Small request: should your Thanksgiving not involve sitting around a table that’s topped with a platter upon which resides a chicken that has been shoved inside of a duck which has then been crammed inside of a turkey, can I please spend the holiday at your house? I’ll bring dessert.
See, my sister Amy insists upon making a turducken for Thanksgiving – and she then wraps that sucker in bacon because three animals apparently aren’t enough to consume in one bite so she tosses in some pig too. Having this monstrosity served to my family involves some careful strategizing. My sister Leigh, who eats no meat, must maneuver her way to a spot at the table that is in no way turducken-adjacent lest she vomit on the placemats. My mother needs a spot that’s near the kitchen because, even though we’re not at her house, she can’t stop herself from clearing the table while mentally calculating the carbohydrate intake just consumed by her nearest and dearest. When the staggering sum finally settles into her head – it takes her a little while to do the math – she locates a quiet place to quickly do some lunges. (She probably ate very little of the meal herself, but just being around such gluttony requires some immediate cardio. I try not to judge.) My brother-in-law likes to be near the soupy green bean casserole that has shriveled up onions on top. The entire dish looks like something the turducken might have puked up after a bender, but it makes him very happy. As for me, I’ve never been a big eater of the actual Thanksgiving meal. I like to use my calories on appetizers and cake, so I spend most of dinner trying to furtively remove items from my stepfather’s plate that I fear could immediately clog his arteries. Sometimes he catches me as I slip a hunk of duck into my napkin and his reaction depends on his mood. I’ve gotten, “I love you, sweetheart” as a response to stealing his food and once I was stabbed with a fork so you really never know.
In spite of Thanksgiving being a working holiday for me since I’m on the clock as Food Lieutenant, it’s always been one of my favorite days. I’m a part of one of those families where we go around and say what it is we’re grateful for and this year I’m grateful for the supportive people in my life; the opportunities that have come my way; my hair, which has been looking really good lately; Kim Richards being unceremoniously fired from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; Springsteen’s upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live; and that I finally know for sure what love feels like – and what it doesn’t feel like. And it is with my own generating gratitude list in mind that I have started to wonder what our favorite Vanderpumpers might thank the heavens for on this special day.
Lisa Vanderpump probably feels grateful for her family, all of her dogs, and for the purses she owns that are large enough to tote some of those furry friends around with her as they ride shotgun in her Rolls Royce Phantom. She probably also appreciates that she lives in a house guarded by swans who swim in a moat and that she somehow has the ability to still appear classy whilst starring on two reality shows that are populated by fucking heathens.
Katie is appreciative of the ring that’s wrapped around her finger, her hair returning to a normal color, and that Stassi might just have been a really long and really bad dream.
Sandoval is grateful that he can roller-skate like a 70s starlet and that Kristen is no longer sharing space in his living quarters. Actually, I’m willing to bet that the entire Sandoval clan – including aunts, uncles, and that guy who slept with his fifth cousin once – are also thrilled that Kristen will not one day show up at the family reunion, though come on, this is Kristen we’re talking about and she will be there with bells on – and nothing else. Let’s face it: if she went over to Sandoval’s house that one time to pick up her mail in a dress with a neckline so plunging that it was clearly modeled after a dress a stripper once had during a delirious fever dream, one can only imagine what our favorite psychopath will wear to The Sandoval Family Reunion.
Realizing that Kristen, much like Michael Meyers, will never truly go away, Ariana is currently busy constructing a wardrobe made entirely from bulletproof fabric and has thus decided to forgo Thanksgiving this year.
Schwartz is thankful he has a sweet dog, a fiancé who demanded a ring, new business opportunities on the horizon, and that he’s not Jax.
Kristen is grateful that her capacity for delusional thinking is seemingly limitless, that there are still people who pretend that she is sane, and for the invention of night-vision goggles.
James is wildly appreciative that a discount clothing store right near SUR sells drapey tank tops for scrawny men and that some girls are so broken inside, they don’t realize that he’s just a walking piece of dogshit who should probably be deported.
Jax feels gratitude for his newest nose and for the fact that he has stumbled into the world of reality television, a landscape where lessons never really have to be learned and culpability is rarely internalized. He appreciates the scores of people in our society who crave being in the limelight so desperately that they are willing to view a dickhead like him as a veritable star. He is also grateful that shows like Celebrity Rehab exist so he can bless us with his talents forever.
If you’re going through the kind of hell Scheana is dealing with right now, it’s hard to feel any kind of gratitude. Still, she is grateful that she can put on her makeup in under three hours, that she has friends to lean on during the dark times, and crop tops.
With appreciation now properly articulated, it’s time to get into this week’s episode and we begin where we left off: in the steaming pit of Scheana’s despair. Her husband might be a drug addict who also has a drinking problem, but that won’t stop Scheana from helping Katie. Katie has a blog! Pucker & Pout focuses on beauty and hair tutorials and Katie needs Scheana to pose wearing headbands that have shit dangling from them. A beacon of strength, Scheana is allowing herself to be photographed against a white backdrop even though her marriage is imploding in a spectacularly sad fashion. She and Shay haven’t spoken in several days and she is scared. To take her mind off her emotional turmoil, Schwartz explains to Scheana that he is a graduate (nay, the Valedictorian!) of The Sandoval School of Modeling – and just because he was the only member of his graduating class does not mean that this major accomplishment should be diminished. He can therefore provide some posing tips he gleaned from a beanie-wearing-Zoolander-wannabe, but his explanations about how to look swarthy on set will have to be doled out at another time because Scheana needs to vent. She tells them that she left work crying the night before after telling Lisa the truth about her husband being an addict.
Schwartz is surprised by these revelations because Shay doesn’t look like the kind of guy who becomes an addict. Illustrating his decency, he wants to reach out to him. Katie, knowing she can’t help Scheana with anything real in that very moment, tells her to breathe and to not cry her lashes off and then plops her in front of a backdrop with golden accessories weaved through her hair. I’m not and I have never been a dangly headband kind of girl so I will not be subscribing to the Pucker & Pout newsletter, but part my resistance is due to the fact that a large piece of me is still haunted by the orange hair Katie rocked several seasons ago. Seriously, when I play the game “Bloody Mary” in front of the mirror, it’s Katie and her orange hair that appear. As a result, taking any kind of hair-related advice from her seems laughable, but I still kind of like Katie. She seems kind and (dare I say?) normal and I like to support anyone who has a blog, so those of you who want to shove golden accessories into a high bun should definitely check it out.
Over at SUR, Jax approaches Lala at the hostess station to ask how things are going. “It’s a tough crowd over here,” says Lala, which means at this point all we’ve heard from Lala is that girls are mean to her, she experiences panic attacks that a proximity to her mother can soothe, and she hasn’t yet told Jax or James that they’re fucking revolting. Last week I rationalized that Lala had to be pretending to find cretins like Jax and James intriguing because she desperately wants to snag more camera time and cavorting with assholes will accomplish such a thing. Nothing else made sense to me. I mean, James is almost more loathsome and annoying than anyone currently appearing on television, and that’s saying something when shows like Marriage Boot Camp are still on and the mom from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and her mammoth arms are starring in this season’s installment. Still, James manages to register somewhere alarming on my scale of that which skeeves me out entirely (1. eel 2. someone else’s bloody tampon 3. James) so I found it impossible that anyone, Lala included, would choose to spend time with the guy willingly. But then I saw something online last week that reported that these two are together now for real. As a result, any pretend respect I once had for Lala is gone so I’m finding it quite enjoyable watching Jax sidle up to her, a line of ooze that smells like sweat, condom lubricant he has yet to wash off, and broken dreams following him from the bar.
“Any males in the equation?” he asks Lala in a manner I think was probably meant to be flirtatious and not nausea inducing. It’s fine for Jax to flirt! It’s not like he and Brittany are married, he explains, so he needs to see what’s biting besides that pesky pubic lice he can’t quite shake. By the way, how good is Jax’s game? Let’s call this example exhibit A: he asks Lala if she’s Mormon since she’s from Utah (she’s not) and then inquires as to whether or not it’s true that Mormon women love having anal sex as a means to protect their virginity. There’s nothing like chatting about anal sex at a hostess stand with a camera pointed in your face while nearby diners eat overpriced salad, is there? The whole thing is so romantic that I can almost hear a chorus of herpes-infected angels singing in the distance. Oh, and what’s Lala’s response? She lets Jax know that Mormons also give killer blowjobs.
Lisa shows up next and she pushes Jax away from the hostess stand, telling Lala to ignore 95% of what the guy says, a figure that strikes me as rather generous. Upon being asked why, out of all the women in Los Angles, Jax must hit on the girl who works in the front of the restaurant, Jax responds, “Every girl needs a little Jax in her life.” Okay, I know this is television and the guy is happily playing up his archetype (he’s the sleezeball!), but if more men begin to speak that way and refer to themselves in the third person, I’m becoming a lesbian. I’d never go after Lala, though. I know where that chick has been.
As for Lisa criticizing Jax for hitting on her new hostess, it’s annoying me and my irritation is causing some confusing feelings. I have stated in the past that I find her so fabulous that I’d like to anoint at least four holidays in Ms. Vanderpump’s honor – and I’m talking holidays with no mail service. But here’s the thing: asking any viewer to pretend that Lala wasn’t cast on this show expressly to be dangled like a blonde opportunity in front of human piglets is just asking too much. I hope from this point forward that Lisa devotes her sighs of exasperation entirely to the physical wellbeing of her swans instead of attempting to make us believe that she just cannot fathom why a confirmed douchebag (whose relative exposure to fame only serves to make him an even bigger douchebag) is acting like a humongous douchebag.
Since the editor of this show must also be a douchebag, we remain on an image of Jax. He really wants Lisa to hire Brittany to bartend at SUR, an idea that’s laughable seeing as the girl interviewed for the position in a camisole and some invisible boy-shorts. Lisa thinks it’s ridiculous that this girl is moving to LA and giving up the life she knows for a guy so fickle that “he’s had three noses in one year.” Still, it’s looking like Brittany might be hired and, just so we’re clear, it would have nothing to do with creating some televised drama so stop thinking crazy. The girl is just the best bartender who has ever walked the planet and SUR clearly only employs the very finest.
Now it’s nighttime so James and his long necklace meet Jax, Peter, Sandoval, and Schwartz at a bar so they can knock back enough drinks to take their minds off what’s real. As James is a guy who totally knows his limits, he does scores of shots, informs the group he and Kristen are heading to couple’s therapy, and then, as the alcohol races through his bloodstream, flails his arms about, invading personal space and commandeering the conversation entirely. Could it be that I actually despise James more than I do Jax? Can we just call it a fucking tie?
And what does James think about the girl now rumored to be his true love? Take it away, asshole! “Lala is like that pretty hot girl who wants to be a huge slut but pretends she’s not a slut but really she’s a huge slut.” Aww. Can those poetic words be engraved inside of a fake gold ring for his very special sweetheart by Christmas?
Over at Kristen’s apartment, James is passed out on the couch still wearing both his hangover and that hideous tank top. The day starts with eggs and gloom and angry discussions about how they’re headed to a therapy session. I’m a proponent of therapy; I think there’s something really beneficial about getting to the heart of a matter that’s been clouded by confusion, but I’m having a tough time doing anything but laughing about these two battling to save a relationship when they so clearly despise one another. What exactly are they fighting for here? And what kind of licensed professional hasn’t yet locked Kristen inside of her office and slapped her silly for even deigning to pretend that this English child is a possibility in her plans for long-term happiness?
At the therapist’s office (who else was expecting it to be the same woman who treated Tori Spelling on her reality show, True Tori, a trainwreck of such epic proportions that it makes Vanderpump Rules look like Masterpiece fucking Theatre?), Kristen informs us that she’s been seeing her doctor for nine months now and it’s done “volumes” for her. Normally I’d ask for clarification about what the word “volumes” means in this context, but I’m too busy focusing on the way James tells her to get over the fact that he’s still drunk after his boy’s night out. Look, there’s one of two things happening here. Either we are witnessing the two worst homosapiens on the planet actually deal with real issues or these two are playacting for the cameras and giggling behind closed doors because the interaction between them is so bizarre and fueled by such hatred that it’s impossible to imagine that this shit could be real. For this recap’s sake, let’s pretend that what we have before us here is real, okay? And if we’re gonna play that game, it comes out fast that Kristen drinks a bottle of wine a day (just one?) and that she believes James’ drinking is an excuse to act like an asshole and to cheat on her with his “sorry dick.” What the therapist (please God, let her be an actress playing a therapist!) wants to know is how the two can stop the retaliation so they can save the relationship. This woman wants to save their relationship? Please God, let the therapist be high.
It’s slowly starting to dawn on Kristen that James isn’t growing nearly as much as she claims to be and she wonders if their relationship is even worth fighting for. Just to be clear, after he called her “a fucking bitch” while sitting beside her on a therapist’s couch she’s still not sure. Please God, let Kristen be high too.
Away from either the most fake or the most depressing therapy session ever recorded – and that includes every scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Sandoval, Ariana, Schwartz, Katie, Peter, and his girlfriend Sarah go out for dinner. Marriage is on everyone’s brain and Sandoval professes his desire to marry Ariana. Unfortunately for him, he appears to have found the only woman in SUR not looking for a husband, though she is careful to say that she is committed to him. (I’m imagining that wherever she is while watching this scene, Kristen just opened a second bottle of wine.) But betrothal talk comes to an end because it’s time to talk about Shay and what exactly is going on with the guy. Everybody is worried. Sandoval explains that Shay is not making much money these days and that’s leading to him feel depressed and they all agree that both Scheana and Shay need their help.
Back at SUR, Lala is back at the hostess stand and now it’s time for her to chat with James. He’s playing DJ later that night and Lala – she of the excellent taste – tells him that he’s much sexier as a DJ than as a busboy. I’m starting to wonder if maybe James has a different face when he’s a DJ. I’m also starting to wonder how long it will be before he calls Lala a fucking bitch on some therapist’s couch. Anyway, it turns out that Lala sings a little bit (You don’t say! And here I just thought she worked at SUR because it’s the best hostess gig in town and not at all because she wants exposure!) and James tells her she’s pretty with much the same charm as the drunk guy who lives in that doorway near Union Square says it after peeing on your shoes as you walk by.
Real dreams do exist for some people, though, and Sandoval and Schwartz are heading over to pitch Lisa on their new business venture. They arrive at her home and trudge over the moat and are greeted by the maid and try to breathe deeply so as not to pass out from all the conspicuous luxury. Lisa appears on the balcony and makes quite an entrance and they all sit down together. Before they talk business, they discuss Shay. Sandoval suggests that Shay’s sadness is due to feeling emasculated because he doesn’t provide any income and maybe Lisa can hire him at Pump. It’s a kind idea, but Lisa is not about hiring an addict. She wants him to get clean and the woman’s got a point. Pandora and Jason soon join them and the pitch begins. They want to work for them and help sell their sangria line. They want to sell the hell out of it, to maybe have some options when their modeling options fade, and for that kind of forward thinking I respect them and I hope they become joint Employees of the Month by next year at this time.
Back at Scheana’s apartment, Schwartz, Katie, Sandoval, and Ariana come by. Siting in a home while surrounded by more enormous portraits than I have ever seen outside of a gallery is making Scheana depressed. No joke, her walls are decked out with gigantic pictures of her and Shay and I shall wait for a more opportune time to make so much fun of this decorating scheme, but right now – before the intervention – it just strikes me as unseemly. Yes, there’s about to be a confrontation to get to the bottom of what the issue is with Shay. I’m not so sure such a thing should be done on camera, but that’s just me. Since it is transpiring for our viewing pleasure, here’s what goes down:
Scheana claims Shay will be more comfortable if it’s not just the two of them talking privately and Shay comes in the door. Everyone greets him with hugs and he and Scheana both begin to cry. Shay says he’s been staying at his parents’ house for a week and he all but ran away and cut everyone off. Sandoval tells him they are all there for him and he asks if Shay is addicted to pills and if he feels withdrawal symptoms if he doesn’t take them, to which Shay says he does. He admits that he’s sometimes taken as many as ten pills a day and Scheana says that instead of paying bills sometimes, he just buys pills. Also, Shay has been on pills the entire time he has known everybody who is currently sitting in his living room. He didn’t talk to anyone about it before because he felt like he’d be judged and Scheana is hysterical that she married an addict who is so sick and miserable.
More comes out. Shay maintains that he feels intimidated by his wife and he feels like he can’t open up to her and that she doesn’t listen to him. The whole situation is just not good and the guy needs to get some treatment – and maybe it should be by anyone not recommended by Kristen’s therapist.
And now it’s time for Brittany’s second interview at SUR and this time she arrives wearing a teeny tiny romper because all of her clothing that covers her clitoris is at the dry cleaner. Lisa actually sighs when she sees her and then asks again for her still-missing resume (that’s also at the dry cleaner), though Jax the Genius says that Brittany’s looks alone should serve as her resume. When pressed about where she’s worked, she says that she’s worked at Hooters and Lisa, having seen quite enough, declines to hire a girl who showed up naked for her job interview – twice.
Inside Scheana and Shay’s house, they prepare some food and eat it at card tables in the living room while Scheana dreams out loud about the dining room furniture she wants to own. I get that everybody’s got furniture goals (I want a tufted velvet sofa that cleans itself), but maybe suggesting such a thing to one’s broke husband who is struggling with addiction is not the wisest choice. They both seem to want to fix their marriage but there are glaring warning signs shooting flames everywhere you look. For example, Shay needs to get sober but Scheana doesn’t want him to be entirely sober. She likes to go out! He can drink on special occasions! He can just sip until he’s buzzed! But she’d rather he doesn’t do any other drugs so she has purchased a home drug testing kit to make sure he’s clean. That said, she’s willing to look the other way if he comes back positive for weed so it’s looking like Shay the Addict is the luckiest addict alive because his wife doesn’t care if he gets buzzed or high.
Someone who is making far more sense is Lisa who sits down with Scheana at SUR. Scheana explains that she thinks Shay is back on the right path but Lisa knows that the guy has a problem and actually requires some real help. As far as Lisa is concerned, randomly testing the urine of one’s husband is not the answer, but what does she know? She’s only been married for about thirty years and she lives in a house without enormous photographs of herself plastered on the walls – which is something else she is newly thankful for.
Next week, James breaks up with Kristen and starts hanging out with Lala. Illustrating her voluminous growth, Kristen tells Lala that James has called her a slut and a whore and I’ve just decided that one last thing I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving is that none of these people are actually in my life.
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.