Where do I begin with the Vanderpump Rules drama? I’ve been watching since day one so I know all the players and the nuances (by nuances I mean relationships, hookups, breakups, one night stands, friend with benefits relationships, feuds, slaps etc.) in this cast.
every single bravo fan trying to explain the magnitude of the Raquel/Tom drama to someone whoâ€™s never heard of any of these people pic.twitter.com/eBWTP94pbC— bravo by betches (@bravobybetches) March 4, 2023
The story that has dropped is our Brangelina split, it’s our Bennifer calling off the wedding the first time around, it’s our Don’t Worry Darling mess. Andy Cohen posted a story about dreaming about Ariana because he’s as caught up in this drama as we are. This is a story that will change the trajectory of Bravo scandals forever.
Vanderpump Rules has been the messiest cast on reality TV for a long time, cementing that status when Jax and Kristen slept together while Tom Sandoval was asleep in the next room. If this means nothing to you then I’m not sure where to start? It’s nearly impossible to recap the body count, but here are the players for the players for this scenario:
Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval: business partners, best friend, quirky Peter Pan man babies who are at the center of the show. They own two businesses, TomTom with Lisa Vanderpump and the newer Schwartz & Sandy’s.
Ariana Madix: Tom Sandoval’s long-time partner; they own a home together and she was introduced on the show as an entanglement when he was living with Kristen Doute.
Raquel Leviss: Introduced on the show via her relationship with James Kennedy. She is a former beauty queen, was sweet and soft spoken and quickly earned the nickname “Bambi eyed bitch” from Lala Kent.
Also in the group: Lala Kent (she’s often making headlines because of her relationship with her ex Randall Emmett (the “I’m sorry Fofty” guy); Katie Maloney who recently divorced Tom Schwartz (important!); and Scheana Shay (less cast hookups, has had a lot of drama with the women in the group). Lala, Katie and Scheana are all friends with Ariana. Scheana was friends with Raquel until this broke.
Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix have been the most steady and loving couple on the show for years and owned a house. They are in many ways the nucleus of the group and show a fairly healthy relationship by reality TV standards. (There was one incident when they first started dating, the infamous Miami Girl, which I can’t get into or Lainey will cut me off like someone being pulled off stage with a vaudeville hook).
Ariana is a fan favourite: she tempered Tom’s ego, she is down-to-earth, she seems to understand the absurdity of the reality TV genre, she is genuine, she is funny and honest. She’s also always been upfront about who she is: bisexual and child-free, which has been a huge thing she’s been picked at about. Particularly about not wanting children, which has been brought up a lot. One reason I’ve always liked her is because I think she’s a really cool representation of a woman who chooses not to have children in that she is supportive of her friends who do want them and is happy for whatever choices other people make. (She recently revealed on the show she has frozen her eggs for options.) She’s also a vocal LGBTQ+ ally. Beyond that, I always got the sense she was easier to work with than her peers because she doesn’t have a big ego and would film with newbies. Which means she often filmed with Raquel when no one wanted to, which is a big deal. There’s a lot I’m leaving out for brevity, but this adds even more context:
Tom Sandoval chipped in $12,500 to help James propose to Raquel, they never made it down the aisle, now Sandy has been having a secret affair with Raquel, he owns a house with Ariana who he allegedly cheated on Kristen Doute with, Kristen dated James first who then dated Raquel, pic.twitter.com/DX4udXkCYF— Sophie Ross (@SophRossss) March 3, 2023
This season, a big storyline is Tom Schwartz making out with Raquel, which has fractured the cast because he and his ex Katie agreed not to hook up within the group (this is a completely healthy request considering they are all friends and co-workers). But on Friday, a story dropped that has shaken the Bravo world to its core. Tom SANDOVAL and Raquel hooked up. The reaction was swift.
I have 20 different chats going about this Vanderpump Rules news. 20 wildly different people, a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, insanely different jobs and lives, all have come together to say â€œWHAAAAAAAAT!?!??!?â€— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 3, 2023
Sir, a second Tom has hooked up with Raquel #PumpRules pic.twitter.com/6gXMjuJGSU— shannel mullan (@shannel_lynn) March 3, 2023
Je suis Ariana— Carey O'Donnell (@ecareyo) March 3, 2023
Itâ€™s one of those days for Bravo fans where youâ€™ll never forget where you were when you heard the news— Gibson Johns (@gibsonoma) March 3, 2023
A non-viewer might think “so what, it’s two reality show people cheating on each other, right?” NO. It’s way deeper than that because for those of us who have watched the minutia of their lives play out for years, watching them go from their 20s to 30s (and for some, 40s!), we are invested. And the unanimous consensus is: Team f-cking Ariana all day every day.
Bravo fandoms are rarely united but this is a different level because of the level of betrayal. Raquel was (allegedly) staying in their guest house and they were cheating while Ariana was in the next room. Raquel and Tom wore secret matching necklaces. They are in love and want to be together. WHAT?!!!!!
Because we’ve watched Tom and Ariana go from a will-they-won’t-they to a committed couple, this one stings so much. She really works on herself and is honest and he seemed to love and appreciate that about her. Tom is an arrogant, overly-precious “vibes” guy who blows money, like when he paid thousands of dollars to help James propose to Raquel. (Yes, that’s right.) He is 100% at fault here. He even dressed up as Raquel for Halloween. The f-cking nerve of this man! I think we can unanimously agree: Tom Sandoval, rawt in hell.
But the “other woman” isn’t responsible for his actions, right? She is not, but she is accountable for her own behaviour. Ariana and Raquel were really good friends. And when no one would film with Raquel, Ariana probably helped her maintain a spot on the show. And then she f-cked Ariana’s boyfriend while she was asleep in the next room? She is 100% at fault as well. What she’s done is diabolical.
(Yes, I’m assigning 200% fault to this situation. Ariana is 0% at fault, obviously.)
And now what??? We are early in the new season and are going to watch the Tom Schwartz/Raquel storyline play out and it is not just a lie, but likely a decoy so that no one would know she and the other Tom are scumbags. How are fans going to survive the rest of this season?!
â€œDo you watch Vanderpump Rules?â€ - me to anyone Iâ€™ve come in contact with in the past 24 hours— Bob (@tweetsbybob_) March 5, 2023
Literally #pumprules pic.twitter.com/HCN7vN2CPK— Queens of Bravo (@queensofbravo) March 4, 2023
There’s a timeline, which is laid out here.
To sum up: last week at one of Tom’s shows (he’s in band, of course), Ariana saw a sext from Raquel to him. She then alerted Scheana, who was in New York with Raquel filming WWHL. A physical altercation might have gone down (unconfirmed) between them. It took about a day for it to go public. Traditional media has been covering it extensively – TMZ, PEOPLE and Page Six have literally dozens of stories posted, which tells me that this scandal has legs beyond the usual reality TV niche.
Production is on the scene and this is all being filmed. Of course it is! These are professionals, not one season Bachelor contestants. They live on camera and while all reality TV is a massaged version of life, this drama feels so real.
I promise I will tweet about something else at some point, but Tom and Ariana already filmed a scene together about this?? No one works harder than reality stars.— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) March 4, 2023
The current and previous cast has been all over social media and posting comments. Ariana deleted her Instagram while her friends rally and Tom released a really eye-rolling statement. Strategy is being leaked to DeuxMoi (allegedly Raquel has hired a crisis team.) And while this is happening publicly, they are also filming behind closed doors. So fans are getting a real-time story and in a few months will get a documentary of the scandal. This is why it pays to be a Bravo fan. If it was a Kardashian scandal, the family would get control over the edit. We will see what Bravo producers want us to see and these producers are very good at their jobs. So is this cast.
As fans of the show, we thought we had seen it all – cheating storylines have happened over and over as Ira Madison III points out, because the show was built on cheating.
Unfortunately affairs are the bread and butter of VPR and so Raquel has cemented her continued air time (the show literally started w the fallout of Scheanaâ€™s affair w Brandiâ€™s husband) #PumpRules— Ira (@iramadisonthree) March 4, 2023
And yet they still manage to shock us. “You know this is our time, these are the best days of our lives….”
Please check on the Bravo fan in your life, we are overstimulated.— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) March 3, 2023
Attached - Ariana, Raquel, and Tom Sandoval serving Thanksgiving meals at the LA Mission together in October 2022.