Days after the explosive trailer for Vanderpump Rules dropped, former castmate Rachel Leviss dropped an explosive trailer of her own, for her podcast, Rachel Goes Rogue, which is set to premiere in January. The trailer features snippets of her discussing her experience of Scandoval, something she’s remained fairly tight-lipped about, and what she went through in the days, weeks and months following the news of her and Tom Sandoval’s affair, which broke back in March.


In the trailer, she acknowledges that her affair with Tom was “morally wrong”, and says that she understands the anger, adding that after 90 days in a trauma therapy center, she’s finally back in Los Angeles, where the rest of the cast has likely wrapped up filming for season 11 at this point. She spoke about why she decided to leave the show and skip filming with the rest of the cast.

“I started noticing a pattern in my behavior and I wanted to change those things,” she said. “I have completely removed myself from the filming environment that is Vanderpump Rules.”


During the podcast trailer, she discusses why, in retrospect, she thinks it was a mistake to film season 10, which was taped on the heels of her calling off her engagement with another castmate, James Kennedy. Rachel says there were several things that contributed to her not wanting to move forward with filming. And in addition to reasons like her preserving her mental health, it was also not wanting to put her former friend Ariana in a situation similar to one she found herself in, having to be so close to her ex-fiancé and his new girlfriend during season 10.


Since March, so many fans of the show have expressed their doubt over instances where Rachel has expressed care for Ariana, particularly during and after the affair. But anyone who watched her when she first arrived on the show can testify to the fact that she genuinely is a caring person. Sure, having a months-long affair with one of your closest friend’s partners is not the best way to show it, but she did demonstrate having a good heart on many other occasions – and perhaps that’s why the response to Scandoval has been so polarizing. Because people have been so at odds trying to figure out if she really was who she portrayed herself to be, namely in her earlier days on the show. 

She describes knowing, firsthand, the pain of having to work so closely with James after their split, and what the doubt that stemmed from seeing him move on so quickly did to her. So yes, it makes sense that even though she made the mistake of sleeping with Tom and betraying her friendship with Ariana, she still has the empathy to not want Ariana to go through what she did, despite the different nature of these situations.

"When we're working together and filming together and he's flaunting his new girlfriend that he met three weeks after I ended the engagement, that hurt, and there were so many questions running through my mind like: Did he ever really love me? How is it possible to love someone and then get over them so quickly?”

The question she asks there, about how someone could get over someone they loved so quickly, is one she would find herself asking, again, with Tom. Though they were confirmed to be in a relationship after the news broke in March, by May, rumours were swirling that he and Rachel had broken things off and that he had begun dating influencer Karlee Hale. 


She went on to say that she hasn’t heard from any of her former friends and castmates and described the difficulty of having to cut Tom completely out of her life, which she says she did the day she left the trauma therapy center. Now, she’s reflecting on just how manipulative he was throughout the process.

There's so much to unpack here, and the first thing is just how easy Tom got off in all of this, compared to Rachel. Sure, his restaurant got some pretty terrible reviews and Ariana really laid into him at the reunion. But after laying low for a few months, things seem to have really calmed down for him. So much so that not even a full year after this scandal, he’s back to living it up and filming with Ariana as well as his friends who swore they would never speak to him again (cough cough, Scheana). It’s such an odd but totally predictable thing to see.


I say predictable because just yesterday, I wrote about how much people at the top benefit from pitting women on any given production, in any given industry, against each other. In this case, you had people like executive producers and network execs at the top benefitting from the huge spike in ratings and the vested interest in wanting to see how this all unfolded. And in the wake of axing some of the show’s heavy hitters, which included Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute and Jax Taylor, Vanderpump Rules and show executives needed this, because sh-t was getting dull. But fans needed this too – and so we also benefitted greatly. Because hear me loud and clear when I say that this was hands down one of the biggest scandals in reality TV. And that’s saying a lot.

Just last night, I watched the finale of Winter House. During this particular episode, Danielle, who was having a FWB situation with another castmate, Alex, marched over to her female castmate Jordan to confront her for “shaking her ass” in front of Alex. At one point, Jordan quipped:

“Why are you not taking this up with him?”

It was the same question I asked myself when, during the previous episode of Winter House, Samantha, a woman in a months-long situationship with castmate Kory, barged onto the scene to accuse houseguest Malia of trying to get with him, to which Malia rightfully responded that it was his responsibility to make it clear he was seeing someone outside of the show, and for the first bit of the show, he didn’t do that.


All of this is to say a few things. First, men are hardly the target for the questions they should be answering and the wrath they should be facing. Second, this is especially true in reality TV settings. And third, we are all complicit in maintaining women’s animosity towards each other as the status quo.

Yesterday, I provided a few examples of how scripted productions like Charmed contribute to a culture of women being made to feel like they’re in direct competition with one another. And as much as I might have hoped that, in theory, we’ve all matured, considering the show stopped filming in the early  2000s, reality TV is still a place where woman-to-woman animosity is not only common, but the direct ingredient, the secret sauce, if you will, that makes for “good TV”. 

In the same way men like Charmed showrunner Jonathan Levin get to wipe their hands clean by getting women like Alyssa Milano to do their dirty work, making it seem like the women on his show are just bitchy or catty, men like Tom, Alex and Kory also get to fade out into the background while women like Rachel, Ariana, Danielle and Samantha are left to hash it out amongst themselves. And as much as I wish I had the strength and moral compass to put my foot down and refuse to watch, embarrassingly enough, I am all in.