A LOVE LETTER TO THE WITCHES OF WEHO
If at any point in your life you have turned to me for advice on how to cope or de-stress, I can guarantee I’ve told you to watch TV. I’m a firm believer that good TV can offer an escape like little else can; it is my favorite, my most steadfast, my most reliable form of self-care. It’s easy, relatively cheap, and involves almost no effort. Over the past four years I’ve been at war with my reproductive system; battling an endometriosis diagnosis and all the surgeries, pain, and trauma that comes with that, TV has come in handy as a comfort and an escape many a time. Sometimes it was the Sopranos, or the Young Pope, or Broadchurch; quality programming. But my mother, also quite wise, often repeats advice her college professor gave her: sometimes you just need to eat junk food and watch TV.
Enter Vanderpump Rules.
Vanderpump Rules started out as just another Bravo reality show. It's about the staff at SUR, Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood bar and restaurant. But unlike the Real Housewives franchise, the cast of Vanderpump Rules don’t live in the lap of luxury—they live in apartments where you couldn’t turn on the microwave and the AC at the same time. They don’t have plastic surgeon husbands; they have trash boyfriends who ignore their texts and cheat on them. No fighting with their friends on private jets or at long dining room tables; they smoke cigarettes in the alley behind SUR and call each other “whores” and accuse their boyfriends of cheating on them.
The show originally centered around Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, and Katie Maloney, who affectionately call themselves the "Witches of WeHo" (West Hollywood), and their boyfriends. While the cast has grown exponentially over the years, Stassi, Kristen, and Katie, remain Vanderpump’s North Star. Their lives are both fascinating and completely unexceptional. Watching Vanderpump Rules feels like going through the looking glass for a front row view of the inner lives of the popular kids. You know, the ones you always thought had it together, had it easier, and were having more fun. We watch these mostly shitty people do everything from wake up in their filthy apartments to go on (obligatory, obviously) group trips. Yet from the banal chaos of it comes something, well, magical.
The thing about Vanderpump Rules is virtually everyone I talk to who watches it simply cannot get enough and yet none of us can put on finger on what it is precisely that keeps us coming back. And lest you think the appeal is simply that of any other reality show, or that its popularity hinges on an unrefined TV palette, rest assured—it’s received high praise from the New Yorker, the New York Times, and celebrity fans include none other than Martin Scorsese himself.
And so, in honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, and my sincerely held belief that it is a holiday best spent showering yourself with love and care, this is my love letter to Vanderpump Rules. To that superlative—that literally perfect—TV show about nothing and everything that makes anything I’m going through evaporate for as long as I’m watching.
This is a love letter to the time Stassi, Katie, and Kristen led a full on ritual to put a spell on their friend Brittany’s then boyfriend/now fiancé Jax, after he cheated on her. To the time Jax broke up with his then girlfriend Laura-Leigh after picking her up at an AA (!!) meeting and then she left the show and landed a role in a Jennifer Aniston movie (!!!). To Stassi outright slapping Kristen across the face and to that time Stassi got into another fight with Kristen, and her murder themed birthday party with movie makeup designed to look like she had been shot in the head.
To the time Kristen found someone on Instagram who claimed to have slept with her ex while he was with his now girlfriend Ariana and flew! her! out! to! confront! him! at! work! You cannot make this shit up.
To that time I said I had a crush on Peter Madrigal on Twitter (the only truly good person on the show) and then! he! followed! me! back!
I'm a very passionate person
Vanderpump Rules is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Self-care is a complicated and nuanced issue and it means different things to everyone depending on your abilities, your needs, your finances, etc. It sounds silly and trivial to write a whole post as an ode to this absurd and yet magnificent show. But we actually owe it to ourselves, especially in these heinous, dark, and incredibly serious times, to absorb things that are uncomplicated whenever we can; things that don’t ask us to think too hard and instead just entertain us. And so I hope this Valentine’s Day you’ll queue up Vanderpump Rules and welcome the Witches of WeHo into your self-care ritual. Maybe after your #ragebath.
Caroline Reilly is a reproductive justice advocate and a law student based in Boston, MA. You can find her work on Teen Vogue, Bitch Media, Rewire, Scarleteen, Frontline (PBS), and Death & the Maiden, and where she writes about abortion, medical misogyny, death phobia and more. Additionally, her writing on abortion access for minors, which gained national recognition, can be found here. Find her on Twitter at @ms_creilly.
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