When Season 7 of Vanderpump Rules premiered in December, all of the show’s cast members seemed to be doing okay, as far as Bravo standards are concerned: Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright got engaged, Tom Schwartz pledged to curb his drinking by only taking half-shots, Kristen Doute played it as cool as Kristen Doute could ever play it cool, and Scheana Marie began casually dating. The biggest drama, it seemed, was between a still-delinquent James Kennedy and seemingly reformed Jax, should Jax give into the White Kanye’s antagonism and revert to his old ways. Somehow, miraculously, he did not. Honestly, everyone seemed to evolve at least a little bit this season or did their damndest to appear as if they did.
Turns out, Sandoval’s ambitious and dedicated spirit is not only reserved for hair products and costume parties. The man delivered this season—for Lisa, for Schwartz, for the opening of TomTom—and brought his extra energy to his bar with unnecessarily douche-y cocktails that will certainly do him and his business well. If it wasn’t for the fact that he worried about spending $50,000 to buy into TomTom and become a partner—and then didn’t bat an eyelash before dropping $15,000 on a white motorcycle and sidecar for the bar’s opening party—I’d say the guy’s got a good head on his shoulders. (That’s 30 percent of his investment, I did the math.)
Growth level: 7/10
Didn’t you read the thing about him only drinking half of all of his shots?
Growth level: 10/10
Ariana is a tricky one to gauge: She stood up to Lisa Vanderpump’s consistent, playful condescension of the Toms in the finale, but did so only after offering the multi-millionaire a swing of “warm, disgusting tequila” from a bedazzled flask at Jax and Brittany’s engagement party, which Vanderpump kindly declined. Lisa listened to her but was essentially like, “Madix, that’s just how I play with the boys.” Also, whenever the season tip-toed into some seriously un-woke territory, Madix brought home the digestible definitions of cis privilege, and for that, who isn’t grateful? (You know, besides Katie and LaLa.)
Growth level: 7/10
She’s been consistently decent! So sue me?
Season 7 was Beau’s introduction to Vanderpump Rules, so it doesn’t feel right to give him a score. However, I like him a lot, and his mom a lot, and his relationship with his mom a lot, so I’m going to judge him regardless. It’s my blog and I’ll make shit up if I want to.
Growth level: ∞ / 10
Stassi saw an oracle witch lady this season to correct her control issues in her relationship with Beau and somehow it worked. (In reality, it worked because she recognized the problem, discussed it ad nauseam, held herself accountable, and worked hard to strengthen her partnership with the man she will undoubtedly marry.) Also, she wrote a book about being basic and got drunk in Mexico. It was a great season for Stassi.
Growth level: ∞+ / 10
Oh bubba. Katie continues to make no changes in her life and... nothing really happens to her. Such is the benefit of being married to a golden retriever.
Growth level: 0/10
They said it couldn’t be done but, well, all signs point to the surprising truth: Jax Taylor is good now? The bar is so low for him, it might as well be underground—I was about to champion him for “not cheating this season” and for “refraining from dropping gratuitous lies about, like, being Channing Tatum’s roommate,” but let’s call it what it is: he’s good to Brittany, and that sweet Kentucky muffin can’t take any more bullshit. Nor should she have to.
Growth level: 9/10
Brittany is the sweet, moral center of Vanderpump Rules—unless, of course, she has a few too many tequila shots. Cartwright has always been good in a universe of chaotic evil, but this season, she, too, found ways to evolve. She’s no longer willing or able to just take Jax’s bullshit at face value—and even began see a couple’s counselor to make sure they’re ready to get married. For a while, she was very anti-therapy, so it’s nice to see her open up a bit, even if its the result of years of infidelity. I’m rooting for her!
Growth level: 9/10
LaLa spent the majority of Season 7 lashing out at everyone in the wake of her father’s death, which is understandable, but it took a while for her to realize that you can’t be an asshole to everyone, even while you’re grieving—especially if you’re being an asshole to your friends who are trying to support you. (She has Madix to thank for that realization.) Kent turned it around in the final few episodes, and I anticipate Season 8 being even better for her. Unless, of course, there’s more to the 50 Cent drama.
He finally went to therapy but only almost stopped drinking.
Kristen was almost sort of tame this season, but then the whole I’m-drunk-I-hate-my-life-I’m-still-focusing-all-my-rage-on-James-instead-of-the-real-issue-at-hand Doute jumped out on a girls trip to Solvang, California, a Danish Village about three hours Northwest of WeHo. You’ll get ’em next time, kid.
Growth level: 0/10
If there were a Most Improved Player award to give out in this game called life, Scheana Marie would’ve had it in the bag—that is, until the penultimate episode of Season 7, when she slept with some random model to make her “best friend”/fuck buddy/penguin-loving pal Adam Spott jealous—and in the finale, when she confronted him about it at Jax and Brittany’s engagement party and physically wouldn’t let him leave the room. Old Scheana returned! She asked Spott multiple times if he loved her, and he responded with “no,” multiple times, but she kept the conversation going. Beyond being in a wildly inappropriate setting, drawing attention to herself, she began bawling into Brittany’s MeMaw’s arms, clutching the information sheet of a penguin she adopted in Adam’s name at the zoo but never got the chance to tell him. The entire situation is incomprehensibly ridiculous, and makes for delicious television.
Growth level: -3/10
Viewers only really saw Billie in two settings this season: fighting and/or crying, probably because of the rest of the time she was actually doing her job at SUR. She’s busy! Still, that doesn’t bode well on the evolution scale, so, uh, let’s just wait for the reunion.
Growth level: N/A, needs more evidence
Without the woman who essentially owns most of West Hollywood, there would be no Pump Rules. Coming off the loss of her brother, Vanderpump was in rough form this season (and in the simultaneously airing Season 9 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), but she managed to open yet another restaurant bar with the Toms and open herself up to feedback from both boys in a way she might not have before. Plus, she did a beer bong in the finale, and if that’s not growth for a woman so posh she’d make Victoria Beckham blush, I don’t know what is.
Growth level: 8/10