During an explosive finale of The Valley, the audience got a closer look at two major separations – the one between Jax and Brittany, and the one between Jesse and Michelle. Watching the breakdowns of these relationships was such a real and raw experience – and for many, probably a very relatable one.

 

With Jax and Brittany, the writing has been on the wall for a very long time. But of course, Jax has a superiority complex and an overall denial of the impact his behaviour is having on Brittany, and has been having on Brittany over the last 10 years. It’s why he’s constantly telling people that she would never leave him, while she’s telling people the exact opposite, that she would.

The timing of their separation is also pretty noteworthy. What does it mean that so shortly after he opened his bar, they’re no longer together? To me, it says a few things. The first is that he needed Brittany’s help to get the bar open. I mean, she designed the damn thing. But also, by staying home and watching their son, Cruz, she made it possible for him to spend as much time away from home as he did while he was getting the bar dealt with. 

 

The second thing the timing tells me is that he probably intends to really live the life of a California bar owner now. He’s got unlimited access to alcohol, a space to like, hang out with his bros (despite the swath of terrible reviews the restaurant is getting, not unlike what we saw with Schwartz & Sandy’s in the wake of Scandoval), and women will likely be coming in in droves, just like they did at SUR and PUMP. So I think he plans on really leaning into this new lifestyle, which is not new to him at all.

The true level of Jax’s disconnectedness from reality is on full display in the heartbreaking conversation he had with Brittany at the end of the episode. She’s left the house and she and Cruz are staying in an Airbnb, which, by the way, is really messed up. It should absolutely be him that’s out. The scene prior, he had just told producers the bar was the only thing keeping the two of them together, but as Katie and Ariana have told us, the best way to lose a partner is for them to open a bar.

 

With Jesse and Michelle on the other hand, it’s very clear that she’s fallen out of love with him. Beyond the allegations made by other cast members that suggest she’s had some sort of secondary boyfriend, it’s hard to get to the bottom of what, specifically, caused their demise. Their situation kind of reminds me of some of what we’ve seen with Kyle and Mauricio over on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. No one real thing, but lots of speculation.

Like Jax and Brittany, Jesse and Michelle also had a very open discussion surrounding the minute details about their separation, which, as the audience learned, is not just a romantic separation, but also a business separation, which means the separation of their clients and leads, having run a real estate business together for years. 

Through their conversation, we learn that they are in mediation. Jesse makes it clear that he will not be signing any divorce papers until he retains a lawyer. In my experience, mediators are brought in to try and avoid the court route, but he really is playing hardball.

 

The saddest part of their entire conversation, though, is when their daughter intrudes in their conversation, simply requesting more barbecue sauce. There was something so jarring about the juxtaposition of such an emotional adult conversation happening in the presence of such an innocent and naïve child, completely unaware of the impact this separation will have on her future. Her recitals, her graduations, her major life moments. And this is coming from someone who is very pro-walk-away-if-you’re-not-happy-and-you’ve-given-it-your-all. But nothing negates the impact a separation will have on a child, despite both Jesse and Michelle seeming like very dedicated parents. As we know, being dedicated parents doesn’t necessarily mean being dedicated partners.

Overall, the parts of life that this show dealt with head on made it such a big hit for viewers (including Rihanna), many of whom were doubtful of its potential in the beginning, perhaps assuming it was going to be a very forced spinoff of things we see time and time again on reality TV. But instead, it’s allowed viewers an incredibly intimate look at the nuances that exist in romantic relationships, parenting, marriage and divorce – giving us something the other shows haven’t.