago. This girl confides her anger about James to Jax, Brittany, and at least two cameras, and Jax is so excited to get this information that he immediately sweats six pounds directly out of his forehead.
Since he was without question a town crier (and a moldy barnacle) in a former life, it only takes Jax one short commercial break to share the news of James’ cheating with Ariana and Sandoval. They listen to him and all, but Sandoval explains to us that he’s got a hunch about why Jax hates James so much. Looking at that tool reminds Jax of himself and it’s hard to gaze hard in the face at such total grossness. Anyway, the point is that Sandoval’s flowing hair has definitely made him smarter. When the rumor makes its way to Lala, she confronts James. Please, he all but sighs. He would never have sex with that girl! Then, to better explain his standards, James makes a bullshit car analogy and allow me just to say that I’m glad that little quote of his made it to air because that sentence is the closest James will ever come to an Aston Martin.
Jax sidles into the conversation next and what ensues is a fight between two of the worst men ever captured on film. There’s zero doubt that James is even more unlikable than Jax by now and I realize Jax is on probation and he needs to keep his actions clean and all and I also acknowledge that I can’t fucking stand the guy, but if Jax decides to knock James’ teeth out, I want Jax to know that I will visit him in prison where he has been locked up for manslaughter and I will bring him a bracelet made out of James’ tiny, bloody-stumped molars and I will sit on the opposite side of heavy bulletproof glass wearing a shirt low-cut enough that it will remind him of Sweet Brittany. (By the way, I wrote that sentence even before James declared himself a rock star.) Oh, James also decides to perform a little chant with punctuating claps of his hands in the way straight men always do and I can only hope that when this show is finally cancelled, James will appear on some reality stars boxing show on FOX so I can watch him get his face smashed straight in. Don’t listen to me, though. I’m just jealous.
Schwartz shows up at SUR to visit Sandoval – and maybe get him to contact a shelter on his behalf – and then explains that he’d like to ask Ariana to be one of his groomsmen. He realizes she was banned from being a bridesmaid because she has the audacity to speak to THE FUN BITCH WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED OR COMPELLED TO SUCK COCK FOR A FANCY CAR, but Schwartz likes Ariana and he’d love her to be by his side on his wedding day. He decides it would probably be best (translation: the guy is fucking scared out of his noggin) to not inform Katie of the newest addition to the bridal party and to also present Ariana with some steak that was shoved between his ass cheeks because she’s a dear friend and it is the dearest of the dear friends who are willing to pry a steak out of the ass of their loved ones.
Someone who feels less exhilaration and more tequila racing through his bloodstream is James. He rudely wanders over to Gigi, the girl he hooked up with while Raquel was probably busy at baton-twirling class, and flat-out denies anything ever happened between them. Then he turns on his heel and flips his scarf to make the moment appear both dramatic and staunchly heterosexual. (If this guy is acting, he’s gonna need to get himself some lessons because it’s hard to even buy him anymore as a human being.) Once their voices get louder, the manager comes out and tells them to stop. “He’s drunk,” sneers Gigi, and I just realized that I can’t like anything about a person who just willfully outed herself on national television and admitted to hooking up with James. The entire scene is getting ugly and stressful for everyone and Lala would love to comfort one of them, but she’s way too preoccupied with thanking the good lord above for other people finally being the target of the burning hatred at SUR for once instead of her.
Lisa walks in and is immediately told that James once again is acting like an asshole. Evidently intent on proving this news absolutely correct, James oozes over to Lisa’s table and describes the people who hate him as “thirsty thirsty little girls who need a drink.” The problems here? 1) That comment makes zero fucking sense 2) He looks like an animated version of the Big Bad Wolf when he says it 3) He exists in the first place. Lisa refrains from giggling at his moronic bullshit, but she does tell him that he’s turning into an asshole before her very eyes, to which I wonder how she could possibly use the word “turning” in this context. What exactly were her eyes focused on before?
“Go back to the DJ booth, play your little discs, and shut up,” Lisa tells this prick she pays in a measured tone and he gets up and stomps his feet before reminding himself that Lisa is probably just speaking to him harshly because she hates that he’s winning. Sure, having a moat and some swans is a lovely thing, but does Lisa have a bendable screen that she uses as a bedroom door? Envy comes in many forms, people.
We haven’t yet visited the alley behind the restaurant, so I am totally relieved when Schwartz uses it as the setting to ask Ariana to be one of his groomsmen. She agrees and then takes a bite of his ass-steak, something that should sound like a creepy euphemism, but I’m only reporting what actually went down. As that joyful moment unfurls outside, Sandoval is inside watching James slur drunkenly about nothing. At some point, James wanders to the street and Ken, Lisa’s husband, confronts him. This is a man who believes the sun rises and sets simply because his wife exists in the world and he informs James that he will knock him out if he disrespects Lisa. James’ response is to immediately burst into tears and he’s in fact so upset that he doesn’t even remember to do the claps and hand gestures that usually accompany one of his emotional breakdowns.
The next day, James shows up at Lisa’s manor to apologize for being such a drunken asshole the night before and it appears Lisa’s finally had it and she fires him. For the briefest of seconds, James takes ownership of the terrible behavior that led to this outcome. In the very next second, he calls Gigi a whore.
“You should never have another drink in your life,” Lisa says evenly and honestly before she dismisses him from the premises and James weeps one more time before walking out of Villa Rosa and into a world that will never ever understand him because pretend rock stars are just so very complicated.
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