I usually don’t give much credit to the cast of Vanderpump Rules, a bottomless brunch for the criminally insane, but somehow the action of the show has dovetailed quite nicely with the great reckoning of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements that have dominated pop-culture reporting, dinner conversations, and even awards-show red carpets. I’m not saying that Brittany playing a message that Jax made talking shit about her is even remotely as bad as what the victims of sexual assault experienced, but everyone’s reactions to it are very much like what is happening in the culture right now.
First of all, Lala gets a hold of a recording of a conversation that Jax had with Faith after cheating on Brittany with her. Lala and Ariana then play that tape for Brittany while everyone is shithoused off of drunk gummies at Jax and Brittany’s “housewarming” party. We’re not allowed to hear the tape, but apparently Jax said that he’s never going to marry Brittany, that he is no longer sexually attracted to her, and there is no way that he’s ever going to have children with her. On top of dealing with the fact that he’s cheating, this is way too much for Brittany.
She reacts by going into the party and trying to broadcast the recording on the speakers so that everyone can hear it. Yes, Brittany is taking her grievances public, just like so many women have. Jax freaks out because he knows his reputation will be further ruined and the guys run off to Tom and Katie’s apartment next door to talk about how what these gals are doing to them is totally unfair.
Lala, Stassi, Kristen, Scheana, and Ariana all huddle around Brittany to support her and listen to this tape so that they can convince Brittany that Jax is a piece of shit and she did nothing wrong. DJ James Kennedy, the one man who stays behind to try to defend Jax, is shouted out of the room until he skulks off to go be with the boys. I was so proud of these girls that they would band together like this and support Brittany. So much of this show is women tearing each other apart over the things that guys do to them, and it was nice to see them finally joining forces to confront the awful, cheating boogeyman that is Jax Taylor.
This, of course, threatens the other couples. Tom Sandoval freaks out at Ariana for even playing the tape for Brittany in the first place. Yes, I don’t disagree with him that breaking this out when everyone is wasted is a bad idea, but that’s not what happened at all. And thank God for Ariana shouting him down when he tries to tell her how she should have acted. I also love that Ariana called him “obtuse.” That is such a great insult. It’s not only stupid, but also unfeeling and unthinking all at the same time. It also has a nice whiff of both high-school vocabulary lessons and geometry about it. You can’t argue with “obtuse.” There is no angle you can take to fight against it. (See what I did there?!)
Even worse is when Jax comes back to their apartment the following morning and tries to blame Brittany for everything that happened. He’s mad at her because she said they would fix everything “between them” and she played that message for everyone. Say what, now? This overinflated dinosaur pool floatie cheated on her, talked shit about her on tape, and now he’s trying to blame her for what happened to him? The only words out of his mouth should be, “I’m sorry. I do not deserve you. I went to Jared.”
Brittany is right. She is the one who is hurt and wronged in this scenario and the fact that she didn’t pull an Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale on all of his shit is completely unbelievable. Both Jax and Tom Sandoval tell their girlfriends to “take responsibility for their actions.” Oh no, nuh-uh. Hashtag Time’s Up. It is time for them to take responsibility for how shabbily they treat their respective partners, especially Jax, who has a history of this kind of behavior. As I’ve said before, the only person Jax hates more than himself is every single woman on the planet.
Ugh, how could anyone want to date this guy? Later in the episode, Stassi says, “When will women realize that Jax is not worth dating?” Precisely! When?! Still, at the end of the episode, Brittany gets back together with him. She’s still with him now. All of the women on this show and even Lisa Vanderpump try to tell her that she’s worth more, that she deserves better, and that Jax is never going to change. But she decides that, unlike her mother who has been married four times, she is going to stick with this. She is going to forgive him.
She goes about it the right way, setting boundaries for him. She tells him he has to start therapy and that he’s never going to cheat on her again or she’s going to leave. And even then, he says, “It takes two to tango, it takes two to fight.” Yeah, it does take two to fight, but there’s a difference between the wronged lashing out at the one who has wronged her and two people treating each other shabbily. Brittany has done nothing shabby to Jax at all. Still, he says, “I cheated, but what did she have to do to make me do that?” What? So even his cheating is somehow Brittany’s fault? God, this man is so disgusting that I’d rather drink paint thinner out of Eric Trump’s leopard-killing hat than be in the same room as him. I don’t understand what is wrong with every one of these women who have dated him and had sex with him. It makes me want to set every member of my gender on fire and hurl the ashes into the sun.
The other strange thing about this whole saga is the provenance of the tape in the first place. Faith surreptitiously made it after she and Jax had sex. Why did she think she would need evidence of this? What even lead her to want to make this tape at all? Then she played it for James, which sort of makes sense because it does establish that she did in fact sleep with Jax. But then James stole her phone, sent the recording to himself, and then sent it to Lala. That’s how it got back to Brittany, through a litany of subterfuge and deceit that would give Richard Nixon’s ghost an erection lasting longer than four hours.
I know that reality shows are supposed to be the new soap operas, but this behavior is ridiculous. It’s so insane that if Eileen Davidson got a Young and the Restless script with this string of events, even she would be like, “This is too unbelievable, the audience won’t buy it.” I mean, what actual humans do these things?
Katie, Tom Schwartz, and Stassi realize this when they have to explain the situation to Patrick, Stassi’s boyfriend who seems like a reasonable person with a real job and aspirations and a very ill-advised man bun. They all sort of recoil that these are the schoolyard antics they’re subsumed with while this guy is trying to like, have a career and pay a mortgage and maybe sock some money away so that he can buy a log cabin somewhere in Palm Springs where he can store all of the angel wings he’s bartered for at “The Burn.”
Tom, of course, felt the worst about all of this because he aspires to be just like Patrick, with a life, a real job, and some semblance of a future to think about when he squints into the sun atop Runyon Canyon after a mildly vigorous hike. After Patrick shook his head at these admissions, they all filtered out of the speakeasy where they had been enjoying some drinks behind the bookcase. Tom was next to Patrick and swung his arm around Patrick’s shoulder in a gesture of easy goodwill. “Sorry about all the drama tonight,” he said.
“Aw, it’s nothing, man,” Patrick said, pivoting toward Tom and turning that arm around his shoulder into a hug. “I just think you’re beautiful, man.” There was a pause as Patrick moved his arms up and down Tom’s muscular back. “Really beautiful,” he whispered into Tom’s ear as his chin sunk into the top of Tom’s back.
Tom didn’t know what to do. The hug was lasting a bit too long and he was frozen with desire. After about ten seconds, he fought through the paralyzing fuzz that was gnawing at his stomach and moved his hand down past the small of Patrick’s back and cupped his hand lightly on Patrick’s buttocks.
To Tom’s surprise, Patrick put his own hand on top of Tom’s and forced him to squeeze the hard, flexed glute. “Shh,” Patrick whispered. “Not in front of the girls.” And then he pulled away. The stubble from his chin latched into the stubble from Tom’s, creating the sort of static energy that could make even the most stable of zeppelins explode on contact.