About a week and a half ago, I received a text from someone I’m usually pretty happy to hear from – but this time, the message almost caused me to clutch the nearest wall for both emotional and physical support.
HIM: Have you heard? Vanderpump Rules is airing twice a week this season.
ME: No, only on Mondays.
HIM: There’s another show airing on Fridays.
ME: Please tell me you’re joking. Please tell me I will not be spending my Friday evenings writing about these dipshits after spending my Monday evenings doing just that.
HIM: I’m not joking.
ME: Fuck. Me.
After sliding down the wall I’d been clutching and yelling out a litany of profane words in the sweetest tone of voice I could muster whilst in the throes of an existential crisis caused by this news, I decided to fact check the information. I hopped onto Google and, with a shaking hand and a trembling heart, I typed “Vanderpump Rules Friday” into the search box. It was only after I confirmed that the Friday airing is an “after show” where the “stars” will appear in the hopes of gulping in some extra attention that’s been basted in fleeting fame and will surely lead to bloating that I calmed down.
ME: The Friday thing isn’t an episode…it’s a half-hour after show thing.
HIM: I’ve heard it’ll have some important stuff on it.
ME: I’m gonna need some clarification here on the meaning of important.
As such clarification was never offered, I chose not to heed the advice to watch the after show because my feeling is that one hour a week with these people is just about enough for me. But I did think about the fact that I was actively skipping my second helping of Vanderpump Rules as I spent much of Friday night cleaning, scrubbing, and straightening every corner of my home to prepare for the arrival of a guest and it was just as I reached for the kind of sponge that promises to scrape those crusty spots off the stove that I began to think about which cleaning tasks most remind me of the people who are SUR-adjacent.
It’s not just that I was about to have company and I want my house to appear to outsiders like it’s always sparkling and smelling of Clean Linen candles. No, the truth is that it’s been positively balmy here in New York lately and so I decided to tackle some spring-cleaning during November. There was much to do and many comparisons to be made – and a light bulb that requires I be twelve feet tall to reach it that subsequently remains dark. As for my cleaning associations, here’s what I decided:
Changing the sheets and pillowcases on my bed reminds me of Katie and Schwartz. The whole endeavor is a little bit of a pain in the ass since I always initially put the fitted sheet on the wrong way, but it’s the kind of thing I figure out quickly and very little feels as comforting as a bed that’s newly made. Katie and Schwartz strike me as only mildly irritating and like they’re actually decent people so they get to be compared to something easy.
It’s the same thing for Sandoval and Ariana, a couple I don’t stare at while praying simultaneously for a plague that makes people barren. I don’t mind these two, so I will assign them the task of folding clothes to put away after doing laundry. It’s annoying, sure, and it often brings about the question of how many black tank tops one person can really require, but at least it’s a job that doesn’t require wearing rubber gloves.
Since we find out tonight that she’s a “fun bitch,” I’m going to give Lala The New Girl the terrifically fun job of taking out my garbage. I think she will do an amazing job with all things trash-related.
Kristen, our favorite therapy patient who should get herself a refund, is like cleaning up leaves while a tornado is gusting through the neighborhood. In other words, nothing will get clean and it’s all just an enormous waste of time and energy.
Scheana is the human equivalent of loading and unloading the dishwasher. The whole thing is based upon the premise of ease and convenience, but if you look a little closer, you’re reminded that you must rinse the dishes before they go in and some never wind up clean. I think I have a glass that’s been in that dishwasher for six months straight – it lives there now. Scheana’s like my dishwasher. She’s not the most irritating appliance or task in the vicinity, but she annoys the living hell out of me every now and again.
James is that dirty towel you throw away instead of even bothering to do laundry.
And Jax? He’s a combination of jobs that all have scum in common. He is the cleaning of toilets and the scraping of residue from showers and bathtubs. He is locating that item in your refrigerator that you’re certain has died and he is carrying that item outside while wearing a hazmat suit. He is the milk that has turned and the fruit that has grown both moldy and fluffy. He is the living incarnation of maybe everything I truly hate.
Hatred aside, the tiles in my bathroom now positively twinkle (aw, Jax!) and so it’s time to get to all the action of this week’s episode. I think they’re just trying to lay the groundwork for the chaos that must be coming this season because it’s all been rather sedate so far. I wouldn’t worry, though; these people want to keep their jobs so they will soon cart in the crazy. In the meantime, there’s a new girl on the premises who is clearly there to spark some conflict.
Arriving at SUR, Lisa is greeted by Lala, the new girl. Two weeks earlier, Jax – sporting his super sexy nasal bandage – tried to hit on her, but Lala was unfazed. As she explains to her new boss during her job interview, she’s a lot of guys’ types. So yeah, it was just your run of the mill interview scenario that had nothing to do with setting up a reality show storyline and everything to do with SUR desperately needing a new hostess and anyone who believes otherwise is a total idiot.
Scheana shows up next and girlfriend is pissed. Seems young James had himself a classic meltdown at the end of Scheana’s birthday party, the one where she required that her guests arrive in costume. Decked out as something unfortunate looking that required donning a black wig, James spun tunes, fought with his uninvited girlfriend, and then downed a bottle of something I could swear was whiskey or scotch or some other form of hard alcohol that can double as paint thinner. That shit put him over the top as far as annoying goes (usually he just hovers near the apex of annoying, but the alcohol he all but snorted tossed him clear over annoying’s edge and into the valley of exasperating) and Scheana wants to know how it is that his insane levels of intoxication became her problem. Was it that Kristen arrived uninvited at the party that made James mainline booze? Because, according to Scheana, who cares that Kristen was there? After all, the only one who requested that she be banned was Scheana’s BEST FRIEND, the girl Kristen has fantasized aloud about mauling before flinging her in front of moving passenger trains, so it’s not like Kristen being there should really make anyone uptight in the least. Let’s leave James and Kristen out of this for a moment, okay? Can we just agree that the actual issue here is that Scheana is being a dick for still associating with her best friend’s arch nemesis and is also kind of a fool for trying to pretend that she’s even slightly surprised anymore by the terrible behavior her dear friends exhibit when a camera lens is pointed their way?
So early into the episode, it’s hard to pinpoint who exactly is the biggest moron. (Is it Scheana for continuing to read the nasty text messages her friend Kristen keeps sending her? James for simply existing? Me for watching this nonsense?) It seems James seriously wants to kick my ass in the moron department because apparently the guy spent the night with some random girl named Jenna even though his girlfriend was right beside him earlier and all of it would eventually be exposed since his little indiscretion took place during production. And now Scheana – who hates drama and anyone who claims otherwise is a bitch with shitty eyebrows who doesn’t contour her entire face – now finds herself smack dab in the middle of a new bit of chaos. Poor girl.
On the other end of the restaurant, Lala interrupts Lisa’s relaxing cup of tea. She’d like some clarification about her schedule because she’s got an upcoming booking in Italy for her modeling and acting career and it’s really hard for her to have to answer to anybody because she’s so wildly successful in her other endeavors, which is why I dressed as Lala last Halloween and everybody knew exactly who I was. At any rate, she swears she’ll be back at SUR soon and I for one am thrilled because maybe that means that there will be less of a focus on Kristen, a girl who doesn’t even work there anymore. Though frankly, unless we are privy to her therapy sessions, I’m not fully interested.
Outside, Katie and Scheana take a break with a camera crew present and discuss the James/Kristen/Jenna/Wild Turkey incident that recently went down – I think it’s the event that is all but sponsoring this week’s episode so I expect that all of the commercials will be for Valtrex – and Scheana shares one of the seventy-two texts Kristen has sent her that call Scheana a bitch and her friend Jenna a whore. It’s all very unsurprising, as is the moment Jax saunters up the alleyway to introduce his new piece, Brittany. Oh, Brittany. Who is she? Well, she’s a girl who is willing to date Jax even after he’s impersonated a slug for several years on television. Obviously a genius and an excellent judge of character, Brittany met Jax in Vegas and is now showing up hoping to get a job at SUR and I’m sure that, just like with Lala, her goal to work there has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this restaurant’s cast appears on Bravo twice a week. I’m sure she just has a real affinity for fried goat cheese balls.
Before Jax brings Brittany over to meet Lisa, Jax begs Lisa to be nice to her. Brittany’s just a sweet girl from Kentucky, Jax explains. In fact, her sweetness caught him off-guard, much as I’m sure his chronic scumbagginess will one day catch her off-guard. But until that shit goes down (don’t worry; it’ll for sure go down onscreen), he’s her knight in tarnished generic aluminum foil. Lisa promises to be decent and then acts for a moment like this is going to be a real job interview, but let’s all be honest for a second, okay? Their exchange is not for one iota of a second about the owner of a restaurant hiring a new employee. No, this is about the executive producer of a reality show hiring a cast member who will compromise the already-tenuous peace. Needless to say, I won’t gasp when Brittany is handed one of the handkerchiefs that SUR waitresses wear as a uniform, though the outfit Brittany showed up in for the interview actually makes the flimsy uniform look like something you’d wear at a convent…during a holy day.
While Brittany is being fake interviewed, Jax chats up Lala at the bar and finds out that she lives in Stassi’s former bedroom. I know! I too figured that space had been sealed off as a shrine to the former SUR waitress who takes herself far too seriously, but I was wrong and Lala slumbers there. I don’t think it’s me taking a gigantic leap to wonder just how long it will take Jax and his newest nose to try to slither into his old stomping ground so he can simultaneously bang Lala while remembering the good times with Stassi as Brittany, unaware of it all, serves a drink with a ridiculous mark-up at the bar of the restaurant where her amazing boyfriend got her a job.
Over at Katie and Schwartz’s apartment, Schwartz is cooking and talking to his dog. Gordo is furry and adorable and Schwartz is currently rocking a lot of scruff and is therefore also furry and adorable. It almost doesn’t matter to me that the guy apparently makes no money and has run down the clock of the Proposal Ultimatum Deadline and that he recently spent his time getting a perm. I still find the guy so cute and not at all malicious and that’s obviously all I need to decide that someone on one of these shows is walking perfection.
Not the epitome of perfection is Kristen, who shows up to meet James with a look of such unadulterated misery on her face that I have to wonder why she even got out of bed. She’s a fucking mess, but James is seriously ridiculous. The guy spent last season making comments like, “Kristen says my penis is bigger than Tom Sandoval’s” and he shows up in public wearing low-cut tank tops and those factors alone would make me deny even knowing the guy, but Kristen feels the need to have a talk with the newest love of her life, the one that was so not a rebound scenario to get over Sandoval and how dare you suggest such a preposterous thing? The look of pure hatred she throws James as she inquires about him going home with Jenna as she holds a glass of wine like it’s a fucking dagger is almost terrifying, but it’s not nearly as terrifying as watching James try to lie convincingly. He sputters and covers his face and all but turns purple, especially when Kristen offers to show him the Uber receipt that proves he went home with someone else. Oh, and for all of you who think that maybe Kristen shouldn’t break into her boyfriends’ emails? She would like you to know that she finds something incriminating every single time so she is right to do such a thing. What’s that? Maybe she should date men who aren’t pricks, you say? Interesting.
At any rate, Kristen declares she’s done with James and he responds by laughing at her and so she stalks off, glugging wine the entire way. She’s devastated, but I think that maybe she’d feel better if she came back and took another long look at him. That’d cure the heartache.
At some other restaurant where cameras are permitted and the random customers hanging near the bar signed a release form, Sandoval, Ariana, Schwartz, and Katie meet up with the newest servers, Lala and Faith. Jax invited everyone and our host shows up with Brittany, the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. At the bar, we learn that Jax has a fetish that involves foot odor (anyone else gently traumatized by this reveal?) and we even get treated to a photo of toes in his face. Listen, I’m THIS-CLOSE to believing that Bravo is getting ready to air a show that takes place in a bathroom and is called Matrons and captures the excitement of public urination. But until that show can be greenlit, we can instead enjoy Jax pretending to believe that Brittany knows nothing about him or SUR…after this show has been airing for several seasons.
Back in the banquette, Katie is chatting with Lala and guessing that the new girl is mildly full of shit. She just doesn’t buy her stories about being flown to Italy for modeling, but there’s no time to really get into anything because Sandoval chooses to break up the moment by passing out shots and leading a toast about how soon they’ll all hate one another. Cheers!
Kristen’s apartment is way less festive. She pours herself a drink and is sitting motionless on the couch when James comes over. He looks like he’s making an effort – he put on a shirt with sleeves – and she wants to not be reactive like she was when she was with Sandoval. Instead, she wants to remain calm while James tells her the story about cheating on her (he says he did it because he wanted to) and he might have tried to undress the girl but they didn’t have sex and he swears he’s telling her the truth. However, during his charming little interview, James tells us that he and Jenna “were definitely boning,” and I now fully believe that we have just stared directly into the eyes of the very thing the Mayans warned us about that would usher in the end of civilization. I wish I knew just one Mayan so I could tell him that his people have been right all along and that it is indeed a scrawny, pathetic English wannabe DJ with a chin ass who is taking everything down like a cosmic cannonball.
Even after hearing that he might have forcibly tried to remove some girl’s top, Kristen decides that James is at least being honest and really, she’s never spent fifteen whole minutes without a boyfriend/enabler so she figures she’d better forgive the guy. They kiss and she cuddles up in his chin and thanks her lucky stars for her excellent fortune and I think that maybe all this happened on the same night the moon turned red and now we really know why such an event transpired.
A way happier couple, Ariana and Sandoval are shopping for furniture now that they’re living together. For example, they’d like to replace the sofa Kristen fucked Jax upon while Sandoval (Kristen’s boyfriend and Jax’s best friend) slept one door away in the bedroom. The sofa is tainted and all of the toxicity needs to leave the environment so the two of them can continue to be blissfully happy with one another. The only thing marring their joy is that Scheana continues to interact willingly with Kristen and Ariana is offended by that relationship, a reaction that kind of makes perfect sense.
Back at SUR, Ariana and Jax are working the bar when Jax asks Lisa what she thought of Brittany. Seeing as the girl showed up sans pants and sans resume, Lisa didn’t think too much of her (or at least she was coached to play down the fact that this chick is totally going to be a fixture on the show this season) and she refuses to give Jax a definitive answer about the girl’s reality show fate.
In another conversation, Katie explains to Scheana that Lala is shady and Scheana laughs and immediately hops on Instagram so Katie can take a gander at Lala’s profile picture, which is a shot of her ass. And when Scheana – who first gained notoriety for sleeping with a married man – says that the shot is akin to being asked to get fucked in the ass, that’s maybe when you know that, impressive as an ass can be, perhaps it’s best not to make it your profile picture. Scheana’s comment can really be seen as keen advice, a “The More You Know Ad” for the population of the Internet generation that has very few brain cells. She might be on to something, though. She’s heard some rumors about how Lala goes on sponsored trips where she’s probably going down on far more men than she is going down any catwalks.
When Katie and Scheana approach her to find out the truth, Lala tries to shoot them down halfheartedly before admitting that yes, the Italy trip is for fun and not so she can close out the Gucci show. As far as what she, a poorly-paid hostess, must do to land one of these trips, all Lala has to do is be herself because, as she so eloquently states, she’s “a fun bitch to be around” so she gets to keep her “legs closed.”
“What about your mouth?” asks Scheana – and betrayal of Ariana aside, I might like this girl because that’s a damn good comeback. And I mean for there to be absolutely no pun intended in my usage of the word “comeback” in this context.
But when Scheana goes up to the bar and tells Ariana about how Kristen is being crazy and sending her mean texts, that’s when Scheana loses any points she’s just earned with me. There aren’t that many people in the world one should be entirely loyal to since true loyalty is not easy to execute, but one’s best friend is worth that trouble. Unfortunately, Scheana cannot see that cutting Kristen out of her life is something that makes sense, even though she’s spent the last several hours fielding nasty text messages from a lunatic. Still, when Kristen shows up at Scheana’s apartment to chat and to apologize for calling Scheana “rude” and to enlighten Scheana about how James manned up big time by admitting the (lying) truth about cheating on her, what Scheana wants to know is why Kristen lacks so much self-awareness that she cannot realize that she is the common denominator in all of her miserable relationships. It’s a damn good question and Kristen responds exactly as one would expect: she looks stunned. How dare Scheana speak the truth directly to her face? How is it even possible that any of the brawls she’s gotten herself into are her fault? At any rate, Scheana kind of feels done with Kristen. She’s got some great reasons, too. Kristen shows up places uninvited. She wishes a painful death on Scheana’s closest friend. She all but pisses in the gift bags at every event she crashes. She is a senseless asshole who uses odd games of semantics to bully people into staying her friends, which is exactly what she does by telling Scheana that this entire thing (including the text messages where she called Scheana “rude” and Scheana’s friend “a whore”) is not about Kristen. Of course it’s not about Kristen! This is all because of Ariana, that bitch, who is making Scheana choose between them and what kind of person would do such a thing to a friend and Ariana is evil and she fucked Kristen’s boyfriend and she’s the one putting Scheana into this situation, not Kristen.
Might anyone know either Kristen’s psychiatrist or pharmacist? If so, can you maybe send them a message that whatever it is that they’re doing isn’t working?
Next week, it looks like Schwartz is about to propose (hopefully to Katie and not to the dog), Lala cries about feeling alone and targeted, and Scheana insists that her problems are the worst problems anybody in all of creation has been forced to deal with, though they do look pretty awful as her husband seems to have left home for a while and a drug problem lurks on the horizon.
All that shit is Ariana’s fault too.
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.