Vanderpump Rules is my jam. Manufactured pathos, a WeHo hipster fantasy. The deeper the delusion, the sweeter the Schadenfreude. But something isn’t sitting right with me. Last week got ugly. In ways it didn’t need to. Billie is unlikeable. Katie is cruel. Childhood triggers can mess you up. Inclusion is important. So is communication. And very loudly, for the bitches in the cheap seats, cis-privilege is real. I’m exhausted. My weave is exhausted. The panty-liner on my underwear is exhausted. Welcome to the season of transgate. And I was worried they’d focus too much on wedding planning (bridesmaids, ooh rah rah).
Scheana has moved all the way to Marina Del Rey. It might as well be the Valley for all the bitching her housewarming guests do. The long ride over gives everyone an opportunity to rehash the Girls Night In debacle. A certain part-time hostess seems particularly keyed up about it. Like suspiciously keyed up. The OG witches refuse to film with James (and/or Billie) so they take a camera crew out to lunch. They enjoy raining on Scheana’s parade from their moral high ground.
Scheana’s housewarming party is as desperate as it’s hostess. Billie Lee is the first to arrive, armed for rhino. James is so desperate to film, he pretends Scheana didn’t make him move her things and then break up with him. Raquel clutches her Z Gallery gift bag like it’s a secret portal to a universe where everyone likes her boyfriend. As if that exists. When the Big Names arrive, they’re forced to interact with coworkers they otherwise avoid. James tells Lala he wants to apologize to HerManRan. He’s willing to do just about anything to be back in favor, even listening to her complain about Billie. But when Billie charges in to confront Adultery Barbie, James takes a powder. Lala is on her own, no second for days.
Instead of yelling, Billie becomes the hero we’ve been waiting for (but never thought possible). She explains why being excluded triggers her in a way Lala might not have previously considered. Her honesty and accountability make Lala’s stubborn ignorance all the uglier. Unable to fight a battle of words (math is hard), Lala shifts into ratchet mode. She dismisses Billie, as if her very existence hangs on Lala’s approval. Lala is so stupid she doesn’t realize how especially cruel erasure is to the LGBTQIA community. I just can’t.
Billie rises up. She’ll go toe to toe when needed. She and Lala scream insults, entertainment for the vapid and vain. Lala flees in a self-righteous huff. My secret girlfriend Ariana wakes up out of the fog she’s been living in and explains the Billie situation best: “Nobody intentionally excluded her. But you can’t say you’re an ally to a trans woman and then speak over her every time she tries to explain to you how she feels.” Ariana gets Billie to admit taking the issue straight to social media was a mistake. It’s so nice to see some humanity once in a while.
Scheana has no real connection to the cast anymore. Her storylines are particularly fake. But the editors occasionally throw us a little bone, some insight into the mind behind Madison Marie Parks-Valletta.
Producer: So you didn’t have, like, secret feelings for Adam while you were dating Rob?
Scheana: See, if I say this, then I look like the girl who was with Shay thinking about Rob, and with Rob thinking about Adam.
Discussion point: Am I the only one who finds Lisa Vanderpump’s expanded role annoying? The Toms are opening a bar but aren’t allowed anywhere near it. We get it, Lisa. You. Did. Everything. Now go back to Beverly Hills and handle your business, or go home. With all due respect.
It’s Tom Sandoval’s birthday and we get an homage to Grease. In a millenial remix of Summer Loving, Ariana and Tom discuss will they or won’t they… have children. They’re totally out of sync, headed for disaster, and only Jax sees it. They’re doomed. The scene is saved by the extra sitting next to Ariana. He tries very hard to ignore the camera. Very, very hard. When the boys do blowjob shots, Sandoval swallows without issue. Schwartzie chokes and I’m a little surprised he’s a top. With all due respect.
James is allowed to join the fellows at the cigar bar for some Boys Will Be Boys time. Jax brags about his strictly religious, Southern fiancée’s as-yet-unconfirmed flings with women. He tells the guys he only gets mad when he’s messed up and needs leverage. What a catch! High on nicotine and testosterone, Sandoval tells the story of Lala giving Ariana oral pleasure in the backseat of his car. James is ecstatic. For a brief moment, someone else is in the hot seat. He brags about Lala’s sexual gymnastics, “She does handstands…” When he implies Jax knows of what he speaks, the Jax redemption arc shuts it down quickly. James is terrified he’ll be uninvited from Jax and Sandoval’s 70’s roller rink birthday party. He already bought his skates!
By the time Sandoval gets to SUR, Ariana knows he’s been talking. She’s not embarrassed, she’s just disappointed. Her sexuality is for her pleasure, not to titillate an ocelot. It’s called consent, even when you’re mad.
The entire cast reunites for Jax and Sandoval’s birthday party. Normally I love a costume but they’re all idiots. Billie apologizes to Katie and gets total bitch in return. Way to be a sore winner, Katie. You’re not fat but it doesn’t hurt to be the bigger person once in a while. Lala confronts James about speakly indelicately of her. He hems and haws. They started it. It was an innocent joke. He thinks apologizing to Randall is enough. What more does Lala want? Whether due to her publicists advice or an extra long yoga session, Lala offers Raquel an apology. It’s aggressive and curt but it’s progress. That has to be enough for now.
Next time: The Life & Style party looms. Will TomTom be ready for the blessed event? Jax throws his estranged mother under the bus to gain sympathy. Lala is the strict headmistress Scheana needs. And James continues to blame everyone but himself, just like mommy taught him.