Tom Sandoval, Was Raquel’s Cheating Scandal Staged?

Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix (left) and Raquel Leviss (right) attend the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Season 10 premiere
Todd Williamson/Bravo via Getty Images

  • The news that “Vanderpump Rules” stars Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss were having an affair has reignited interest in the series.
  • Some Vanderpump podcasters believe the affair was orchestrated by the Bravo show’s producers.
  • “The production at least knew there was a strong flirtation going on,” said Sarah Cee of the “Vanderpump Rules Party” podcast.

On March 3, TMZ broke the news that “Vanderpump Rules” stars Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss were involved in an affair, ending Sandoval’s nearly decade-long relationship with fellow actor Ariana Madix and reigniting interest in the movie. struggling reality show. The revelation sent shockwaves through the show’s fandom and cast, with the latter often taking to Instagram to express their dismay.

The case, uncovered after Madix found a sexually explicit video of Leviss on Sandoval’s phone, seemed to surprise everyone, including the show’s producers. But do the episodes of the series shot in September tell a different story? Is it possible that the affair was not a spontaneous event, but an orchestration directed by the producer?

“I saw Sandoval and Raquel dancing together at The Abbey,” cast newcomer Ally Lewber said in a confessional during an April episode of the show. She was recounting a conversation she had had with Lala Kent; they both found the behavior – between a young, single woman and an older man in a very public, long-term relationship – somewhat odd.

Lewber had previously spoken about the sighting with fellow cast members Katie Maloney and Kristina Kelly, and later told her boyfriend, James Kennedy, who is also on the show. Eventually, the whole group knew.

The Abbey scouting has warmed the embers of suspicion among cast members inclined to be wary of Sandoval — a group that was already quite large, in part because of Sandoval’s particularly hostile relationship with Maloney. The flame grew after Sandoval and Leviss spent a night together alone (innocent, according to them) in her house while Madix was away at her grandmother’s funeral. New episodes, filmed last year, are now mainly focused on the suspicions around Sandoval and Leviss.

The cast of “Vanderpump Rules”
Tommy Garcia/Bravo

It’s strange that the cast members seemed taken aback by the deal, some podcasters said

Viewers of the show were quick to point out that this seems incongruous with the idea that the cast was shocked by the March announcement. We spoke to a few podcasters who don’t believe the cast fabricated their reaction, but think the producers might have had a bigger hand than Bravo is letting on.

Sarah Cee and Hollie Bohorquez, the hosts of the “Vanderpump Rules Party” podcast, told me it was odd the cast seemed “baffled” by the announcement given their months-long speculation. Cee thinks each cast member probably has a different reason for not voicing their suspicions further: Maloney, for example, didn’t have many cast allies during filming and potentially didn’t want to jeopardize his relationship with Madix. unless she had tangible proof of Sandoval’s indiscretion.

“Reality Life With Kate Casey” host Kate Casey agreed. Leviss “presented herself as a wounded bird” and a good friend, and Casey said reality TV people “have to constantly weigh the risks” that come with exposing the misconduct of a potentially older actor. appreciated. “Will this alienate them with the cast, and more importantly the audience?” she says.

But Cee thinks production knew about it. Bravo pointed out that there was no re-release of the season to account for the discovery of the affair, “so in that spirit,” Cee said, the show’s producers “must have known or have very strong ideas. (Kent claimed on his podcast, “Give Them Lala,” that they didn’t.)

One theory: Sandoval and producers were producing a story arc to maintain ratings

Cee cited an April episode featuring Sandoval patting Leviss’ buttocks as an example, and Bohorquez agreed, “I personally feel like they were charting that.”

Bohorquez thinks the producers, and possibly even Sandoval himself, might have tried to produce a story arc — of Sandoval falling in love with Madix and falling in love with Leviss — to carry the show into another season. “The production at least knew there was a strong flirtation going on,” Cee said. “I think they were trying to milk it.”

Bohorquez suggested the cast might have known he’d be coming out during this season, offering potentially damning evidence any conspiracy theorist would envy: sly mentions on podcasts of explosive things to come and a weird interaction with the actor. exiled Kristen Doute among them.

Podcasters found a post-season filming permit wrapped in front of a cast member’s building

But the most damning involved a filming permit that Bohorquez and Cee picked up outside a cast member’s building. The permit was in effect until April 2, long after filming for the season ended. After news broke of the affair in March, Bravo infamously resumed filming. “So before Scandoval even broke out, they had the filming permits in place to record with when the cameras came back.”

Carey O’Donnell and Lara Schoenhals, who host “Sexy Unique Podcast,” aren’t quite as conspiratorial. But Schoenhals thinks there’s “something suspicious” about Scandoval’s rollout, especially given the drop in viewership over recent seasons. “They needed something to shake themselves up, to get people’s interest back,” she said.

Lala Kent, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval in 2017.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Gersh

His theory is that the producers intended to pursue the Sandoval-Leviss rumor as a B or C plot that would eventually fall by the wayside. But after Madix found the evidence, they immediately realized this was what the show needed to regain attention and started leaking the information for marketing purposes.

“I just don’t think I don’t think people in this particular world, other than Lisa Vanderpump, are calculated enough and strategic enough,” Schoenhals said, to successfully craft something like this. (That’s a good point.)

O’Donnell joked on the show that it “felt like a real 9/11”, but thinks Bravo went back and added things to episodes to make Leviss and Sandoval more central. intrigue, despite the network’s statements to the contrary. He noted a scene from the episode that aired May 3, where Lala Kent shares with James Kennedy her suspicions about Sandoval and Leviss. “I feel like they did it in March or April,” O’Donnell said, suggesting the editors recut the episode to fit the new narrative. “God bless these publishers,” he said.

When contacted by Insider, Bravo declined to comment on the podcasters’ theories.

The suspicion that the cast was exaggerating their shock for the effect, or that Bravo planned to follow Sandoval and Leviss all the way through, didn’t diminish “Vanderpump Rules” fans’ voracious interest in the scandal. In fact, it could serve to propel him further. Speculating about the producers’ plot machinations is “as much fun as the show for me,” Bohorquez told me. “It’s fun to see how they put it together.”

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