It's Nothing But Swamp Monsters On Vanderpump Rules

Get ready, there's a new propaganda machine in town; and gender norms are about to be as crushed as Jax's balls.

Sixteen episodes in and this season of Vanderpump Rules is just starting to coalesce into what it should have been all along. Without jumping ahead and spoiling the rankings, let's just say that everyone's in peak form because they're drunk, emotional, and finally trapped in the same space together for more than an hour, thankfully giving the show's MVP a chance to shine.

Here are but a few of the things this episode gives us: Sandoval suggesting Schwartz is a battered spouse and Kristen is a propaganda machine; a delightful airboat tour of an actual swamp, as opposed to the metaphorical one that's been plaguing us the last few months; a murder tour; three new dishes on the SUR menu; drag; a stripper; a rumored affair; and Carter's arms. What more could you ask for?

To the rankings!

  1. Tom Sandoval & Ariana
    Okay, but these two are why Trump was elected.

    Sandoval is on the verge of tears because His Bro Tuesday, Tom, sounds like a battered spouse when he talks about his relationship with Katie. This, because of Kristen's "propaganda." Then there's his approach to drag, which begins innocent enough, but ultimately winds up being a perverse display of self-gratification. Perhaps others feel differently, but I was offended, especially so by the insinuation that they're putting themselves in the line of fire by going to a sports bar.

    Then there's Jordan Tyler. Err, I mean Ariana, who I was genuinely enjoying until she started claiming that the women hiring a female stripper and the men going out for a night on the town in drag are breaking so many gender stereotypes and that, together, they're blurring the lines of what it means be a man and what it means to be a woman in today's society. Yeah, um, about that....

    And to think, they started off so strong on the airboat.

  2. Tom Schwartz
    This teddy bear is missing an eye and has a torn limb. Throw it away. And take out the garbage, it smells. (His reactions on the boat are great, but sadly nowhere near enough.)
  3. Lisa
    That scene in the kitchen with Joe is, um, not one of her better moments.
  4. Jax
    Nowhere near as offensive as I thought he'd be this week. I'm not going to lie: I'm legitimately shocked. Of everyone involved, he reacts the most like a heterosexual man in a RuPaul's Drag Race challenge. And for what it's worth, I really appreciated his being a sticker for the rules on the airboat.
  5. Katie
    Blacked out or in the dark, Katie reaps all of the rewards from lying low this week. Which, about that: why are the cameras always down when she "transforms" and "goes off the deep end"? Get your shit together, Bravo!
  6. James & Lala
    I've been strict about attendance in the past. However, this episode is successful because of their absence, not in spite of it. James has been hemorrhaging screen time this season, and Lala's been MIA for weeks. I don't need the "closure" of goodbye. At this point, I just need them to leave.
  7. Stassi
    A murder tour of New Orleans is an inspired bachelorette activity.
  8. Kristen
    No longer sidelining its MVP, this week supports my longstanding theory that Kristen is the show's one true star.

    Jax and Stassi have the personalities, and should, on paper, be capable. But in terms of what we've come to know, love, and expect from the show, this season makes it abundantly clear that whatever we thought we knew about them is wrong. Without Kristen's tenacity and blind quests for truth, there isn't much of a show at all. And if you don't believe me, feel free to re-watch the first fifteen episodes and report back.

    A great friend and even better producer, Kristen's been needling this season into shape behind the scenes, albeit to mixed results. She's been trying, like a parent shopping with an angry tween, to get Stassi to try on at least one arc and see how it fits. She's helped sustain the tension between Ariana and the Coven. She's been Scheana's confidant and cheerleader, as well as one of her abusers. And most importantly, she's fine with derailing TomKat's relationship in order to save it.

    Do I believe that Miami Girl 2.0 is the root of TomKat's problems? Not really. But, you know what? It's a start, and she's a goddamned star.

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