Reality shows are universally known as the messiest genre of television. For years, fans of the genre have become accustomed to cast members throwing drinks, and shade, exchanging words, which sometimes escalate into physical fights, and making grand appearances in attempts to one-up each other. While these incidents generate buzz and get the reality television fan communities talking, nothing brings fans together more than a cheating scandal. Often, cheating divides fans into two groups, one excusing their favorite cast members’ behavior when they are caught cheating, while the other half condemns the act and the people involved in the disloyalty and deception. In a rare case, a character’s infidelity will be so black-and-white that it’s indefensible, and fans join hands to castigate them. A few months ago, an act of infidelity in “Vanderpump Rules” shook the Bravo reality television fan community in the US to its core, when the shocking news broke that Tom Sandoval cheated on his long-time girlfriend Ariana Madix with Raquel Leviss. Here is everything we’ve uncovered about the cheating scandal.
Tom and Ariana
Every fan of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” recalls the moment when Tom Sandoval, his friend and business partner Tom Schwartz, and Lisa Vanderpump opened the Tom Tom Restaurant and Bar. Sandoval, a former bartender and mixologist, had worked hard to achieve his dream of owning his own bar since those days, before he was cast in the show, which brought him more fortune than a booming business, and his name on its walls; it brought him love. Tom Sandoval met his now ex-girlfriend Ariana Madix when she joined the show in 2013. A year later, fans, who had observed the friendship and chemistry between the two and secretly hoped that they would get together, were elated when the couple made the special announcement that they were dating during the Season 2 reunion. That same night, Tom and Ariana went official on Instagram, and went on to have a beautiful relationship both on and off the show.
Since 2014, Tom and Ariana have marked major milestones in their relationship, often inviting fans to celebrate the joyous moments with them. They’ve written a book on mixology entitled “Fancy AF Cocktails: Drink Recipes from a Couple of Professional Drinkers.” They celebrated finishing their book and being in a committed relationship for over five years by buying a house together. In 2021, they invited fans to see their house through exclusive pictures that showed a perfect melding of Tom’s swanky style and Ariana’s more earthy and natural style into an elegant and inviting house. Once they started living together, the couple took their show of commitment further, and got a dog together. While they’ve had a few rough moments, such as an incident where Tom broke Ariana’s trust by sharing some details of an intimate moment between them, the couple has remained solid until March this year, when Ariana learned of his betrayal, and ended their relationship of nine years.
— Bravo (@BravoTV) September 9, 2016
Fans learned of the shocking news of Tom’s indiscretion around the same time as Ariana, and coined the name “Scandoval” to refer to the incident. According to a source close to the couple, Tom’s band, Tom Sandoval & the Most Extras was playing at an undisclosed venue. Naturally, Madix showed up to support her boyfriend of nine years. Tom and Ariana’s co-star, Raquel Leviss was also in attendance. After the performance, some onlookers saw Tom and Raquel kissing. The news got to Ariana, who was holding onto Tom’s phone at the moment. Curious, she scrolled through the phone, only to be met with evidence of Tom and Raquel’s betrayal. In Tom’s phone, Ariana found a video of her boyfriend and their coworker in a compromising situation, and a history of inappropriate messages that confirmed the allegations.
According to people close to Ariana, she was crushed even if the couple had been going through some problems. In a few seconds. Tom went from the man she hoped to spend the rest of her life with to a cheater who had betrayed her and threw nine years of getting to know each other, loving each other, and planning a future together, down the drain. Even more shocking was the discovery that the affair had been going on for over six months, all the while Tom went home and slept next to Ariana every night. Besides, Raquel and Ariana were friends, or at least Ariana thought, and Ariana had been there to support Raquel through her break-up from James. When the news spread, James came to call out his ex, Raquel, and Tom for their affair, and alluded that the affair could have been the reason for the end of his relationship with her in 2021, when the couple called off their engagement, citing different goals. Fans of the couple and the show rallied behind Ariana, and joined James and other cast members who called out Tom and Raquel for their affair.
In retrospect, fans believe that evidence of the affair that caused the infamous Scandoval was in plain sight for over a year. For instance, in April 2022, the rumor mill roared with the news that Raquel was caught making out with Tom Schwartz, except that Schwartz didn’t attend Coachella that year, where the make-out session allegedly occurred. Tom Sandoval, however, was at Coachella with Ariana. The three saw each other at the event, since Raquel posted a picture of herself with Sandoval. In September, of the same year, Leviss posted a picture of herself sitting on Sandoval’s shoulders as they and the rest of the cast celebrated the last day of filming. A month later, Raquel and Sandoval were wearing matching lightning bolt necklaces. All these incidents finally made sense in March, when the news of the affair broke.
Goose or Gander?
Many fans who admired the relationship between Tom and Ariana, and stood with her after Tom’s betrayal was revealed, may not know this, but it’s not the first time that Sandoval has been accused of having an affair. In fact, his relationship with Ariana is rumored to have started as an affair that bloomed into a nine-year relationship. Before Ariana became Tom’s long-term girlfriend, she was just a friend. At the time, Tom was in a tumultuous relationship with Kristen Doute. When Madix started to work with Tom on the show, rumors of an alleged affair between the two circulated but Tom and Ariana denied them. When Tom finally ended his relationship with Doute for good, he and Ariana announced their relationship a few months later. In addition to Tom’s alleged affair with Madix before their relationship began, and his affair with Raquel, he has admitted to having at least two other affairs during his relationship with Madix.
A Messy Reunion
The news of the affair broke before the filming of the season finale, and reunion episodes of “Vanderpump Rules.” Fans flocked to Bravo in droves to watch both episodes, hoping to see Tom and Ariana talking about his affair, and the producers didn’t disappoint. In one scene, Ariana tells her friends that she called Raquel and demanded to know when the affair started, but the other woman claimed that she and Tom only shared a kiss – later that night, Tom confessed that he and Raquel had actually had sex in the car that evening. A few days later, Tom released a statement acknowledging the affair, apologizing to Ariana, and asking her to keep their friends out of the situation. Ariana responded with a statement of her own, thanking her fans and loved ones for their support. The two went head-to-head at the reunion, giving viewers the showdown they were anticipating. At the end of the episode, it was clear that their once-rosy relationship was over, and that chapter of their life was closed forever.
The only thing worse than a messy break-up is sharing a house with an ex. Since Ariana and Tom co-own the house they bought together in 2019, they continue to live together post-break-up; their living situation is adding tension to an already tense situation. In one incident in the show, the two engaged in a shouting match, with Ariana demanding an apology, while Tom insists that she gets mad whenever he tries to apologize. The conversation ended with Ariana wishing Tom dead, and expressing regret for ever loving him. For now, the couple is stuck sharing the house, for which they continue to split the mortgage payment. Fortunately, the house is large enough for them to live in separate rooms without running into each other. Tom is rumored to be dating Karlee Hale, an influencer, despite admitting to still having strong feelings for Madix. Ariana has moved on too, and is dating Daniel Wai.
Fans can look forward to exploring these new relationships in the new season of “Vanderpump Rules” after Bravo renewed the show for its 11th season.