It’s hard to find something to watch right now that can adequately distract my anxious brain from the brisk totalitarian takeover of the United States of America. TV shows can only do so much, you know? Even 30 Rock, a universal last-ditch balm for dark times, feels like a painful reminder of a more rational universe. Luckily, Vanderpump Rules is back on air, and it is blissfully free of logic.
Vanderpump Rules, if you haven’t heard me and my colleagues yammering about it for the past two years, is a Bravo reality show about a group of incestuous servers at West Hollywood restaurant SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant). Thus far, Season 5 can’t compare to Pump Rules’ humble beginnings, when the cast members weren’t married or botoxed or famous on Instagram yet, and their miseries and triumphs were more chaotic and real—but the general formula still works, at least for my purposes.
One week ago, before a half-rotted cantaloupe was elected President of the United States, I wondered why the cast of Vanderpump Rules couldn’t do interviews with me about the election. This week—although we can assume, with relief, that they aren’t thrilled—I don’t mind so much. It’s just as well that I don’t know exactly what Scheana Shay thinks about President-Elect Donald Trump, because I’m watching this show so I can pretend, for a mere 45 minutes, that he doesn’t exist. I want them to stay inside their shitty West Hollywood bubble. I want them to keep getting lip injections and getting blackout drunk and talking behind each others backs for all eternity while the world burns outside.
In this week’s episode, SUR proprietress and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Lisa Vanderpump is promoting her cause of choice—speaking out against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Leona Lewis makes a confusing cameo. But first, we have some drama to attend to: James, a shifty-eyed sprite from hell’s Black Forest who also works as a part-time DJ at SUR, has offended everyone in the cast, and will now attempt to apologize. Before he does so, he makes sure to inform the audience that these apologies are not sincere.
“Do I think Scheana got a nose job? Do I think Katie’s a bit overweight? Yeah. But that’s me!” James tells the camera during an interview. Scheana, whom James accused of getting said rhinoplasty during last week’s episode, calls James’ apology “disingenuine.” Katie—busy planning a wedding whose venue she refers to as “magnanimous”—tells James he’s a terrible person. James doesn’t seem to mind, thrilled as he is with his “career” as a DJ, although Bravo’s sly editors later catch him onstage at Lisa’s Yulin event pleading with guests to “pick up your dog’s poop, thank you.”
Meanwhile, Jax, a nearly 40-year-old SUR bartender whose already terrifying head and neck seem to visibly expand the longer you look at him, is dealing with blowback after telling his friends, boss, and Vanderpump Rules viewers that he caught cast member Kristen Doute going down on his girlfriend Brittany. Both Brittany and Kristen refute that this happened; Jax, a compulsive liar, insists that it did. “If you show upsetness [sic], then you’re fueling the fight,” Jax says to his girlfriend, referring to the sexual rumors he spread about her.
“One hundred percent, I did not go down on Brittany,” Kristen asserts, hedging that she was too drunk to remember exactly what did happen.
Kristen appears to have gone on quite the emotional journey over the past few years, and continues to attempt to demonstrate that she is not the shivering id she once was. These days—at least onscreen—Kristen mostly takes shots of alcohol, speaks in dramatically calm tones, and brags about her new boyfriend Carter.
“We have this gorgeous apartment together, he’s a photographer’s assistant, we have zero trust issues, he doesn’t fight with me,” she tells us.