It started as all good reality television does, with double shots of vodka. It ended with a grown man shouting “It’s not about the pasta!” on the streets of Los Angeles.
“Vanderpump Rules” is the story of a dozen perpetually drunken, impossibly self-involved millennials and their elegant English boss working together in mesmerizing disharmony to keep her West Hollywood restaurants thriving. It is the best unscripted show on television, and perhaps the best show on all of television (certainly better than “Game of Thrones”). When James Kennedy, the self-appointed “White Kanye,” mustered every ounce of his drunken energy to persuade Lala Kent they were not, in fact, arguing about pasta, he couldn’t have known the sweet joy it would bring to so many.
To be clear, it really wasn’t about the pasta. It was about James’s long-suffering girlfriend, Raquel, with whom Lala, his best friend, was struggling to get along. Huddled in a brightly lit restaurant to observe the sacred tradition of boozy brunch, things came to a head when Lala flippantly mentioned eating all of Raquel’s pasta without her permission at a recent “See You Next Tuesday” show (the understated moniker for James’s weekly DJ gigs).
Big mistake. Huge. James interpreted Lala’s wanton pasta theft as a sign of disrespect, and countered with a string of hilariously out-of-proportion insults about her boyfriend. But Lala kept bringing it back to the pasta. After she fled the restaurant in exasperation, the two had a dramatic blow-out in broad daylight during which the word “pasta” was uttered exactly seven times in roughly 30 seconds.
“I told you I ate Raquel’s pasta and that’s how you come for me?” Lala shouted. After another brief moment of bickering, James delivered one of the most stirring monologues to ever grace the small screen. “Get over the d-mn pasta! Read between the f-cking lines,” he roared with the pained exhaustion of a desperate man. “It ain’t about the pasta. It’s not about the pasta. It’s not about the pasta.”
He was right, of course. It wasn’t about the pasta. After the episode aired, rumors swirled that “pasta” was a code word for cocaine, a titillating conspiracy theory that the cast promptly rebutted. “It’s the angel hair checca at SUR. It is a huge portion. I would’ve eaten it, too,” Kristen Doute explained.
James himself issued a characteristically eloquent clarification:
When I say “it’s not about the pasta” it was about actually pasta and the fact lala stuffed her face with all my girls food without remorse is the reason I got piss in the first place k
— JAMES KENNEDY (@itsjameskennedy) January 24, 2018
The line spawned a universe of merchandise, inviting viewers to go about their daily lives with James’s iconic quote emblazoned across their chests. All said, “It’s not about the pasta” was reality television’s greatest gift to the public in 2018: petty, nonsensical, booze-fueled inanity— but with a kernel of relatability. Who among us hasn’t raged in frustration at someone failing to understand what’s actually at the heart of an argument? None of us has done it quite like James and Lala, but that’s what keeps us watching.