Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix on Raquel Claims

By Chanak Maduranga

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Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix on Raquel Claims

The Vanderpump Rules reunion kicked off Tuesday night with the first part of what promises to be a fiery three-part special. When the cast gathered one year after Scandoval, former partners Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval finally sat in the same semi-circle and addressed each other’s presence for the first time since last season’s reunion.

The trailer for the annual post-finale sitdown had teased that twists would be in store when the main cast filmed in Los Angeles to hash out the events of season 11, which began filming shortly after last year’s Scandoval season had wrapped. The finale, which aired May 7, ended on an explosive note when Madix exited a cast event early after refusing to film with Sandoval, who had approached her for an attempted filmed apology. The exes communicate via a third party and have not directly filmed together all season.

The entirety of season 11 has explored the fallout from what became a national scandal after the secret affair between co-star Sandoval and former castmate Rachel Leviss was exposed. As a result, Leviss left the hit Bravo series, which reached ratings records with its finale and reunion last year addressing the controversy.

As Andy Cohen sat down with Sandoval, Madix, Tom Schwartz, Katie Maloney, Lala Kent, Scheana Shay and husband Brock Davies, and James Kennedy, the reunion host dove right into some of the lingering legal issues for this now-fractured group.

One of the biggest storylines that fascinated viewers this season was that Sandoval and former partner Madix were cohabitating under the same roof following their explosive split over the Scandoval affair. Madix previously filed a petition action to force the sale of their $2 million home. During the reunion, the former partners said they legally could not talk about whether or not the house is going up for sale. But Madix, who has reportedly purchased a new home in L.A., did say, “I’ve been in an Airbnb and then living in New York. At the current moment, no [I’m not living there], I did not spend the night there last night.”

Sandoval also responded to accusations that have been leveled against him from Leviss.

“Looking back, I think she’s a fucking coward. And I think her sitting here and preaching to everybody that she’s moving on, but still talking relentlessly about me and everybody is just ridiculous,” said Sandoval, referring to her iHeartMedia Rachel Goes Rogue podcast (she said she ultimately left due to both her mental health and not receiving equal pay to co-stars Sandoval and Madix). “We both did this. We both chose to do it. We’re both responsible.”

Executive producer Lisa Vanderpump noted that she does not listen to Leviss’ podcast, but brought up a recent claim from Leviss in the press accusing Vanderpump of “victim-shaming” her. That prompted Cohen to ask Sandoval about Leviss claiming that he “groomed” her. (“I do feel like I have been groomed because I was in a very vulnerable state of mind,” she said on a recent podcast episode.)

Sandoval called that “beyond fucking slander” and when he argued that it “implies pedophilia,” Kent stepped in to correct him. “It’s taking someone who is younger than you and more impressionable than you, and someone who is at a higher level of power than the other person,” she said.

To which Sandoval replied, “Well, guess what? I was very impressionable when she took all of her clothes off and jumped in my fucking pool.”

Sandoval and Madix were also unable to comment on the revenge porn lawsuit that Leviss filed against them, claiming invasion of privacy resulting from the alleged dissemination of the explicit video (that Madix found on Sandoval’s phone) that Leviss claims Sandoval filmed without her consent.

Shay stepped in to say on their behalf, “Ariana didn’t send that video to anyone. She was not distributing it. It is so ridiculous that she is being put through this again, as if Raquel [Rachel] didn’t put her through enough last year.”

Madix added, “I don’t understand — I’ve never done anything to her — why I’m constantly being [brought back into this].”

And Sandoval came to her defense: “It’s one thing to come after me. But to come after Ariana, I’m questioning if she has a fucking soul.”

The cast largely said they have no regrets over how they handled Leviss’ exit. Executive producer Alex Baskin had explained at the start of the season to The Hollywood Reporter why talks broke down with Leviss, citing money as a sticking point in their negotiations. “I stand behind everything I said at that reunion,” said Kent, of which Madix agreed. “I had courage to stand up to my perpetrators and cannot believe I even showed up that day.”

Lala Kent, Scheana Shay, Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz in the Vanderpump Rules season 11 finale.

Kim White/Bravo

Sandoval also addressed his struggles with depression, which he has spoken about during the season, saying now, “I have my ups and downs. … I’m not perfect. And I’m not the smartest dude. But yeah, it can be very difficult at times.” His opening up about past suicidal thoughts have weighed on both Kent and Shay in considering how to handle their relationships with their former friend.

But Madix said she remembered quickly after last year’s reunion when Sandoval weaponized her depression by talking about her suicidal ideation on the show. “I didn’t want to be a part of those conversations,” she said.

Sandoval also broke the fourth wall even further when reacting to how hot the spotlight was on the Bravo series amid real-world news. Particularly, he addressed his viral comments in February, when he compared Scandoval to George Floyd and O.J. Simpson in a New York Times interview.  “I’m not defending anything I said. I was just talking about the absurdity that this scandal got, and I just thought of big things in news. Those were the first big things; obviously, they are way bigger,” he said. “My shit was not newsworthy. I’m seeing the scandal fucking sandwiched between the war in Ukraine and some other shit. Why is CNN fucking talking about a cheating scandal on a guilty pleasure reality show?”

The cast admitted that none of them read the Times article, and only saw the headlines. Cohen, who did read the article, said, “It was a bad article. You should fire your PR team.”

The first parter then ended with talk turning to Madix’s fan-favorite status and post-Scandoval success, as well as her relationship with Maloney and their delayed opening of their sandwich shop, Something About Her. During the reunion, they said they planned to open by the time the reunion aired. The business partners recently announced a May 22 opening date while visiting Cohen’s late-night show Watch What Happens Live.

Updates on the cast had come at the beginning of the episode, with Cohen highlighting milestones all around, including Shay and Kent buying new homes, Kent being pregnant with a baby girl due on Sept. 1, Sandoval dating Leonardo DiCaprio ex Victoria Lee Robinson, and Madix starring on Broadway’s Chicago (she’s also hosting this summer’s Love Island). The busy cast is taking a pause on filming this summer before heading into production on season 12.

With the reunion having filmed before the finale aired, viewers know how the season ended. But the cast does not know all of what was said after Madix swiftly exited the final scene, including Kent accusing Madix of gaining a “Beyoncé-like status” from her Scandoval fame in a fourth wall-breaking confessional.

Cohen, as was teased in the trailer, will play that the footage for the cast later in the reunion. And all of it will be new to Madix, who revealed that she has not watched any episodes of the season.

“I did not want to get dragged back to this time of my life when I felt I was really trying to live in the present and focus on the future,” she said.

Part 2 airs next week on Tuesday, 8 p.m. on Bravo. Extended and uncensored versions are available to stream the next day on Peacock. 

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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