At the onset of the sixth season of Vanderpump Rules — a Rorschach test for borderline personality disorder — I was not impressed. It starts with a familiar gimmick from the Real Housewives franchise, in which we are dropped into an event in medias res to see the total carnage, and then are left to wonder just how we got there. This technique was used most effectively in the third season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, in which absolute bedlam broke out at the christening for Teresa Giudice’s nephew.
In this instance, we’re dropped into a broke-down Eyes Wide Shut party where we find out that Jax may have cheated on Brittany and she’s threatening to leave him and the rest of the cast is freaking out about this revelation. I was giving this episode a big yawn emoji because, duh, of course Jax cheated. We all know exactly how he rolls, which is usually rolling a condom down his penis before having sex with someone who is not his girlfriend. I was thinking, If the entire season is leading up to this non-revelation, then I’m going to turn this off now and do what I normally do on Monday nights, which is rub glazed doughnuts all over my face.
But boy, was I wrong. This wasn’t what the season was leading up to; it was what the episode was leading up to. The revelations of Jax cheating — which are as obvious as trying to find Armie Hammer at a Wiggles concert — were so much better than what I was hoping for.
Turns out the party is Scheana’s birthday party, and, of course, she throws a masquerade ball. This is third on the list of played-out reality-television theme-party ideas. The list goes: Roaring Twenties party, white party, masquerade ball, divorce party, Night of a 1,000 Cynthias. The worst part of any themed party on one of these shows is that people end up having to deal with stressful, dramatic situations while dressed like buffoons. Look at Tom Sandoval: He has to talk to Jax like he’s a Tardis operator dressed up as Jerry Seinfeld for Halloween.
This party has already created drama before we even find out what Jax is up to. While at work at SUR (yes, they still work there), Scheana goes up to Katie and tells her that she is not invited to her birthday party because she, Scheana, doesn’t want any drama. If she doesn’t want any drama, why walk up to Katie and tell her she’s not invited? That’s like if you walk up to a shark tank wearing a meat dress saying you don’t want to die today.
To make it even worse, Scheana then goes and invites Katie’s husband, Tom Schwartz, and still doesn’t invite Katie. Then Tom Schwartz, a gorgeous hunk of butter whose brain didn’t make it to the Land O’Lakes, actually goes to this party without his wife and no one seems to think that is a problem. That is a huge problem. That’s Jon-Hamm’s-package big. That is GDP-of-China big. That is Fox-News-sexual-harassment-settlement big.
Tom arrives at the party and all hell is already breaking loose because Sandoval heard a rumor from his friend that Faith, one of the former SURvers, had sex with Jax while he was with Brittany. He confronts Jax at the party and Jax categorically denies that he had sex with Faith, his face frozen with fear and/or Botox. (Probably both.) Jax categorically denies the allegations, but he spent a whole season denying that he had sex with Kristen when he was with Stassi, and we all know how that turned out. Right now, everyone watching this is Hashtag Team Faith.
Meanwhile, Faith is at the party. She is talking to DJ James Kennedy, who is happy that his child bride Raquel is no long a counselor-in-training at summer camp so he can hang out with her instead of his gay friend, an animated tooth in a children’s instructional video about brushing. Faith tells DJ James Kennedy that she and Jax hooked up and she’s mad because there’s a ton of whispering at this party and she’s afraid it’s about her.
It is about her, because some gay dude told Brittany that Jax slept with Faith in one of those “I don’t believe it, but everyone is saying it …” games, a favorite of 14-year-olds and our current president. So, Jax and Sandoval are in a corner talking about it, Brittany and her gaggle are whispering about it, and Faith is blabbing to DJ James Kennedy, all at the same time.
The story that Faith has to tell is the best, and it gets progressively better with each passing detail. Not only did Jax slide into her Twitter DMs so that they could hang out, he showed up at her job, which is living in the home of and caring for a 93-year-old woman. Jax comes on to her at the old lady’s house, and then they hook up while she’s lying next to them asleep and could wake up any minute and breathe one hot Polident breath on them and end the whole thing.
Then she says that Jax sleeps with her without using a condom. While in the middle of giving it to her, he says, “Are you on birth control?” After she says no, he says, “Too late,” which is the third-worst thing a girl can hear in bed, right behind, “The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie,” and “Oh, yeah, Brad.” Now, Faith is late for her period and might be pregnant.
Faith looks like a younger version of RuPaul’s Drag Race runner-up Peppermint, so you know she and Jax would have some really hot babies. But is that even in the cards? I sure hope not for Brittany’s sake, but for the rest of our sakes, it would sure make a really interesting season, and one with even a scintilla of diversity in it.
Given his history, everyone obviously believes Faith over Jax, including Kristen, who wants to kill him for not learning his lesson about cheating. Kristen says, “I want to hit Jax in the balls with a hammer. But over the shorts, so I don’t have to look at them again.” That is a very clever line for Kristen, which makes me think all those improv classes she’s been shelling out for might actually be paying dividends.
The only other drama this week involves Sandoval, who is opening a bar with Tom Schwartz, Lisa Vanderpump, and Ken Todd. It is called Tom Tom, after the two minority investors and also the very specific section of slash fiction that I have taken to writing. Lisa and Ken have designed a bar that is “romantic industrial,” and Sandoval wants something as comfy as Central Perk, as edgy as Death and Co., and with as many jiggers as a liquor-supply company’s warehouse. They don’t really have a matching vision.
Also, Lisa and Ken overhear Sandoval telling Ariana that he’s worried about being railroaded by the two of them. While the Sandoval-Schwartzes and the Vanderpump-Todds are inspecting the site, Lisa takes the opportunity to, well, railroad Sandoval about whether or not she wants to partner with these two at all anymore. This really seems like the wrong response for Lisa, but I don’t think she’s concerned because, well, it all seems staged. Lisa Vanderpump knows how to make good TV, and if that means perching herself in the right booth and throwing a tiny hissy fit at the right moment, then she is going to do just that.
Lisa and Ken storm out of the space, leaving Tom and Tom alone, with a pile of demolished sheetrock huddling in a corner and the walls stripped down to the studs. They both stand there in their button-down shirts, staring at the just-closed door as they each run a right hand through their respective thick heads of hair. It’s like they’re salt-and-pepper shakers, or a pair of demonically possessed marionettes. “What are we going to do?” Schwartz, asks, panicked.
“I don’t know,” Sandoval replies. “She has to be joking, right? She’s not going to quit being our partner.”
“She better be joking,” Schwartz says. “I sank $100,000 into this place and I need something to show for it. She can’t ruin us like that.”
Sandoval looks at him and paces a little bit closer, kicking a bit of construction dust up into the musky air. “Shhh,” he says, reaching out and running an index finger over Schwartz’s barely trembling hand. When Schwartz doesn’t calm down, he grabs that hand and holds it up to his firm, rounded chest, with a pocket of vulnerability in the middle where his heart is beating quickly. “It doesn’t matter what she does,” Sandoval says. “We’ll always have this.”
Sandoval puts his hand at the base of Schwartz’s neck, hairy and warm, and pulls his face toward his, their lips meeting in the middle in a comforting surprise. They both close their eyes as their kiss gets deeper, their tongues plunging and their chests heaving toward one another. As their bodies press closed, Schwartz runs his hands down Sandvoval’s back, over the round hump of his ass, finally resting there, like two unfilled cups right under the well of those two globes. He pulls Sandoval closer as he lets out a little grunt, but doesn’t break their embrace, not for anything — not for Lisa, not for Katie, not for the destruction of their dream, nor the intrusion of daylight, as someone else opens the front door and walks into the dust-saturated room.