My friends, it has been one frenetic week in the muck-filled swamp that is Vanderland. Not only did we finally catch a glimpse of what's been hiding within the confines of Sandoval's ponytail. Not only did Kristen do an interview with New York magazine where she arrived with two – yes, two – publicists and a gigantic bloody knot in the center of her forehead that she got courtesy of walking directly into a glass door (it was so Ariana's fault), but Lala also very publicly announced that she’d left this show and all of the unfortunate looking people on it for good.
It's a fucking Christmas miracle.
While Lala’s tumultuous exit has yet to play out on the show, girlfriend (and the publicists her mother and her boyfriend pay for) have made sure to turn her upcoming farewell into as close a media frenzy as one can possibly be when more than half the population of this great nation has no idea who this person even is. But let’s give credit when credit is due, yes? After all, Lala has made sure to capitalize on the very feminist action of quitting a Bravo reality show where she liked to talk about her dome-sucking prowess in between calling other women fat by doing interview after interview with such illustrious outlets as The Inquisitr and TooFab.com. And in these hard-hitting interviews, she made sure to imply that she was certainly not shutting the door on reality TV forever, but there would need to be some clear stipulations in place before she would deign to act like a monster onscreen again. “If someone were to come to me tomorrow and say we want to give you your own show or we want to put you on a show where people are on your same level as far as talent and looks and everything else goes, then I would do both of those,” Lala explained. That’s right: according to Lala – a girl who became known not for her singing or for her acting but instead for being a hostess at a restaurant in Los Angeles where the ceiling is lined with klieg lights – the biggest problem she had with Vanderpump Rules was that her costars weren’t talented or hot.
To be fair, let’s just acknowledge that we are talking about someone whose body runs on the fumes of low-level fame in much the same way her Range Rover runs on gasoline and her ability to give a good rimjob. Seeking the sort of vapid validation that only comes from how many likes a new Instagram pic receives is exactly where Lala’s head is at when its not buried in some wealthy guy’s crotch and I’d go ahead and argue that makes her far more similar to her SUR enemies than she’s willing to admit. I will, however, also argue that her fellow Vanderpumpers did not exactly warmly embrace Lala when she first appeared on the scene next to a steaming plate of fried goat cheese balls. Here was a pretty girl who would undoubtedly snag a bunch of screen time and that notion probably felt all kinds of threatening to the rest of a cast who long ago sold their souls to a team of Bravo editors. But while Katie and Scheana did not go out of their way to make the new girl feel welcome, it’s not as though Lala made it easy for them to accept her. She yammered away about how scores of men whisk her on exotic trips simply because she’s such a fun bitch – and such tales inevitably led to some questions and those questions were never really resolved by answers like she’s the only fun bitch in all the land who doesn’t have to put out when she’s flown private to Mykonos. Simply put, the girl came across shady, and it’s not like she then helped her cause when she chose to align with James, a man-child who causes me to question whether or not evolution can skip a generation. It’s not as though Lala endeared herself to the others when she whipped off her bikini top and then responded to the criticism by opening her eyes up wide and acting as though this was the very first time in her entire life that she’d ever heard that flashing her tits in public – and on camera – might cause some sort of reaction.
The thing is, though, I don’t entirely hate Lala. I quite appreciate a woman who rocks confidence, especially one who also knows full well that Kristen is nothing short of psychotic and then says so because that maybe means there will be other names on Kristen’s hit list higher up than mine. And I certainly don’t blame her for not liking Scheana or Katie or Stassi, because those girls thrive on excluding others and probably have since middle school. But what I just can’t get behind is Lala’s refusal to see that, quite often, she was the direct cause of her own social banishment because of the very loaded things she enjoyed spouting off in a crowd that also happened to include a camera crew. I mean, suggesting that Scheana solve the dilemma of how to be on both coasts in a single weekend by recommending with a shrug that she just go ahead and reserve a private jet when both of them are restaurant workers who also get tossed a shitty salary by a cable network for baring their lives is an asinine suggestion. I don’t give a fuck how long Lala claims to have lived at home while saving up her hostess money and whatever she earned by snagging bit parts in a few movies; whatever she collected in her cock-shaped piggy bank is not what she uses to rent a jet and everyone knows it so discussing this sort of shit while wearing a microphone is bound to lead to some issues and those issues include being called a prostitute during primetime.
I’m sure Lala doesn’t mind any of the hooker talk. Lala is and always will be the sort of person who just wants to be talked about. I have never personally subscribed to the notion that it doesn't matter what people say about you as long as they're talking about you because such a notion seems like it would only be palatable to a raving lunatic – but, you know, different strokes for different IQ-blessed folks. But with such profound comments posted all over her Twitter like, “Jax loves the taste of my name in his mouth. Slurp all this Lala up boy” and “How can you second guess what I already am? #mynameisinyourmouth #mynamewillbeinyourmouth,” it’s time for all of us to realize this girl could give a shit what any of us are saying about her as long as her name is still bouncing around somewhere. What she clearly aspires to now is any sort of fame snagged in any way she can trap it and she somehow believes she’ll be in this game for the long run and so she will burn her bridges and watch as they simmer and explode while proclaiming to any media outlet who will listen that Jax snorts blow every single day of his life and she will not even bother to grace the set of the eventual Vanderpump Rules Reunion. Indeed, Lala’s plans about skipping the Reunion were stated thusly: “I'm going to bag it. I'll defend myself from a yacht!" As for how she will pay for that yacht? Who cares, Lala would sniff before applying even more makeup to her face with a small shovel as she again announces how much her secret boyfriend’s baby mama adores her. Besides, she would add with a toss of her hair, Katie is still fat.
None of this is meant to say that Lala has been wrong about everything. It’s frankly pretty hard to find anyone to fully root for on this show at this point. Schwartz is adorable – but he’s also a wimp. Stassi is articulate in her insults – but she demands loyalty in much the manner I imagine Putin does. Scheana is no idiot – but she craves friendship from people who are already clearly plotting against her. As a viewer, I think I might have to start identifying with that sparkling glass of cheap Pinot or with the shadow cast by Brittany’s new nipples.
Like the very best things in life – for example, a new President being elected in 2020 or that particular guy climbing on top of me on a very chilly evening so I can count his abs in close-up – we apparently have to wait a bit for Lala to storm off for good. Tonight’s episode begins with one of those days when everyone is on the schedule so we can watch some of them again explain why they felt too upset to head to work on the day of Gay Pride. But talk of such tragedies can only last for so long when there are other pressing matters at hand, like what Ariana has planned for her NASCAR-themed birthday and how Scheana has yet to be invited to come along. No matter, though! Scheana wouldn’t dream of skipping Stassi’s Birthday Fiesta to go to Ariana’s because Scheana is fucking terrified of Stassi and besides, Scheana has other things on her mind, like how to plan a joint surprise party with Kristen for the two very fortunate men in both of their lives. Surprise, Shay and Carter! You are both with women who will one day destroy your very essence! Have the happiest of birthdays, though!
Stassi shows up next with a very special request for Brittany. She’s been doing a podcast for a while and she would like to have Jax on as her very special guest because who better to speak of the shit men try to get away with than the guy who banged her best friend and also got a stripper pregnant while they were living together? She wants to make sure Brittany is okay with such a plan – which is rather kind of her – and since Stassi’s not a total dummy, she makes sure to present the idea as Jax as a reformed guy, one who specifically changed because Brittany wandered into his life. As I appreciate a good manipulation, I will go ahead and give Stassi some credit here. I wish I could also give Brittany some credit, but when she says, “The only thing Stassi’s horrible ex-boyfriend and the man I know and love have in common is that his name is Jax Taylor,” I can do nothing besides shake my head and hope someone in L.A. will one day allow her to bunk on a couch when she realizes Stassi’s ex and her current man have way more in common than a fucking fake first name.
And now it’s time for the kind of Friendship Summit all of us always have in the middle of our workday. Seems Lisa recommended that Ariana try to broker some kind of truce between Scheana, Katie, and Lala, so Ariana asks Scheana to grab Katie and meet her out back. There is so much that is hilarious about all of this, not the least of which is that Lisa knows full well that the success of her reality show depends on women deciding they fucking loathe one another and proclaiming their hatred loudly at regular intervals, but let’s just agree to pretend that any of this makes any real sense, okay? I do think Ariana probably means well, but she cannot possibly believe any of this will legitimately go swimmingly. Still, the cameras are there so Katie and Scheana agree to participate. There’s not a whole lot Lala can say that will make Katie not want to gouge her eyes right out, and Katie has a point. Lala has been disgusting to Katie – even more disgusting than the turtleneck and leather shorts Lala struts out wearing – so I cannot imagine anyone really expects a resolution to come from this. “How can we make things peaceful so things can be cool at work?” Ariana asks. “I’ve already apologized,” Lala retorts to Katie. “What do I have to do? Finger you?” Honestly? The girl is a crass moron. Besides, she should know that fingering is not nearly enough to get her out of this jam and, at the very least, she ought to offer to go down on Katie but there is no reasoning with Lala so everyone should just allow her to get on that private jet and slap on some knee pads and go gently into that good night where fun bitches are never asked how they pay for luxury SUVs.
Unfortunately, Scheana manages to stumble into a pit of chunky bullshit when she tries to extricate herself politely from the conversation. The girl has vocally been on Katie’s side from the start and not a single thing she has done should be second-guessed, but she does tell Lala that she will no longer tell tales of Lala nailing a married man, and such words wind their way through Katie’s broken mind and somehow translates into a sentence whose thesis is Scheana choosing to illustrate a complete lack of loyalty. I swear, when I was in seventh grade and my lips were swathed in ice pink lipstick because I didn’t know any better, I still knew to only cultivate friendships with girls who were more evolved than Katie is while in her fucking thirties. This conversation that goes absolutely nowhere and only results in further conflicts finally draws to a close and Lala stands up and pulls her leather shorts from out of her vagina and heads back inside so she can work as a hostess until she’s picked up later from the private jet some guy will send to the roof of SUR because that guy just loves her awesome personality – or maybe she offered to finger him. It’s really anybody’s guess.
After she stuffs six orders of those goat cheese balls in her purse, Stassi heads out to the alley so she can talk some shit about her friends with Katie. And just like that, like a gift from the sparkling skies of heaven, Katie drops the info into Stassi’s hungry lap that Scheana sort of apologized to Lala. The reaction Stassi has at first is purely nonverbal; it looks like she’s having sort of a full-body dry heave overtake her. But then her mouth regains control and she jumps right on this because here’s her chance to finally destroy Scheana and she absolutely feels like she has every right to rip the girl to fucking shreds because, in Stassi’s regression-fueled mind, Scheana apologizing to Lala for anything – including that time she accidentally stepped on her toe – is akin to a Manson victim apologizing to the cult’s leader. Stassi, sweetheart? Scheana brushing Lala aside with a blanket bullshit apology about one lone matter is not exactly the same thing as a victim who had a fork jammed into his stomach before his blood was used to scrawl misspelled words on his refrigerator apologizing to his tormentors. Learn to land your analogies better, okay? Anyhoo, Stassi texts Scheana right away to ream her out and she makes sure her texts are written only in capital letters and I seriously want to travel back in time and smack the shit out of the first group of adolescent minions who allowed Stassi to get away with this sort of shit. Anyone know where I can find a flux capacitor?
Over at Jax and Brittany’s apartment the next day, the two discuss Jax’s upcoming appearance on Stassi’s podcast and Brittany explains that she’s fine with it happening, but she can’t not be just a little uncomfortable because Stassi and Jax used to be a couple. I get it; exes getting together is the kind of thing that creates concerns, but Jax tries to reiterate that even if he and Brittany were not together, he would never go back to Stassi. In fact, he likens their former relationship to the movie Misery and I for one would like to see them act out that hobbling scene in close-up and I don’t care one fucking bit who gets to swing the axe and who has to lie on that bed with the wooden plank shoved between their legs.
Scheana comes over next and immediately grabs herself a drink because the influx of nasty texts she received the night before from Stassi and Katie have knocked her for a loop. Katie’s last stream of consciousness drunken ramble ended with her telling Scheana that Scheana repulses her and it’s followed by a string of ironic clapping emojis because Katie fully sucks and Scheana just doesn’t quite know what to do. Scheana, honey? What you should do is quit working at SUR and make some new friends who actually like you. Until you’re able to make that happen though, feel free to sit there and fight with the same people you’ve been fighting with for years. While Scheana tries to get advice – Lord, from Jax – Stassi shows up at Katie and Schwartz’s apartment and finds them fighting about the escalating budget of their wedding. Stassi waits patiently on the couch so the two almost-newlyweds can have a moment to quietly remind themselves just how much they cannot stand one another, but that moment passes and soon Kristen shows up, too. And why has Kristen been called over to an apartment filled with people who are supposed to be grown-ups? Well, Stassi wants to make sure Kristen hears in person about Scheana’s stunning act of betrayal, the one that never actually transpired. These girls suck.
“She was being asked by Ariana to pick a side and she chose one,” Stassi sums up completely inaccurately, but who cares about accuracy when these three girls thrive on a codependent friendship powered by midday beer and the mutual desire to have someone – anyone – to target? Meanwhile, back at Jax’s, Scheana is despondent that she will never be seen as doing the right thing when this moronic coven is acting as her tribunal and Jax agrees with her while also using Gandhi’s name when he meant to refer to Nostradamus.
And now that he’s screwed up the names of historical figures, it’s time for Jax to be on Stassi’s podcast. Since he’s clearly mildly uncomfortable sitting so close to his ex-girlfriend without feeling her up, he does what he always does in such a situation: he spills a secret as quickly as he possibly can. He tells Stassi that Scheana was just over at his house complaining that she’s being targeted by a bunch of mean girls – an expression Scheana never used – and now that the ice is broken from throwing Scheana on top of it with a hefty fucking thud, he’s now ready to discuss being a sociopath. He readily admits that he used to be a douchebag, but he’s somewhat okay with that kind of douche-y past because had he not been a douchebag back then, he wouldn’t be who he is today – which is a douchebag. Anyway, they pick up their microphones and Jax first explains that most men cheat down and that who they cheat with has almost nothing to do with the looks of a girl. Instead, what seemed to drive him was that he wanted to always reiterate to himself that he hadn’t lost his ability to snag anything with a vagina and he admits he probably never really cared back then about other peoples’ feelings. “Would you be willing to take a sociopath quiz?” Stassi asks, and his responses to most of the questions are exactly what you’d think they would be, and even though I’m pleased to report he does not think love is overrated, the results come back that he is a Hannibal Lector type of sociopath! Truth be told, based on those questions alone, I might very well be a sociopath, too. Fuck. Jax and I might be fucking soulmates. If I can get him to use an industrial type of deodorant every morning, we might really have a shot in hell at making it.
The next day it’s time for the big surprise party and the girls show up to decorate even though they all seem to want to murder one another. While Stassi, Katie, and Kristen dump bottles of cheap alcohol into an inflatable baby pool because this is an extremely classy event, Scheana stays away so she can try to avoid the emotional carnage that’s about to hit her straight in the face. There’s no avoiding it for long, but they will wait to fully destroy her until after the big surprise. I suppose we could stop for a moment and discuss how screwed up it is to throw an alcohol-drenched party for someone who is in recovery, but let’s not even bother because way more essential than Shay’s sobriety is how happy Sandoval, Schwartz, and Jax are to check out one another’s nipples while they wade in the shallow end. These are three men who are very comfortable with their bodies – and with one another’s bodies. But all of this homoeroticism is really just a preamble for the fury three drunk girls are planning to unleash on Scheana, a girl so frazzled that she is willing to apologize for sins she never committed in the first place just so she will not be cut from this bizarre friendship quilt made out of cheap hair extensions and the tears of all the girls who came before her. Luckily, Kristen is there to try to mend things in the way she always claims to do because somewhere in between people diagnosing her as schizophrenic and bipolar, she decided to diagnose herself as a nurture/caretaker.
While Scheana braces herself for the pummeling that’s coming her way, Schwartz sits quietly with Shay to express the doubts he has about his upcoming wedding, especially the financial part of it. The whole thing is sad to watch. Schwartz uses words like “pain” – and he tries to use the word “cynicism” but it doesn’t quite work out – to discuss the wedding and the marriage and I hope these two make it because I am not paid nearly enough to actively root against them, but I’m not feeling so optimistic.
Also: In case anyone is keeping track, this week we have been privy to Jax discussing the fortunetelling merits of Gandhi, Schwartz learning the word “cynicism,” and Brittany Googling the definition of “sociopath” and deciding those are the sorts of traits she can happily live with. So whoever says this show is not good for at least a few teachable moments can seriously suck it. And speaking of sucking it, does anyone know where Lala is?
Back at the party, Scheana’s eyes are still filled with tears and Stassi’s are still rimmed with hatred. The sticking point revolves around Stassi deciding Scheana is disloyal and it all manifests with her screaming, “Stand up for something!” while they sit at a rickety table in some backyard. Requiring some backup, Scheana asks Ariana to please explain to Stassi what actually happened since she was there, but Stassi is not about to listen to logic from some girl who has not even once plotted to murder Lala and then bury her somewhere beside the freeway. I mean, if you’re loyal to Katie – who somehow was anointed Queen for reasons I will never be able to explain or even fathom – then you must want her enemies dead and anyone who says she wants to fuck Schwartz after he finally leaves Katie is nothing but an enemy, which I suppose means I should also maybe consider hiring some ‘round the clock security to keep me safe.
Stasi eventually storms off in a torrent of tears because she is so concerned about the wellbeing of Katie, a girl she gleefully sliced from her life for well over a year. She enters a bathroom, collapses on the floor in the fetal position, and cries, “They suck!” over and over again and into this ridiculous scene Katie wanders. Upon seeing Stassi’s overwhelming (and totally insane) swell of emotion spilled on her account, Katie is delighted. She eventually peels Stassi off the floor and guides her into a room where Scheana also ends up in a room and Stassi bellows, “Stop being a bitch! Stop being an asshole!” directly in her face and not a bit of me understands how Scheana hasn’t stopped this conversation by pointing at them at laughing and then telling them to go fuck themselves for good.
The entire fight is a shitshow starring boring people and my only hope is that one day Stassi invites Lala to be a guest on her podcast so the two of them can debate exactly what it means to be a vapid and pathetic narcissist.
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