A Thorough 'Vanderpump Rules' #Scandoval Explainer

A Thorough 'Vanderpump Rules' #Scandoval Explainer

Some were not chosen by fate to witness the season three episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills transition into the premiere of Vanderpump Rules in 2013, and as a result, have likely been a bit lost this last week. No fear! We're here with an explainer that will explain... well, everything!

On March 3, news of what would later be dubbed the "Scandoval" broke: VPR cast member Tom Sandoval had carried on a months-long affair with castmate Raquel Leviss while still with long-term girlfriend Ariana Madix. From there, things devolved quickly: a restraining order, a black eye, a leaked sex tape, dozens of Instagram stories and paparazzi photographs, and most surprisingly, news that Bravo had picked up the cameras nearly six months after the ongoing season wrapped.

Let's start at the beginning.

Vanderpump Rules was the backdoor spin-off of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and premiered right after S3E08 in 2013. The network cut the premiere to blend seamlessly with the preceding episode, and would go on to become the juggernaut of Bravo's arsenal with consistently high ratings and a broad appeal beyond the foundational Real Housewives fanbase. Originally pitched as a reality show about struggling models, musicians and actors at RHOBH mainstay Lisa Vanderpump's Villa Blanca and SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant) establishments, it soon spun off into something much more.

Today, the show consists of staff and owners of about five bars and restaurants — SUR, WeHo's Pump, TomTom, Vegas' Vanderpump Cocktail Garden, Schwartz and Sandy's — with a sandwich shop potentially named Something About Her on the way, if all goes according to plan.

The original cast of hapless 20-somethings consisted of current stars Scheana Shay, Katie Maloney and most notably, Tom Sandoval. Ariana Madix was a guest on season one and would become a main cast member by season two. Her introduction to the show is key to the current affair, because she and Sandoval were accused of a nebulous romantic entanglement by Sandoval's then girlfriend, Kristen Doute. She, for the record, had carried on an affair of her own with former cast member Jax Taylor, which played into her and Sandoval's eventual breakup.

Sandoval and Madix soon got together and were happy by all accounts. Shay warned her about Sandoval's ability to lie, his apparent narcissism and even his supposed affair with a woman still only known as "Miami girl." For a brief moment, Madix and Shay fell out over this, but would reunite in coming seasons and remain close friends to this day.

In this time, James Kennedy was introduced as the boyfriend of Doute, although their new relationship did not last very long. According to both parties, there was mutual toxicity and perhaps even infidelity. The show itself had begun to pick up steam in viewership, and it became harder for the cast to not feel the pull of outside forces. They soon became recognizable as staff, restaurants were packed with eager onlookers and rumors of various affairs between different cast members mounted on both sides of the gender divide.

The numerous plot lines about these supposed affairs are important to this story in a variety of ways, but mostly for their ubiquity. To the onlooker, it might seem like Sandoval and Leviss' affair was a run of the mill occurrence. But there is a key distinction for Sandoval and Madix's relationship specifically, which played into the explosion of news about his covert operations with Leviss. To fans, Madix and Sandoval were the last remaining relationship of the old guard of the cast: Doute was gone, Maloney divorced Sandoval's business partner Tom Schwartz, Shay divorced and remarried, and too many more to count. Because of this, they became an emotional core to the cast and were frequently accused by others and even viewers of having the "perfect" relationship, not to mention the most stable.

Leviss, meanwhile, was first introduced as James Kennedy's girlfriend in season five after his breakup from Doute and entanglement with current cast member Lala Kent. They later broke up in season nine, while engaged, due to Kennedy's behavior and infidelity. Pointedly, Sandoval had paid for their engagement party and was pictured frequently with Leviss, Kennedy and Madix. There was even an entire episode dedicated to the engagement party, staged to look like Coachella, in which he waxed poetic about the lengths he went to make it special for Leviss and Kennedy while Madix wondered if he'd ever do the same for her. By all accounts, the three were incredibly close friends. Shay and Madix both had also been champions of Leviss when the cast had ostracized her in the past.

Jumping forward to March 3, TMZdropped an exclusive that truly broke the internet: "TOM SANDOVAL & ARIANA MADIX CALL IT QUITS...Allegations He Cheated With Costar Raquel Leviss." According to what fans, sources and cast members pieced together, Madix discovered the infidelity a few days prior because of an illicit recording of a FaceTime call between Sandoval and Leviss in which they had cyber-sex (Leviss, for the record, later claimed this was recorded without her consent). As for how it was discovered, Sandoval had either asked Madix to record a video of him onstage with his cover band or it had fallen out of his pocket. The story changes day to day, but the general takeaway is the same.

Meanwhile, Shay and Leviss were in New York City to film Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen. Afterward, Leviss allegedly revealed the affair to Shay as Madix discovered it on the opposite coast. This part is murky as neither Shay or Leviss have completely explained what transpired in NYC. Regardless, rumors quickly spread following TMZ's initial report that Shay had gotten physical with Leviss, which was seemingly confirmed by a restraining order filed by Leviss earlier this week.

As news began to break, co-stars like Lala Kent and Katie Maloney spoke out publicly against Sandoval, who remained silent at first. They were seen outside Madix's' home in Los Angeles alongside former co-star Doute, who resurfaced after she was fired a few years back. Sandoval was later papped at Leviss' house amid reports they planned to remain together after the dust settled. Bravo also announced it would resume filming the current season, a somewhat unprecedented move for the network.

Sandoval eventually issued a statement about his businesses that curiously excluded any mention of Madix. He later appended that statement with an actual apology.

Leviss, meanwhile, declined to make a statement on her own social media pages and instead issued an apology through Entertainment Tonight. Alongside the statement came a report from a source close to Leviss that she had attempted to apologize privately to Madix, who refused to speak to her former friend for obvious reasons. Other details of note: Sandoval and Leviss apparently kissed on camera in their first scene together after filming resumed. The two also wore matching necklaces for months prior.

The rest of this story is rumor and conjecture from cast members and participants of the Bravo universe: Cohen, who is an executive producer, told his audience on Radio Andy that everyone young-ish person in the Bravo family had texted him and each other about it, Kent continued to fire off Instagram Stories about Leviss and Maloney teased there was "something big" in the works for her and Madix.

The rest, it seems, will unfold on camera later this season after Bravo recuts the back half to fit the "Scandoval" of it all.

Photo via Gregg DeGuire/Getty