A Joint Birthday Gets Co-Opted On Vanderpump Rules
The only thing Mike and Carter get on their birthday is second billing as the women of VDPR face-off; SURprise!
An awkward transition from last week's (largely regrettable) episode semi-built around the Pulse shooting, the SURvers are back at work and doing what they do best: terrorizing each other. Before getting into the rankings, let's sift through this mixed bag of party favors and see what we're dealing with.
Scheana and Kristen are planning a dual surprise party for Shay and Carter; Schwartz grips his wallet between his teeth and tries not to faint as Tequila Katie drags him further down the wedding rabbit hole by the balls; Stassi's featuring Jax on her podcast to discuss how and why men cheat, as well as administering a test to see if he's a sociopath -- which she probably first encountered during her stint in New York (read: Bellevue Psychiatric); Lisa's quickly becoming a figment of the SURvers imaginations; Ariana's brokering peace talks, though it's too late: Katie, Stassi, and Kristen have already latched onto what Slenderman said about Scheana; and everyone's planning some sort of trip.
Now that we're all up to speed, to the rankings!
This is the most screentime Stassi's gotten all season. There's a lot to love along the way (the bordello talking-head look; the facial expressions recording the podcast; the bit about why Jax shouldn't feel so bad about being a sociopath because he's in good company; etc.) but the transition isn't nearly as smooth as it should be.
This placement isn't entirely her fault. The decision to keep her relationship with Patrick off-screen is really holding her back -- though I doubt the show could even handle it, considering it's already bursting at the seams -- as is the fact that she no longer works at SUR and has to pop in for goat cheese balls and wine to be in the mix. The real problem is her allegiance to Katie and the crazy reaction to Scheana's half-assed apology to Lala.
She worked hard to get back into Katie's life and always had problems with Scheana. So this week's meltdown isn't completely out of left field. Still, it's disproportionate and concerning all the same. There's just something about her new, cobbled-together role as dutiful liege and BFF scholar that's a little too aggressive and more than a little sad.
Nobody's asking Katie to like Lala. To be fair, she has a point that not openly hating her and wishing her Range Rover would explode the next time she starts it opens the door to interactions outside of work. However, there's nothing about her or her storylines this season that hasn't felt oppressive thus far.
Free of self-awareness, communication skills, and window-dressing in her talking heads (you can call Lala a dumb, lying whore -- that's the show -- but for fuck's sake, make it sing!) everything gets ten times heavier whenever she's onscreen. In a weird way I almost admire her approach to reality TV, be it not even entertaining the idea of Lala as a human being so they can spar an episode or two down the road, or her bone-dry delivery of "I don't believe Tom's a cheapskate. If he were, he'd be out there trying to find [cheaper things]. No, he's just disinterested [in the wedding]" after she randomly doubles their budget and Schwartz's gastrointestinal tract liquefies.
I'm not about to sit here and tell a woman she's unpleasant because she doesn't smile for the camera or isn't pleased as punch single-handedly planning her wedding while her fiancé complains about money in the background. All I'll say is that her contribution makes me yearn for the fun, inspirational journeys of the characters in Melancholia, Revolutionary Road, Girl, Interrupted, etc.
Jax starts out strong. He helps Brittany install curtain rods; agrees to be a part of Stassi's podcast and talk about why he's the smell of urine on a hot summer day in human form; tells Brittany not to be insecure about Stassi because she's smart and beautiful, too; makes a fun (not quite sound) reference to the movie Misery, regarding his relationship with Stassi; consoles and validates Scheana; manages to escape confusing Nostradamus and Gandhi (whose first name he thinks is Muhammad) unscathed by looking more sweet and stupid than as a complete asshole. He has a great week! Until he throws it all away by telling Stassi that Scheana was over earlier and complaining about how terrible she and their other best friends are, effectively setting us on this dark course. Add to that the detached way he talks about cheating, and later, that shot of him licking Brittany's feet from inside the pool.
It was nice while it lasted; nearly record time, too.
Not sure what Lala thought she'd gain by shouting, "I already apologized! I'm not apologizing anymore! What, do I need to finger you or something?" at Katie 30 seconds into the discussion of a ceasefire. (Still laughed though!)
- Tom Sandoval
This week's contributions are: informing us Scheana and Kristen didn't technically throw a surprise party because each man knew he was going to a surprise party, just not his own; recommending Schwartz shave around his nipples and step into the sunlight; letting Scheana know the trip for Ariana's birthday's booked solid and that she can't go.
The most logical member of her coven, Kristen lays into Scheana without drawing blood. So for that, I commend her.
Lisa's blows past Boss and lands squarely between Phantom Of The Opera and Poltergeist on the involvement spectrum this week. First, she quizzes Brittany on the specials and rips her delivery of them to shreds, decides she's being too hard on her and pulls back, opting to instead use her disdain for Stassi to gaslight Brittany about every aspect of her life. Afterwards, she sits alone and drinks tea.
Later, she acts surprised when Ariana (who never should have been sent on the mission in the first place) tells her that the intervention didn't go as planned. Finally, she looks on the brink of tears while she dramatically asks Scheana (this is on the heels of the Pulse shooting, mind you) if everything's okay with her bullshit group of friends and vaguely confronts Katie when she walks into the kitchen.
I know why she's taking a less hands-on approach to the season and generally doesn't want to get involved (because that's her way of getting involved), but it's more fun when she directly inserts herself because it keeps everyone on toes or derails them completely. This season's suffering from poor management and if anyone's in a position to get things in order, it's her. Get it together!
Her counseling session was doomed for a hundred different reasons, chief among them that she's articulate and personable enough without actually being human. Which is mostly why her systems crash when she's pulled back into the ring by Scheana to deal with Stassi, who's beside herself. It's not her fault, she literally wasn't built for this.
Brittany's been a beacon of light this season.
First off, here's to her repositioning Stassi's pitch of Jax going on her podcast to discuss being a reformed cheater as long as it's under the pretense that she reformed him; great work. She's genuine to the point where I'm starting to wonder if maybe she'll be revealed as the biggest monster of them all if she sticks around after this season. I wouldn't mind seeing her rake people over the coals instead of pulling them out of the burning buildings that constitute their lives. For better or for worse, I don't think that's the case.
And that she doesn't know what a sociopath is, and doesn't think it's the worst thing if the person she's dating happens to be one once she finds out, only makes me appreciate her and her eventual Dateline episode even more.
- Tom Schwartz
Schwartz is even more endearing than he typically is as he succumbs to a bleeding ulcer because he's worried his wedding will bankrupt him and that his bride-to-be could potentially bludgeon him to death in a rage with the custom marble bride/groom cake-topper she probably ordered while he was on a run one day. He's a real treat (there's a dorky Marlon Brando impression involved) and one of the good ones. Sure, he's mostly just following orders this week (deliver the birthday boys to their party; listen in silence while Katie and company say disgusting things, etc.) like the POW his engagement's turned him into, but his consistency and levity help ground things considerably.
This season's biggest disappointment is that it's backed me into a corner and forced me to reconsider Scheana, who week after week continues to pass with flying colors just because she's relatively emotionally competent and rational. You could argue her Achilles heel was venting to Jax, but the truth is that they were going to burn her at the stake, regardless of that conversation. At least she drew attention to/triggered Tequila Katie and looked great by comparison on her way out. Ugh, another job well done.