Here's an important lesson to internalize, my friends: people rarely change. While it’s possible for someone to maybe tweak his or her mindset and behavior and become, say, more patient, more reflective, or less quick to anger, an entire personality overhaul is never going to happen unless you're dealing with someone who’s just spent a year surviving on bark and rain water in the wilderness – and even then it's a slippery slope because you just know that person’s conventional behavior will slide right back in the second he swallows his first Hostess Sno-Ball. Change is hard. Change is inconvenient. And that inconvenience is why the committed liars will always lie, the horrifically selfish will never morph superhero-style into selfless crusaders, and a person who registers in the negative range on the emotional intelligence scale will very likely never fully understand (or care) that his actions lead to painful effects for which he is completely responsible. It's a messy world out there and assholes who have no problem being assholes will rarely volunteer to remain diapered in padded rooms. They will continue to walk amongst us, and I'm really starting to hope they all get stricken with the sort of potent rashes that lead to puss-filled blisters, if only so the rest of us can start identifying them by sight.
Our Vanderpumpers – and those foolish enough to love them – should probably go ahead and purchase stock in some Adderall-spiked-diaper-rash-destroying-Desitin because assholes abound in Vanderland. We're five seasons into this series and what’s abundantly clear by now is that not a single one of these people is willing to change or capable of change. Strategically speaking, I get it. I mean, the only thing someone like James has going for him is his ability to be a staggering prick. That's his brand now – being a prick – and we exist in a world that weirdly celebrates this sort of bullshit behavior and so something tells me this little weenie-like emotionally-stunted man-child will never choose to overhaul his persona and risk getting kicked off the only real opportunity he'll ever have to exist in the proximity of show business. Yes, he's got that incredibly impressive residency spinning records at an empty hotel, but we all know he'll fuck up even a nothing opportunity like that in no time.
Now that we're talking personal branding, let's admit what we're actually dealing with on this series:
Schwartz will forever be The Doomed One, a man so terrified of his now-wife that he'll never be able to gnaw his way to freedom.
Katie, The Cruel Drunk, will never stop drinking because someone (I’m guessing it was Stassi, Kristen, or one of their collective imaginary friends) seems to have convinced her that her alcohol-induced fury is part of her Bravo-endorsed charm – and if you don’t agree with me, just remember that little bottles of tequila served as favors for her bridal shower, the one Scheana – that bitch – refused to pay for.
Speaking of Scheana, she is The Desperate One. There is something sad (besides a tapeworm) that currently lives inside of Scheana and that sad thing desperately wants to be friends with people who continually prove that they do not value her. I really hope that sad thing crawls its way out of her eventually, even if it makes its escape by shooting clear through her stomach like that ravenous critter in Alien. While such a scenario – a creature bursting forth from one’s stomach – sounds incredibly unpleasant, it can’t possibly be any worse than a life in which you hope that one day Stassi and Kristen will decide to like you.
Ah, Stassi. She will always be The Girl Who Is Right. And the reason she will always be right is because she surrounds herself with fawning idiots who mistake a raging personality disorder for loyalty. Stassi will forever be on some crusade to bury whomever it is she’s momentarily decreed needs to be destroyed because she is a person who gets her daily cardio by inhaling and exhaling hatred. And if there’s nobody around to fight with, I guess she’ll just fight with herself in the mirror. In the past that fight ended with her getting a brand new face, so it’s nice to know that some of her brawls actually end with clear resolutions.
Kristen is The Stalker and she will always be The Stalker. She takes great pride in the fact that she actually has nothing better to do than sift through the social media of people who appear to be content with life until she is able to locate what she believes is a nugget of information that will prove something dark and duplicitous and then she will expose that person in as cruel and public a manner as is possible and later that evening she will crawl into bed and smile at the dark ceiling because she is a fucking insane person.
Despite Stassi’s best efforts to diagnose Jax as a sociopath by using a Buzzfeed quiz, I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that the guy is not a sociopath – he’s just The Douchebag of the group. Jax is a guy who used to be really good looking and he used those looks to get whatever he decided he wanted or thought he needed from men and women alike and, when caught in a lie, he’d announce to the world at large some sordid secret he’d heard or made up as a clumsy attempt at deflected projection. This little plan of his often worked like a charm because that’s what happens when one surrounds oneself with dummies. Jax is no longer a kid, but he’s still a douchebag. His attractiveness, though, has faded and he now looks like a very sweaty ram with tits. I pray nightly that he never procreates.
Still willing to associate with such cretins, Sandoval is The Solemn One. I believe that he truly solemnly believes – deep in his solar plexus – that he can take terrible people by the hand and beckon them to make better choices. And you know what? Maybe Sandoval does have the gift of helping people in his midst to transform into something better and wiser than who they once were, but in a world bracketed by the context of a reality show where antagonism reigns, our solemn buddy doesn’t have a fucking prayer.
What I’m saying here is that alliances may shift and the participants will grow older and sweatier, but these people will never change – and every single incident in tonight’s episode proves it. We begin with Sandoval and Ariana showing up at one of Lisa’s other restaurants so they can provide a tutorial about how to make drinks the Sur way. The one time I made a drink for someone else, I filled up half the glass with vodka and almost killed the poor guy as a result, so I’m going to give these two credit for actually knowing what they’re doing. But nobody ever really shows up to one of these producer-mandated appointments with only one purpose in mind. The teach-the-Villa-Blanca-bartender thing is clearly just a clever way to get Sandoval to reveal some exposition about James and his walking hideousness. Seems The Solemn One is taking young James to hypnotherapy in an effort to get him to behave like an evolved human, and that’s a very nice thing for him to do. But it might be even nicer if Sandoval waits for James to be hypnotized and then, while the guy is under, steals his green card and runs far away with it because if mass deportations are going to take place in this chaotic nation of ours, I think James Kennedy should be in the first wave of people to be banished, don’t you?
Speaking of The Prick, he’s across town meeting with his mother. He’s been avoiding the woman somewhat as of late because the destruction of his parents’ marriage makes him uncomfortable, but maybe part of the reason he’s been reluctant to see his mother is because he’s also been trying to avoid telling her that he was canned from PUMP because of his repulsive behavior. Upon hearing the news that her offspring is so repellant that he’s not fit to stand in a dark corner of a bar and spin records, his mother is annoyed and James reacts just as you’d expect he would. He turns away and doesn’t meet her eye, but then all of a sudden we get a little window into why James is the way that he is. See, his mother mentions that probably the reason James is caught up in so many conflicts is because of the huge pangs of jealousy people experience the minute this monster with a chin ass walks into a room. “I’m definitely a threat,” James agrees – and I have to wonder how he can really say this with a straight face. The guy weighs a hundred pounds dripping wet. He looks like Beavis from Beavis and Butthead. He is a DJ in Los Angeles, one of several trillion DJs in Los Angeles. This is a harsh thing to say, but the guy isn’t special and maybe he’d be less of a walking horror show if someone – like his mother – actually told him so. Of course, perhaps I will be proven wrong. Maybe the guy’s first performance where he’ll be onstage rapping (yes, my friends, Christmas just came early!) will prove the guy’s a musical genius. Or maybe he will fall off the stage drunk on the off chance that the hypnotherapy doesn’t actually work. In any case, James also wants his mommy to know that things with him and Raquel could not be going better in spite of Kristen’s insistence on trying to spread rumors about how he’s unfaithful and his mother’s response is to tell him that Kristen will meet her karma and that karma will apparently involve being barren. Hey, James’ mom? What do you think your kid’s karma should be? And if God is taking requests here, I’m more than fine with him shooting blanks until the very end of time.
In the, well, let’s call it “the afterglow” of Jax’s roast, Brittany’s mother has some questions for the man of the hour. She’s getting ready to head back to Kentucky and she appears uncomfortable about leaving her daughter in the arms of a man who has cheated on every girl he’s ever dated, to say nothing about the tales involving him and other men. Jax arrives home and sits on his couch and maintains that no, he is not a homosexual, and the farthest he’s ever gone with a guy involved a chaste kiss on the cheek and she can either take his word for it or choose not to. Now, not for one single solitary second do I believe Jax here, but since I think Brittany’s mother should be far more concerned with the fact that her daughter is on a reality show and projecting her life to the world and sleeping beside a kleptomaniac who could win an award for profuse sweating, I’m taking Jax’s side on this one. There’s way more important shit for Brittany’s mom to be concerned about, y’all, like the way Jax finally gets up and stalks away while announcing that he’s taken care of Brittany for well over a year while she’s done nothing besides recline on their sofa. Then he slams the door and leaves. While I’ve never particularly subscribed to the notion that my mother should call any of the shots in my personal life since I’m an adult and I’m stubborn and making my own tragic mistakes is the kind of shit that, at the very least, provides me with good writing material, I’m still willing to concede that, had my boyfriend just behaved in that sort of horrific manner, I’d kind of understand if my mother bound me, gagged me, and hauled my ass off to hypnotherapy, too.
When Jax eventually returns home, the psychotic side of him decides to take over completely. “I’m sorry you had to see that,” he explains to his girlfriend’s conservative mother with the doorknocker earrings. “But sometimes she needs to realize what she has.” You guys? If my boyfriend ever said even a fraction of that sentence in front of any member of my family – including my 6.4 pound Maltipoo – his body would wind up in a shallow grave while said Maltipoo danced a jig as the soil that was thrown on top of the ditch made its way into the guy’s lungs and esophagus. Jax declares to Brittany’s mother that the real problem has nothing to do with him being a prehistoric Neanderthal piece of dangling goat shit, but that Brittany is now standing up for herself. It was just so much nicer before Brittany grew a backbone, you see, and Jax is actually moronic and nasty enough to point that idea out to the girl’s mother. Really – my family would have annihilated this fucker on the spot.
Also: Brittany’s mom has an awesome solution to all of this hideousness and it involves Jax stopping by a church. Maybe she should go back to the drawing board on that one.
Over at Sur, there’s a painting party going on except nobody is really having any fun. Katie is there and she's rolling some sort of lavender paint on the wall and she vents to Lisa about the way her bridesmaids are fighting. Meanwhile, Schwartz has taken his groomsmen to get fitted for suits. They arrive and request a slim fit for the big day, but the guy at the store – who needs to be given a raise immediately – takes one look at Jax and tells him he needs a more “athletic fit.” We find out for the first time that Schwartz will be decked out in forest green for his wedding and I could react to that I guess, but he’s cute enough to pull off that color and all I really care about is whether or not I’m going to win my bet that Katie keeps in her nose ring for the ceremony and maybe also stays sober until after the vows are complete.
While the boys pick out suits and Jax considers bulimia, Katie’s bridesmaids get together and Scheana immediately forks over the money that was previously demanded of her because she doesn’t want to be killed in her sleep. And now that the finances are settled, it’s time to discuss the bachelorette party, an event that cannot possibly go wrong even when the bride-to-be gets herself hammered while the entire thing is filmed by high-definition cameras. Stassi suggests they head to New Orleans, an idea that sounds kind of great, but Scheana is nervous that heading to the place Stassi is from will mean she’ll end up controlling the entire thing. Scheana, dear? First of all, I personally would like nothing more than for someone else to plan every aspect of a weekend away so I don’t have to worry my pretty little head about any details besides what I should wear and who I have to hand money to and I’m going to suggest that you embrace that mindset because it’s actually fun not to be in control sometimes. Second of all, Stassi is going to take over anyway and studies have shown that you’re going to let her, so just sit back and let it happen because it’s highly unlikely you’re actually going to commit to taking a stand now.
Also: the bridesmaids have their own cheer.
Also: I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
Since the details of where she’ll be getting drunk and telling her fiancé that she hates him are now set in stone, it’s time for Katie to meet with Lisa so she can get some suggestions about the kind of flowers they’ll have at the wedding. While they select blossoms, Katie explains to Lisa that she and Schwartz had yet another screaming fight the other night and Lisa is understandably concerned that two people who fight so dirty and so often are getting married so very soon.
As Lisa attempts to explain that marriage shouldn’t be so vicious, Sandoval sits in James’ apartment while they wait for the therapist to arrive. James is nervous because he’s a guy unaccustomed to the concept of self-improvement, but Sandoval wants him to calm down and realize that this experience is all about James trying to become the very best person he can possibly be. Sandoval is being very serene and comforting here and all I can think as I watch him project kindness unto a douchebag is how much I want him to run far away from this show eventually and take Ariana with him and never look back and never even watch this show in the dead of night and to always refrain from feeding Jax after midnight. The therapist shows up and James is somewhat unsure about what to expect, especially since last year he had to go through the nonsense of sitting beside Kristen as she nodded sagely about the healing powers of crystals while continuing to behave like an unhinged madwoman, but he’s open to the process. When the therapist asks him what it is that he wants, James explains that he wants to make music and he also really wants people to see him differently and not view him as just that guy with the perfect hair. This moron actually says that sentence and I commend the therapist for not turning directly to the camera and asking for a raise on the spot.
Since they’re friends again, Scheana and Ariana go to the stables together. Ariana has loved horses her entire life and I’m going to admit that I teared up when she talked about losing her horse, Raven, who had been one of the dearest friends she ever had. (As someone who had to put my eighteen-year-old dog down last year, I know that pain and I empathize madly.) Scheana watches Ariana do her jumping and Sandoval shows up and admires his girlfriend and the whole thing is so normal and lovely that I almost thought I’d accidentally turned on PBS.
In a far less idyllic place than a horse farm, Katie and Schwartz show up at a lawyer's office so they can draw up a pre-nup. As he’s a sporadically-employed underwear model who always wears a shirt in photos and she runs a style blog while wearing outfits that make me crave blindness, I’m not quite sure what it is they’re planning on trying to protect here. They sit across from a lawyer who looks, um, very casual and they announce that they own no property and there’s very little money they have saved and I honestly don’t know why they are doing this, so I can only imagine this was some dare a producer thought up while everyone was drunk one night and nobody thought he’d be able to convince these two to actually go ahead and get a pre-nup when they have no money and now that producer is celebrating his winnings in Vegas with Jax’s pregnant stripper on his lap.
Across town, Scheana is hanging out with Ellie. Here’s all I think we need to understand about Ellie:
1. She hooked up with James voluntarily.
2. She then went on national television and announced that she hooked up with James voluntarily.
3. She thinks it’s a very good idea to show up where James is performing so she can make him as uncomfortable as is humanly possible.
4. Ellie is a shitty person.
Okay, with the facts now out of the way, Scheana announces that she is happy to go with Ellie to James’ show so they can force the guy to finally take accountability for his actions. For the love of all that is fucking holy, why do these people care about other people they are not actually legitimately connected to taking accountability for their actions? Do they not have hobbies? Are there not marches they could be going on? Do they never ever want to binge-watch shows, not even Billions, a series I’ve just gotten hooked on? Who, outside of elected officials, has this kind of time to devote to destroying the lives of others?
Now that Brittany’s mother is safely back in Kentucky, Jax and Brittany head out to dinner and discuss all kinds of fun topics like going to church and Jax’s repressed memories from church camp and how they should stop by James’ event later so they can watch Ellie confront him while she’s wearing a microphone. Jax is positively giddy about the prospect of watching James get destroyed and I’m honestly concerned for the church that Jax might eventually walk into because I’m quite certain he is the newest and sweatiest incarnation of Lucifer.
While the others are planning the best ways to make James fall apart completely on his big night, Katie, Schwartz, Ariana, Sandoval, and Stassi head over to a painting class. As they apply happy tree branches to their canvases, Schwartz asks Ariana and Stassi if everything is okay between them and Stassi explains that she found it very rude that Ariana just busted out and informed her that she doesn’t really give a shit about her while they were at the bridal shower. “I mean, I don’t know what to tell you,” responds Ariana. “That makes me feel sad,” Stassi responds. “You hurt my feelings.” Honestly, this is not a bad way for Stassi to go about getting an apology here. She’s being direct and relatively calm and while she’s probably texting Kristen the address of the place under the table so Kristen can show up and stab Ariana will a paintbrush, I’ll give Stassi some credit. Katie immediately takes up for Stassi because the two of them made a blood oath in the bathroom one day while they shared a tampon that neither would ever have to fight a battle – even a self-created one – alone, but Ariana’s not biting and watching Stassi sputter in disbelief that Ariana is not offering her any sort of an apology is fucking glorious.
And now it’s time for James’ dreams to be shit upon by his Bravo coworkers. I do agree with Scheana that the manner in which James has treated women is absolutely repulsive, but I also cannot fathom why any of those women entertained his repulsiveness in the first place. In any case, Scheana shows up with Jax and Brittany and Ariana and Sandoval arrive next. Sandoval takes one look at Jax and knows the guy is there with all kinds of nefarious intent, but it’s very hard to pay attention to the evil that’s residing in the blackened depths of Jax’s soul because James begins rapping and it is maybe the very worst thing I’ve ever heard – and I went to a Poison concert when I was in middle school. Of course, James’ girlfriend bops along to her boyfriend’s brilliance because she doesn’t know any better and that’s around the time Kristen and her new boyfriend walk in. As she literally high-fives Jax because nothing makes this girl happier than causing someone else pain, Sandoval takes a look around and announces that seeing Kristen walk into the place is akin to seeing a bad omen splayed out in front of him and I cannot fucking stand James, but it’s really icky watching the joy cross the features of these people because they’re about to bring on some misery.
Then GG and Ellie show up and both of them allegedly slept with James while he was with Raquel and GG and Raquel are suddenly standing next to one another.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Raquel says.
“What have you heard?” asks yet another girl willing to admit to the universe at large that she slept with this idiot.
“That you’re obsessed with my boyfriend,” Raquel explains. “Girl, I don’t blame you.”
And that’s when GG decides to tell some innocent girl who never once hurt her and never once promised her a single thing that she lives in a fantasy world and that James is not loyal to her. It’s a cruel and disgusting thing these girls are doing to someone they don’t know and it gets even worse when GG pulls some old tee out of her bag and gives James the clothing back that he left at her house the night he supposedly banged her. And that’s when James – acting like The Prick he will always be – tells GG that he would never sleep with her because she’s disgusting and she’d better get her dumpy ass out of his face so she smacks him hard across the head while Kristen all but cheers from the sidelines.
“Thank you for coming,” James sarcastically drawls to Carter, Kristen, and Jax, three people who are filled with glee at the scene occurring before them, and I guess the hypnotherapy and all that karma didn’t work because Jax throws a drink in James’ face and Kristen gets James kicked out. And there on the street, James explodes and tells Sandoval – The Solemn One, the only one who has ever had his pathetic scrawny back – that his friends are lowlifes and, okay, that’s accurate, but this is a guy who commissioned you a fucking therapist. This is a guy who actually showed up to celebrate you, but James The Prick will never be able to do the right thing, not ever, and that is yet another thing about him that will not ever change.
“I need my suit jacket,” James whines as he walks away from just a fraction of the people in the world who hate him. “It’s Gucci.”
You know what? The right sort of karma will make it that he winds up being barren, too. And to make sure such a thing transpires, I’m rubbing a crystal across my body as the hypnotherapist puts me under.
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