We're already five weeks into this season of Vanderpump Rules and I think we can all agree that watching this show is nothing short of an edifying experience. Sure, it’s possible that you have to view it while being somewhat high in order to suss out all the hidden messages revealed so very subtly by the show’s pretend stars, but as someone who happens to be just a little bit high, I can personally attest to the fact that I have learned a great deal of important life lessons in this last month alone from a group of people who are not just servers, bartenders, and horribly flawed human beings; they are teachers, too, dammit.

In no particular order of importance (because every last one of these lessons is as essential as a fucking proverb), here is what I have internalized in only thirty days’ time:

·      While I have been a bridesmaid several times, I very clearly now realize that not one of those brides ever truly cared about me.  Never once was I asked to be in a wedding party courtesy of some inflatable craft project! And don’t even get me started about the way my “dear” friends didn’t even consider shoving protein up their coochies before serving it to me as part of a meal.  What, I ask, were all of my years of loyalty even for?

·      When it comes to power rankings, things have shifted seismically.  It used to be that Presidents of Production and CAA agents and venture capitalists once ran things around Los Angeles, but times have changed.  These days, nothing has more clout than being a DJ in a mediocre restaurant.  Also, simply holding earphones against your scalp means you’re a rock star.  (Important caveat to consider here: In order to buy this theory, you must be a fucking moron.)

·      Don’t worry if your controlling and blatantly judgmental behavior once caused your entire gaggle of friends to slice you out of their lives like you were a walking melanoma.  Not only will your banishment not last forever, but once you scuttle and slither your way back in, you will eventually get to dictate who is allowed to remain in the group!  (Important caveat #2:  Such a rule can only be put into effect if your entire group of friends still behaves like the kind of middle school girls MTV would happily create a show around.)

·      When you’re out at a bar and you want to get – and keep – a man’s attention, start quoting lines from Caddyshack.  (I realize this little suggestion has nothing whatsoever to do with Vanderpump Rules, but as it does fall under the umbrella of important life lessons I’ve learned since this season began, I’ve decided it counts.)  Anyway, if the guy in front of you is sort of cute, feel free to mention something about gophers and it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll lean in.  But if the guy is full of scruff and hot as balls and you’ve already swallowed some vodka that was served to you in a science beaker instead of a regular glass, just own it and tell him, “It’s in the hole.”  (You’re welcome in advance for the breakfast you will not have to pay for the following morning.) 

·      Back to what we have learned about life from the Vanderpumpers:  Camouflage is very important when you feel exposed and that’s probably why every single time Lala makes yet another enemy, she reacts by piling on even more makeup.  I mean, you can practically chisel into her skin by now. If she ever fully loses James, my guess is the chick will start wearing prosthetic noses and chins.

·      Kristen can appear relatively sane so long as she’s sitting beside a bride positively riddled with rage issues, potential alcoholism, a completely petrified fiancé, and a very tragic nose ring.  In fact, Kristen should probably only go places with Katie from this point forward because she’s looking almost lucid in comparison.

·      There’s an excellent chance that if you announce early in the season that you and your newly-sober husband are happier than ever and that you arrived together at a party by riding a unicorn over a rainbow of bliss, you will also probably be announcing your divorce before even half the episodes of the season have aired.  This, you see, is the reality TV equivalent of Chekhov’s theory about waving around a gun around in Act I. Just like that gun’s bound to go off before the final curtain descends, the marriage in question is bound to implode sooner rather than later – and we all knew it would happen, even before Scheana gave TMZ an exclusive quote.

I have no doubt that clips from this week’s show will be eventually used as visual aids in a post-apocalyptic society to illustrate new trends in acceptable human behavior – and maybe a few will be shown during Jax’s inevitable murder trial where he will be charged with beating James to a bloody stump out of pure envy.  In any case, it’s time to see what new lessons will be presented now that James has been fired, Lala has been revealed as a hooker who drives a Range Rover that runs entirely on the semen from the one cock she sucks, and Katie, Stassi, and Kristen have outwardly decreed who Scheana is and is not permitted to speak with.  My God, think of all we can learn! 

I realize the big story of this season is meant to be the conflicted upcoming nuptials of Katie and Schwartz, but I’m finding it hard to completely invest in this plotline.  First off, we have all seen the coming attractions that show them getting married.  (I’d comment on Katie’s bridal getup, but I haven’t yet built up the strength for that one.) The will-they-or-won’t-they is not much of a factor when we know they will.  I suppose what we’re really meant to focus on is how terrified Schwartz is of his fiancé, but since the guy is in fact so terrified of her, there’s not a shot in the bowels of hell (James DJs there on Tuesday nights!) that he will ever find the strength to put a stop to any of it.  I guess we can pass the time by guessing how many ulcers Schwartz will develop before Katie walks down the aisle towards him like a nose-ring-rocking omen, though.  I say three!  Who wants to counter?

This week’s episode begins with the carrier of those eventual stomach maladies arriving in Lake Tahoe to check out the wedding venue with his beloved.  “You get this for the rest of your life,” Katie tells him referring to herself while they wait at the airport for a car, and I really hope someone else’s first response to hearing her say that was to think how very much it sounded like a threat.  See, if I’m the only one with that reaction, I’ll kind of feel mean. In any case, the location for the wedding is the Twenty Mile House and it’s rustic and pretty and there’s probably someone on or near the premises who makes good s’mores.  Besides a person one actually wants to marry, that’s really all one needs for a successful wedding.  Schwartz is hoping to keep the budget for the day somewhere in the ten to fifteen thousand dollar range.  Schwartz, honey?  The lithium alone that must be administered to half your guests every hour on the fucking hour will eat up more than half of that budget and it’s time you just accept such a thing.  Schwartz and Katie plan to get married in the depths of the forest so they meet up with the wedding planner beside a clearing.  This lady is the type to hug her clients when she meets them.  She’s also the type who looks like she wants to clutch the branches of the nearest tree for support when Katie informs her that she is not interested in a woodsy tablescape for her big day so that hunk of wood holding the decanter has got to go.  At some point, the group sits down so Katie and Schwartz can communicate just how in love they are, but all that really comes through is how annoyed Schwartz makes Katie and how Katie causes Schwartz to pee just a little bit every single time she looks at him without a smile on her face – which is always.

Far away from those woods and the most miserable couple so far this season, Sandoval and Ariana arrive at the gym.  As Ariana stretches, Sandoval tells her how good her ass looks and this right here might be a duo that’ll last.  (Their best bet at lasting would obviously require that they haul themselves off this show but quick, but I don’t think such a thing will happen for a few more seasons yet.)  Sandoval has covered his hair so he can jump rope without interference and I just jumped rope myself the other day and everything seems to be falling into some sort of peaceful place – and that’s when James walks in.  Yes, motherfucking James and his motherfucking tank top were scheduled by production to stop by during this particular motherfucking workout and I swear that I’d rather be back in the woods with a couple who is so set on getting married that they’re willing to overlook how much they can’t stand each other.  Alas, in the gym we must stay and Sandoval inquires as to what happened the last time James got in trouble.  Upon hearing he was fired for acting like a drunk idiot for the six zillionth time, Ariana and Sandoval are weirdly stunned.  Sandoval – and his eyeliner – both think it’s ridiculous that James would possibly be canned over drinking at work, fighting with Jax, and then confronting the boss on the street before the boss’ geriatric husband threatened to knock his “spark” out.  I’m not quite sure any of Sandoval’s logic makes sense here, so I’m just going to ignore it.  Anyway, it turns out that James is trying to be somewhat honest with his pageant girlfriend so he told Raquel that he was fired because some lunatic girl made false claims they’d hooked up and it started a fight for which he was barely responsible.  Listening to James claim that he never hooked up with that girl GG is like listening to a toddler covered in chocolate swear he didn’t even touch the layer cake on the counter.  Oh, and watching James lift weights while discussing the merits of a shower jerkoff might have just left me sterile.

Over at SUR, Lala is wearing leather shorts so tiny that they have to be a violation of the Health Code because I’m pretty sure most customers don’t want to see the edge of a clitoris while they feast on fried goat cheese balls.  The Board of Health isn’t around today to bust her, but Lisa is and Lala takes Lisa aside to admire her new Rolls Royce and once again insist that her boyfriend is not married. Lala lies just as convincingly as James does so Lisa doesn’t believe her and calls her out on it, to which Lala responds, “I am not dating a married human.”  My friends, such a statement causes me to have so many follow-up questions (Is he a married marsupial? is first on that list), but what Lala is willing to admit is that the man she’s dating spoils her rotten – but don’t worry, I’m sure she also loves him for the person he is and not just all the shit he brings her. 

Since he’s got a wedding in a forest to pay for, Schwartz shows up for his latest modeling job where he poses in underwear and holds a football and jiggles his scrotum because he is a model who commits to a moment.  It makes me a little uncomfortable to watch him pad his balls because it’s already been made so abundantly clear that his real balls are now the size of rotten raisins, but he looks cute in the pictures and he’s got good hair and he doesn’t sweat nearly as much as Jax does, so I can’t help but be a Schwartz fan.

Back at SUR, it’s one of those nights when everyone is on the schedule.  But in spite of everyone who is there, one guy is missing.  Yes, Jax is over an hour late, but he shows up eventually with the excuse that Brittany had his keys and he was locked out of his apartment and Lisa is so annoyed by it all that it will only take her four more years to fire the guy.  While Jax gets scolded by his boss yet again, Sandoval rides Ariana to dinner on his bike.  They hand over the bike to the valet and then Sandoval and his ponytail and Ariana sit down for some alone time.  The two discuss how much better they are at not falling into the same miserable patterns as Schwartz and Katie and I have to say that these two seem to communicate in a healthy way.  Unfortunately for Sandoval, one of the things he and Ariana do not agree on is marriage.  She’s willing to live with him and she knows they are meant to be in the long run, but she has no desire to surrender to the societal pressures of marriage and watching Sandoval’s face fall as he realizes it might be a very long time before he can choose the flower arrangements for his extra-special big day is really upsetting to see.

The next morning and finally out of her leather shorts, Lala heads on a hike with two friends we’ve never seen before.  “How are you getting along with the girls?” one of these random hikers asks like it’s a natural question and a producer didn’t just prod her to do so.  Lala explains that everyone hates her for no reason and they all say mean things about how she acts like a whore and that nothing could be further from the truth and also the man she dates “likes to reward” her because she “gives good dome.”  Ladies and gentlemen, Lala.  At some point during the hike, Lala is informed that her one remaining friend at work was just fired, but that’s not even the big news.  No, the big news is that one of the girls on that hike has also just recently hooked up with James (what the fuck is wrong with these girls?) in spite of the fact that he pretends to be devoted to his dear sweet Raquel and there is proof of the hookup on her phone.  (Remember those days when you could fuck around with somebody and there was no trace that anything had ever happened.  Sigh.)  Anyhoo, Lala acts shocked to hear James that cheated on his girlfriend and then she acts even more shocked when she hears that this Ellie chick was threatened by James to keep her mouth shut about whatever they had going on.  All of this is too much for Lala to hear and she decides that she needs to confront him with all she’s learned, but she wants us to know that this confrontation will really be all for his benefit so he doesn’t get gobsmacked once someone who really hates him finds out all of these dastardly details.

Also:  I’m still really stuck on the fact that James – scrawny, obnoxious, shit-talking James – gets any ass at all.  I think we’re going to have to have a meeting for all of womankind very soon so we can all stand beneath a full moon and lock hands and take a blood oath that not one of us will ever do a single thing that could result in this douchebag possibly procreating at any point in the present or future.  Maybe we can rent out Katie’s forest once Schwartz flees from the venue…

Now it’s nighttime and nobody is working so it’s time for the wedding party to get together and have some drinks.  Scheana arrives and congratulates Ariana for becoming a groomsman after Katie banished her from the bridal party.  Kristen and Carter arrive and she refrains from taking a swing at Ariana, proving there might in fact be such a thing as growth.  Brittany and Jax are there and so is Stassi, but all I can focus on is that Sandoval’s hair is down and it’s purple and it’s lank and it is all kinds of fucking awful. As I’m guessing he’s attempting to do whatever he can to get the attention away from his tragic hair, Sandoval confronts Jax about making a scene that caused James to be fired and everybody at that table agrees Jax stirs shit up and provokes fights, but all Jax has heard is that his nemesis was finally canned and he is so happy that he’d get up and run a victory lap around the restaurant, but he’s already sweating something fierce and Brittany forgot to pack another shirt for him to wear if he sweats through this one. 

Also:  Jax calls James “DJ Fuckface” and I cannot decide if such a thing makes Jax more revolting or if I’m just a little bit pissed off I didn’t come up with that moniker myself. 

Also:  I’ve decided it makes Jax more revolting.  I can do better than “DJ Fuckface.”  If I coined one of the Beverly Hills Housewives “Mephistopheles’ Sphincter,” I can certainly figure out a great insult for the most pathetic DJ of our time.  I shall get back to you on that one.  Anyone know a synonym for “drippy smegma”?

Outside – where I guess he did go for a victory lap – Jax runs into the girls and tells them the tale of how James was fired.  Scheana is stunned.  And Kristen?  Well, upon hearing terrible news about one of the men she used to love she crows, “Yeah!  Bye, bitch! Later!  Sayonara!” and then she throws up her two middle fingers because Kristen is completely over James and so into Carter and anyone who doesn’t believe that and thinks she is a lunatic fueled by projected hatred is just really jealous of the total happiness that defines her life. 

The real reason Jax goes outside, though, is because he wants to drop nuggets of bullshit that will undoubtedly morph into steaming piles of diarrhea once he tells the crowd that Ariana and Sandoval are sticking up for James.  Now, I agree that there is no possible way to really stand up for an idiot who should have been fired – and then deported – fucking eons ago, but it’s so clearly not affirmation that Jax craves here.  No, he’s craving conflict.  He’s annoyed that Sandoval and Ariana took him to task and he wants retribution and who better to retaliate than a group of tipsy people who enjoy fighting in public while cameras follow them around?  Luckily, he’s got an unhinged Kristen to keep his new battle going.  Know how I said that Kristen was appearing more and more normal to me?  Yeah, I figured out why that’s been my impression:  she hasn’t said much all season!  She finally opens her mouth tonight and she lets Ariana know that it pisses her off whenever anyone defends James because he’s been physical with so many people, but Ariana comes right back and reminds Kristen that she’s punched James and Schwartz and Sandoval and she’s behaved like a mental patient for years now, so to change Ariana’s mind about her, Kristen announces that she would beat the shit out of James if he appeared on the sidewalk right then and there.  Mission accomplished, Kristen.

And now it’s time to go back to SUR and there’s a brand new DJ working the place as Ariana sits down with Scheana to tell her the story of Ellie and James and how there’s a photo going around that’s time-stamped and therefore proves when these two were in bed together.  In yet another totally organic setup, it comes out that Ellie and Scheana are supposed to get coffee tomorrow to chat about these newest developments and I don’t care what anyone says – I am sure Ellie slept with James because she found his scum-filled arrogance charming and not just so she could appear on television.  Once that meeting occurs, Scheana begins the conversation with the simple question, “James?” to which Ellie responds that she hadn’t told anybody because she was so ashamed.  I think it’s healthy that she’s working out her shame in primetime, don’t you?  Anyway, despite her alleged paroxysms of shame, she admits that they slept together in March and that while he was fucking her, he informed her that she didn’t mean a single thing to him.  This right here is a form of psychological warfare I’ve never witnessed before and it’s being waged by a fucking loser and at my upcoming meeting in the forest for anyone who currently has or once had a uterus, we will make definitive plans to destroy this asshole.

The reason Ellie ended up taking that photo in bed with James was because she knew he would end up denying their grotesque dalliance and she wanted some proof. Scheana understands that form of counter-duplicity.  In fact, Scheana’s pretty adept at her own kind of sneakiness, like when she asks Ellie if she’s met Lala’s married boyfriend.  Ellie doesn’t come out and admit that Lala’s sucking the dome of a married guy, but she doesn’t deny it all that vociferously either.  In spite of the blandness of the interaction, Scheana cannot wait to run back and tell the other girls – even though there’s literally nothing to tell.  Still, Scheana is so desperate to finally prove herself because she’s hoping that if she comes through with good gossip, Stassi won’t kick her out of the tree-house Scheana was made to build with her own two hands while Stassi and Kristen and Katie sunned themselves on nearby branches. 

Also:  Scheana seems to have a lot of opinions about dating a married man.  Isn’t the reason we found out her name in the first place because she too was some guy’s sidepiece?

Across town, Katie is acting as Lisa’s assistant and checking out Porsches Lisa might want to buy.  Schwartz accompanies her and the two giggle over the prices they could never afford and then they take a test drive.  Schwartz is having so much fun driving around with the top down that he suggests they blow off the wedding and just buy themselves a luxury vehicle and this is a joke that does not go over all that well.  Katie thinks his constant jokes about forgoing their wedding are rude and Schwartz can’t quite deal with the fact that the only way Katie seems to know how to fight is to interrupt him while he’s trying to formulate his thoughts and opinions.  It all ends with her stalking away while wearing a shirt that looks like a picnic at a goth festival just came down with a stomach virus and announcing that Schwartz’s dick doesn’t work.  Yes, these two are fucking soulmates. 

And now it’s time for Scheana to share her gossip with the President and the Vice-President of The Organization That Will Always Keep Scheana Dangling and she arrives and sits down and tells them that Ellie and James totally dated. Kristen is absolutely delighted to hear the news that more of James’ life will soon crumble while Stassi pays far more attention to Scheana than she ever has in this or any other lifetime.  The talk soon turns to Lala and the three smile and all but hold hands in a united showing of glee when Stassi tells them that the latest rumor she’s heard is that the wife of Lala’s boyfriend found out about the affair after seeing a video of her husband and Lala having sex on his phone.  All of this information will eventually be used by Stassi to destroy Lala from the inside out because, as this grown woman puts it as she stares at a camera with a smirk painted across her lips, “If you come after my friend, you’re done.”  At least Stassi has finally mastered the art of loyalty, right?  But maybe if she didn’t so clearly relish the act of helping to cause someone’s life to implode so spectacularly, I would almost respect her for finally becoming a better friend. 

But since the real story this episode is the truth finally coming out about both Lala and James, we conclude in James’ apartment where the idiot once again denies hooking up with GG before being confronted with photographic evidence that he slept with Ellie in March.  His response is to lie some more and maintain he only slept with Ellie in 2015 and his dick has been nowhere near her in 2016.  Then he claims that dates can very easily be changed on photos by professional waitresses who fancy themselves tech geniuses and I for one believe James because he always tells the truth.  He’s really annoyed that Lala is even bringing him this information (on camera) and she tells him not to raise his voice at her.  “Do you know how many things I’ve heard about you, Lala?” James retorts, and Lala responds by making an expression so atrocious that she perhaps should have spent an afternoon on her knees over at Bravo while tending to the domes of this show’s editing team.  Newest life lessons of the week? One, maybe don’t go on a reality show if you are secretly dating a married guy and your castmates are bored enemies who hate you.  And two, a wee bit of some of your so-called masterful head might have gotten that terrible reaction shot deleted for all of eternity.


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