Vanderpump Rules Recap: Character Assassination

By
Lala Kent. Photo: Bravo
Vanderpump Rules
Episode Title
Thirsty Girls
Season
5
Episode
4
Editor’s Rating
4/5

I hate James Kennedy so much. There aren’t enough Mrs. White GIFs in the world to even express how inarticulate with anger just the very sight of the chip-n-dip that is his dimpled chin makes me when it appears on my television screen. Finally, James has been fired from SUR for being drunk and disorderly too many times. Thank God that his reign of evil has ended.

But wait! In the previews of next week's episode, he’s still around, cavorting with Lala, who is pretty much the after picture of Ursula the Sea Witch if she lost 100 pounds and did a testimonial for a late-night exercise infomercial. What do we have to do to get rid of him forever? This is a show about the staff of a restaurant. How can you be fired from the staff without also getting ejected from the show? Being fired from SUR is sort of like winning the popular vote in a presidential election: We got the outcome we desired, but it doesn’t mean that anything good is actually going to happen.

Let’s backtrack to look at how much I hate James and why. First of all, we must consider that girlfriend of his. If a pumpkin spice latte grew legs, walked itself over to a SoulCycle class, bought itself an adult coloring book and a pair of Tori Burch flats, and then showed up at bottomless brunch 15 minutes late, it wouldn’t be any more basic that James’s 21-year-old beauty-pageant girlfriend, whom he met at New Year's Eve at Pump. I mean, I am president and founder of the Real Housewives Institute and even I would not go to Pump for a New Year's Eve celebration because it is so basic that it might as well be its own coding language. (Computer science jokes FTW! PWNED!)

I did like that James invites her to spend the weekend at his apartment — a.k.a. the living room of his friend Paul-who-he-plays-pool-with-sometimes’s apartment — and that he stuck balloons all over the wall to make it nice. You know that he spent the better part of the afternoon affixing those to the wall using static electricity from his hair. You know it. You just know it.

James tells her that he is having trouble at work because everyone is jealous of him killing it so hard. I went on a huge screed about this last week, so I’m not going to take the bait again, but it’s sad just exactly how pathological this kid is. He’s so deeply hurt and insecure that he has to project this false screen of arrogance, but he’s really so deeply worried about his standing in the world that when Lisa strips away all of his so-called success, he cries. He actually weeps because now it’s all gone and he is confirmed to be just another L.A. wannabe, literally crashing on his friend’s floor.

There are only a couple of more things I will say about James. (Really, I could write a whole American Studies dissertation on James Kennedy, but I will refrain because we also need to talk about Katie who, oh my God, guys, I can’t tear my eyes away from her.) The fight he has with Jax, a bobblehead that one day discovered the gym and became a real boy, is absolutely ludicrous. James is behind the DJ booth at SUR making fun of Jax because he’s a bartender at SUR. I know that the service industry has a hierarchy, but can you really make that much fun of someone when they have a job at the same establishment as you? No, not really.

The best fight is the one that James has in front of SUR with Ken and Lisa. Here, James faces off with a doddering old man holding two Pomeranians, one of which is riddled with alopecia, and he starts crying because he says that Ken scares the hell out of him. If Ken, a loop of a Benny Hill sketch that can’t stop playing itself, is what terrifies him, then how must he feel when staring into the existential maw that is his own failure to be a successful Las Vegas DJ?

That fight also lays bare James’s pathology, because a minute ago he was standing up to Lisa with his tough talk and disrespecting his boss to her face. The next, he is in front of a restaurant in West Hollywood literally crying because a 70-year-old was going to tell him to pack up his laptop and get lost. Man, I really want James to go away forever. Can’t we just replace him with GG, the misguided soul who slept with him and then yelled about it across an eating establishment that has a three-star rating on Yelp?

Even if James were to disappear after he got fired, we’d still be stuck with Katie. Actually, I’m kind of all right with that, because Katie is the kind of manageable mess that’s easy to handle. If she's like knocking over a bowl of soup onto the kitchen floor, James is like the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. As I’m getting deeper into this show, what really surprises me is that Katie is the alpha of the group. You’d expect one of the more attractive and openly bitchy girls to be the head of the clique. I could easily see Stassi or Kristen as the Regina George, but no, it’s Katie. Ugly nose ring, irrational drunk, can’t speak louder than a whisper Katie.

Just look at the sad and obvious group dynamics on display when Scheana goes over to the Kristen Got Veneers Party. (Seriously, they all got the same veneers?) Katie is mad that Scheana talked to Lala. That's it. It’s not like they hung out or gave each other facials and talked about boys or anything. These two co-workers were seen having a casual conversation and that was too much for Katie’s brittle ego to tolerate. She’s like Stalin with awful tattoos. With her minions Kristen and Stassi — a woman who is fancy enough to own a marble trash can but not fancy enough to pay someone to empty it out for her and can’t lift it on her own — they successfully froze Scheana out until she was so incredibly rude to Lala’s face that she will never try to talk to her again.

Just look at what Katie does. She gets Scheana, a grown woman, to say, “I will say hi and be cordial, but talking to you makes Katie mad, so I can’t do it.” The “excuse me, what?” on every level of that utterance is so profound that I can’t even begin to parse it with a million copies of Emily Post by my side. But that is how Katie maintains control. Even after Scheana says it, they are all still mad at her for some unspeakable reason and Scheana is so desperate for their acceptance that she just does what Katie says. It’s amazing to watch. It’s like a sociology class before our very eyes, but with more Champagne and multiple sets of identical veneers.

Katie does the same thing to my once and forever lover Tom Schwartz — not to be confused with Tom Sandoval, who has a man bun but says that it is not a man bun because apparently he thinks that a hair hamster is going to have a marsupial birth from the pouch of his skull. Schwartzie goes to therapy to talk about marrying Katie and how she gets wasted all the time and that makes him hate her. His therapist tells him to go home and tell her how he feels.

What should have been a nice conversation with Tom expressing his emotions and Katie helping him process them, instead becomes Katie yelling at him for not accepting her or something. I’m not even sure what she was blubbering on about because I was so worried that when I have “feelings talks” with my boyfriend that I am Katie. Do I similarly not listen? Am I also so adamant about my own feelings that I can’t be in a successful relationship? Katie feels bad so she goes into the kitchen to eat her feelings, but she only eats plain iceberg lettuce because she is now working on her summer body.

You all know that I would never do that to Schwartzie. If he told me that I made him upset or uncomfortable, I would put down my adult coloring book (ugh), welcome him to my bosom, and put that handsome head of his with that adorable new haircut right on my breast. I would stroke the shaved parts against the grain and give him extra tinglies all over his body and coo sweet whispers into his ears to make him feel like he was floating in a sea of Coca-Cola and lollipops. I would hold him and make him feel safe and tell him that our love is eternal, even longer than the diamond commercials during The Bachelor promise it will last if he buys me a ring. Then we would sit there in silence for a minute or two and he would look up at me from my chest and say, “I love you.” And instead of saying it back, I would lean down and kiss him even though it makes my neck feel like it’s going to snap and is horrendously uncomfortable. That is what love is: making the other person feel better even after one of your arms is asleep, your neck feels like a broken Pez dispenser, and the uneaten iceberg is slowly wilting in the crisper.