It was sweet, wasn’t it, when Katie ended the first installment of the seventy-three-part Vanderpump Rules reunion by apologizing to Lala for all the times she called her a dirty whore on national television? So what if Katie and her coven reiterated for months and months to everyone in America with basic cable or access to the internet that Lala sucks off married guys in exchange for cash and prizes? Bygones! I felt a flutter deep within my soul (okay, fine – maybe it was just a hunger pang) when Lala listened to the verbal mea culpa and then misted up with tears actually containing salt, proving once and for all she is not a walking blow-up doll, that the discharge that falls from her eyes is made from something other than lube. And it turns out all that needed to happen to get to Lala’s gooey center was for a person she has continually sworn doesn’t mean a single fucking thing to her to finally say something kind because, faux-bluster aside, it appears Lala is just a girl standing across from a career waitress asking that waitress to love her.
(And speaking of getting to Lala's gooey center, how many licks do you think it takes? My guess is it all depends on whether or not you have access to a jet.)
But as I mentioned in part one of my reunion recap, what is said during these sit-downs means less than zero, and if you’re not sure how to visually quantify “less than zero,” outside of a frame of reference that involves Bret Easton Ellis, just picture James’ face atop Kristen’s body and imagine that miserable creature sweats like Jax and claws its way up trees using Lala’s nails and impressive suction abilities – that's what “less than zero” looks like. Sure, James had a strong showing when he impersonated Stassi’s cloying desperation to remain relevant by being on a show she all but took a gigantic shit on and Katie appeared human and didn't once tell her new husband that she sort of hates him and Andy forgot to officially greet Kristen and that was sort of fun. But the crux of the first reunion was the simmering conflict between Katie and Lala and the reconciliation that – to nobody’s surprise – has already been fractured. Did you catch Scheana on Watch What Happens? There she sat in one of Ariana's dresses that made her look like a gladiator dipped in a melted down Oscar and, upon being asked if she expected the truce between Lala and Katie to last, Scheana just roared with laughter before saying no, of course it wouldn't. So it seems that what we're watching here are people either blatantly lying to one another's faces or a group of individuals trying with all their might to be decent people only to find out such transformations didn't take because to be decent involves work and most of our Vanderpumpers are as allergic to work as I am to cats and narcissists.
There are two reunion episodes to go and many life-altering topics must still be discussed. Can Stassi bully Ariana into finally agreeing to like her? Will Shay admit to texting other women and swallowing fistfuls of pills while a camera is pointed directly at his face? Might Lala mention the date her boyfriend celebrates his anniversary with his wife? And, most importantly, what are Jax's views on Syria and McConnell invoking the nuclear option? Sweet reader, we both know the only way this reunion will ever end is for it to get restarted, so let's dive in, okay? And maybe we should do that diving while not wearing one of Stassi's turtleneck bikinis because that neckline will fuck up our tan lines for the entire summer.
The first discussion on the docket for tonight is why Lisa Vanderpump vacillated over firing James when she so flippantly was able to can Kristen just a few seasons earlier, and apparently the excuse James has been peddling – that the reason he acts like an alcoholic child who has recently been diagnosed with a raging superiority complex that causes him to experience pain during urination and proclaim he’s the White Kanye is all because of his overwhelming sadness due to his parents divorce – actually got to her. As for Jax’s involvement, on some level The Sweaty One Recently Pumped Full of Botox is correct; you can’t really get someone else fired, not on one of these shows anyway. At least James admits it wasn’t Jax that caused one of his hundred televised downfalls – he blames that on his old friend Jack Daniels – but he does say Jax manages to hit all of his triggers. Honestly? Watching James justify his repulsive actions on a show he’s only on because he was willing to sleep with another repulsive person and then continued to act repulsively because he knew it would get him signed to season after season totally fucking repulses me. The guy is either legitimately the worst or is more than willing to act like he’s the worst just to snag camera time and both possibilities make me weep for what has become of society. If he needs a camera aimed at his person all the time, can we not send him into the wilderness to be a part of that reality show where people build a civilization out of nothing, the one that actually got cancelled and nobody told the participants living in the woods for months? Can’t James go there? Quick – someone tell him he can be the village’s resident DJ.
Moving on from James, it’s time for the ladies to revisit their trip to Montauk and that of course means that five minutes of this reunion can be devoted to Katie, Kristen, and Stassi screaming in unison that Scheana is such a pain in the ass for not doing the shots they wanted her to do. The way this girl is constantly made to defend herself to the reincarnated witches from the lowest budgeted version of Macbeth ever performed in the free world is ridiculous and it’s frankly impossible at this point to figure out why Scheana wants to be even peripherally connected to any of them. That said, there’s a chance Scheana would still rather have been begging for low-sugar shots to girls who would probably giggle while she dehydrated in front of them on a beach somewhere than step inside the RV the rest of the group stayed in during their trip to Sonoma for Ariana’s birthday. Between the shower spray made entirely of backwash or the creature that might once have been a chicken rotting in the refrigerator, those accommodations looked terrifying, but it wasn’t the smell of decomposing poultry that caused Lala to ghost the group. Instead it was a full-blown panic attack brought on by the idea of being shoved into a confined vehicle with Jax since he so recently told her to her face that he hates her. But Sandoval doesn’t buy Lala’s anxiety excuses, not for one fucking second. His thinks she ended up in Beverly Hills that weekend with her mystery boyfriend and he’s probably absolutely correct about that. And should Sandoval also think Lala is a moron for calling Beverly Hills “BH” more than once, he would be correct about that, too.
Now let’s talk about Lala’s impressive bank account, the one she used to swear came from the stacks of money she made as a child model and for her co-co-co-co-co-starring roles in a few movies before finally admitting that her boyfriend pays for her Range Rover and that she sucks dick to earn even better prizes, a line she announces she’s very proud to have said. But as for how she pays her rent and the rest of her bills? Oh, her mother pays for all of it – and if you don’t believe her, see if you can believe the way she tells Sandoval that the time he saw some guy driving around in her car must have been a figment of his imagination. Look, the girl can go down on whomever she pleases. She can walk away from her sexual dalliances with fistfuls of gold sprinkled with the pubic hair of whichever man’s balls she stroked to get that metal, but for the love of all that is fucking holy, Lala, become a better liar because watching this sequence is trying my patience more than listening to you sing.
And now would be the time for the biggest lies to come out because Andy flat out asks if she is dating a married man, but instead Lala refuses to confirm or deny who she’s dating and if the guy is the same one she was dating while she was on the show. She just won’t answer. She does say the guy is not married – while her eyes dart about the room in a seriously obvious tell – and that’s when Stassi and all the bronzer on her face jump in to say that this show requires you to basically open a vein and bleed out the innermost secrets of your life and besides, if Lala wants to be friends with her, she needs to start being honest. Since Lala has no desire whatsoever to be friends with Stassi, the friend comment just sails by her like stale air, but she does respond that she is not going to stick someone else on television when he never signed up for such a thing. At this, Stassi attempts to reason with Lala by explaining that she has experience with dating someone who wouldn’t agree to be on the show and she knows it’s difficult, but Lala is having a quick psychotic break right about now so all she can say is that Stassi better stop saying the guy is married and to stay the fuck out of her relationship. Sandoval – truly the voice of reason tonight, so someone get that guy a new slip dress and a stiff drink to thank him – explains to Lala that being on this show means sharing your personal life, but Lala is not about to listen to wisdom, not when she has made herself actually think that there are people watching this show who now believe her boyfriend is totally not married and she is a role model for feminism, a warrior complete with talons, and the rest of these people are nothing compared to her.
Also: Lala gets her dearest friends to sign nondisclosure agreements because who knows what truth nugget might escape her mouth as she lounges naked in a bathtub while drunk and high? I know that I personally often bathe in front of friends while spilling my darkest secrets as they Snapchat me – who doesn’t?! – so people, this is apparently what one must do to protect oneself. And that advice came courtesy of Lala’s very married boyfriend. Fuck. I hate when Kristen is right…
Lala finally leaves the semicircle and the attention turns to the one fight Ariana and Sandoval got into during the season about how he seemed to try to take control of the book on bartending she was working on. I’ll be the first to say that calling your boyfriend “a little bitch” is not right. (I mean, if you’re really mad, you should call him “a small-dicked motherfucker.”) Still, these two reconciled the conflict and they’re actually doing the book together. As for why Ariana is not interested in marrying the man who so clearly adores her, she explains she just doesn’t see the point of marriage. Andy then follows up by asking Brittany about her amazing plans to one day marry Jax, but the only truly notable moment in this entire segment is how the editors cut to Kristen’s face when Sandoval proposing to Ariana is brought up because sometimes it’s fun to watch steam come out of the ears of something on television that’s not a cartoon rat.
Also: news came out today that Jax and Brittany are getting their very own spinoff show wherein Jax goes to a farm in Kentucky so he can behave like a dipshit on a brand new terrain. Here’s what I have to say about such a series: I will only watch that fucker if I am paid to watch it – and I mean handsomely. Like, I will require fistfuls of money not coved in pubes from a bank in BH. Please ask Lala to bring me that money via a private jet her mommy pays for. I’ll totally sign an NDA so she has no reason to worry.
But speaking of Jax, Andy says that he has lied, cheated, and stolen, so was he surprised that Brittany’s mother was most disturbed by hearing stories that he might have had a homosexual encounter or twelve? Yes, Jax explains, he expected Brittany’s mother to be way more upset about the cheating and the drugs. Still, he gets why Brittany’s mother had that reaction and Brittany stands up for her mother also, calling her “the most amazing person” she has ever met in her entire life. That’s a very sweet sentiment, though looking around at the people in Brittany’s life, I’m not sure those words have quite the resonance she’s going for here.
Since we can’t exactly count on Brittany to fully bring the wisdom, let’s instead turn to a twelve-year-old boy. I sound like I’m joking, but Nikolai, Stassi’s brother, is by far the wisest person ever to appear on this series. Yes, I question associating someone who’s just hit his tween years with this show in any capacity, but this kid is adorable and if anyone has the power to get his older sister to finally shed her middle school cafeteria crown and stop treating her friendships like a fucking contact sport, it might be this bow-tie wearing sixth grader. Nikolai jumps right in and tells Andy that he’s sad Stassi and Patrick broke up, but it’s probably because she tried to get everything she wanted like she always does and that’s probably why she’s lost three boyfriends. Stassi agrees that her little brother’s got some good advice, but in perhaps the most evocative statement this chick’s ever made, she also says that she only listens to that advice when it comes out of her television screen, not when he says it to her initially. I tell you, there will one day be DSM manuals solely devoted to the ramifications of being a reality show participant and Stassi could very well be this century’s Dora. (Because why not throw a Freud reference into a Vanderpump Rules recap??)
Once the smartest person in the room goes home so he can pack up his Lunchables for school in the morning, the discussion turns to the time Katie told Scheana that “a lot of people think you’re fake,” a statement that caused Scheana to shoot back that a lot more people think Katie has a drinking problem – which she clearly does. Her drinking has been the root of most of the fights she’s had on this show and for Katie to now claim that Scheana saying such a thing is nothing but paving a convenient narrative for herself is laughable. I mean, even the sixth grader who just left the set told her to stop drinking! I hate to sound like Lisa Rinna over on The Real Housewives of Pantyless Island, but Katie? Time to own your shit.
And now we must travel down the road to nowhere so we can watch Stassi explain how Ariana refusing to like her is hurtful and annoying while Ariana steadfastly continues to refuse to like her. “I’ve seen you manipulate people time and time again,” Ariana explains while waving off excuses that Manipulative Stassi was so 2012 and Stassi has since grown in emotional leaps and mental bounds. “I don’t trust you,” Ariana says while Stassi – 2017 Stassi – looks on, her mouth agape. Could it really be that someone on this show isn’t clamoring to be her friend, to have her firmly on their side, to fight their battles, both on social media and in person? Is it possible that Ariana will never really crack? And could someone maybe bring her little brother back to the set for a minute so he can say something sage into a camera about how some people will simply never like her so one day – maybe – his words will have an actual impact?
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