When I was a little girl, one of my favorite bedtime stories was It Could Always Be Worse. Basically a cautionary tale to prevent children from morphing into fatalistic assholes after suffering a minor setback, the story reiterated again and again that no matter how tragic things appear in the moment, one must consider the blessings that still exist and remain aware that the sky could always open up and toxic rain could fall upon us like unceasing tears so we’d better embrace the positives in life as often as possible. Looking back, I realize that my parents were attempting to teach me the art of looking at misery through a lens of optimism, but now I think perhaps they would have served me better had they just whipped out their divorce papers and read me details about custody arrangements as I drifted off into a REM cycle. While my sleep might have been less restful than that of the average five year old, perhaps the knowledge that sometimes it can’t get any worse would have better equipped me for my eventual exposure to people like James and Jax and Lala, human beings who manage to surprise me in the very worst ways each and every time they appear on my television screen.
As I’ve been raised to look at the bright side, allow me to say that the first episode of the season contained some minor evidence that these idiots have finally made the tough choice to periodically exercise some restraint when it comes to their capacity for terribleness. Sure, James and Lala pointed at Katie in public and then announced that she’s fat, but I guess they could have just shot her. And fine, Jax is the one going around starting rumors that his own girlfriend enjoys chomping box during her drunkest hours, but he could have convinced her to leave her entire life behind in Kentucky and move to Los Angeles and get a job at a restaurant you have to sign a release to enter and become friends with people like Kristen and…yeah, I can’t pull this one off. Being with Jax has to suck entirely. But at least I attempted to look on the sunny side. Unfortunately, I was not able to fully see those beams of brightness because I got sidetracked by the sight of James curled up in a fetal position because he’s in his twenties and his parents are getting a divorce. Thank goodness for Lala and the Range Rover her married boyfriend gifted her for no reason other than the fact that she is the most fun bitch on this or any other planet. Gifts like that with no strings attached to them whatsoever show us there is still some good left in this world.
Tonight the horrifying behavior continues because some of these monsters are seriously gunning for their very own spinoff. (Fun fact: one of my sweet Twitter followers messaged to tell me it’s Jax and Brittany who are getting that spinoff! Another fun fact: I’d need to be given a lobotomy with a rusty melon baller in order to recap that fucking nightmare.) Anyway, if the first episode of the season illustrated anything, it’s that the lines of loyalty have been redrawn once again and many of the brawls previously fought no longer matter in the slightest. Kristen slept with Jax even though Stassi was Jax’s girlfriend and one of her closest friends? Who cares! Stassi hated Scheana for giggling about the sex tape nobody outside of SUR knew about until Stassi herself brought it up during a Reunion episode? Bygones! Katie decided she’d never be friends with Stassi ever again? Meet Stassi, one of Katie’s freaking bridesmaids! In many ways, all this show actually proves is that nothing on the show actually matters, but it’s glossy and it’s well-lit and I really can’t watch one more fucking second of the news this week, so let’s dive into the Vanderpump Swamp instead. Hold your nose, try to tread water, and don’t look directly at James’ face because most of us have already suffered enough in the last few days.
Tonight’s episode begins at the SUR office where Lisa introduces the gang to an adorable one-eyed puppy who is about to be adopted. She’s been working tirelessly to stop the global torture of dogs and she needs the help of her staff to make sure the upcoming charity event for World Dog Day goes off without a hitch. Proving once again that she’s not the dumbest one in the bunch, Katie sees this as an opportunity to learn about planning and executing major events from an absolute master. Proving he is more stupid than a pile of sludge, Jax asks whether or not there will be alcohol at the event. But after giggling about what an idiot Jax is, the talk moves on to whether or not Kristen is actually invited to the event since she somehow received an invitation. As Lisa rolls her eyes and wonders who she can fire for such a grave offence, Katie assures her having Kristen there will not be so bad. After all, Kristen likes to spend money. “Yes,” Lisa purrs while staring directly at Brittany. “I hear she is really giving.” Now maybe there is something even more mortifying than your boss finding out that the person she hates most in the world went down on you late one drunken evening, but I can’t quite figure out what that thing might be. What I do know is the story is only out there because Brittany’s own boyfriend has taken great glee is spreading it around like herpes and she is angry enough at this point to tell Scheana (and Scheana’s new face) that she is fucking furious.
“What is he going to do next?” wonders Scheana. “Tweet about it and let your fucking family see?” Um, does Scheana realize that they are having this conversation while willingly being filmed by a camera crew? I’m quite sure the story is out there for good now.
In the least traditionally masculine outing ever captured on television, Schwartz and Sandoval get together for their couples massage. Meanwhile, Katie arrives for her very own playdate with Stassi. The two last approximately six seconds before they start drinking and Stassi figures the time is right to find out if she is going to be Katie’s maid of honor, an odd question since a few months ago these two weren’t even talking. It’s a hard choice for Katie to make! Should she ask Stassi or her very sane friend Kristen? I’m going to recommend that Katie go on Craigslist and rent herself a sister for the day. Seriously – you can find anything online. Back at the spa, Schwartz and Sandoval discuss wedding plans and budgets that must be adhered to while on Stassi’s sofa, Katie explains that the flowers alone will cost fifteen grand and she’s presently dealing with the fact that Schwartz doesn’t want to get a cake. Schwartz? Listen to me very closely here. The only things that actually matter at a wedding are that the bartenders are fast, the music is good, the guests know how to conduct themselves appropriately, and the cake is as magnificent to stare at as it is to eat. Being that at least one of your groomsmen is Jax and one of Katie’s bridesmaids will be Kristen, the hopes for an evening without one of the guests vomiting into a planter or shoving a fist through a wall appears slim to none. And in that case, you will need things to distract people from staring at the drunken lunatics in their midst who should rarely be brought out or fed after sundown and a cake might be the very thing that helps distract those out-of-towners. Sure, the greater issue here is that Schwartz is plagued with doubts about the marriage itself, but he can go ahead and get himself a therapist after he picks his cake flavors and makes the all important decision about whether or not the cake should be swathed in fondant.
Over at SUR, the least appealing DJ in the hemisphere asks Scheana to sit down and talk. It’s very hard for James, you guys. See, he’s a truth teller and that means he needs to announce that Scheana had a nose job and Katie is all kinds of fat. He’s just being himself! Anyway, he wants to pretend to apologize for being rude the other night, but all he really takes away from this experience is that he is so much better at being rude than anyone else and he’s even prouder of that little skill than he is of his vast collection of dreadful tank tops that show off the scrawniest arms seen outside of a video about a genocide.
While James pretends to grovel for a while, Lala and a face caked with makeup head out to lunch with her mother. Her mother is everything to her, the person who always manages to make her feel that everything will be okay, but Lala is having some issues lately because she feels like she’s becoming a very cruel person. Yes, Lala – you are becoming a very cruel person. That’s what happens when you go on a reality show and decide a douchebag is your closest ally and you guzzle drinks until you can barely stand while saying nasty comments about another woman’s weight. All of that is nothing but rude and I suppose her mother’s advice that she maybe shouldn’t drink so much is a good place to start, which means that both Lala and her mother immediately order themselves glasses of wine. I’m going to give a bit of credit here to Lala, though. At least the girl is momentarily self-aware enough to realize that her own behavior has become questionable, though I wonder how long some people will try to blame generic middle school bullying for being assholes as adults. As a girl who had braces and terrible hair and a predilection for wearing pink lip-gloss that couldn’t have been more hideous on me in the eighth grade, I can attest that middle school is rough. Know what’s also bound to be rough? Expecting that the world will allow you to use those awkward days as a crutch for your entire fucking life.
Back at SUR, it’s Friday night and everyone is on the schedule – well, except for Kristen who was banished from there eons ago. Since she’s permitted nowhere on the premises, she is sharing a quiet dinner at home with Carter, the boyfriend we should probably take up a collection for just in case he needs to take shelter at a safe house at some point in the very near future. For now, though, the two are very happy. As Kristen puts it, the very best parts of the relationship are that they have zero trust issues between them and that Carter’s name is not James. Anyone see a pattern here? For a while, Kristen pretended the very best thing about James was that his name wasn’t Sandoval, even as she secretly brushed the lush hair of the voodoo doll she kept in her closet that looked remarkably like her ex-boyfriend. (She also stabbed her Ariana voodoo doll with a sharp pin every single day, but that’s really a story for another time.) Anyway, Kristen is excited to go to Lisa’s charity event because she has absolutely no comprehension that those who are loathed sometimes shouldn’t show up at events thrown by the people who most loathe them. Speaking of the hostess, Lisa asks Scheana about the Brittany-Kristen rumor that’s sweeping like wildfire through the kitchens and hallways at SUR. Even the busboys are talking about these two going down on each other while Jax allegedly just waited patiently on his couch for the two to finish. Lisa’s take is that Kristen always seems to end up in the middle of things and in this scenario, she landed tongue-deep in between Brittany’s thighs. That said, she agrees with Scheana (and Scheana’s new face) that one should be able to expect loyalty from her partner, even if that partner is a douche like Jax. As for Kristen, she doesn’t tell the same “Nothing Happened” tale as Brittany of that evening. Instead, she says that she and Brittany were hammered and they kissed a couple of times and “then Jax came home and whatever.” It’s good to see that on top of Kristen’s other amazing qualities, she has also mastered the fine art of blackout drinking and being clear and to the point in her explanations about her possible lesbian encounters.
At some point during the night, Brittany approaches her beloved at the bar and tells him that she’s very upset. “Don’t show upsetness,” the brain surgeon recommends before appearing flabbergasted and annoyed that the person she’s upset with is him for spreading this rumor about his own girlfriend. But see, Jax really doesn’t like to hear women complain about his horrible behavior. Hearing that shit annoys him. Feelings are so messy so he just tells her to get over it and continues to maintain that he saw that box-munching with his own damn eyes.
In the back room, Lisa is busy creating a giant topiary for the charity event when Brittany walks in. The two sit down and discuss the rumor and how Jax is as well known for his lack of discretion as he is for how much he can sweat in an hour, but Lisa seems to like Brittany and she comforts her and validates every single one of her feelings in the exact way her boyfriend refused to do. “Stay strong,” Lisa advises before asking the question on every sane person’s mind: “Why Kristen?” Brittany again denies all of it and at this point I can’t even care about who to believe because this lubricated love triangle is making me want to shimmy on a chastity belt and wear it until I see proof that Jax is not able to procreate.
Though she slept at Scheana’s to avoid her dick of a boyfriend for an evening, Brittany arrives home to find Jax sleeping soundly. “My feelings were hurt, babe,” Brittany explains once Jax reluctantly opens his eyes, to which he answers, “Ugh.” Again, it is so annoying when a woman has a feeling and wants to share it, especially if it’s a shitty feeling and he is the cause of it. But Jax will not admit to lying here and he explodes and screams that she is the liar and the only reason he’s talking about it is because he saw it happen. Then he repeats, “Am I crazy?” enough times for him to maybe to score an eventual insanity plea when things ultimately go very very wrong and I have to wonder one more time why any person with a uterus so much as considers this guy as a viable human option in a relationship.
Across town, another joyful couple is spending the morning together. Katie is describing an intricate and elaborate craft project that will serve to ask her bridesmaids to be a part of her special day, but when she and Schwartz start talking about money, things get messy. Schwartz was hoping the entire shindig would cost ten thousand dollars max, but just renting the location will be about eighteen grand. “There’s no turning back now,” singsongs the rental agent on the phone while Schwartz looks like he’s considering how best to slice out his own heart so he can get out of any of this. The next topic up for conversation could lead him into a potential landmine because he thinks the two should sign a pre-nup. Now, I’m all for being pragmatic when it comes to things like finances, but what exactly does Schwartz even have that he’s trying to protect? Isn’t he a sometimes-model who also appears on a reality show? Will he include his collection of adorable glasses under his assets? And is his real reason for doing this because he wants to get legal assurance that his beanie collection will go to Sandoval one day and not his estranged wife?
Now it’s the portion of the show where we head over to James’ apartment. The guy is meditating on the terrace when Lala shows up. It’s a new apartment and I’m sure there is absolutely nothing shady about the fact that James lives there with an older stoner guy and only pays this man very minimal rent so stop being silly and wondering if James is really a live-in escort for a guy with the single worst taste in all of Los Angeles proper. Lala’s there so the two can tackle phase two of taking over the musical world at large, though James is already well on his way. He released the PUMP compilation CD last summer and, I tell you, if I heard it once, I heard it fucking never because my guess is that the only place that thing is played is inside of PUMP and inside of James’ car, the one I’m sure he didn’t get from his new stoner lover. Lala is ready to make some music, too. She’s got on her artistic-looking scarf and her huge earrings and she sings lyrics about being judged while James congratulates himself for being a total fucking winner. You guys? I think that punchline will take of itself nicely, but I’m feeling the need here to add that James’ single biggest dream is to play Coachella and that dream alone means that festival just jumped the fucking shark something major. Somebody please break the terrible news very gently to the Jenners and the sisters Hadid.
It is finally the day of the dog event and there are puppies as far as the eye can see and SUR employees destined to turn the day into some sort of total fiasco. Brittany is attempting to get through the day without beating the shit out of her boyfriend, though it seems James is the far looser canon here because it was just the night before when he got into yet another fight at work and ended up in a headlock. Not one bit of it was his fault in the slightest, though! The guy who tried to clobber him was motivated purely by a raging surge of jealousy because, according to the World’s Greatest Musician himself, he’s “young, good looking, and a DJ in Los Angeles.” And finding a DJ or a model in Los Angeles is apparently like finding the holy fucking grail. Dear God, this fucking idiot could not be any more exhausting if he were actually human.
Lisa is getting really tired of hearing stories about James and his terrible behavior and she once again contemplates having to fire him. I’m worried! How will James pay his roommate that minimal rent if he doesn’t have a job? Hopefully the guy will be fine just getting to stare at James’ face and getting to hear bland music and won’t charge him to live there, though at this point the guy seriously deserves to sleep in a gutter. He’s a really awful person, though I suspect much of it is an act. My guess is he once wrote a paper in some tenth grade English class entitled My Greatest Hero: Spencer Pratt and I think much of his bullshit can be boiled down to the fact that this guy wants infamy so badly, he will happily burn what’s left of his humanity just to make more room in his charred soul for the press clipping that detail just how much he sucks. This is a man-child who believes that if you’re talked about, you must be important. This is also a man-child who needs to be pummeled.
The second Stassi and Kristen arrive at the event, they ask where the alcohol is. It’s a dry event, news that appears to stun them, but it’s very sweet to watch everyone show up with their dogs and lavish genuine affection onto them. When Stassi and Kristen approach Lisa, they do so with actual humility, but Lisa is a cheeky one and she makes sure to bring the Brittany rumor up to Kristen directly just to watch the person she cannot stand the most squirm before her. Meanwhile, the greatest DJ of our time closes the event by reminding everyone not to forget to pick up dog poo. Yes, the self-proclaimed White Kanye is doing exactly as well as anyone expected.
After the event, the group gathers back at Kristen’s house and the hostess wastes no time in snarling, “You are an asshole” at Jax before getting really serious and saying, “Jason! Outside!” Dude, calling Jax “Jason” is like my mom calling me by both my first and my middle name. Even as an adult, I fucking shake in my boots when she middle-names me, and I think that’s the tone Kristen is trying to set here. Like everyone else with a pulse, she thinks Brittany is the single greatest thing to ever happen to Jax and she wants to verbally pummel him for being such an idiot. Carter joins their little pow-wow on the terrace as Kristen implores him to do the right thing and just admit that he didn’t see anything that drunken evening. “Stop fucking people over who care about you,” Kristen says almost normally, and Jax pretends to agree that he will from here on out behave like a good person.
Raise your hand if you believe him so I can laugh at you. Then raise your hand if you want to be a part of my new charity that will dole out ass-kickings to the majesty that is James (you know, because we’re all so very jealous of his staggering levels of awesomeness). This philanthropic effort of mine will also seek to provide some of our favorite Vanderpumpers with literature that will nourish their psyches, and while I’m currently torn about whether I should buy Kristen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Bell Jar, I do know that I’m sending Brittany a copy of It Could Always Be Worse first thing tomorrow because if she thinks Jax has betrayed her now, something tells me she needs to be better prepared for what’s to come.
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