'Vanderpump Rules' Is On Its Last Leg—But Here's How It Can Be Fixed

For the better part of a decade, Vanderpump Rules has been one of Bravo’s most beloved, top-tier shows; one might call it The Hills of the 2010s. I mean, this crew had everything you would want in a reality show—complicated love triangles, constant gossiping about one another, and everyone was broke, which meant they were extra thirsty for camera time—and everyone loved it. But over the years, the show seemed to slowly lose its spark, and with the recent season nine premiere falling flat both ratings-wise and reception-wise, it’s time that we address how boring the show has become. There’s a lack of connection throughout the cast, the personal storylines are tired, and the whole show has a general lack of direction. On the whole, it’s incredibly stale, and just doesn’t live up to the hype anymore. So let’s get into why one of the most dramatic reality shows on TV went from iconic to basic, boring, and unoriginal.  

Listen, it’s no mystery that people now are streaming more than watching live TV, so I was expecting a bit of a decline in the ratings for VPR. However, I was shook when I saw that the show’s new season premiered with 637,000 viewers, compared to last season’s premiere that brought in 1.27 million viewers. But somehow, it makes sense. The show lost four of its main characters (deservedly so), and whether you loved them or hated them, they did have big fanbases that tuned in every week.  In addition, the promotional efforts for this season felt weaker than usual, which does affect ratings, and yet, I don’t blame Bravo. What exactly is there to promote? See, I, for one, was excited for the show to focus more on the cast’s personal lives instead of them pretending to work at SUR. I thought this would finally be what the show needed, but boy, was I wrong.

That’s not to say that no one’s personal storylines are interesting. I’m happy for Scheana and Lala and their journey with motherhood; it’s wonderful to watch, and I feel like these two have brought the most drama so far. But other than them, what are we getting? I love Katie, but she was the snarky voice of reason with her BFFs Stassi and Kristen, and without them, she kind of falls flat. Tom and Ariana, while a very cute couple, are boring to watch. James and Raquel are doing fantastic, but I just can’t get myself to care. The issue here is that this season doesn’t have the one asshole that we’re all used to hating on. Jax Taylor, while absolutely terrible, was a reliable source of drama for the show for eight seasons. Jax was so bad that he made everyone look like an angel in comparison. 

The feuds that we see this season are nothing new. VPR has always been a show where everyone gets into conflict in almost every episode. However, now that a sizable chunk of the cast is gone, those feuds are lasting way longer than they should be. I understand why; the cast probably wants to make a great show. But it makes me wonder—what exactly is the show about now? What made VPR stand out was the cast’s connection through SUR. Without that connection, it’s just another boring ensemble show set in Valley Village. The show has also hit a point where I don’t believe that this group would be friends in real life, without the obligation of filming together.  I usually wouldn’t mind that because most Housewives franchises are set up the same way, yet because there isn’t any explosive drama happening this season, there’s just not a lot of material to work with.  I can’t help but feel like we need someone to play the asshole on the show, someone who is consistently unbearable and makes everything about themself. Even though Tom Sandoval checks all of those requirements (he’s horrible, I’m sorry), I do not see him becoming the new Jax any time soon, because he seems to be a favorite of production.  All of this in mind, maybe the way to save this show is by bringing in new blood? 

I do know that there was apprehension with adding too many people last season, and rightfully so. But I think the reason it didn’t work out was that the newbies didn’t mesh well with the OGs. There was a lack of connection and just an overall awkwardness within the cast. Also, there were just too many damn people and too many disjointed storylines to follow. However, next season would be the perfect time to focus on new people, especially now that the OG cast, who was the show’s central focus, is largely gone. I feel like Vanderpump Rules is one of the shows that could do well if they had a consistent cast rotation, a consistent revamp. I think TomTom would be the perfect place for this to happen. Shifting the focus from SUR to TomTom is absolutely the only way this show could become interesting again. There are so many different characters at TomTom from the glimpses that we’ve seen in the past two seasons, and some of those people must be willing to get messy on camera. We could keep the two Toms and their partners, and then build a cast around TomTom. If Bravo wants this show to continue successfully, they need to introduce new people and new vibes. Otherwise, it may be last call for LVP and her motley crew.

Image: Randy Shropshire/Bravo

Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler is a Los Angeles based poet and writer. Between juggling college life and advocating for social issues, Jonathan finds himself maintaining his sanity by binging old episodes of The Real Housewives+ Parks and Rec. You can follow him on Instagram @jonathanchandler_