Don’t you just hate it when you’re contractually obligated to sit in a semicircle and you are forced to revisit battles that have either already been resolved or will never actually be resolved and you do it all while caked in makeup and wearing some outfit with a plunging neckline? Isn’t it just so irritating to listen to your entire wedding party reiterate all the reasons why they never thought the two of you would make it down the aisle, reasons that include the bride being a psychotic drunk and the groom dealing with periodic bouts of impotence? Might there be anything less palatable than hearing a friend – the one with that dire sweating problem, the one you cheated on your boyfriend with twice – answer questions about why he started a rumor about that time he found you going down on his girlfriend and the only thing that can possibly make you feel better is trying on someone else’s wedding ring since the fake one you sometimes trot out is currently at home in a drawer along with the voodoo dolls you constructed out of used tampons and corn husks that are meant to resemble two people sitting in that semicircle with you?
Let’s face it: there’s nothing worse than a Bravo Reunion. It’s a three-hour trainwreck of overdressed people speaking over one another about fights that have already transpired and lukewarm apologies that mean just about nothing being heaved into the air. It’s people we don’t actually know reiterating nonsense. It’s example after televised example illustrating why there should probably be a law that prohibits certain individuals from ever procreating. These Reunions are too long and too loud and they serve as some form of unsavory justification to once again shove White Kanye and his ridiculous self-aggrandizing (a habit I still pray is an act because otherwise it’s some strain of sociopathic delusion that has yet to be classified and that’s just terrifying) back into our consciousness after we’ve worked hard to purge him from our minds like he’s stinging green bile. Just one look at that guy’s face makes me actually long for the apocalypse because I don’t particularly want to exist in a world that allows such a revolting cretin to have a public forum of any kind. But there is some good news! Lala will not be attending this Reunion! Didn’t you hear? She announced publicly to any website willing to interview her that she was completely done with this show and all the pathetic losers on it and she would only do a reality show in the future if it was populated with way better looking people and she would never so much as deign to stick even one of her talon-like fingernails into a place as beneath her as SUR ever again – not even if she’s fingering Katie with it – and she will be watching the Reunion from some yacht that was chartered for her by a man who really just appreciates her for her charming personality. Wait. I’m sorry – what’s that you say? Lala did show up for the Reunion? She’s inside the place at this very moment? She couldn’t stand to not be where the cameras are? Well, color me surprised – said absolutely fucking nobody.
This Lala thing right here perfectly encapsulates why these Reunions are nothing but total bullshit. It doesn’t matter how many tears will slide down a contoured cheek in the next three hours; nothing that will be said or done will actually mean anything in the long-run. Remember when Stassi got up and seemingly left this show after a Reunion only to appear on the very next season? Remember when Katie swore she’d never be friends with Stassi again and then handed the girl a bridesmaid dress and asked her to make a toast at her wedding? Remember when Jax insisted he’d never given a guy a tug in his entire life and we all knew he was lying his sweaty ass off? So do I, and those are just a few examples of why these Reunions are sort of a colossal waste of both oxygen and time. We already know that nothing legitimate will be revealed, not about the mystery guy Lala is dating or how many copies of his NDA he carries on his person at all times. We know there will never be a moment where Kristen or Katie or Stassi apologize for calling Lala a whore on camera and we also know that any apology Lala squeaks out for calling Katie fat means less than nothing because that insult was already broadcast to the world. We know Brittany will announce that her mother is definitely not homophobic, that Jax will shrug his Neanderthal shoulders if Andy Cohen questions him about why his credit cards rarely work, that Schwartz will mumble about how joyous married life is, and that Stassi will tell Ariana to just fucking give in and start liking her already while Ariana counts backwards from one hundred in her head so her brain doesn’t explode. We know that Kristen is crazy, that Katie is a bad drunk, that Scheana is getting divorced. We know all of it, but what we also know is that these Reunion episodes serve as a way for these people to secure a contract for next season and the way to nab one is to be vicious and confrontational and seeing that nobody on this series is earning legitimate money from their tee-shirt lines or their podcasts or their modeling, it seems that being signed for yet another year of baring their lives to the world is really the only option. What we’re actually watching here is desperation on basic cable – and it starts right now.
We begin with the arrivals. Scheana looks anxious, Kristen looks typically defiant, Katie looks like she just housed about a pound and a half of gummy worms laced with mediocre weed, and Sandoval’s expression is hard to read since he’s buried under more garment bags than a lowly intern during Fashion Week. Look, the man comes prepared. Who knows if Schwartz’s brothers will show up at some point and need ties and ironed shirts so the chatty triplet can make yet another speech? As for Lisa Vanderpump, she saunters onto that set like she fucking owns it – because she does – and she sits in her chair beside the host and the Reunion is about to start and I think Brittany’s cleavage should really have been given its own seat in the semicircle.
Andy greets the group and we find out almost immediately that Stassi went along on Katie and Schwartz’s honeymoon, James is now dressing like he heard there’s a new Miami Vice sequel in the works and that the producers are dying for a scrawny DJ with no real talent to play the lead, Sandoval finally cut his hair and looks cute again, and Scheana has landed herself a new man. All that is great, but these Reunions are not really about anything new. No, it’s time to slide back in time and revisit the biggest conflicts of the season.
Conflict #1: DID JAX ACTUALLY SEE KRISTEN FONDLE HIS GIRLFRIEND’S CLITORIS?
According to Jax, he opened his bedroom door one evening and saw Kristen’s head pop up from between Brittany’s open legs. Brittany admits a “stupid, drunken kiss” happened but Kristen denies she ever went down on Jax’s girlfriend, though I did notice that she sort of gulped before she swore it never ever happened and that disappointed me because you’d really think at this point Kristen would be a way better liar. That said, Jax is also a confirmed liar, so it’s hard to know what the actual story is here. More than that, it’s hard to pretend to care what the actual story is here so I’m just gonna move on.
Conflict #2: SHOULD AN ENGAGED COUPLE GET A PRE-NUP?
Yes, if they actually have any money. But since none of the Vanderpumpers do, this topic is also not particularly worthy of discussion.
Conflict #3: SHOULD SCHWARTZ AND KATIE MOVE NOW THAT JAX LIVES IN THEIR APARTMENT BUILDING…ON THE VERY SAME FLOOR?
Yes. Then again, should Katie or Schwartz ever need to borrow a cup of Botox or a case of “supplements” that are totally not steroids, it’s nice to know they won’t have to travel too far.
Conflict #4: WHY DOES JAMES EXIST AND WHAT BARBARIAN PUT HIM ON MY TELEVISION IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Ah, James. At the start of the season, he was working five days a week as the premiere DJ in all of Los Angeles so long as the Los Angeles we’re talking about just experienced a typhoon and James and his turntables were the only things that survived the disaster. Anyhoo, his stellar career was derailed by his alarming lack of self-control, something that is hilariously pointed out by Kristen and now I’m praying for her to also diagnose the guy as having no self-awareness so I can have myself a nice little clip of what irony actually looks like to the naked eye.
Conflict #5: GAY PRIDE IN THE WAKE OF THE ORLANDO SHOOTING
This conflict was real. Fifty people died tragically in Florida and there was a palpable sense of fear that events meant to celebrate the LGBTQ community would be targeted for more violence and hate. Still, Lisa Vanderpump is a tough lady and she would not let anything stop her from climbing atop a float in West Hollywood and showing her support. Several of her employees – Jax, Sandoval, Ariana – came into work in a showing of solidarity. Katie stayed home because she was afraid, something Lisa doesn’t hold against her. But if you think Katie stayed home so she could reflect and become a better person, well, you’d be mistaken. Instead, Katie sat on her couch with Stassi and Kristen that sad day and she saw a picture someone sent of Sandoval atop the SUR bar where he’d gone to work while she stayed home and she decided it was very wise to send him a text informing him that there were probably better ways to honor the victims than by gyrating on a countertop. Recounting this story makes Sandoval’s eyes shimmer with tears and I really wish he’d stop getting emotional because that was Tequila Katie talking and nobody with even one brain cell should listen to anything she and her soaked liver babble out into the world.
Conflict #6: LALA VS. THE PEOPLE WHO FUCKING HATE HER AND PROBABLY ALWAYS WILL
First of all, Lala has a brand new tattoo around her nipple, so that’s nice to know. But we can discuss her classy body art at another time, because Andy Cohen would really like to know what started the feud between Lala and Katie. And you know what? She’s been a monster for most of the season, but I sort of have to side with Katie here. Lala did show up to Katie’s engagement party where she drunkenly mocked the toasts and then proceeded to follow Katie around for the next several months informing her that she’d gotten fat and telling her frequently that one day she would bang her fiancé. Upon hearing these nuggets of truth, Lala and the fillers clogging her lips burst back that Katie was making fun of her before they even met because her profile picture was of her own ass and that just makes Katie a Mean Girl. Listen, I’m all for calling both of these girls mean – and I’m also wholeheartedly admitting that I too would laugh my ass off just catching a glimpse of someone’s profile ass pic – but Andy would like to delve further into this muck-filled bullshit. For example, yes, Lala proclaimed that Katie and Schwartz will end up getting divorced, that Stassi is a has-been, and that she is the real star of this reality show, but she said all of those things for two very important reasons. One, she believes all of them to be entirely true. Two, when she feels hurt, she will lash out because her development was stunted by that traumatic moment when she was bullied back in middle school and nobody since then has made her see that having that kind of incendiary reaction causes her to fall further into misery. That said, watching Kristen, Stassi, and Katie roll their eyes at this girl feels fucking icky and I’d give maybe anything for one more close-up of a filet mignon shoved up Schwartz’s rectum right now.
Conflict #7: THE ROLE SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYS IN TURNING HUMAN BEINGS INTO TOTAL PSYCHOPATHS
In just three minutes alone, Lala announced that Kristen and Stassi had trashed her on social media, the two blamed Lala for trying to ruin their reputations online, and Scheana actually said the sentence, “I Snapchat my face every single day,” as a way to prove she has not had a nose job. You guys? I sometimes long for the days when technology was not gripped in the palm of every idiot on the fucking planet…
Conflict #8: SANDOVAL VS. KATIE
My heart kind of broke for Katie as she explained that she knows she’s gained weight and hearing it thrown in her face as a deliberate insult was all kinds of painful, but then Sandoval jumps in to question if perhaps she provoked the cruelty heaved upon her since, after all, she did spend the better part of a year saying terrible things about Lala and her questionable morality. It’s an interesting question and I guess Sandoval is fair to ask it, but it’s impossible to forget that Lala appeared on the scene with ridiculous stories and luxury SUVs she swore she got for free and nails like fucking daggers and she kind of did everything possible to get a reaction and it’s too bad she wasn’t happy with the one she received. But Lala is young; she has time to learn that perhaps announcing on television that she got a Range Rover for sucking a guy’s dome will also make people think that she probably flies on a private jet to CVS every time she runs out of Valtrex.
Conflict #9: JAMES’ QUESTIONABLE FIDELITY
James, you see, is completely in love with Raquel and they have been blissfully happy together for a year and he totally did not sleep with that girl GG no matter what Kristen mutters from the other side of this semicircle of fucking doom. It’s hard to know who to believe here. On the one hand, James has shown himself to be quite capable of cheating and apparently there are all sorts of blind women in L.A. willing to have sex with this weenie. But on the other hand, Ariana announces that she heard GG say more than once that she would “fuck or fight” any one of the Vanderpumpers to get her mug on TV and maybe this was her golden (shower) opportunity. All I know in this situation is that I’m literally dumbfounded that anyone is willing to announce to the world that she bumped uglies with this douchebag and that level of shock prevents me from coming to any kind of real conclusion about this issue and I shall slug back some holy water and then bathe in bleach and hope that one day I’ll feel whole again after listening to this segment of crazy.
Conflict #10: STASSI, KATIE, AND KRISTEN VS. SCHEANA
It’s always going to be three against one here – always. And the reason for that is because Scheana actually has a few original thoughts and she has the terrible audacity to engage in some actions that were not officially sanctioned by this three-headed Cyclops and the one thing this Cyclops cannot deal with is a break in the ranks. But Scheana has a normal side. She sometimes apologizes if she feels she’s behaved badly. She wants to work in an environment not ruled by and reeking of contention. And Katie and Stassi and Kristen? They could give a shit about Scheana’s needs because they believe blind loyalty is the finest quality one can find in a friend and, listen, loyalty is great, but this kind of unquestioning loyalty is maybe why Kristen is mostly known for being a lunatic and Stassi is mostly known for being a controlling bitch and Katie is now synonymous with being a mean drunk and perhaps a better friend – one who could actually speak the truth without the threat of a social fatwa being waged against her in retaliation – might be able to recommend that being known for such things isn’t all that awesome. These girls validate the shittiest aspects of one another’s personalities and it might very well be time for just one of them to disengage and grow up.
And now, right as Part One of the Reunion is drawing to a close, Katie experiences a burst of maturity on the spot. She turns to Lala and carefully explains that she wasn’t in command of her emotions during the days Lala was calling her extra pudgy and she responded to those taunts by calling Lala a whore and she would like to apologize. She wasn’t in a good place, she says, not with Schwartz and not with her own body and Lala poked all of her insecurities and she responded with stinging insults and she truly feels badly. She’s not trying to justify anything; she just wants to make it better now. And listening to that kindness, Lala cries and she dabs at her lashes with her ferocious fingernails and she accepts Katie’s apology and this installment of the Vanderpump Rules Reunion will apparently conclude with Kristen and Stassi’s heads exploding into a zillion bits because nobody seconded the nomination for Katie to go ahead and apologize to Lala and a quick meeting of the Cyclops members will have to occur before Part Two of this interminable event can transpire.
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