Some highlights from James’s dressing down:

“I don’t want to sit here and talk shit about Raquel. I’m done with the talking shit…. Fuck closure. She’s working on herself.”

“You’re a liar though, Tom. You’re a liar.”

“What you and Ariana had was true love. Do you remember back in the day? You looked me dead in the eyes for years telling me how much you loved that girl. It’s like you forget, though. It’s crazy. You rewrite history in your mind.”

Has James Kennedy actually learned from his mistakes and grown from them? After all, as the Bravo editors helpfully remind us, Rachel has also gone on podcasts to accuse James of verbal abuse. And look at him now.

Once you see it, you start seeing signs of personal growth everywhere. He’s significantly curbed his drinking. His DJing career is, against all odds, doing well. He seems to be a responsible dog parent. And whenever lines are drawn within the group, James is usually aligned with the girls.

While Sandoval treats any woman he’s not currently sleeping with with bitter disdain, there is textual evidence to suggest that James actually paid attention to all of those lectures over the years from Lisa Vanderpump and Lala Kent and even Rachel herself. In the same episode he says that, on current girlfriend Ally Lewber’s advice, he’s decided to apologize to Sandoval in order to keep the peace. Listening to a woman and swallowing your pride? Sandoval would never. According to Sandoval, Lala is a narcissist, Ariana is a user, Rachel is selfish, Katie is a manipulator, Scheana is a betrayer, and they are all out to get him.

As a result, while Sandoval is busy “adulting” (skipping business meetings, headlining a vanity band, having an affair, buying batteries), James is enjoying a redemption arc and playing a set at Coachella.

I want to be careful not to give James too much credit (as I said, rogue’s gallery). VPR is a show with a shaky relationship to its fourth wall, making it hard for viewers (and maybe even its stars, based on Sandoval’s New York Times interview) to separate a flattering producer edit and a genuine reflection of character. There’s a lot of behavior we haven’t heard James apologize or account for, and there’s always a possibility he blows up again next week.

I just want to suggest, humbly, meekly, that maybe some men really are capable of change?

Kathleen Walsh is a Glamour contributor. Her work has been published in outlets such as The New York Times, The Cut, Cosmopolitan, and InStyle, among others.

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