When I opened my Bravo group chat on Wednesday to say I was headed to Schwartz & Sandy’s, the bar and restaurant owned by “Vanderpump Rules” stars Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval, the phone beeps were rapid: “Good luck! Report your findings. Tx.” Others were less diplomatic.
But it’s not about the pasta. It’s about the reality TV cheating scandal that has my social media, and probably yours too, in a stranglehold.
For those who don’t have a degree from Bravo University’s Messy School of Television, the story begins with “Vanderpump Rules,” a spin-off of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” that premiered in 2013 and continued. the seedy drama of the dashing bartenders of Hollywood’s West SOUTH, owned by then-“RHOBH” star Lisa Vanderpump. A decade later, almost none of the main cast members still work on SUR, but their collective drama continues to splash across our screens. Angry texts, ultimatums, drunken blunders, heated arguments that end in slaps or punches, Mamaw’s beer cheese—it’s all been part of the lure of the ridiculously addictive series. And cheat? It’s as embedded in the program as the Vanderpump name. Much of the first season revolved around whether Jax Taylor, a former cast member, cheated on then-girlfriend, co-worker and co-star Stassi Schroeder with a woman in Las Vegas and possibly got her pregnant.
But this The cheating scandal dropped like a bombshell on a fan base that had become largely bored with the franchise.
Last week, TMZ reported that Sandoval, a former SUR bartender who got into the restaurant business with his good friend and co-star Schwartz (more on him later), allegedly cheated on his girlfriend of nine years, Ariana Madix, also a former bartender. from SOUTH who is about to open a sandwich shop with co-star Katie Maloney. But wait, there is more. Sandoval cheated on her co-star Raquel Leviss, who had previously been linked to Schwartz following her split from Maloney, after calling off her engagement to fellow cast member James Kennedy. (Fans will remember that Sandoval helped pay for the show of the Kennedy proposal that was featured on the show.) Reports suggest the length of the affair dates back at least seven months, but there has been no official confirmation.
The reaction to the affair activated the fanbase in a way that harks back to the frenzy surrounding the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie cheating rampage, or as one. insightful observer described it for the uninitiated: “Imagine if Chandler (from “Friends”) secretly cheated on Monica with Rachel for 7 months and Joey knew about it the whole time.”
“This feels bigger than Jen Shah, who went to prison. This feels bigger than Erika Jayne,” said the owner of @QueensofBravoPlus on Instagram, which he manages his account anonymously, referencing other true crime scandals that have plagued the Bravo universe. “Why? Because I think, in this case, there’s an immediate answer to who’s on the right side and who’s on the wrong side. There’s a clear villain and there’s a clear hero and a clear victim. With the Erika and Jen stuff , almost feels like you have to wait a few months for them to leak. But here we have all the answers. People feel played. And they’re putting all the pieces together right now. There’s a lot of deception that comes with it. … It’s People might not be able to relate to swindling senior citizens or (a spouse accused of) taking money from orphans and widows, but this feels related, where people know what it’s like to be cheated on or cheated on by a friend.”
the truth engaged have inhaled the Auxiliar pips, theories and dissections they’ve done the rounds in Tik Tok, Twitter, instagram, etc. al, as if they were hot fried goat cheese balls from the kitchen of the SOUTH. Has chrissy teigen released on “20 different chats about” the news, while the actor and co-host of “The Talk” Jerry O’Connell proudly posted a photo wearing a Team Ariana jersey.
Weeks after production wrapped on the season, filming resumed last Friday to capture the aftermath for inclusion in the current season, which premiered last month. While there have been reports that Sandoval threatened to stop filming, he is still involved as of now, according to a source close to the production who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. The reunion is scheduled for March 23, with all cast members expected to appear in person.
In the days since then, Sandoval has launched two statements that essentially confirmed the cheating allegations. Leviss has also released a statement. This week, she sought a restraining order against co-star Scheana Shay days after reports surfaced that Shay, who is Madix’s best friend, allegedly assaulted Leviss after finding out about the affair.
Leviss, whose real name is Rachel, alleges in the court filing that she was “pushed against a brick wall (by Shay), causing an injury to the back of my head and hit me in the face causing an injury to my left eye.” “.
Meanwhile, Madix, who has since deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts, has not commented publicly on the matter.
“To some people this is going to sound ridiculous, but I think if you’re in this, you get it: I’m stressed and nervous about putting my phone down because it’s like, what am I missing? But at the same time, I desperately need a break from this,” said Abby Steffens, who runs @RealMomsofBravo with friend Vanessa Rizi. “It’s a lot. So it’s easy to go down these rabbit holes. I was looking at Raquel’s stories from her Miss California pageant and I noticed that Sandoval and Ariana and Scheana were all there, and I was watching the videos and trying to say, ‘Well , What did he mean by this?’ You just find yourself getting sucked into it. And I don’t know these people. It’s not affecting my life, but somehow I’m so absorbed by this. I’m not excited about it, but I’m very intrigued. It’s a little weird. This ruined someone’s life; I’m sure Ariana is devastated. We all want to break away from that, but we can’t get enough of it either.”
After the show struggled to find its footing again following failed cast additions and major departures, the current season has felt like a return to its addictive drama of the past, according to longtime watchers. “It seemed like ‘Vanderpump Rules’ was on its last leg,” said the person behind the @QueensOfBravoPlus account. “But this season definitely feels like a return to form in how messy it is.” The cameras have followed as some cast members navigate new business ventures and others try to rebuild their lives after major breakups, most notably the end of Schwartz’s marriage to Maloney, Leviss’s break with Kennedy and Lala Kent’s separation from her fiancé, the disgraced film producer. , Randall Emmet. Meanwhile, Schwartz & Sandy’s is a high point all season.
Now the Franklin Village nightclub, which opened last fall and endured its own drama on its way to opening, is embroiled in scandal. Angry fans bombarded the bar’s Yelp page with negative reviews in the days following news of the affair; its 4.5 star rating dropped to 3 amid backlash, with critics calling Sandoval a “snake” and saying he “deserves to live in a cave.” The page is now being monitored by the Yelp support team for the sudden burst of activity.
It’s not yet clear how the negative attention will affect the new business, which Sandoval and Schwartz co-own with business partner Greg Morris. The “Vanderpump Rules” restaurant universe, which also includes SOUTH, PUMP and TomTom, has become a tourist attraction for Bravoholics, with fans eager to catch a glimpse of the familiar faces they see on screen.
Located in a small strip mall in the Franklin Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, the atmosphere inside the dimly lit Schwartz & Sandy’s was dim on a weekday as rounds of lobster corn dogs and Gruyere mushroom beignets traveled the room. To be fair, this visit took place around 5:30pm on a Wednesday, hardly magic hour for a salon, but story deadlines can’t wait for the lighthearted vibes to kick in. And, naturally, there was the occasional patron wandering the halls while giddily taking video or photographic documentation of the experience.
Jessica Clem, 34, a native of Georgia but recently moved to Los Angeles to work as a traveling nurse, arrived as the doors opened. It was her first stop on her “Vanderpump Rules” tour, with reservations for TomTom and SUR scheduled for later in the evening. She admits she didn’t watch the show — she has a 19-month-old baby and has been on tour for the past 15 months — but she did find out about the cheating scandal.
“I’ve been seeing stuff about what happened and I hate that we didn’t have Bravo,” said Clem, who was joined by a friend who was unaware of the scandal. “I’m not choosing sides yet. Everyone deserves to be happy.” (She was in awe of the James Turrell-inspired light installation near the bathroom.)
Posing for photos at the entrance to the space, where a collage of framed art hangs above a mustard-colored cushioned sofa, Anna Gunder, 32, of Winnetka, was more unequivocal: “I’m Team Ariana.”
“I was very shocked,” says Gunder, referring to the scandal. “I’ve been talking about it to people at work. And the point is that ‘Vanderpump’ is based on everyone cheating everyone. But this felt explosive.”
He originally tried to visit the salon last Wednesday, before the cheating scandal broke, but it was closed and he was hesitant to return. He finally decided to try again: “What if all this goes away?”
Standing outside the lounge, where the neon Schwartz & Sandy’s sign buzzed in the distance, Lauren Albrecht, 34, of Columbus, Ohio, did a reality check. She’s been just as glued to the screen as other fans, keeping up with the influx of developments, but she’s conflicted about it.
“I feel ashamed to follow everything so religiously,” says Albrecht. “I think people are interested in Ariana (Madix) and Tom Sandoval. I think people are interested in the show. And I also think maybe we shouldn’t be so involved in reality TV, to be honest. Things like this happen. It’s not often you see him on reality shows. … And I think that’s why it’s so fascinating. But I also want to be very respectful to Ariana because she didn’t ask for this. And now the Internet has exploded. And I think that we as fans have glamorized it in a sense, and that’s not fair to her. We’re all like Ariana’s team, but we’re actually invading her privacy.”