What is going on with ‘Vanderpump Rules’ cheating scandal?


Andy Cohen swears! In the wake of the “Vanderpump Rules” cheating scandal, nobody edited the reality show’s newest episode, which was taped before its infamous love triangle exploded onto the pop-culture landscape this month.

“Guys, you’re going to watch Wednesday’s episode,” the Bravo host said Tuesday on his Sirius XM show, “Radio Andy.” “You are going to think that it was recut. OK? It was not recut. This was the episode.”

Cohen continued, his voice dripping with drama: “The conversations that go on between Katie and Lala and Raquel are not. To be. Believed. In the light of what has come out. But I’m telling y’all, the episode was not touched. This is how it was going to be shown, which makes it all the more shocking. You won’t believe it.”

And while die-hard fans might not believe it, non-viewers and new viewers simply might not understand it at all. Tonight’s “Vanderpump Rules” episode possibly has deeper, hidden meaning in light of the cheating situation that blew up in early March. That’s when one of the cast members of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” spinoff learned her longtime boyfriend had been having an affair with her co-star.

For those clueless folks, we present the “Vanderpump Rules” cheating scandal, explained.

The show

The first post-cheating episode of “Vanderpump Rules,” a reality show about the people working at “RHOBH” star Lisa Vanderpump’s WeHo restaurants and bars, drew the highest ratings in three years, the Wrap reported Wednesday. The March 8 episode was seen live by 2.2 million people, a doubling from the March 1 installment. Clearly, sex sells.

“Vanderpump Rules” — or just “Pump Rules,” if you’re cool — launched its 10th season on Bravo in early February, promising on its website “a new era of tomfoolery, drama, and betrayal.” Episode 6 airs tonight.

The players

The current main cast consists of, in no particular order, Vanderpump, Katie Maloney, Tom Schwartz, James Kennedy, Lala Kent, Charli Burnett, Scheana Shay, Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix and Raquel Leviss. Pay attention to those last few names, as they are, ahem, intertwined.

Except for restaurateur Vanderpump, all are current or former servers, hostesses, busboys or bartenders at her SUR and Pump restaurants. TomTom Restaurant & Bar, partly owned by Sandoval and Schwartz, is also part of the landscape. Though most of the cast members have moved on from their original restaurant jobs, they haven’t moved on from the show that put them firmly in the “middle-class show business” ranks.

Sandoval and Madix had been in a relationship for nine years, and he co-owns Schwartz & Sandy’s Lounge in L.A. with Vanderpump, Schwartz and two others. Leviss didn’t become a full-time cast member until Season 9.

Two women and two men pose in a club with their arms around one another

Ariana Madix, left, Tom Sandoval, Raquel Leviss and Tom Schwartz hang out together in 2021.

(Araya Doheny / Getty Images)

The affair

Madix, 37, found out Sandoval, 39, had been cheating on her on March 1, when, according to People, she was at a venue watching her beau’s band perform. Sandoval and Leviss, 28, were seen smooching, the outlet said, presumably before Madix found a racy video of them on her boyfriend’s phone. Then she found their history of inappropriate texts.

At that point, the cat was miles and miles out of the bag.

Leviss and Shay, meanwhile, appeared on Cohen’s “Watch What Happens Live” that same night, with Leviss defending a recent decision to kiss Schwartz, who is Sandoval’s best friend and business partner. Leviss was previously linked to Schwartz after Schwartz split from Maloney, after Maloney called off her engagement to Kennedy. Unpack that last sentence at your leisure.

The fallout

By March 3, the couple’s relationship was dead, dead, dead, even though Madix had reportedly planned to spend the rest of her life with Sandoval.

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

Sandoval posted a note on Instagram on March 4 asking people to please leave Schwartz and his friends and family out of the kerfuffle, noting that “Schwartz specifically only found out about this very recently, and most definitely did not condone my actions.” Sandoval also said he would be “taking a hiatus” out of respect for his employees and partners at the lounge.

Three days later, Sandoval posted a formal apology to Madix and “everyone I’ve hurt through this process.” He said he “acted in a way that clashes with who and how I want to be” and would continue to “reflect and work on myself.”

He also got a little emotional, writing, “My love for Ariana was stronger than any camera could ever have captured. … I wish things happened in a different order and our relationship was not severely tarnished, and that it ended with the same respect … for her that it began with. I owed Ariana better.”

Leviss posted an apology that same day, March 7, “to Ariana, my friends and the fans so invested in our relationships. There is no excuse. I am not a victim and must own my actions. I deeply regret hurting Ariana.” She said she was speaking to a counselor and was taking steps to make “healthier” choices.

Two woman smile at each other while seated on a late-night talk show

Scheana Shay, left, and Raquel Leviss appear on “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.”

(Charles Sykes / Bravo via Getty Images)

She also defended herself a bit, writing, “Although I chose to be on a reality show accepting the good and bad that comes with it, beyond my own actions, I have been physically assaulted, lost friendships, received death threats and hate emails in addition to having had my privacy violated.”

That day Leviss also filed for a restraining order against Shay alleging per TMZ that her apparently former friend had “shoved Raquel against a brick wall and punched her in her left eye.” The rumor is that Shay, 37, was defending their mutual friend Madix, and the filing included photos of Leviss with dark marks on her eyes.

Then, on March 8, Leviss returned to Instagram to say, in part, “I need to take care of my health, work on self growth and take time to be ok with being alone. I care for Tom and I don’t want to label anything or predict what lies ahead. Right now I need to heal.”

The next day, an attorney for Shay told The Times in a statement that “Scheana never punched Rachel, period. The supposed dark markings around her left eye have been there for months.” The statement referred to Leviss as “a known liar and cheat.”

The appeal?

Cheating and scandal are baked into the cake that is “Vanderpump Rules,” but this particular cheating scandal has fan chat groups buzzing.

“People feel played. And they’re putting all the pieces together right now,” the person who anonymously runs the @QueensofBravoPlus Instagram account told The Times last week. “There’s a lot of deception that comes with it. … People might not be able to identify with scamming old people or [a spouse accused of] taking money from orphans and widows, but this feels relatable, where people know what it’s like to be cheated on or deceived by a friend.”

The show — again

What happens next? Well, “Vanderpump Rules,” Season 10, Episode 6, airs at 9 p.m. Pacific tonight on Bravo. Viewers who want to catch up on the drama thus far, which doesn’t include anything mentioned above except the cast members, can do that by tuning in hours early each week. Previous episodes run before the new one comes on.

A source close to the production told People last week that “cameras are rolling right now,” so the breakup will likely be part of the current season.

Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.

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