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Scandoval: Breaking Down the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Cheating Scandal

It's the Scandoval of the century, y'all

Tom Sandoval, Raquel Leviss, and Ariana Madix of 'Vanderpump Rules'

I have been a fan of Vanderpump Rules for years now. I’ve been to book signings, all of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants, live tours, and yes, friends: I’ve met the dearly departed Giggy (RIP) and even done shots of tequila with Jax Taylor, a former castmate. Basically, this Tweet is me right now:

If all of this sounds like shorthand to some weird subculture you don’t know existed, welcome. If you love messy gossip, you’re in the right place because we’re here today to talk about a whopper of a storyline, I mean, scandal, I mean, Scandoval. Yes, friends, that’s right, we’re here today because Tom Sandoval has cheated on Ariana Madix with Raquel Leviss. Let’s get into it.

What is Vanderpump Rules?!

To truly understand why this is a big deal, we have to start at the genesis of VPR, which began in 2013 as a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The show’s premise is that a bunch of broke wannabe servers work at Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant, SUR, where they f*ck, fight, and generally make each other miserable for our entertainment. The jumping-off point for the show is that a SURver (Scheana Shay) is having an affair with another Housewife‘s husband (Eddie Cibrian, remember him?), so cheating is basically baked into the DNA of VPR from the jump.

I am deeply underselling the premise because the early days of this show were glorious. Everyone understood the assignment and they were all desperate to make the show work because unlike the Housewives franchise, the VPR cast really did appear to be legitimately broke. As a result, they happily aired out their dirty laundry on camera, including the major cheating scandal in season 2 in which long-term couple Kristen Doute and Tom Sandoval broke up because it was revealed that Kristen had cheated on Tom with another cast member—Jax Taylor, who was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Stassi Schroeder.

As I said, cheating is inherent to this entire franchise.

Ariana Madix is the only universally liked cast member

As you can see, VPR has been on the air for 10 years now and is currently airing its 10th season. The cast, all of whom were in their early-to-mid-twenties when it first aired, are now in their late thirties. Doute, Taylor, and Schroeder were kicked off the show in 2020 for being racist (it was a whole scandal, and rightfully deserved). In general, the show has gotten a little long in the tooth as the cast has matured, gotten financially secure, and generally settled down—at least, it seemed that way before the Scandoval broke over the weekend.

Part of the show’s appeal has always been that it is a real-life It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Mainly, that it is a show about bad people who have bad things happen to them, and they rarely learn any lessons. The one notable exception is cast member Ariana Madix, who became Tom Sandoval’s girlfriend after he and Doute broke up. (Rumors have persisted that Sandoval cheated on Doute with Madix for years, but everyone shrugs it off because rumors also persist that Doute and Sandoval cheated on each other so much that it basically doesn’t matter, so do with that information what you will. I should note that Doute is friends with Madix now.)

Everyone loves Madix. She’s seen as a girl’s girl and regularly stays out of the more egregious drama. Generally, the only thing people can really point to as obnoxious is the time she said “I take sketch comedy very seriously,” and in the grand scheme of this show, that is less than nothing.

She and Sandoval wrote a cocktail book together, or, more to the point, Sandoval muscled his way into her book idea and insisted he co-write it with her, which was a storyline on VPR. Madix and Ariana bought a house together and generally have been living a life that looked like one of domestic bliss on the surface.

Raquel Leviss is so much more than a puppy party

I could write an entire PhD-level thesis on this show, but I’m trying to keep the word count down, so let’s just stick to some cold, hard facts. Leviss is the ex-girlfriend of DJ James Kennedy, who you don’t really need to know about because his shenanigans aren’t that great. She’s only been on the show since season 5, where she was only a guest star and has been a main cast member since season 9.

I have to hand it to Leviss. She is a reality show MVP. She went from desperate for storylines and trying to get main cast members to come to her “Puppy Shower” (literally a party for her dog) in season 7, to, in my estimation, guaranteeing the show is renewed for at least one if not two more seasons based on the Scandoval alone. That is true reality show mastery. (Remember: bad people + bad things = great entertainment value.)

Look, as a person, Leviss is probably not great because she has been carrying on an affair for months with Tom Sandoval, the long-term partner of Madix, whom she’s called one of her best friends in the cast. Here she is talking about who she’s close to in the show (Shay and Madix) and why she romantically pursued Tom Schwartz, which has been a storyline in season 10:

Schwartz is the ex-husband of cast member Katie Maloney, a.k.a. Tequila Katie. (There will not be a quiz on any of this, don’t worry. That said, Tequila Katie is known as a monster among monsters, and that means something in this crew.)

This is where it gets really weird. Up until the news of the Scandoval broke, the VPR storyline was of flirtation between Leviss and Schwartz. Schwartz is Sandoval’s best friend and business partner. If you want to watch a very awkward interview, here’s Schwartz talking about hooking up with Leviss in front of Sandoval, and Sandoval being asked about it. The lies! No wonder these guys never made it in Hollywood. They simply cannot act.

Tom Sandoval deserves all the hate

This all leads us to Tom Sandoval. Tom, Tom, Tom. Here’s the thing about Sandoval: When Jax left, he decided that it was time for him to become the number one guy in the group. His time, I tell you! (Yes, being the number one guy in the group is a thing with these people. Bless them.)

When Taylor left, it created a sociopathic void that Sandoval filled. With the main storyline drivers—Doute, Taylor, and Schroeder—out of the way, Sandoval became the show’s star for seasons 9 and 10. Storylines revolved around his and Schwartz’s new bar, Schwartz & Sandys, and his relationship with Madix. Everything was golden, and then his dumbass got caught cheating on everyone’s favorite cast member, and now he’s done thrown it all away.

Stupid for her personal life. Great for the show.

Everyone is Team Ariana

I’m not into sports, but I imagine loving Bravo shows is like watching sports with better outfits. Only in this case, there are not really two opposing teams to root for because no one is on Sandoval’s side, and everyone is rallying around Madix, including Kristen Doute. It’s reported that Doute has been asked to film again for VPR. This is a big deal. Her chaotic presence on screen could really screw over Sandoval, because Doute is always an accelerant. Per People:

Vanderpump Rules producers have approached Kristen to come back on the show to talk about this,” the insider shares. “She’s had her fair share of ups and downs with Sandoval over the years, but right now she’s completely supporting Ariana.”

Jax, also an accelerant, is out on Twitter, reminding everyone that he’s been saying Sandoval’s been cheating on Madix for years. Miami Girl was supposedly someone he cheated on her with in Miami. (No one said these people were creative geniuses, OK?)

Shay is obviously team Ariana:

And Sandoval? Well, he’s on Instagram begging people to leave his business alone and not let his indiscretions affect other people’s livelihoods. Here’s Maloney’s take on it because that’s more interesting, tbh:

… and she’s right. He made no mention of Madix in his apology. He got so much flak that he had to make an additional public apology to her. LOL.

Leviss learned from his mistake and apologized directly to Madix in her first public statement since Scandoval broke:

As for Madix, she is laying low and has yet to say anything publicly. Multiple publications are reporting that she and Sandoval are done, though. Good!

Bravo is all over this. Cameras are rolling, so we’ll see everything. The Scandoval will be a part of the current season, and the VPR reunion has yet to film.

I would not want to be Tom Sandoval or Raquel Leviss because the reunion will be brutal.

(featured image: Amanda Edwards; Santiago Felipe, Getty Images / The Mary Sue)

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