On the evening of March 3, Vanderpump Rules set the internet ablaze when TMZ broke the news that one of reality TV’s favorite couples, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval, had split, and that Sandoval was having an affair with castmate Rachel “Raquel” Leviss (you may know her better as the Bambi-Eyed B*tch). Since then, freelance private digital detectives — like myself —have spent countless hours going back through the permanent fingerprints of Instagram, Bravo clips, and Reddit to find out what really happened. And a lot happened — enough for a detailed timeline dating back to 2013. The stakes of this drama feels higher than any other reality TV couples, and these people, whom we’ve followed with hungry, shallow interest, are acting deeply, intensely in character.
With another episode of #PumpRules set to air tonight (and another emergency episode, coined, you guessed it, “Scandoval,” filming as I type), it’s necessary to catch you up to speed on all the drama surrounding the series, the exes, and the actual restraining orders. (Before we go on, I just want to clarify one thing: Andy Cohen can attest to the fact that I was the first to add the term #Scandoval to the Bravo lexicon.) Read on for the essential #Scandoval timeline.
The Background (2013–2021)
January 7, 2013:
Vanderpump Rules, a show profiling the young, attractive servers and bartenders of restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood restaurant SUR (Sexy Unique Restaurant), premieres. Tom Sandoval, a bartender trying to make it as an actor, is cast in the first season, and Ariana Madix, a bartender, appears on several episodes as a guest until she is made a series regular, on November 4, 2013, at the start of season two.
February 10, 2014:
During the season-two Vanderpump Rules reunion, Madix and Sandoval confirm that they are officially in a relationship. It is later revealed that the relationship overlapped with Sandoval’s relationship with cast member Kristen Doute.
November 7, 2016:
Rachel “Raquel” Leviss makes her first appearance in episode one, season five, when she is introduced as the girlfriend of cast member James Kennedy.
Leviss and Kennedy get engaged! And Sandoval lends Kennedy $25,000 to pay for a lavish Coachella-themed proposal in Palm Springs.
September 28, 2021:
After three seasons as a recurring character on the series, and following the departure of several of the show’s main characters, Leviss is cast as a lead, finally appearing in the show’s intro.
December 5, 2021:
In a joint statement, Leviss and Kennedy call off their engagement. “After these five wonderful years we had together, we decided we have two different goals,” the pair writes. Leviss keeps the couple’s dog, Graham. It’s called setting boundaries.
The Affair (spring 2022–present)
Rumors circulate about Leviss making out with fellow VPR cast member Tom Schwartz at Coachella. Schwartz is not at the festival, however, although Tom “Paint the Nails White” Sandoval is. On April 17, Leviss posts a blissed-out photo of her and Sandoval, along with the caption, “I’m on an island.” It’s hard not to wonder, in retrospect, what kind of island that was, exactly.
The #Scandoval officially begins, according to sources close to the couple. A series of since-removed Reddit threads allege that the seven-month-long affair gets hot and heavy over the summer. There’s a claim that the affair takes place while Madix is at home and sleeping, and another that Madix nearly catches them on at least one occasion when she sees Sandoval exiting the guest room in the middle of the night. The excuse? He was getting her a glass of water. Sure, Tom.
August 26, 2022:
According to Us Weekly, Leviss and Tom Schwartz kiss at Scheana Shay and Brock Davies’s Cancun wedding.
September 20, 2022:
Leviss posts from the Vanderpump Rules season-ten wrap. “We got to celebrate the wrap of Season 10 by going to the last day of our favorite festival @lifeisbeautiful #lifeisbeautiful2022,” the caption reads. The video speeds through a colorful concert and quickly turns to an image of her atop Sandoval’s shoulders, in what can only be called gross foreshadowing.
Leviss’s lightning bolt necklace makes its first appearance in her Instagram posts, which fans and Redditors have speculated is a secret love symbol between her and Sandoval to one another (he wears a matching one, which begins appearing on his feed around the same time). Sandoval, notably, also dresses up as Leviss for Halloween.
January 9, 2023:
In response to circulating rumors, Madix denies that she and Sandoval have an open relationship. But maybe she was just the last to know about it. “We are not in an open relationship,” Sandoval says, smirking, during an E! interview recorded in February. “Anymore,” Tom Schwartz adds. “Yeah, that was last week,” Sandoval says. And all the weeks leading up to it, it turns out.
Interviewed by E! for the season-ten premiere, Leviss gushes about her new best friend, Sandoval. “He just is so in touch with himself and is fully accepting of who he is and is so confident, and I feel like he looks at me like a little sister and is so supportive,” she says.
The Fallout (March 1–present)
March 1, 2023:
While Sandoval’s band, Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras, performs in L.A., Madix sees a sexually explicit video from Leviss on Sandoval’s phone. Madix then uncovers the affair and calls Leviss, who has just finished taping Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in New York. (On that same show, Leviss cops to finding Sandoval more attractive than Tom Schwartz, the Tom we all knew her to be romantically involved with, surprising both Andy Cohen and co-star Scheana Shay.)
Shay, who is out with Leviss at the time in New York, finds Leviss outside of a bar on the phone with Madix, according to “Page Six.” Leviss confesses the affair to Shay while Madix is still on the phone. Shay and Leviss get into an altercation, and Shay changes her flight home to avoid being on the same one. Although Shay has not confirmed this altercation, Leviss’s sister, Kate Couture, has.
March 3, 2023:
News breaks of the #Scandoval. All cast members of Vanderpump Rules, with the exception of Tom Schwartz, unfollow Sandoval and Leviss on social media. Existing and former cast members begin to post Instagram and Twitter updates in solidarity with Madix.
On the night of March 3, Shay and former cast member Doute are both seen with Madix. Filming resumes, and Madix and Sandoval discuss the affair on-camera, which, according to “Page Six,” Madix says makes her feel “gaslit.”
March 4, 2023:
Fans of Vanderpump Rules flock to the internet to spam Schwartz & Sandy’s — the bro-ish, strip-mall-bar concept conceived by Sandoval and his wingman — with bad Yelp reviews. Sandoval issues a milquetoast statement to the world via his Instagram page, apologizing to everyone but Madix.
Met with jeers at his evening performance, Sandoval makes a public comment, describing himself as “one of the most hated people in America,” and responding to chants of “Ariana” with, “We love her.” Sandoval is seen heading to Leviss’s apartment for some late-night lightning bolt action. The two film a scene, according to multiple reports, as well as an on-camera kiss, although Sandoval later asks for a reshoot, threatening to stop filming if he does not get his way.
On the Instagram page for Schwartz & Sandy’s, Sandoval’s fumbling bar, an unsigned post appears, presumably from angry daddy figure and investor Greg Morris, imploring patrons to stop panning the business. “Those of us who are not famous have dedicated our time, hearts, and money to make this restaurant a reality. We too are disappointed by the current situation, as Ariana has always been a good friend and a great supporter of the restaurant.”
Lisa Vanderpump makes no public comment on her partnership with both philandering Toms, although she responds to Andy Cohen on Twitter and announces that she will appear on Watch What Happens Live on March 8 to discuss the fallout.
Leviss’s crisis PR strategy is allegedly leaked via DeuxMoi, indicating that she intends to lay blame at the feet of others for her role in the #Scandoval by claiming that her sexually explicit FaceTime video was illegally filmed and that she is a victim of manipulation and abuse.
March 6, 2023:
James Kennedy confirms that confessional filmings have resumed, and posts a picture with season ten’s active filming with the name “Scandoval” on it. On his daily radio show, Andy Cohen confirms the season has been extended by two weeks and that the reunion has not yet filmed.
Doute teases that she may be returning to Vanderpump for the remaining episodes as an ally to Madix. According to TMZ, the porn site CamSoda offers Sandoval $540,000 to livestream 12 shows with his cover band so that he will not suffer the slings and arrows of real consequences for his actions.
March 7, 2023:
In her first public acknowledgment, Leviss, through her “Mickey Mouse” lawyer, sends out a legal threat to cast member Lala Kent — and possibly to others. In it, Leviss’s attorney alleges that a sexually explicit video of his client was recorded “illegally” and “without consent,” and that distribution of it will be met with legal action, pursuant to a California law against revenge porn. Leviss’s attorney may have some work to do, since he seems unaware of California Rule 4.2, which prohibits an attorney from directly contacting a represented person. Everyone knows that Kent’s attorney is prominent entertainment lawyer Darrell D. Miller, and, within hours, Kent makes and sells “Send it to Darrell” merch to emphasize her high-profile representation.
Leviss’s legal team also sends a separate letter to Sandoval, which is obtained by Entertainment Tonight. “We understand that sometime recently you and Ms. Leviss engaged in an intimate exchange on FaceTime, which you recorded without the permission of Ms. Leviss. California is what is called a ‘two party consent’ state, and accordingly such recording is illegal and can expose you to both civil and criminal penalties,” the letter reads. It is allegedly a violation of Bravo reality stars’ contracts to sue one another, which Leviss may or may not know.
Leviss files an order of protection against Shay, which is granted. The two are scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 29 for their hearing. California’s Civil Harassment Restraining Order would prevent the cast members from legally being in the same place, thereby jeopardizing filming of the reunion, which is set to occur the week prior to the hearing.
March 8, 2023:
Around 1 a.m. ET, Sandoval issues a second apology, this time directly addressing some of the damage done to Madix. “I want to first and foremost apologize to everyone I’ve hurt through this process,” the cover-band front man shares on Instagram. “Most of all, I want to apologize to Ariana. I made mistakes. I was selfish, and made reckless decisions that hurt somebody I love.”
A few hours later, Levis finally issues her own apology. In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, Leviss apologizes “for my actions and my choices foremost to Ariana, and to my friends and the fans so invested in our relationships. There is no excuse. I am not a victim and I must own my actions and I deeply regret hurting Ariana. I am reflecting on my choices, speaking to a counselor, and I am learning things about myself such as my patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved. I have sought emotional validation through intimate connections that are not healthy without regard for my own well-being, sometimes negatively affecting others and often prioritizing the intimate connection over my friendships. I am taking steps to understand my behavior and make healthier choices.”
Maybe these aren’t the best days of our lives after all.