With the return of Game of Thrones (GoT) suspended in the painfully distant future, you may be scrambling to fill the void for a character-driven, epic tale of love, betrayal and destruction. Fair readers, in the time-old tradition of life imitating art imitating a cesspool of alcohol-fueled perfection, look no further: Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules (VPR), currently wrapping up its fifth season Monday nights on Bravo, is like a dinner-theater GoT brought to life by the staff (and former staff) of the Sexy Unique Restaurant (SUR) in Los Angeles. If you don’t believe me, check out the clear parallels outlined below.
Warning: light GoT spoilers ahead.
Tyrion Lannister: Scheana Marie
“Good as Gold,” Scheana Shay’s second pop “song,” is a battle cry for GoT’s House of Lannister. Between his family’s infamous connection with the precious metal and his own notorious love of liquor, Tyrion is basically one flask of Dornish wine away from shimmying across a bar top, hot pants and all, fake lashes fluttering and booty popping behind him. “Come on you riding shotties…you’re out with all my hotties” has never rang so true.
But the commonalities between Scheana and Tyrion run much deeper than their performance style. For example, we only hear Tyrion speak of his first wife, a relationship that ended before the start of the show. Unbeknownst to him, she was being paid for her part in the marriage, a fact his father used to torture both her and him once the ruse was lifted. Scheana similarly comes to us with a cautionary tale of heartbreak, which – like Tyrion – she had suffered through prior to VPR’s first season. Though Scheana never married Eddie Cibrian, she was sleeping with him while his then-wife (LeAnn Rimes, for those keeping score) was pregnant. By way of an unspeakable tragedy that could only have been imposed by the will of the seven gods themselves, Scheana claims to this day not to have known the marital status of her D-list soap star paramour. If only a well-timed raven delivery, (or, um, Google) could have intervened.
When we first see Tyrion charge into a fight, he lasts all of five seconds before being trampled by the hill tribes behind him, as they literally knock over their own comrade in their eagerness to jump in on the bloodshed. Scheana is also a repeated victim of her own allies: At the end of season two, she was trampled at her engagement party; in season three, she was once again subjected to friendly fire. During a side-skirmish to the graphic Instafight, Tom and James traded increasingly devastating insults to each other’s car selfies until Tom leapt like a hairsprayed direwolf at James’ face. Scheana had no part in the brawl until, in an encounter so gruesome as to rival Tyrion’s Blackwater mutilation, she cut her foot on some stray glass. “These are brave men at knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!” she (probably should have) screamed as a random bartender plucked her from her bar stool and dragged her from the scene. And, like the Imp, Scheana rose from the ashes of her defeat and leaned into her knack for diplomacy instead, allowing her true talents to blossom for the current season.
“I make peace with my enemies, not with my friends,” quickly became the party line in Meereen when Tyrion attempted to make peace with slave masters while ruling former slaves. Just as inflammatory were Scheana’s peace talks with fellow cast mate Lala Kent, who was fighting to dispel the rumors spread by Scheana that Lala’s admitted ‘sugar daddy’ was a married man. The confrontation required the nimble negotiation skills of a master. Terrified of angering her co-conspirator Katie, while also wishing to appease her mediator-slash-on again/off again best friend Adriana, Scheana finally settled on language that would set Tyrion’s heart aflame. “I apologize for anything I said about you THAT WAS UNTRUE,” she conceded. Genius.
But, just like Tyrion before her, Scheana quickly came to know the steep price of peace. The fallout of drunken text messages that plagued Scheana in the aftermath of her statement (screen-shot-ed and displayed to the camera in their entirety, you can practically smell the tequila dripping off each word, as the menacing toll of Katie’s ‘clap’ emojis rings out sarcastically in the distance) was only the beginning. Still, Scheana’s in this for the long haul – and you can bet that she will be back to live out Tyrion’s mantra: “These bad people are what I’m good at. Out talking them, out thinking them…it’s what I am.”
White Walkers: James Kennedy
The origin story of James Kennedy is a cautionary tale of good intentions being corrupted by circumstance, much like the origins of GoT’s White Walkers. The White Walkers, while perceived as an ultimate embodiment of evil, are revealed to have a much less sinister backstory. They are the creation of the Children of the Forest, an ancient and respected culture who, in their desperation to defend their land and themselves from man, had unwittingly unleashed one the most indiscriminately deadly threats in the world of the show. The White Walkers have turned on their creators, on man, and seemingly every other living being alike, focusing solely on their end goal of destruction.
Which brings me back to James. Here’s a man who, like the White Walkers, was born of desperation. Young Mr. Kennedy first became a part of our lives in VPR’s third season, when cast member Kristen was scrambling for a rebound boyfriend/scene partner. Tom Sandoval, her love from the first two seasons of the show, had left her amidst a storm of controversy, and started dating the woman with whom he may or may not had relations with in a Vegas pool while he and Kristen were still a thing (Golden Nugget, check it out). James was then a young and available busboy, working on his budding “music career” with Tom as a mentor (all the better to rub it in), and seemed, in Kristen’s desperate mind, like the perfect weapon against the man who had hurt her. Through his relationship with Kristen, James earned more and more screen time, becoming a fulltime cast member and rising from mere busboy to busboy-slash-DJ.
But just as the Children of the Forest could not contain the White Walkers once released upon the world, Kristen could not contain Hurricane James once he had achieved full cast member status. With the lusty battle cry of “I’M THE WHITE KANYE,” James Kennedy gleefully paves a path of destruction wherever he goes. His aggressive spitting on Kristen’s door was no less chilling than the most graphic depictions of the massacre at Hardhome. And although an actual winter has yet to plague the show’s LA setting, that didn’t stop James and his sidekick from drunkenly shaming some of their fellow cast mates for their so-called “winter bodies” (if that isn’t the LA version of the ominous GoT call of “Winter is coming,” I don’t know what is).
Plus…those cheekbones. How else could you possibly explain those cheekbones??
Theon Greyjoy: Kristen Doute
While not always the most beloved character (his attempt to stab an adorable direwolf puppy in the throat way back in the first episode of the series springs to mind), Theon Greyjoy made his full-on hell turn when a trip to his adopted home of Winterfell to secure his father’s allegiance to the Starks twisted into a plot to take the Starks’ beloved home. Kristen Doute, no less nuanced than Theon (but, to be fair, MUCH more canine-friendly) has traced Theon’s journey from downfall to redemption over the past five seasons of VPR.
Earlier in the show, Kristen’s strategy in returning to the apartment that she and her ex, Tom Sandoval, had once shared was a little more highlighter-and-cleavage than rape-and-pillage. But her presence proved no less chaotic than Theon’s return to Winterfell. Sure, she didn’t quite take anyone’s head in the process, but she did claim a shared cable box as her prisoner. “Gods help you, Kristen Doute,” Tom lamented, as she tottered off with an overstuffed Ikea bag of possessions taken from the apartment, the DVR containing his precious ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ back episodes perched precariously on top. “Now you are truly lost.”
Indeed she was. Kristen’s betrayal had taken root in the prior season of VPR, when she finally admitted (after months of straight denial) to cheating on Tom with his friend, her best friend Stassi Schroeder’s ex-boyfriend Jax, during a living room screening of the movie ‘Drive’ (never trust a Greyjoy). But her no-kissing romp on a couch proved a portent of things to come. Living by Theon’s words that “it is better to be cruel than weak,” Kristen unleashed a reign of terror over SUR no less deadly – and no less short-lived – than Theon’s rule over Winterfell.
And so, just as Reek emerged from Theon’s fall from power, so too did “crazy Kristen” emerge from Kristen’s. Bringing new life to “what is dead may never die” (emphasis on NEVER), she embarked on a one-woman mission to upend the lives of the SUR staff, even while banned from the premises. Whether she was seeking Stassi’s advice on getting Jax to spill the beans or punching her boyfriend at Scheana’s wedding, she embraced her new moniker for all it was worth.
Crawling her way back into the mix of the main cast this season, Kristen has taken her cue from Theon and selected more powerful allies to carry out her schemes. In an ambush every bit as cunning as Theon’s alliance with his sister Yara and mother-of-dragons Daenerys, she joined forces with two other castmates to observe as two women publicly confronted Kristen’s ex-boyfriend with accusations of cheating. “Tonight, I wanna watch that mother f***er burn,” she proclaimed, channeling Theon’s stoic vibes as his ship sailed beneath the shadow of a dragon.
But as both Kristen and Theon know well, the scars of the past are not easily lost in present, no matter how complete the transformation. Kristen kicked off the current season plagued by rumors of getting frisky with Jax’s latest girlfriend. Her escapade was met with a forceful suggestion by a fellow castmate that the three should all “chop of their genitals”. And while the cutting remark (pun intended) may come a little too late for Theon…in Kristen’s case, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Arya Stark: Tom Schwartz
Once of GoT’s most poignant scenes featuring Arya was at her father’s beheading. Desperate to preserve her innocence and prevent the traumatic memory of her father’s gruesome death from being forever inscribed in her memory, Ned’s last real act is to make sure that she is prevented from seeing what is happening. Despite her father’s best efforts, however, Arya’s thirst for revenge is fueled not only by this memory but by the slaughter of her mother and brother at the Red Wedding. Her darkness reached full flower at the end of the latest season, when she killed Lord Frey’s sons and fed their ground remains to him in a meat pie.
Then, so that the last thing he saw was a Stark, smiling down upon him, she slit his throat.
Similarly, Tom Schwartz is a once-vulnerable character whose chaotic journey has taken a dark turn. Back in Season 3, we learned why happy-go-lucky ‘Schwartzie’ has never been featured as a restaurant employee on the show. After his girlfriend (now wife) Katie begs, scraps and pleads to get Tom a bartending gig, Tom bravely dons a deep cut pink button-up and steps behind the bar at Pump – only to take off running midway into his first shift. Through the grainy security camera footage, you can just barely see his lips mouthing the words, “A man is Tom Schwartz of Winterfell. And I am going home.”
Since that time, Tom has continued to suffer the infractions of his peers. Constantly the butt of the joke between his friends Tom Sandoval and Jax, he withstood everything from water gun blitzes and bare body parts pressed to his face in a Las Vegas hotel room to Jax’s well-meaning (yet ultimately misguided) attempts to break up his relationship. With every infraction, Tom’s thirst for revenge grew – culminating in this season’s dark turn.
While Tom doesn’t have Arya’s assassin training for Frey-son-pie purposes, he does have a rear end. And that rear end can produce sweat. Lots of it. Which Tom uses to marinate a seemingly innocent looking shrimp-and-steak dinner before feeding it first to his future groomsmen, Tom Sandoval and Jax, and later even to his future groomswoman, Ariana, letting them know what he has done only after they consumed his rear-generated juices.
Then, so that the last thing they saw was a Schwartz, smiling down upon them, he slit their throats.
Just kidding. He needs those throats intact for his wedding, where the previews suggest that Tom Sandoval will have the pivotal role of both holding the couple’s dog Gordo while bawling uncontrollably. A kinder fate than he deserves, to be sure, but…
The things we do for love.
Watch the full season of Vanderpump Rules on-demand on Bravo; and catch the three-part reunion specials at 8pm ET Mondays on Bravo.