Since #Scandoval broke in March, Vanderpump Rules fans have been watching the 10th season searching for clues regarding the affair. It’s been a wild ride and often feels like watching a murder mystery unraveling, with so many jaw-dropping moments (like the time Tom Sandoval said that “nothing physical” happened between him and Raquel with a sly grin) that we all deserve a glass (or bottle) of wine for making it through these episodes without throwing something at our TVs.
While everything about this story is chaotic, it’s come to the time where we have to ask: Has the gossip surrounding #Scandoval gone too far?
What Is #Scandoval?
In case you don’t watch Vanderpump Rules as religiously as I do, #Scandoval is the scandal that arose when it was revealed that VPR star Ariana Madix broke up with her boyfriend of nine years, Tom Sandoval, after she found out that he had a months-long affair with her co-star and good friend Raquel Leviss.
After the scandal broke, the camera crew was quick to start production to film the fallout, and fans were able to see some of the footage in the explosive mid-season trailer, including footage of Tom gaslighting Ariana.
Though you could argue that scandals related to infidelity are the bread and butter of VPR (I can think of several just off the top of my head), this one is different due to all of the manipulation that was involved in covering up the affair on Tom and Raquel’s end. To start, Tom and Ariana were together for nine years, had a house together, and she was always good to him. Many fans argue that she was his only redeeming quality since she is well-liked by fans and cast members alike (which is a rare feat on shows like VPR), and Tom always seemed like a jerk. Ariana was also a great friend to Raquel and consistently stood up for her when other cast members bullied her. Though nobody deserves to go through the betrayal and heartbreak that Ariana is experiencing, it’s harder for fans to watch it happen to someone with such a good heart.
In the episodes that have aired since the scandal broke, fans have noticed clues about the Tom and Raquel affair, which allegedly began in August 2022. It began with glances between the two when fellow cast members accused them of acting strange together. One of the most shocking revelations was that Raquel spent the night at Tom’s house (which he shares with Ariana) while Ariana was in Florida for her grandmother’s funeral. It’s important to note that this happened after the affair began, proving that Tom and Raquel had been sneaking around under Ariana’s nose for months. Though it’s scandalous, it’s also kind of chilling to witness, because it takes a serious lack of empathy to do what they’ve done.
Former and current VPR cast members have been vocal about the scandal. It would take forever to break down everyone’s reaction, but one of the most telling reactions came from fellow cast member James Kennedy, who is also Raquel’s ex-fiancé. The day the scandal broke, James shared a screenshot of an article breaking the news that was captioned, “Hope you all feel as sick as I do. This explains everything.”
The Aftermath of #Scandoval
To say that the aftermath of #Scandoval has been a hot mess might be the understatement of the year. The first viral moment came from fellow cast member Lala Kent. Known for her brutal (and often brash) honesty, she didn’t hold back when Raquel’s lawyer emailed legal documents to her and the rest of the cast members to their personal email accounts.
On her Instagram story, Lala responded, “Raquel, tell your little Mickey Mouse lawyer that if he has stuff to send over, he can send things to my lawyer. Same with the rest of my friends and cast, alright? I’ve never in my life had a lawyer contact me in my personal email, alright? I don’t know if you know how this works, I know you’re pretty brand new to the game, and it didn’t last long. Look what you did with your f***ing 15 minutes.”
She continued, “If you have something to send over, you can send it to my lawyer. That’s why we have counsel, okay? I don’t want to deal. I have a life going on. I have a little baby to take care of. I don’t want to see it in the morning. I don’t want to see that, ever. Send it to Darrell!”
Lala was referring to her lawyer, Darrell Miller, who has become a meme since the clip went viral. Lala went on to sell hoodies that say “Send It To Darrell” on her website. Was it petty? Yes. But it was also hilarious to many fans and arguably the expected outcome of viral internet fame and reality TV drama.
As the drama continued, fans were excited to see what would unfold at the season 10 reunion. Before we discuss what is likely to happen at the reunion, we have to go back to the night of March 1, 2023. Tom and Ariana were in Los Angeles. Tom was performing with his cover band, Tom Sandoval and the Most Extras, and Ariana was watching the show when she discovered some NSFW texts from Raquel on Tom’s phone, confirming the affair.
On the same night, Raquel and fellow VPR cast member Scheana Shay were in New York City filming an episode of Watch What Happens Live, a talk show where Andy Cohen interviews Bravo stars about their shows, often alongside more mainstream celebrities. It’s important to note that Scheana and Ariana have been best friends for over a decade, and Scheana has also been a very good friend to Raquel, even when other cast members were mean to her.
Ariana contacted both Raquel and Scheana after discovering the affair, and Scheana was, understandably, livid. Raquel then accused Scheana of assaulting her after she found out about the affair and issued a restraining order against her.
Scheana denied ever assaulting Raquel, leading many fans to believe that Raquel issued the restraining order to avoid facing the rest of the cast at the reunion. However, Raquel did wind up attending the reunion with everyone, which was filmed on March 23. The only catch was that Raquel and Scheana had to film their segments separately, leading fans to believe that Raquel didn’t want to face Scheana specifically. The restraining order was dropped on March 29, seemingly confirming this theory.
On March 31, Scheana released an episode of her podcast, Scheananagins with Scheana Shay, that discussed the reunion with Lala. In the episode, Scheana detailed how she was coping with mourning her friendship with Raquel and who she thought she was. She also detailed how she treated Raquel like she was her second daughter when she let her stay with her family after Raquel broke up with her fiancé, James Kennedy. Scheana said, “Good people don’t do this to people who take care of them. I gave her a home where she didn’t have anywhere to go.”
“When I found out she was having sex with a random guy in my bed, that I would sleep in with my husband and my baby, I was just like, ‘Can you please remember to wash the sheets before we get home?’ because I had to ‘mother’ her. I had to remind her to do common decency things,” Scheana continued.
While Scheana didn’t get a chance to confront Raquel at the reunion, Lala did. She said that she was “still recovering” and that she felt “so dirty” to be in the presence of Tom and Raquel. Lala was likely referring to her past experiences with ex-fiancé and disgraced movie producer Randall Emmett, who has been accused of infidelity, financial crimes, sexual misconduct, and alleged pedophilia. Lala has been vocal about how being around people that remind her of Randall (who she believes is a narcissist and master manipulator) gives her severe anxiety, which is understandable when you acknowledge everything that she’s been through. Both Lala and Scheana also claimed that Tom and Raquel have no remorse for what they’ve done, which many fans found disturbing.
While Scheana and Lala’s podcast was juicy, nothing compared to Tom coming out to tell his side of the story on Howie Mandel’s podcast, Howie Mandel Does Stuff, on April 11. The episode is literally 79 minutes of him making excuses for cheating on Ariana with Raquel. Some of his excuses include a “lack of intimacy” with Ariana, pressure to stay with Ariana due to the brand they built as a power couple, and a mid-life crisis. He also claimed that he and Ariana had been drifting apart and “living separate lives” for a while, although no break up had occurred.
Now that we’ve gone over the gist of the drama, it’s time to ask the important question: Are fans and VPR cast members taking this too far?
Are We Taking This Too Far?
Before I get into this, I want to make one thing very clear: What Tom and Raquel did was wrong, and their supposed lack of remorse and empathy toward Ariana is disturbing. They deserve to be held accountable for their actions and face some ridicule, but has it gone too far?
On March 8, Lisa Vanderpump appeared on Watch What Happens Live to share her thoughts on #Scandoval. She said, “This kind of vigilante justice, I don’t agree with it at all. I think these are people who are living their lives in a public forum, which is very difficult. There is so much infidelity in the world, and it’s not like they murdered someone.”
Lisa continued, “It’s a show, and they’re all hurting. I’m not saying we should let them off the hook. Condemn their actions, but don’t condemn the people. All of this aggression can have serious ramifications, and I really mean that. I think everybody should be careful with that. I don’t like it, and I don’t want to see that.”
I think Lisa said this perfectly. In the midst of the scandal breaking, Tom’s restaurant was vandalized, and innocent employees were the ones who had to face the angry mob of fans, not Tom. Raquel alleges that she has received death threats and hate emails leading up to her checking into a mental health facility, which is something that nobody deserves. Tom’s business partner, best friend, and fellow VPR cast member Tom Schwartz alleged that fans even threatened to pour beers on him when he visited his hometown of St. Louis in early April. It’s possible to hold Tom and Raquel accountable for their actions without being hateful or breaking the law, or bringing other people into their mess.
The entire cast of VPR (past and current) have spoken out, profited off of merch, podcast downloads, and gained significant notoriety by trash-talking the two, leading to countless others in the spotlight to do the same. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #scandoval currently has 331.6 million views. Creators have made entire accounts and careers off of this reality tv show drama at this point, and many on social media are calling the season 10 reunion their "Super Bowl". While both Tom and Raquel deserve to face the consequences of what they’ve done, this mob mentality has to stop.
Fans are right to be angry about what Tom and Raquel did to Ariana because what they did was cruel, but at the end of the day these characters on tv are still people. They are people with flaws, insecurities, and human emotions. They aren't the first people to cheat on a significant other, and they certainly won't be the last. The difference between everyday people being caught up in a cheating scandal and Tom and Raquel is that their lives are on display for people to judge and ridicule as they please, whereas others can deal with these things privately.
If fans really want to support Ariana, they should channel their anger into something productive. They could buy some of her Team Ariana merch or merch from her sandwich shop, Something About Her. Bullying Tom or Raquel won’t do anything to help the situation, so why waste the energy?
#Scandoval has taken over the internet in recent months, proving that reality TV gossip has more power than we once thought. While it’s understandable that fans are furious with Tom and Raquel for their actions, there’s such a thing as taking it too far. Whether it’s with vandalism, assault, or bullying, actions like these do nothing but make the perpetrator look petty and cruel, and shouldn’t we be past that?
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