Everyone on Vanderpump Rules is a bit of a villain — that is kind of the only rule of Bravo’s tequila-soaked West Hollywood story. Yet, every season has one cast member who seems just a little bit more nefarious than the rest. Usually, it is Jax Taylor. Sometimes, it is Kristen Doute or, during an especially tense time, Stassi Schroeder.
However, season 7 is bearing witness to the rise of a brand new VPR super villain: DJ James Kennedy. If there was any question about whether “The White Kanye” is this year’s big bad, Monday night’s “Hope And Pride” eliminated all speculation.
Since last week’s VPR season 7 premiere, there have been some hints James Kennedy, a former Puck-ish character prone to boozy mischief more than anything else, morphed into Jax 2.0 over the hiatus. In the premiere, “A Decent Proposal,” we find out the DJ made Brittany Cartwright cry off-camera by bringing up Jax’s cheating at a public event. Making Brittany cry over Jax’s cheating is usually Jax’s signature move. Yet, Jax avoided any such darkness in “Proposal.” The only tears Brittany shed over her formerly philandering boyfriend in the season-opener were tears of joy after he finally popped the question and slipped a $70,000 engagement ring on her finger.
While James and Brittany’s See You Next Tuesday fiasco (unfilmed, apparently) was awful, the DJ’s mounting villainy truly presents itself in the second half of “Hope And Pride.” That portion of the episode is built around Kristen and her friend Hope’s crusade to “bring down” James. In a flashback, we watch Hope claim she slept with James during Coachella, one room away from James’ girlfriend Raquel Leviss. Raquel was supposedly sleeping during the desert romp. Welcome to the “Miami Girl” sequel.
For this covert operation, Hope and Kristen lock Raquel in a bathroom to tell the future kinesiologist about her boyfriend’s alleged serial cheating (Hope suggests she has hooked up with James repeatedly since he started dating Raquel). Raquel is more upset over Hope aiding and abetting James’ rumored cheating than the very real possibility that James cheated on her in first place. Chaos erupts from there, with James melting down with denials when confronted with this new revelation.
Two Vanderpump reactions to James’ snowballing cheating scandal cement the Brit as this season’s leading ne'er-do-well. First up is Jax Taylor himself, who recognizes James is probably lying. (He should know.) “A lot of girls did accuse me of cheating,” he says in a confessional interview. “And they were all true.” If Jax is the most sagacious person in the room, something is up.
Then Jax’s best friend Tom Sandoval has a response to James’ drama that will give you serious VPR season 6 deja vu. When everyone begins turning on James for his various terrible antics — from making Brittany cry to saying extremely lewd things about ex-BFF Lala Kent to her face — Sandoval leans into the friendship harder. He’s the one who goes to a mini dinner party at James and Raquel’s new apartment early in “Hope And Pride.” Later in the episode, when Raquel has already started crying over her boyfriend's latest cheating scandal in a long line of increasingly elaborate scandals, it’s Sandoval who listens to James yell in a parking lot.
You’ll remember that back when the details of Jax sleeping with Faith Stowers began to unfurl, it was Sandoval who announced, “My instinct is to defend Jax.” Now it seems Sandoval’s instinct is to defend DJ James Kennedy. When Tom Sandoval is the only person in your corner — as was also the case after Jax’s bizarre SUR screaming fit — you've already lost.
If all of this doesn’t prove James has fully settled into Big Bad role for season 7, just know Mr. Pasta ended the episode repeatedly criticizing Katie Maloney-Schwartz’s body. His last words to his coworkers in “Pride” are, “Lose some fucking weight.” Unless James wants to become one of the top voices of feminism in reality TV, as Lala “Everybody Here Has Not Been Working On Our Summer Bodies” Kent did, that kind of drunken behavior is simply irredeemable.
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