Catch up on prior seasons of Vanderpump Rules on Hulu. Part one of the season five reunion airs Monday, April 3, on Bravo.
Detractors of reality TV pooh-pooh the genre as a vacuous cesspool that celebrates crass idiocy and normalizes bad behavior that leads to societal horrors like our current presidential administration. For a lot of reality programming, this assessment isn’t far off, though I ask that critics reconsider the Bravo TV docu-soap Vanderpump Rules as a reality-show redeemer.
Now wrapping its fifth season, Pump Rules concerns the wait staff of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s WeHo eatery SUR (short for “Sexy Unique Restaurant.” No, I’m not fucking with you!) Like most people who got their BA in English, I’m well versed in the delectably petty dramatics afoot in the service industry, but these SURvers turn picayune bickering into high art. Friendships and romances are declared and renounced over the course of each rosé- and tequila-fueled episode, making every season a roller coaster of feels. As we approach the end of this go-round, let’s examine how the merry band of SURvers fared this season.
Katie and Tom Schwartz: Season five was a lead-up to this longtime couple’s impending nuptials. Katie, a veteran SUR waitress, and Tom, a floppy-haired unemployed male model, spent most of each episode fighting, making the audience wonder just why they were getting married in the first place. Despite their frequent rows, the couple’s Tahoe destination wedding was surprisingly chill thanks in part to Katie’s newly acquired medical marijuana card.
Highest High: You’d think I’d put the wedding here, but it was actually Katie having a three-tiered display of Taco Bell tacos at her bridal shower.
Lowest Low: Katie earned the nickname “Tequila Katie” for her frequently unruly party attitude, but it’s a blacked-out, dragged-up Tom who takes the cake as worst drunk during the couple’s joint bachelor(ette) parties in NOLA. Tom flung belligerent accusations while slinking around a hotel hallway in nothing but a white slip, and it wasn’t even his most embarrassing moment this season. That superlative belongs to the prank he pulled on Jax and Tom Sandoval by feeding them steaks he had sandwiched between his butt cheeks. Why dude, seriously.
Final Score: Two chilled shots of Patrón, served on a pre-nup bev nap
Stassi: The show’s former Queen Bee had a bit of a bumpy road when it came to romance. She ended her relationship with her offscreen boyfriend, Patrick, was negged in a hot tub by a pasty dude from Bravo’s Montauk docu-soap Summer House and went dateless to her best friend Katie’s wedding. Hopefully next season she’ll have a boyfriend so she can go to parties and do other things aside from crying about dying alone.
Highest High: Looking like a sexy-ass Prince protégé in her just-for-the-hell-of-it boudoir photoshoot.
Lowest Low: That super extra bathroom meltdown after resident cool girl Arianna told her off.
Final Score: A magnum of rosé served with a crazy straw
Arianna and Tom Sandoval: This cool kid bartender couple seemed to have the most fun of anyone this season. Arianna wasn’t asked to be Katie’s bridesmaid because of her so-called negative attitude, but she got to wear a tux as one of Schwartz’s groomsmen. Her birthday trip to NASCAR in wine country looked like a ton of fun if you forget how badly she and everyone else trashed that Winnebago. People are filming, for Chrissakes. Clean up, you filthy animals!
Highest High/Lowest Low: Sandoval’s tearfully soulful reaction to the Pulse shooting during the Pride episode made my little black heart grow three sizes.
Final Score: A case of Coors Banquet icing down in a baby pool
Scheana: Man. Poor Scheana. Every week a new fight with Katie, Stassi and Kristen over some trivial bullshit. “Scheana, if you talk to Lala, you’re being disloyal to Katie.” “Scheana, stop being so fake.” “Scheana, quit trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. It’s never gonna happen.” Scheana had to dodge these accusations from the mean girls clique all while her marriage crumbled.
Highest High: There had to have been at least one day of filming when no one decided to tell her she’s fake. They didn’t air it, but still.
Lowest Low: Probably splitting up with her husband on television.
Final Score: A corked bottle of Pinot Grigio you decide to drink anyway because fuck it.
Kristen: Kristen used to be the resident self-avowed troublemaker, but now she’s in a steady relationship. Kristen’s pretty boring now.
Highest High: Not punching her date in the face at Katie and Tom’s wedding.
Lowest Low: Showing a picture of Jax’s penis while onstage performing “comedy.”
Final Score: A shot of Fireball with a Virginia Slims menthol 100 chaser
Jax: The 37-year-old bartender is still a shiny-faced dope, but now that he’s in a stable relationship with Southern belle Brittany, he’s not as scandalous as he was in prior seasons. He’s also on parole, so.
Highest High: Being roasted by all his former lovers in front of his current lover and his current lover’s conservative Christian mother at his birthday party.
Lowest Low: Crying like an infant while apologizing to his ex Stassi for being such a shit during their relationship in front of Brittany, his current girlfriend.
Final Score: Creatine sprinkled over a vodka Red Bull
James: SUR’s resident pipsqueak UK DJ is easily the most detestable of the bunch, which says a lot when Jax is there. He started off the season by going on an apology tour after fat-shaming Katie (who’s like, not even fat, gah). After being fired by Lisa for getting drunk on the job, he appeared less frequently; he was last seen Eddie Haskelling his way into his beauty-queen-girlfriend mother’s heart during a family dinner.
Highest High: When Lisa Vanderpump fired him from SUR.
Lowest Low: When Lisa Vanderpump fired him from SUR.
Final Score: Apple juice, served neat.
Lala: Lala made a splash last year as SUR’s newest provocateur. The love child of Lana Del Rey and the lady gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Lala the Hostess caused a lot of confusion over the mystery boyfriend who may or may not be married, may or may not be an NFL football player and may or may not have bought her a Range Rover.
Highest High: Coming back to SUR after weeks of not showing up to shifts to say she quit.
Lowest Low: Standing up Arianna on her birthday trip. More like Lame-o Del Rey!
Final Score: A warmed-over Pumptini garnished with an acrylic stiletto nail