Divorce Party Crashers
Photo: Vulture; Photo: Bravo
On Seinfeld, we got to watch a movie called Rochelle, Rochelle, a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. On Vanderpump Rules, we got an episode essentially called Raquel, Raquel, but it is a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Las Vegas to Lake Havasu, and I feel that we have been cheated.
Yes, this episode centered on Raquel and her actions, and it’s a little hard to judge exactly what happens because the #Scandoval of it all really warps your perception, like looking out of those fly-eye things you’d win for 25 tickets at Chuck E. Cheese. If we just saw this episode without knowing what we know now, many of us would be on Raquel’s side. However, now that we know that the whole time this was taking place she was probably sleeping with Tom Sandoval behind everyone’s backs, well, I have to takesies-backsies everything I say because, girl, you done did wrong.
Also, before I get into another fight in the comments about this (sorry, everyone!), I have it on very good authority that none of the locked episodes for this season have been reedited, and that includes last week’s and this week’s, before you go spouting conspiracy theories about how they changed this episode to make Raquel look bad. To paraphrase the immortal words of Garcelle Beauvais, the editors didn’t have to make her look bad; she could manage that all by herself.
The episode starts with Raquel shattered from their night out at Vanderpump á Paris and (groan) Discopussy, where she made out with Oliver Beauvais (not his real name). Back in the suite, Raquel is so sauced that she’s microwaving their whole tub of combined leftovers at once and saying a little prayer to Lisa Vanderpump, thanking her for not only the mac ’n’ cheese balls but also her job, her apartment, her life, and her little modicum of fame she’s managed to scrounge for herself like a squirrel that took a used condom back to its tree thinking it was a nut. (It was, just, um, in a different way.)
She sits on the bed with Katie, Lala, and Kristina Kelly (always both names!), and they’re making fun of how messy Raquel is and also noting that it seems like she’s only interested in taken guys. Katie Maloney Schwartz Maloney says, “I’m starting to see a pattern in Raquel. She’s only interested in men either her friends are married to or interested in, and that is a big red flag for me.” Well, you should have shared that red flag with Ariana, missy. As the conversation continues, Lala says that after a few drinks, she wouldn’t trust Raquel around her man.
This is when things really turn. Raquel says, “Thank God you don’t have a man to be around.” Aaaaaaaaaand done. I am dead. On the floor laughing, cringing, cheering, and “Oh boy”–ing. What Raquel said was clearly mean and rude, but I think it had more to do with her being drunk. I think what she meant to say was, “Well, you don’t have a man, so why are we even worrying about it?” It also has something to do with the tone. I feel like if a friend of mine said the same thing to me, I would have countered with, “Well, girl, good thing you ain’t got no man,” with a little extra gaccent (that’s a gay accent) and we all would have cackled and laughed and one person would have snapped their fingers in the air and it all would have been over.
To Lala’s credit, she handles it as gracefully as possible, saying, “I’m gonna shut this down. Raquel’s been drinking; it’s 3 a.m.; I’m going to bed.” Yes. Just squash it for now and deal with it in the morning. Naturally, as Raquel leaves the room, the new Witches of WeHo start stirring their cauldron and making fun of Raquel, who creeps back in and eavesdrops. Why? Maybe she really wants to be friends with these girls; maybe she wants to see if they are talking shit. I don’t know. I don’t think I have an adequate read on Raquel at all. Anyway, her feelings are hurt.
In the morning, she says that she doesn’t remember anything that happened at the suite, but she does remember saying something offensive to Lala but doesn’t remember what. When they tell her, she, of course, feels bad. Lala says in confessional, “What she showed up with on this bed was appalling.” Really? “Appalling?” My BS (Before Scandoval) interpretation is that, yeah, it was not nice, but James Kennedy delivering a compliment sounds like way more of an asshole than Raquel did here. This is just average behavior for this class of reality star. My AS (After Scandoval) interpretation is, okay, yeah, she’s appalling and sleeping with everyone’s man.
Lala then asks her, “Do you really feel like that? ‘Well, if you can’t keep a man, here I am?’” All right, I love Lala, but she is perhaps the most wrong person on Bravo. This is not what Raquel was saying at all. Raquel was not saying she would cheat with someone else’s man; she was making fun of Lala for not having a man. These are two different things. But then Lala lays it out that if you might cheat with a guy in a relationship, you’re not for her. Well, guess who isn’t for her then!
In the car on the ride to Lake Havasu, a man-made lake named with the Incan word for “trashy,” Kristina Kelly asks Raquel what her breakup with James is like, and we get treated to her recounting one of James’s lowest points when he was freaking out at her family over Thanksgiving. She then gets her Tennessee Williams moment. “People have been literally asking me, ‘Raquel, who are you?’ And you know what my answer is? ‘I don’t know.’” Yeah, welcome to the world, my sweet little cherub. None of us know who we are. It’s always changing. One day you’re Lauren from Utah hanging out in a lake; the next day you’re Lala going from apartment to mansion and back again with a stopover in a Los Angeles Times exposé about your baby daddy. None of us know who we are — no reason to have a hangover-fueled panic attack about it.
When they arrive in Havasu, Charli shows up fresh off a shift from SUR, her hair still smelling like goat-cheese balls and 13 percent tips from tourists. Everyone gets barely dressed up and goes to Martini Bay, a restaurant that puts chocolate syrup on the inside of its grasshopper martini glasses because, as Vanderpump Rules fans, we haven’t been subjected to enough lately. I make fun of the restaurant, but the five women’s fight there may be one of my all-time favorites ever on Bravo. Why? Because they are all wrong. We’re talking “Dewey Defeats Truman” wrong. We’re talking announcing La La Land–instead–of–Moonlight wrong. We’re talking picking–Reuban Studdard–over–Clay Aiken wrong (#Claymates4Life).
When Charli asks if they met any hosts or servers at Paris, a question that comes right in through her earpiece, they start to recount the story of Oliver. This is when Lala starts yet again by saying that Raquel’s comment was offensive to all women in the world. She says when she heard it, she was personally offended for everyone in a relationship. Yeah, that’s because Lala doesn’t know what Raquel meant. She thinks that Raquel wants to bang other girls’ boyfriends, which turns out to be true, but at the time we didn’t know it was. And even if that’s what Raquel wants to do, it’s still not what she said.
So, no, Raquel was not offensive to all women everywhere. She was just making fun of Lala, someone who has historically been mean to her more often than she’s been nice. She also was not a “liability” the night before. She was just drunk and being a jerk. If that is a “liability,” then Lala is the only asset on this whole show, and the whole thing is so in debt that, like Pump, it had its liquor license canceled and is probably shuttered for good.
Raquel is sick of it and finally decides to stick up for herself. She tells Lala, “I shouldn’t trust you around my man.” When Lala asks why, she retorts, “Because you slept with my man!” So, yes, Lala actually did the thing that Raquel (at this point) was only accused of. In the moment, I give the point to Raquel because Lala did drunkenly hump James Kennedy when she knew he was with Raquel and she was with Randall. She has Lala dead to rights. (Well, for now.)
Lala tells her, “You have to get over it, babe. It was six years ago.” Yeah, but Raquel just found out about it. She hasn’t had time to get over it. Lala makes a good point; what Raquel did was in the very recent past, whereas what Lala did is, by this point, ancient history in her mind. Since then, she’s gotten sober and improved as a person. But just because Lala has gotten over it doesn’t mean that Raquel has had the time to process it. Just because Lala wants to be over her bad behavior doesn’t mean everyone else has to be, especially if she hasn’t made amends for hurting people while she was drinking.
Let’s keep track of everyone being wrong so far: Charli is wrong for Raquel “sticking up for herself” by being mean to Lala, Raquel is wrong for accusing Lala of sleeping with a married dude when she was actively doing it herself, and Lala being wrong about what Raquel said and not being a hypocrite wasn’t enough, then it is time for Katie Maloney to be wrong once again. When Raquel brings up old shit about Lala sleeping with a married dude, Katie tells her, “You tried to make out with a still-married man.”
Lala and Katie are right: Raquel gets no credit for not making out with Schwartz since he was the one that made that decision, but Katie can’t get up on her high horse being like, “I’m still married to him.” Girl, you are at a divorce party. You were hitting on a guy last night and have already shagged a few dudes. I don’t care. Fuck all of the Inland Empire for all I care. I just don’t want Katie using the fact that Tom is still married when it’s convenient for her when she knows full well that they are both moving on and free to hook up with whomever they want. Should Raquel have tried to kiss Schwartz? Hell no! But Katie’s justification for it is totally backward.
They all get up and leave because they’re mad at Raquel, and Lala doesn’t like being called a mistress. She says that Russell never had to answer for his actions, but she did. Know who made her answer? Katie and her old clique of mean girls who held it over her head for seasons. But now that Katie’s old friends were kicked out for being racist, Lala is going after Raquel for doing the exact thing she did. Lala is just perpetuating the system of abuse to blame the single women who are sleeping with married men. Yes, in hindsight, Raquel deserves all of this, but at the time I think Lala knew that Raquel had flipped over to the dark side.
What I really wanted to yell at this table was that they’re all awful and they’re all compromised. Raquel pulled that shit with Schwartz, she pulled that shit with Oliver, and, little did we know, she was pulling Sandoval like it used to be Schwartz’s job. Lala slept with a married dude and bragged about it, and she slept with another girl’s boyfriend. Katie Maloney, well, I don’t think she’s ever cheated, but she’s been a very particular shade of awful since starting her career in the reality television arts and sciences a decade ago. All of their high horses have been murdered, mutilated, and turned into glue (or maybe that is the secret ingredient in a goat-cheese ball)? All of this posturing about who is right or who is better is absolutely moot because they all have made their homes in the muck.
The next morning, Raquel goes downstairs and tells everyone that she doesn’t feel comfortable in the house and that she and Charli are leaving. Know what, this is the right thing to do. This is the right approach. (The ultimate irony is that if Ariana were on this trip to play peacemaker between Raquel and everyone else — much like she did for Lala when she was on the receiving end — then I don’t think it would have escalated this far.) The problem is that Raquel then has to say, “We’re going to hang out with Scheana and Schwartz at the MondriAaAaAaAaaaaaaannnnnnnnnn.” And that’s just what they do. They drive back to WeHo to congregate at a hotel bar that my mother said was trashy and too crowded the one time she stayed at the hotel.
And now the sides are drawn between Team Katie and Team Tom, as Scheana said, only for them to be redrawn just a few months later. And across town, Tom and Tom. What? Have I used up all my word count talking about Raquel? Guess you’re going to have to write your own Tom/Tom slash fiction in the comments.
After this, there is a cute scene where two straight women rip through Tom Schwartz’s closet and tell him to throw away literally everything he owns, and they’re going to start from scratch. This used to be the job of Carson Kressley and a bunch of Bravo gays, but we have moved on from that now, and the straights are on their own. Sorry, ladies. I know this is too much to bear.