Opinion

Vanderpump Rules reminds us that nothing seems real any more

Vanderpump Rules is like taking a brand-new hallucinogenic AI drug made from snake venom, melted down breast implants and Quorn.

Vanderpump Rules

Lisa Vanderpump (left) and Ariana Madix in Vanderpump Rules. Photo: Nicole Weingart / ©Bravo / Courtesy Photo: Nicole Weingart / ©Bravo / Courtesy Everett Collection

Life is almost permanently confusing now. It continuously feels like the moment just before you fully wake up, when you’re trying to work out whether you’re alive or dead. I used to understand roughly what was going on. Now everyone seems to dress in tomato-coloured jackets or upside-down bikinis, saying things like “It’s giving main character energy!” while forests burn, sea levels rise and the news gets worse. Meanwhile, I am standing in the doorway of life, wondering what I came in for. Is this age, or just what it feels like to witness the slow and inevitable crumbling of civilisation?

When I was giving birth, back when time was relatively linear, the midwife told me that the pain is worse when you tense up. Somehow you have to find a way to let it wash over you. I’ve tried to fight my chronic bewilderment, but the only option seems to be to give up trying to make sense of things and join the hyper-stylised reality show that is modern existence.

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So to get me psyched up for daily life, I like to watch a long-running reality show, but start it from the latest season. If you choose Married at First Sight Australia, that’s fine, because all the contestants are new, but if you choose Vanderpump Rules it’s like taking a brand-new hallucinogenic AI drug made from snake venom, melted down breast implants and Quorn. 

If you do this, be careful, because things get weird fast. Lisa Vanderpump is a British ex-housewife of Beverly Hills who owns a chain of restaurants and several Pomeranians with her bouffanted husband, who looks like a minor character in Lovejoy. The show is about the moronic dramas of the young people who work at her LA restaurant, Sur – and Shakespeare it ain’t. 

However, the last time I saw Vanderpump Rules it was in 2015, and not even Hilary Mantel would have been able to figure out the new plot strands. It doesn’t help that there are TWO people called Tom. One with a moustache that looks like he bought it in a joke shop and one who was married to Katie but then they got divorced. (Who is Katie? Dunno.) Then there’s James, who was going to marry Raquel but cheated on Raquel with Katie, and is now living with Ally, who looks like his mum.

There are other people, too. Scheana, who has a podcast called Scheananigans. And who is this? Oh it’s Lala. (The Teletubby? No.) She’s a glamorous lady, who is eating antipasti in what looks like a pair of pyjamas with dobermans on them. “Schwartz and I have beef,” she says, enigmatically, until I realise she’s not talking about the carpaccio. She’s in a custody battle that ensued when she discovered her ex had been playing pickleball with someone else, but she feels good about herself now because she just got new boobs AND NEW EARS.

I’m still trying to work out who Schwartz is and what pickleball is when I discover that Raquel is now with Peter the restaurant manager, who looks like a very tired Jay Rayner impersonator. James hates him. Tom, though, is unrepentant about breaking up with Katie. “You can’t Captain Hindsight me,” he says, when confronted about his behaviour. Wait, which Tom is this? Oh, never mind. 

Occasionally, Lisa pops in to check on her charges, looking as weary and baffled as me. “It’s confusing for everybody,” she sighs, when she hears the latest impenetrable scandal. Then she pauses for a moment, shrugs and says to the DJ, “OK, let’s get this party going.” The lights go up, the music starts and the mad dance continues – until, presumably, the San Andreas fault decides it’s had enough. Do I keep watching Vanderpump Rules? Of course. This is life now. Nothing is real and everybody has been Vanderpumped, including me.

Vanderpump Rules is on Amazon Prime

Lucy Sweet is a freelance journalist

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

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