The most consistent complaint about the current season of Vanderpump Rules is that the show has reached the point at which the cast members' lives are simply too settled to be consistently entertaining.
While we still believe Vanderpump has plenty of life in it -- if nothing else, it remains arguably the funniest reality shows on television -- it's not hard to see why viewers might be growing frustrated with a group that seems more concerned with promoting side projects (ranging from beer cheese to horror flicks) than stirring up drama.
Part of the problem, of course, is that the show's primary pot-stirrer, Jax Taylor, seems to be making a genuine effort to leave his bad habits in the past.
If you're a longtime fan of the show, you're probably aware that Jax's list of bad habits includes just about every vice known to man.
For seven seasons, Taylor has lied compulsively, cheated on his significant others with aplomb, and gleefully manipulated social situations -- frequently causing considerable harm to the people he calls his closest friends in the process.
He drank too much, his hair-trigger temper made him quick to engage in physical violence, and we're guessing there's a reason that multiple Watch What Happens Live callers have inquired about Jax's cocaine use during his appearances on the show.
But Taylor says a number of recent changes in his life have led him to the obvious conclusion that he was on a road to disaster.
Jax claims that his is a personal transformation rooted in tragedy, as it began with the death of Taylor's father in June of 2018.
The loss inspired Taylor to propose to longtime girlfriend Brittany Cartwright.
Both fans and friends urged Cartwright to proceed with caution, as Taylor had been caught cheating on her with a mutual friend just months earlier.
A compelling new profile of Taylor on Vulture delves into the 39-year-old's humble beginnings (as a Michigander named Jason Cauchi), as well as his current transformation.
(Jax says he's consumed no more than “six drinks in six months,” a change he owes largely to his newfound love of cannabis.)
The piece offers numerous tidbits about Taylor's past, some of which are surprising -- Jax served a stint in the Navy?! -- while others stand to reason.
For example, Bravo president and Vanderpump producer Andy Cohen says that he became convinced Jax had reality star potential only after learning the SUR bartender had lied to his entire friend group and claimed to be close friends with Cohen.
Both castmates and crew confirm that Taylor can't be trusted.
In the past, he's lied about everything from his military service to his athletic past (Taylor falsely claimed to have played college hockey) to his alleged friendship with Channing Tatum.
“He lied to me and told me he was a Navy SEAL. He was not,” says Jax's ex Stassi Schroder.
“He literally had a Navy SEAL sticker on the back of his truck, so he wouldn’t get pulled over by cops.”
Last season, in addition to lying about his affair even after being caught cheating by Brittany, Jax falsely claimed to have been hired as the social media coordinator for an NHL hockey team.
His friends, and his fiance, and his producers might be willing to provide Jax with an endless "get out of jail free" cards, but no major corporation will be putting Jax in charge of its Twitter account anytime soon -- particularly given his tendency to bully fans on social media.
The Vulture piece is cautiously optimistic about Jax's ability to move past his sociopathic tendencies, but you don't need to be a professional therapist to know that one personal tragedy doesn't undo a lifetime of addiction and emotional abuse.
Taylor has expressed frustration over the fact that so few seem to take his transformation seriously.
Unfortunately for him, the only way to prove the doubters wrong is to show remain dedicated to growth and change for a very long time -- and patience isn't exactly Taylor's strong suit.