The (Unofficial) Vanderpump Rulebook

First, I can’t emphasize enough that this is totally unofficial and 100% for leisure and writing practice. Yes, I write all the time for work, but it still helps me to keep it up as a hobby.

Second, I don’t know or work for Lisa Vanderpump or any of the cast of Vanderpump Rules in any capacity. But while rewatching for the umpteenth time, I decided to write about some of the funny, sweet, or more profound lessons buried in the show’s episodes.

Yes, the drama is often tacky, and I understand some might be scripted. But this is just for fun, so there’s no harm to be done!

Season 1, episode 1: “Welcome to SUR”

The cast of the seventh season of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ on Bravo

Let’s start with some background since we’re going back over a decade here. In the premiere episode of VPR, we learned that dominant couple Jax and Stassi had been together through two years of “heated passion,” breaking up, and making up.

It was clear from the start that it hadn’t led them to the healthiest place. Some people might disagree with me, but I think the general consensus would be that their relationship was already circling the drain.

Stassi proudly described them as the respective girl and guy pack leaders. And this shows how she had other reasons for being with Jax than (spoiler) finding someone who shared her views on loyalty and monogamy. She liked who they were together.

Most of us have been in a toxic relationship before, so who’s to judge?

Anyway. Stassi was a server, and Jax was a bartender at Lisa-Vanderpump-owned hotspot, SUR. That’s short for Sexy Unique Restaurant, and what’s really unique is there are low expectations for dresses that cover the booty or professional behavior from employees when cameras are in the house.

Ok. Let’s introduce Scheana, the (other) “other woman” in former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville’s marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian, aside from his now wife, singer Leann Rimes. (A Google search will help anyone unfamiliar with that scenario to quickly catch up.)

That scandalous affair ended in heartbreak, including for Scheana, who seemingly felt ashamed about it. Plus, when the show opened, she’d recently relocated from one of Lisa’s other restaurants — you know, to solidify her mark as an easy target.

A new coworker with a tabloid and Bravo-documented scandal in her past? Stassi was brimming with insecurities over a not-so-great relationship with a not-so-great boyfriend (no offense to the old Jax), and Scheana was good as gold for her to take it out on.

Stassi’s defenses were immediately up, and she made it clear that she didn’t want Scheana anywhere around the restaurant, especially not at the bar where Jax was. It was tough for Scheana since she worked there and wanted to make a good impression on Lisa.

Also, Scheana was in a committed relationship, but she became the embodiment of other women who could catch Jax’s eye. That was a literal world of women, and Stassi seemed determined to give her no rest at first. Her stated goal was to make her quit.

Meanwhile, while out with Peter, who also dated Stassi, Jax didn’t hesitate to flirt with a non-SUR server on camera while chatting away about his terrible life with Stassi. For what it’s worth, which is pretty much nothing, Peter agreed that dating her sucked.

But Jax wasn’t talking about splitting up with Stassi. Of course not! He was (seemingly) justifying flirting and whatever else with other ladies. That’s the thing she was worried about!

I can’t say this is what happened here, but it seems like gaslighting, or, as Derek calls it, “Jaxlighting.”

He assured Stassi that her suspicious, insecure behavior was unhinged. Then, he used her reactions to his legitimate red flags as an excuse to complain and justify doing precisely what she thought he was doing. Yikes!

It was easy for him to blame his wandering eye on her quirks and insecurities when he was out on the prowl, but they weren’t enough to make him leave her at the end of most days.

All that brings us to lesson number one: be very careful about blaming others for your behavior. Jax and Stassi were each guilty of it, and it was a terrible look for both of them.

First, Stassi was taking her frustrations about a bad relationship out on an innocent bystander, Scheana. Her friends tried to tell her to bring it down a notch, but she was sure Scheana was the problem since she’d previously been involved in an affair in someone else’s relationship. She was preparing to die on that hill.

At the same time, Jax made it seem like Stassi’s suspicious behavior was part of why he was out flirting with someone else who wasn’t even Scheana. Have mercy.

Really long story short, their relationship was just kind of a mess.

“I am the devil. And don’t you forget it.”

Moving on. Stassi’s behavior toward Scheana would only work on reality television since it’s not like most people could get away with openly harassing coworkers. Most managers would probably agree that keeping even the best quality employees on track in such a disrupted workflow would be hard.

But they lived in a warped reality between their serving jobs and their aspirations, with a heavy emphasis on beauty, fame, and their romantic relationships.

Lisa pointed that out as problematic for her as a LA business owner, noting her employees hoped to find careers in the entertainment industry and weren’t necessarily dedicated to service and hospitality (i.e., some of them were bad at their jobs.)

And there is lesson number two: most of this made-for-tv behavior would likely be totally inappropriate at anyone else’s restaurant job. In most workplaces, wreaking havoc with and on your coworkers is grounds for immediate termination.

But would we watch people make drinks and serve food without amplifying the dramatic elements? I know I wouldn’t!

Ok. Last one.

A tip-pooling discussion in the first episode shows how Stassi had been placed at the top of the workplace social hierarchy. To recap, Scheana mentioned how at the other restaurant, Villa Blanca, they kept their tips instead of pooling and splitting at the end of their shifts.

Stassi was immediately pissed. Even Lisa suggested she was “piggybacking” on the other servers by splitting tips and not carrying her weight. Still, everyone sat silent when she was the most adamant that Scheana was ridiculous.

To be clear, I am not against tip-pooling. However, Scheana’s idea sounded like something that could have benefited almost everyone in the discussion but Stassi, as confirmed by Lisa. Yet there was obviously some fear of her wrath for opposing her.

So, for lesson number three: don’t put people on weird pedestals and leave them there. Only one person really benefits from that most of the time.

In season one, the pedestal-sitter was part of Stassi’s personality, with all due respect to her. She was looking out for herself in that situation, and there was clearly an expectation that everyone else was looking out for her, too.

Now, let’s conclude with the best quote of the episode, which came from Lisa. While acknowledging Stassi held some power over her peers, she said, “If there was one person in the universe I wouldn’t follow, it would be Stassi.”


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