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Booze, Birthdays, and Breakups: The Highs and Lows of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Group Vacations

As everybody heads to Mexico for Season 7, here’s a look back at the shenanigans from ‘VPR’ trips past

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

There are a few rules every good reality television show must abide by: There must be fighting, there must be business launches, and there must be a vacation. The getaway serves as a catalyst for dramatics: Arguments that simmered erupt; love connections are finally made. Alcohol is everywhere. Vanderpump Rules’ near-annual group trip is no exception. This season, the cast organized their trip as a last hurrah before new bar Tom Tom (helmed by Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval, a.k.a. the Toms) gets too busy.

The Season 7 Mexico trip began last week, if just barely. Our motley crew boarded a flight to Puerto Vallarta, landed, and invaded the lobby of their hotel, with drinks immediately in hand. Before Monday night’s second Mexico episode, let’s revisit the highs and lows of VPR group trips past.

Season 2: Cabo

The first season did not include what I would consider a real vacation; instead, some of the gang went to Las Vegas for Stassi’s birthday, which is a mere drive from their homes in L.A. It was eventful and had many of the makings of a group trip, but for posterity’s sake, let’s focus only on the larger, tropical vacays. The first Mexico trip took place in Season 2, when the group headed to Cabo for … yes, Stassi’s birthday, a VPR holiday that usually ends in the birthday girl terrorizing her friends. It was but a hint of what was to come—a fairly tepid experience, but filled with tears and fights nonetheless.

High point: the Toms’ first kiss

We’ve come full circle! It was as if the producers knew that eventually these two would be co-owners of a bar bearing their name(s)—a place that features a large photo of the two kissing. During a friendly game of Truth or Dare, the Toms shared their first … and then second … kiss.

All screenshots via Bravo

Low point: Tom and Katie’s first vacation fight

If I may, some advice: Tom Schwartz and now-wife Katie Maloney-Schwartz should not go on the group vacations. Since the first trip to Cabo, they have not gone well for the couple. In Season 2, the animosity between Katie and Scheana boils over when Schwartz decides to show the isolated Scheana some kindness. An alcohol-fueled argument between Katie and Schwartz ensues, and Schwartz dumps a beer over his girlfriend’s head. It’s a sad glimpse into a future wherein Schwartz, under the guise of lovable goofball, will treat his partner poorly but come out looking like the good guy next to her boozy meltdowns and screaming sessions.

Katie is not entirely innocent, but no one should ever throw beer over their girlfriend’s head.

Quotable: “Again, [I’ve been] very judicious about my drinking.”

To probably no one’s surprise, closed captioning could not pick up the slurring of this quote, in which a devastated Katie defends herself and her totally respectable amount of drinking.

Jaxxiest Jaxism: Jax makes friends

With his shirt so unbuttoned it’s barely hanging on his body, Jax decides to invite a random group of people—all women—to a private event that just so happens to be part of his ex-girlfriend Stassi’s birthday. It’s the Jaxxiest thing Jax Jaxxed on this trip.

Fashion moment: Kristen’s tequila party for one

Downing tequila out of a champagne flute in pajamas whilst angry breakup music plays is a real look. When Kristen finds out there is truth to the rumors that her boyfriend, Tom Sandoval, cheated on her with Ariana (who will become his girlfriend), she goes on this bender.

Season 3: Miami

A majority of the Sur staff once again bail on their jobs, this time to take over Miami Beach for Shay and Scheana’s bachelor/bachelorette trip. Scheana is insufferable, Shay seems bored out of his mind, and the trip revolves almost entirely around Jax’s inability to not cheat on his girlfriend and Kristen’s machinations to thwart the blossoming relationship between her ex (remember, Tom Sandoval) and Ariana (who, without being present on the Mexico trip, was a catalyst for drama when Jax revealed Sandoval cheated on Kristen with her).

High point: Vail the sleuth

After Kristen goes to the bathroom, new girl Vail (an enigma—she went to Princeton, was nominated for an Emmy, and dated Chris Pine) “breaks into” Kristen’s phone, which is lighting up with gossipy texts about Jax cheating on his girlfriend (big whoop, what’s new) and Tom Sandoval cheating on Ariana, who is seated at the table. She doesn’t believe it, and the in-couple fighting everyone thought would ensue doesn’t, but it’s still very bold of Vail to bust in and try to move all the drama along.

Low point: Tom and Kristen’s co-meltdown

If you watched the previous season of VPR, then you’d have already seen Tom Sandoval weep many, many times. In Miami, Tom takes Kristen aside in an attempt to quell her aggressive behavior. It ends with both of them bawling and wiping tears from each other’s faces. It’s bleak. Tom totally fell into Kristen’s “woe is me” trap, and Kristen’s obsession with her ex and his relationship is incredibly depressing and will last for seasons to come.

Quotable: “These sound like the preliminary stages of getting Jaxxed.”

Again, Vail is the new girl. She is beautiful. She is innocent. She is wide-eyed. She is Jax’s next target. “He’s nice, and misunderstood, and it’s so sad how much he hates himself!” she says of him. Katie, ever the sage, calls it like she sees it. Also, this is perhaps when the verb “Jaxxed” (I personally think it’s spelled with two Xs) is introduced to the VPR vernacular.

Jaxxiest Jaxism: Jax equates himself to poison … in what he thinks is a good way

Turns out Katie is correct. Jax, while sweatily professing what a terrible a person he is, gains Vail’s sympathy, as well as a very intimate hug—all while sporting stitches on his brow from running into a glass wall (post–nose job). The eventual scar, as seen below in his confessional, is very Disney villain–esque. True to form, instead of interpreting Vail’s hug as an act of friendship, Jax takes it to a very gross place.

Later, he yells the following at Vail:

Fashion moment: Scheana

The sideways trucker hat, the “Keep Calm, I’m Getting Married” shirt, the temporary metallic tattoo, the full face of neon makeup moments after waking up—Scheana Marie doesn’t limit herself to one regrettable fashion trend, she wears them all. At the same time.

Season 4: Hawaii

This birthday trip isn’t centered on Stassi—this time, birthday boys Tom Sandoval and Jax ditch Stassi and Kristen and head to Hawaii with the rest of the cast. (Stassi and Kristen are in VPR timeout this season.) As Jax’s new girlfriend, Brittany is invited; it is her first group trip (hurray, everyone loves Brittany!) and it comes at a very inopportune time, as Jax has recently been making advances toward Lala (poor Brittany).

High point: Jax gets caught

Before the vacation, Jax had been flirting with Lala and telling her he was not dating Brittany, when in fact he was. When the two women begin discussing the situation in front of Jax, who clearly looks panicked, he offers this word salad as a defense. Let’s decode this: “I’ve never not said that you and I are not dating. I would never not say that.” That first sentence implies he may have said he and Brittany are not dating. The second implies he would, in fact, say that they are not dating. No one seems to bat an eye at what is a very confusing confession. Is Jax secretly a grammatical genius?

Low point: Shay and shots

The beginning of the season revealed Shay’s struggles with substance use. On the beach, Scheana hands her husband a tampon to take tequila shots out of; that’s some dark foreshadowing.

Quotable: “Oh, my gosh, we drank too much, baby.”

The quote itself isn’t particularly noteworthy, but it gave the world this now iconic image of a brain-addled Jax Taylor giving off some serious Foghorn Leghorn vibes.

Jaxxiest Jaxism: Jax gets arrested

There isn’t much more to say about this: Jax snags some sunglasses without paying for them, which end up in an Instagram photo Brittany posts. He gets caught and ruins the last day of vacation for the group, who are concerned about getting home in time for a Third Eye Blind concert.

Fashion moment: Scheana’s glasses

It’s our girl again with some obnoxiously bright style choices. At least Scheana’s fashion sense will always indicate what year any given season of VPR was filmed.

Season 5: Montauk

A few things to get out of the way before diving in: Yes, there are technically three trips in Season 5: The group divides and some go to Sonoma for Ariana’s birthday, some of them to Montauk for Stassi’s birthday (the tradition returns!), and then everyone goes to New Orleans together for Tom and Katie’s bachelor/bachelorette party. For our purposes, I’m choosing to focus solely on Montauk for a few reasons. For one, we’ve already entertained a bachelor/bachelorette trip. Also, we’ve established a beach theme, and Montauk has one. Montauk is also enjoyable because the second half of the two-episode trip is combined with the premiere episode of Summer House, and while mash-up episodes often seem forced, this one gels nicely. It’s a meeting of the coastal bougie minds.

High point: the introduction of Summer House’s true hero, Stephen

Quick recap: Stassi was just called “Steve Jobs” by a man she finds attractive. When she reveals this nugget to her friends, they wonder why, why would someone tell a beautiful woman she looks like the deceased creator of the iPhone? Stephen knows, and watching the unadulterated joy come over his face when the light bulb goes off is why I watch reality television.

Low point: Stassi’s never-ending pity party

Stassi is fresh off a breakup and feeling incredibly sad for herself. While her three girlfriends drone on about their perfect relationships, Stassi—our princess who has fallen so far—begs a passing seagull to “shit on me, please.” It is a huge bummer.

Fashion moment: the turtleneck swimsuit

We’ll get to what exactly is wrong with Summer House’s Kyle’s approach momentarily, but first, there’s this very important fashion moment. While hitting on Stassi, our fratty blond friend chooses to highlight her turtleneck swimsuit multiple times. It does not go well.

Jaxxiest Jaxism: Kyle’s hot tub fail

Jax was not a part of the Montauk trip, and so this time the Jaxism comes from Summer House’s Kyle, who is a cleaner, smarter, younger, less sweaty version of Jax. In an attempt to hit on Stassi, he highlights the fact that not only is she going through a breakup, but also that he is the type of guy who likes to prey on vulnerability. Again, it does not go well.

Quotable: “Oh they’re all bad memories for me, but I just keep on going, you know?”

God bless Kristen, who makes a huge comeback in terms of likability on the Montauk trip. She replaces weepy, drunken chain-smoking for light-hearted, joking self-awareness.

Here she is, wearing a grapefruit she took from the bar on her head, as you do.

She will lose all gained credibility on the next trip.

Season 6: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

We return to Mexico! A few things to know: The group has grown older and wiser. While partying is certainly the focus of the trip, the depravity is supposedly going to go down a few notches. Also, this trip was planned by Brittany as a birthday gift to Jax (and essentially, Tom Sandoval). Her kindness is an absolute mystery as the plotline this season centers on Jax’s cheating on her.

High point: The women revolt

Up until this point, the women of VPR haven’t always represented themselves effectively. Their boyfriends (and husbands) disrespect them so casually and so often it seems that they (and the audience) are frog-boiled into accepting such behavior. Until Playa Del Carmen. It was recently revealed that Jax (who has terrorized these women for years) cheated on Brittany (who manages to keep being lovable and entertaining, which is difficult for a reality TV star). This is the catalyst for the women to finally join forces and call out Jax—and the men for having his back. It sets the tone for the women of VPR going forward.

Low point: It’s Kristen’s turn to throw drinks

Any redemption Kristen gained on the Montauk trip is lost, for a few reasons: After flirting all night with her ex James, a rumor that they hooked up spreads through the group. Both deny it, but the miscommunication leads Kristen to think James confirmed it instead. And so, even after he attempts to explain the confusion, Kristen naturally waits until a fancy group dinner to throw a drink at him and, effectively, half the table. At this point, the cast are grown-ups, no longer 22- to 23-year-olds making dumb decisions. Everyone is very exhausted by this behavior, which Kristen—who is among the oldest of the group—seems to still find justifiable.

When the girl nicknamed “Tequila Katie” is calling you out for your drunken behavior, it’s probably time to reassess your choices.

Quotable: “Rob like, is the man who hangs up the TV in seven minutes.”

Ahhh yes, Rob. Scheana’s post-divorce rebound, Rob, once hung up a television while Scheana timed him. It took seven minutes. She will repeat this fact throughout the episode. No one will care. It will become the only thing many of us remember about Rob.

Jaxxiest Jaxism:

Here is a nearly 40-year-old man hooking a cup of beer to his face like he’s a human can opener while shoving a stolen bottle of vodka into his pants.

Fashion moment: Scheana’s sunglasses

Say what you will about Scheana; she’s nothing if not consistent. These sunglasses are the “what are those?” of eyewear.

Season 7: Puerto Vallarta

Ahead of Tom Tom business heating up, everyone heads to Puerto Vallarta. Why everyone, you ask? Great question. Two members of the cast work at Tom Tom … so max, sending four of them (the Toms and their significant others) makes sense. But yes, fine, send them all. (Except James, whose malicious behavior offended so many different cast members that he’s forced to stay home.)

High point: Ariana calls out Schwartz

Finally, in Season 7, people (namely Ariana) are beginning to see through the facade of Schwartz’s boyish good looks and self-deprecating charm. He has both of those things, but he also gaslights his wife, who he cheated on. He is unable to own up to his indiscretions and often plays the “aw shucks, who, me?!” card. And it usually works. But Ariana isn’t having it, and it seems that after all these years and all these trips and all these fights, Schwartz might actually have to own up to something. This is very satisfying.

Low point: the Schwartz-Maloney fight

What Schwartz will potentially be owning up to is his most recent poor treatment of his wife, who feels neglected. She might not be explaining her feelings well, but the immediate insults from Schwartz sting. Another vacation, another argument for these two.

Quotable: “Dreams are crazy.”

OK, this is a throwaway because the trip has only just begun and there haven’t been many one-liners yet. But Brittany manages to make even a quick story about a dream that caused her fear of heights entertaining. Dreams are crazy.

Jaxxiest Jaxism: Bartending, even when he’s on vacation

The complimentary drinks in the hotel lobby are beautiful, tropical, free, and … dry. That does not phase Jax, who whips out a bottle of something he brought with him and mixes his own drink. This is a man who is constantly belittled for his terrible bartending, but here, on vacation, he’s suddenly dedicated to his craft.

Fashion Moment: Scheana’s glasses

It’s always Scheana.