Reality shows need conflict, and Vanderpump Rules comes with enough Pumptini-fueled tension to power 1,000 docudramas. There’s no better example of this fact than the season 6 premiere’s cold open, which immediately drops viewers into the hazy fog of war that is an orchestrated-for-TV, strobe-light-lit Bravo party. We have no idea what led to the chaos splashed across out our screens, but everyone is in masks, people are frantically whispering, and Kristen Doute is already calling former hookup Jax Taylor a “stupid son of a bitch.” And, yes, that latter point is what leads to the root of this drama: Jax has been accused of cheating on his sweet, generally-beloved girlfriend Brittany Cartwright.
While that news is already bad enough, season opener “Masquerade” proves there were warning signs in this relationship long before anyone said Jax was unfaithful. The real problems began the moment Jax fat-shamed his girlfriend.
The much-masked opener is actually a flashforward of the emotional carnage to come, so, following the Vanderpump Rules title sequence, “Masquerade” properly begins with the events two days prior to the bash. Mostly everyone still works at SUR, including Jax and Brittany, who ended their spinoff Jax And Brittany Take Kentucky on a sour note. Now, months later, Jax swears everything is better. But, rather than sounding supportive of his partner, he takes mean shots at her supposed behavior, shaming her former eating choices. “Things have been great. She’s finally getting off the couch,” he says of Brittany. “We’re going to the gym. Not keeping Postmates in business.”
That is not how anyone should be talking about their partner. To make matters worse, that statement puts all of the blame on Brittany and her alleged delivery snacking for the problems in the relationship. With three shaming sentences, Jax exonerates himself for any wrongdoing, since apparently, the real issue here is that his so-called do-nothing girlfriend — who, for the unnecessary record, actually looks gorgeous — isn’t going to the gym enough for his liking. No one tell Jax, who keeps swearing he’s going to propose to Brittany, about the “for better or worse” and “in sickness and in health” portion of traditional wedding vows.
While it’s concerning enough Jax is fat-shaming his girlfriend in early May 2017, when the Pump premiere was shot, this fact becomes more upsetting when you realize it was also a major plot line of Take Kentucky, which filmed all the way back in October 2016. That means this form of dragging has apparently been going on for months. During Jax And Brittany, each of Brittany’s family members and loved ones, who hail from the generally conservative small town of Winchester, Kentucky, would ask Jax what his intentions were with their favorite young woman. Each time, the SUR bartender would promise he was ready to pop the question… except for the fact Brittany was “overeating.”
Jax tried to mask his shady critique as concern over his grilfriend possibly being depressed, or losing “The Brittany Spark,” as he put it. But no one bought it — mostly because he seemed more concerned about carb consumption than mental health. With Brittany’s grandma Peggy “Mamaw” Turner, Jax asked, “How do I say this politely? Um, she’s put on some weight.” With Brittany’s father, Jax claimed Brittany was “overeating and sleeping in late.”
It’s unclear why Jax was monitoring his girlfriend’s eating habits so closely, or why he’s conflating eating with a serious, multi-faceted mood disorder, but her family didn't exactly appreciate it. Mamaw hit back, saying Jax has also put on a few pounds, and then it’s revealed he bought his girlfriend a passive aggressive gym membership. Brittany’s father simply said he “doesn’t buy” his would-be so-in-law’s claims. The Cartwright patriarch even asked his daughter if she feels her “spark” is gone, as Jax has told half the population in Winchester, and she enthusiastically denied it.
The “Brittany Spark” nonsense became such a trend, Bravo king Andy Cohen eventually had to ask Jax during a What What Happens Live visit if the phrase was a not-so-subtle euphemism about weight gain. A red-faced Jax struggled to find an appropriate answer, stuttering he loves “curves” on a woman but Brittany lost “a little bit of her mojo.” Jax barely finished an explanatory sentence and avoided dealing with why having a “spark” and “eating” are mutually exclusive; Andy gives his guest his signature side eye.
All of this hanging shame makes the cheating allegations more complex, considering how we now understand Jax has been speaking about Brittany. By the end of “Masquerade,” we finally understand what the Vanderpump Rules party implosion is about. Former SUR employee Faith Stowers shows up to the celebration, which is actually Scheana Marie’s birthday bash, to gossip to James Kennedy that Jax pursued her, and they had sex. Supposedly, he slid into Faith’s Twitter DMs and subsequently came to her new job, which is at-home care for a 95-year-old woman. From there, things happened so fast in front of the sleeping nonagenarian — “He was, like, sucking my toes. It was a situation.” — and now Faith’s period is late. Jax denies the entire wild tale, claiming he’s in a “great relationship,” but, after witnessing how the bartender consistently talks about Brittany, that’s not exactly true.
Even if Jax didn’t cheat on his girlfriend, and right now the entire infidelity rumor is a he-said-she-said mess, Brittany still deserves better considering all the things her partner definitely did do.
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