Stassi Schroeder is the perfect reality show villain. She is gorgeous, judgmental, and miserable — at least in the first season. Since the 2013 premiere of Vanderpump Rules, Stassi Schroeder has been the firecracker that contrasts Kristen Doute’s rebellious persona and Katie Maloney-Schwartz’s wholesome charm. She started fights, celebrated her birthday like a national holiday, and nursed a toxic relationship with a cheating boyfriend, Jax Taylor. But over the course of seven seasons, Schroeder has matured. In Next Level Basic, part self-help book, part confessional, she charts the journey in full.
Vanderpump Rules got its start chronicling the lives of wait-staff at LA restaurant SUR, and though some cast-mates maintain that job, many are now pursuing outside ventures. Katie Maloney has a blog, Kristen Doute started a t-shirt line, and Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval are the faces of Lisa Vanderpump’s newest restaurant, Tom Tom. Schroeder hosts a weekly podcast, Straight up with Stassi, that has dealt with it fair share of controversy, namely surrounding an episode titled "Are We On A Male Witch Hunt?" that posted in late 2017, in the beginnings of the #MeToo movement. (She later apologized for the episode.)
In Next Level Basic — the "definitive basic bitch handbook" — Schroeder charts her imperfect journey to and through fame. While I’m sure there are many Khaleesis (the Schroeder-appointed name for her fans) pursuing these basic words of wisdom, I read it primarily for the gossip about Vanderpump Rules. So without further ado, here are the five most scandalous things I learned while reading Next Level Basic:
1. Stassi Schroeder and Jax Taylor Were Nearly Lured Into Scientology
In the chapter entitled "The Cult of Stassi," Schroeder writes that Jax’s interest in Scientology was initially piqued after he participated in a commercial for the church. Later, Jax visited the Church of Scientology to get more information, and Schroeder went along for a laugh, and a story. According to Schroeder, when the two arrived, they were siphoned into separate rooms and Schroeder was shown a video of a young boy who witnessed a car accident while eating a hard-boiled egg. "Years later, every time the kid smelled a boiled egg he had PTSD," she writes, adding that, "the video was about how you could control yourself with your mind, and I definitely wanted to control myself with my mind." When the two reunited they bought a textbook and signed up for their first class.
In their first class, Jax experienced difficulty reading aloud, so the teacher asked him to do something with blocks to "channel his brain." Schroeder explains that “at that moment it got super weird and we knew we had to get out." So they escaped the situation relatively unscathed — only $100 poorer.
2. Her Relationship with Patrick was More Dysfunctional Than We Saw
I recently watched a scene from Vanderpump Rules Season 4 (in the name of research, of course) in which Schroeder describes her relationship with then-boyfriend Patrick Meagher as a revelation. She talks about how she always dates assholes and she is glad to be finally dating a "good guy." (They broke up in August 2017.) According to the book, he wasn't as much of a "good guy" as she believed him to be.
Apparently, Patrick, a podcaster, once told her "[he] could never be with someone who would do a show like that." Schroeder's response? She quit the show, of course. After three seasons she stepped away from Vanderpump Rules, only to return mid-way through Season 4.
Schroeder also reveals that Patrick broke up with her "like every four days," and constantly condescended to her. Their last breakup came on their four-year anniversary, an occasion for which she had booked a Mexican getaway. She ended up going on that vacation with her friends instead, a la Carrie Bradshaw’s disastrous honeymoon in the Sex and the City movie.
Schroeder, however, enacted her own revenge on Patrick — the digital version of "keying a car." "I did get into Patrick’s Twitter account to revoke his “verified” status by changing his Twitter handle," she writes. Interestingly enough, Schroeder still follows Patrick’s account, for which he apparently managed to get his verification reinstated.
3. She Was The One Who Pursued Jax Taylor
If you, dear reader, are a fan of the show, you probably think it's silly or downright preposterous for anyone to pursue Jax Taylor, a 39-year-old bartender from Michigan who posts gym selfies on the regular.
In the book, Schroeder reveals she took one look at Jax’s Facebook and thought "sign me up." Her first attempt at initiating face-to-face contact — buying Jax a tequila shot — didn’t go as planned. He was on a date, and Schroeder was mortified. A year later in Las Vegas — because where else do these people go to hook-up? — Schroeder introduced herself for the second time with the pickup line: You’re the dude who turned down my shot. The rest, as they say, is toxicity. Oh, excuse me, history.
4. There's One Episode She Can't Bear To Re-watch
For Season 4 — which aired in 2015 - 2016 — Schroeder returned to the show after Patrick forced her to quit. During her time off-air, she sparked some tabloid drama with Lisa Vanderpump. The sequence of events is fuzzy, but Schroeder writes that Vanderpump helped her get out of a dire situation with an ex. Afterward, Stassi badmouthed Vanderpump, calling her an old woman, amongst other insults.
In Season 4, Episode 14, Schroeder apologized to Lisa. Knowing the scene wouldn't be cut, she wore her favorite green dress and hired a makeup and hair artist — except when she arrives at his house, the artist is extremely high and only applied glitter to her eyelids before his dog accidentally escaped. In his frantic stupor, he sprayed her damp hair with hairspray, called it beach-y, and bolted to find his dog.
Schroeder, who was living out of her car at the time for reasons that are not explained in the TV show or book, cried, then drove to the nearest CVS to apply makeup. Her friend met her there to fix her hair, and the above look is the product of that damage control. To this day, she can’t watch the infamous apology scene: “It gives me mad PTSD”.
5. Schroeder Claims Boundaries Are Basically Non-Existent While Filming
In the first season of Vanderpump Rules, it's revealed that Jax Taylor cheated on Schroeder. As can be expected, Schroeder was emotional; she didn't want to film. She had promised herself that their messy breakup and its aftermath wouldn't be caught on camera. But, according to Schroeder, the Vanderpump producers, salivating at the prospect of a broken heart, forced their way into her home and filmed the infamous scene in which Katie Maloney-Schwartz, Kristen Doute, and Schroeder drink Taylor's $200 bottle of Cristal. “At first I was furious, but then I quickly realized that I had signed up for this,” she writes, further elaborating that these scenes keep the series completely real.
Not all of Stassi Schroeder's life makes it to your television, no matter how “real” the show gets. But this book can certainly fill in some of the gaps. I walked away from reading it with a better understanding of the blonde from New Orleans. I’m more acquainted with her likes (Ranch Dressing and musicals), her dislikes (the Kardashians’s style), and I now have some insight into her past. But I suppose the biggest takeaway from the book is her claim that Vanderpump Rules was able to become the behemoth it is today because of the real relationships the show depicts. She really is friends with Katie and Kristen. She really was heartbroken when Jax’s philandering was exposed. She really considers Scheana the best of frenemies. Vanderpump Rules, and Stassi Schroeder herself, may be the closest thing to real that reality TV has to offer — at least, according to her.