Scandoval: Here is how The Vanderpump Rules drama broke and why it was such a big deal

Scandoval: Here is how The Vanderpump Rules drama broke and why it was such a big deal

It was a cheating scandal that shook the world x

Vanderpump Rules Scandoval

Before Scandoval, The Vanderpump Rules was once a relatively unremarkable reality show on the Bravo network. This was until the news broke, and it was given such an inescapable nickname. After the drama, The Vanderpump Rules is now one of the most popular titles in the channel’s library of shows. Among these include the Real Housewives franchise, Below Deck, Summer House and many others.

Who broke the story of Scandoval?

As with most stories of a similar nature, it was broken by the iconic gossip site TMZ  back in March last year. To add to the drama of it all, the show was not currently filming. In fact, it sparked production to spring back into action to capture the fallout of the drama, and it was almost televised in real time.

On paper, it doesn’t really sound that groundbreaking. A man cheats on a woman with another woman. Sadly, this is a tale as old as time. However, to fully understand its magnitude, one needs to know the backstory of the key players. In this tragedy, we have a trio of past employees of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant SUR (which stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant) known as Tom Sandoval, Ariana Maddix and Rachel ‘Raquel’ Leviss.

Okay, so who is Tom Sandoval?

Along with music, modelling, and acting, Tom Sandoval worked as a bartender at SUR. Since departing the bar, but not the show, he opened his own bar with another former Lisa Vanderpump employee, Tom Schwartz.

Before the airing of Scandoval, Tom was in a relationship with his girlfriend Ariana Maddix and had been for the last nine years. He has since gone to projects like The Masked Singer and was outed as the true identity of the Diver.

Okay, so who is Ariana Madix?

Ariana Maddix was Tom Sandoval’s live-in girlfriend of nine years until all the details of his affair with Raquel broke. Along with being a jobbing sitcom actress, she also used to be on the staff rota at SUR. Before Scandoval, she had just been struggling with losing her dog Charlotte York.

Ariana published a cocktail recipe book with Tom called Fancy AF Cocktails: Drink Recipes from a Couple of Professional Drinkers. Since the scandal, she appears to have starred on every show on television, such as the US edition of Love Island and Dancing With The Stars.

Okay, who is Raquel/Rachel Leviss?

Raquel Leviss, who changed her name from Rachel and then back again, and it is unclear if it was officially done or not, was a waitress working at SUR. Along with her professional commitments, she has also been at the centre of many scandals on the show. A former beauty queen, Raquel began her time on the show in 2016 when she was introduced as the girlfriend of cast member James Kennedy. After getting engaged and supporting him in getting sober, they announced their split in 2016.

Before Scandoval, Rachel had gotten in trouble with the gang before about getting with someone else’s ex. Her kiss with  Tom Schwartz, the ex-husband of Katie Maloney, at Scheana Shay’s wedding did not go down well with them all. She will not be returning for the show’s 11th season.

When and how did Tom get together with Ariana?

The early days of their nine-year relationship were not so clean-cut either. Ariana joined the cast of the show back in its second season in summer 2013. She had transferred from Lisa Vanderpump’s other Los Angeles establishment, Villa Blanca.  The first time the pair met is not clear, but in her first episode, Tom called Ariana his ‘friend’. Later in the series, his then-girlfriend Kristen Doute put it out there that she felt Tom was cheating on her with Ariana, claims they both denied.

However, Tom admitted that he was indeed dating Ariana during that season’s reunion. On February 10th, 2014, the night it arrived, they also hard launched via Instagram. Underneath a black and white selfie of them pulling a funny face, she captioned it: “Leave it to me to post this one.”

Over the years, they had their ups and downs. These included Tom supporting her through a 2018 cancer scare and breaking her trust in 2019 when he blabbed about how she had hooked up with her co-star, Lala Kent. However, they appeared to have left it all washed over them when they purchased a house together in February 2019.

Did they ever speak about marriage and babies?

Ariana admitted that she wasn’t “really into the whole fanfare of” marriage while appearing on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live in October 2021.

On the baby front, Ariana let the cameras follow her freezing her eggs in the show’s ninth season. She took the opportunity to set the record straight that she wasn’t thinking about having babies yet but wanted to keep her opportunities open.

Wait, didn’t they have an open relationship?

In the season 10 trailer, Ariana and Tom were seen being told about speculations that they let others join them in their bedroom. These were shot down before the episode even aired when Ariana clarified the situation.

“We don’t have an open relationship. I’m really not that cool, thought that was obvious,” she wrote on X, before adding that being bisexual didn’t mean being polyamorous.

When did they split after Scandoval?

A source explained to PEOPLE magazine that they had called it quits on their nine-year relationship on March 1 last year.

“They had been having problems for a while, but this was the final straw for Ariana,” the person told the outlet. “She put up with a lot over the years, but she won’t sit back and be disrespected this way.”

How did Ariana find out about Tom’s affair with Rachel?

According to another source quoted by PEOPLE, Ariana found out about the SIX MONTH AFFAIR at his band Tom Sandoval and the Most Extra’s Los Angeles gig. She was absolutely “blindsided” and more than “devastated” by the revelation.

On the fallout episodes, Ariana told the girls that she “found a screen recording of them on FaceTime” on an episode of The Vanderpump Rules. She alleged the call had taken place at Tom Schwartz’s house. This came after Ariana found a sexually explicit clip on her man’s phone.

They said: “This has been going on for upwards of six months — all the while, Tom was sleeping next to Ariana in bed. She was completely blindsided by this; devastated doesn’t even scratch the surface of how she feels.”

What did Tom have to say for himself after Scandoval broke?

Tom straight up confirmed the news on his Instagram while asking people to give him and his nearest and dearest some space.

“Hey, I fully understand and deserve ur anger and disappointment towards me, but please leave [Tom] Schwartz, my friends and family out of this situation. I need some time to address everything. Sorry for everything,” he wrote.

A few days later, he apologised to Ariana on Instagram, admitting that he had made a few “mistakes’ and that his “biggest regret” was humiliating Ariana.

When did Ariana break her silence post-Scandoval?

Ariana took to Instagram to share her “most sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support I have received from friends, family, and people I’ve never even met in the last two weeks,” adding that they had lent her “the strength to continue” and had allowed her to cope in her “darkest hours”.

She added: “To say I have been devastated and broken is an understatement. However, I know that I am not alone in this. So many of my closest friends are also grieving this loss right now and reeling from this betrayal on so many levels. I am so fucking lucky to have the best support system in the world and I hope i can repay every single person for the love you have shown me.”

Ariana concluded her statement with an affirmation, assuring everyone concerned that “what doesn’t kill me better run.”

This came after her pal and co-star Katie told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that Ariana was in a “really good headspace” after her breakup with Tom Sandoval.

She also appeared on the podcast Call Her Daddy and alleged to host Alex Cooper that Tom and Raquel had sex in her shared home with Tom. “I think they had sex in my guest room while I was sleeping in my own bed that he and I went to bed in together, and then he left the bed and went to the guest room and fucked her,” Ariana said in May last year.

What did Raquel say about Scandoval?

Raquel broke her silence on 8th March and issued an apology for her “actions” to Entertainment Tonight. She admitted there was “no excuse” and didn’t view herself as the “victim” of the situation.

“I must own my actions, and I deeply regret hurting Ariana,” she said.

Okay so, why was Scandoval so shocking?

Some could argue that cheating storylines are nothing new to the show. The show, a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, began with a cheating scandal. The first few episodes followed the original cast member Scheana Shay dealing with the fallout of being the other woman in the ex-Housewive Brandi Glanville’s marriage to her ex, Eddie Cibrani. Along with this, the show is marked by storylines of infidelity. Even Ariana and Tom weren’t immune to it themselves! They are thought to have begun as a moment of overlap.

Taking this all into consideration, the real drama of it all comes from its unexpected nature.  Long-time viewers of the show truly didn’t see it coming. There were other sources of drama brewing, like Raquel’s pursuit of Tom Schwartz, who is the ex-husband of another cast member, Katie Maloney, according to the founder of the newsletter Gossip Time, Allie Jones.

“This was not something that any Bravo fan, as far as I know, was suspecting because the show was airing its current season when news of the affair broke out. In the show, Raquel has been accused of hooking up with Tom Schwartz, so that’s been the drama,” she told The New York Times last year.  “Tom Schwartz has recently divorced from another cast member, Katie Maloney, and some of the girls were upset with Raquel because of her interest in Tom Schwartz.”

Okay, but really, what is the big deal about Scandoval?

Experts have mused that to understand this story’s beauty, you must be a long-time fan of reality television. Ever since the genre shot to popularity in the 90s and early 00s, viewers have wondered how much of it is actually, well, a reflection of reality. For example, the MTV series Laguna Beach and The Hills were constantly dogged with questions about how much of the drama between them was real. Were Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag really best friends? Did they really fall out? Did Spencer really leak that sex tape information to Perez Hilton?

“So I feel like what ‘Scandoval’ showed is, here is what was actually going on behind the scenes. It was even juicier than anything they were showing on the show, at the time, … which I think makes it so intriguing for people,” she told Yahoo Canada. “It wasn’t all fake. It’s not all manufactured. This is real people, real life, and of course you can’t look away from it.”

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Photo credit via The Vanderpump Rules/Bravo