'Vanderpump Rules' and the Subtle Sexism of Scheana's Storyline

Vanderpump Rules‘ Scheana Shay has always been a difficult character to like.

She was initially introduced in season 1 as “the woman who broke up Brandi Glanville’s marriage” and hasn’t evolved much from here.

But this season, producers have decided that, rather than just have viewers cringe at her typical antics, they would outright make fun of her.

It starts in the very first episode when new castmate Max (aka new fuckboy #1) loudly warned another new castmate Brett (aka fuckboy #2) about Scheana’s “boy crazy” ways. Max freely admits that he spent the past few months hanging out (and hooking up) with Scheana but denies that it was anything more than that.

vanderump rules scheana max
Scheana with Max

When Scheana attempts to confront Max about it, he stutters some weird excuse claiming that being boy crazy isn’t a bad thing (then why would he even bother warning Brett about it?). And later, when Scheana reads aloud his many texts that were clearly leading her on, all he can do is shrink in his seat with embarrassment.

In her confessional, Scheana makes it clear that Max pursued her first and (rightly!) points out that he has no business sabotaging a potential relationship for her, especially because he claims they are both still on good terms.

It would be enough to watch this awkward exchange in the first episode, but it’s clear that Bravo is going to build an entire season around this storyline. In the first few episodes, we are treated to confessionals where both fuckboys make snickering remarks about how she is a terrible conversationalist and kisser. We also hear snide remarks from Dayna (aka the new Stassi and Max’s other love interest) and see scenes where Scheana either comes off as petty or delusional.

scheana brett vanderpump rules
Scheana with Brett at SUR

Producers are clearly worried that a show that was built on the messy antics of their castmates (i.e. Tom and Ariana getting together right under Kristen’s nose, Kristen hooking up with Jax, Jax being a compulsive liar and sleeping with everyone) can not survive them all growing up.

All the original cast members have moved into expensive homes and most have settled into marriage and long-term relationships. The only outliers are Kristen, who is in a dumpster fire of a relationship with a manipulative leech, and Scheana, who we are supposed to believe can only manage to find relationships with fuckboys from the Sur-universe. Both women are in their 30s, and the suggestion by Bravo is that if you are not in a serious relationship by that time, it’s because you are stunted emotionally or worse, just plain crazy.

Nevermind that both of these women are attractive, financially stable businesswomen. It’s ridiculous to even believe that Scheana would be picking up shifts in the first place, considering she makes $10,000 per episode and fills her off-season time with a podcast, appearances, and Instagram endorsements. The only reason to keep pretending she works there is to hold the show together and to reinforce the idea that she is getting left behind.

Even if you buy into that suspension of reality, we should be much more critical of how everyone else in the situation is behaving. Max has every right to avoid a relationship with Scheana if it’s not something he’s looking for. But can we stop calling women crazy for attempting to build a relationship with someone they are hooking up with? And why should we be feeling sorry for Brett, the guy with the racist tweet history, who decided to call someone a terrible kisser on national television?

vanderpump rules scheana max
Scheana reading Max’s text messages

Even if Scheana is embarrassing herself in these relationships, we deserve a fuller scope of her as a person.

We see the rest of the female cast in their business endeavors — Stassi’s book and podcast, Kristen’s t-shirt line, Lala’s “music,” Ariana’s new cocktail book, and even Dayna’s comedy set — but we’re stuck with Scheana, the “pathetic” SURver.

We need to stop building storylines around one-dimensional tropes that make women look sad and desperate and use the transitions in the cast members’ lives to transition into a deeper show. Scheana is a woman who has had questionable past relationships and spent a summer testing out fun flings and searching for love. There is a way to tell this story without turning her into a psycho.


‘Vanderpump Rules’ Stassi Schroeder: How She Made a Business Out of Being a ‘Bitch’

Ayo Osobamiro
Ayo is a writer and producer based in Brooklyn, but proudly from the Midwest. When she's not agonizng over applying to grad school, she is working on her first podcast, I Think I Read This Somewhere