Never doubt the power of Bravo and Vanderpump Rules. The scandal of all scandals has rocked the reality TV world and left us wondering, "How did this happen?!"
"Scandoval" has been ripping through headlines, podcasts, and Vanderpump Rules Season 10 since the affair was revealed in March.
While it's a salacious reality TV drama, it's also a moment affecting plenty of people and their real-life lives. The season has been re-edited, and the future is uncertain, but until the dust settles, we can only try to piece the threads together.
Below, I've mapped out the timeline of how Scandoval came to be. The fights, the heartbreaks, the rumors, the romances, and the key people who are a part of its history. After a ten-season binge, you'll soon see how everything in life was connected.
Check it out below!
The Main Trio: Raquel Leviss, Tom Sandoval, and Ariana Madix
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's first introduce the trio at the heart of Scandoval.
Tom and Ariana have been in a relationship for under a decade now. Their relationship officially started on Vanderpump Rules Season 3, and they've been one of the strongest couples in the series. They've been long-term monogamous partners.
Raquel is a member of the friend group, and she's one of Ariana's best friends.
Raquel was fresh off a broken engagement and is now single. Tom and Raquel have secretly been having an affair for under a year.
The Tom & Kristen Era
Let's take this back to the beginning of Vanderpump Rules Season 1.
Tom was originally in a long-term relationship with former cast member Kristen Doute. They lived together and worked at Lisa Vanderpump's popular LA bar and restaurant, SUR. Tom was a bartender, and Kristen was a server.
In secret outside the series (according to their confessionals & interviews), Tom and Kristen had allegedly cheated on each other a fair bit. However, their relationship experienced many ups and downs during the episodes, but they were trying to make it work.
Rounding Out The Main Couples
Tom and Kristen's closest friends also worked at SUR (or would eventually work in the Vanderpump universe too).
One couple was SUR server Stassi Schroeder and bartender Jax Taylor. They were in a 2-year volatile relationship; Stassi was the queen bee of SUR, while Jax was a playboy who lied and cheated often.
The other was SUR server Katie Maloney and her boyfriend, Tom Schwartz.
The critical thing to remember here is that Stassi, Katie, and Kristen are best friends, while the Toms and Jax are best friends. Though, the Toms are like an unshakable dynamic duo.
The First Breakup
The series featured its first breakup from the main cast very early on.
Stassi broke up with Jax during Vanderpump Rules Season 1 because she was tired of his mistreatment towards her. His lies, cheating, and gaslighting pre-series and during filming had finally caught up with him.
Stassi and Jax would then start dating two new people from SUR briefly: Stassi with Frank and Jax with Laura-Leigh. Neither relationship would last for a good reason.
Meanwhile, Jax heavily tried during the first season and much of Vanderpump Rules Season 2 to win Stassi back. The plan didn't work.
The BFFs Enter
Rounding out the stories at SUR was new server Scheana Shay and her BFF, Ariana.
We won't get into Scheana's history with her (now) ex-husband and the scandal involving The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Brandi Glanville. If we did, this timeline would be extra-long and cover some tangential pieces.
You do need to know early on that Scheana was the outcast new server and had worked with Ariana and Tom Sandoval at Lisa Vanderpump's restaurant Villa Blanca. The trio had known each other for years.
Ariana would eventually transfer to SUR at the start of Vanderpump Rules Season 2. Ariana and Tom were very good friends; they sometimes claimed best friends too.
On Shaky Ground
Tom and Kristen's relationship hit several major hurdles threatening their future.
As mentioned above, they were arguing more and distrustful of each other. During the show, their newest main point of tension was that Tom found out Kristen cheated on him. Instead of breaking up, they stayed together.
They tried to repair the relationship, but they had a lot of uncomfortable arguments.
Tom And Ariana Sitting In A Tree
Were they only k-i-s-s-i-n-g? If you ask Kristen, she believes more than that happened.
Kristen was hyper-focused on proving that Tom and Ariana hooked up with each other. She wouldn't let the rumor go.
Eventually, Tom admitted to Stassi that he and Ariana made out once in a pool in Las Vegas. They swear to this day nothing else happened. We'll never know if Kristen was right, so we'll take their word on this.
Vanderpump Rules' First Major Scandal
Do you remember where you were when it was revealed Kristen and Jax slept together?
It was the scandal that rocked the friend group and audiences. Not only did Kristen and Jax cheat on their boyfriend and best friend, respectively, but Kristen and Jax also hurt Stassi with another betrayal.
Jax and Kristen slept together twice. While it started as a rumor, and they denied it to death, both eventually came clean.
This truth bomb was the final nail in the coffin for Kristen and Tom's relationship; they broke up by the reunion.
The Ariana & Tom Era
By the start of Vanderpump Rules Season 3, Tom and Ariana were in an official relationship.
Their friendship had evolved into a romance; this relationship would be an ongoing coupling for seasons. The friend group, except for Kristen, mostly, would be very supportive of the couple.
Kristen would continue to be skeptical of Tom and Ariana, especially her former boyfriend's honesty and faithfulness.
Kristen's New Man
Even while Kristen was critical of Tom Sandoval, she had a new man.
Enter James Kennedy. James was an aspiring DJ, a busser at SUR, and a former close friend of Tom.
James was supposed to move in with Tom after he broke up with Kristen, but James and Kristen started a relationship instead. Eventually, Tom and James would become friends again.
James and Kristen's relationship would be turbulent, with many fights and cheating rumors.
Depending on who you ask, Kristen's suspicions of Tom Sandoval were either intuition, obsession, or a mix of both. In hindsight, she was right on the money to be concerned.
A rumor of Tom allegedly cheating on Ariana while he was on vacation in Miami emerged online.
The other woman, "Miami Girl," shared with Kristen evidence from her hookup. Eventually, Miami Girl visited SUR to confront Tom and, hopefully, shed light on Tom's cheating ways. She caught him off-guard in the now-infamous SUR fight.
The arrival led to a big blow-up at SUR, Ariana and Tom denying everything, and Kristen being fired from SUR for getting involved/lashing out at her bosses.
The End of James & Kristen
James and Kristen's relationship finally ended during Vanderpump Rules Season 4.
After one too many blow-ups and cheating rumors, including James blatantly cheating on Kristen with Scheana's friend Jenna, the pair couldn't go on anymore. Kristen distrusted James, and James thought Kristen was cheating on him.
Their messy breakup has led to many big moments in future seasons. For example, Kristen was working to expose James' alleged hookups and unfaithfulness during his DJ gigs.
Raquel Enters Vanderpump Rules
Part of the mission to expose James' unfaithfulness was due to his new relationship with former beauty queen Raquel Leviss.
Raquel was in a long-distance relationship with James while she was in school. The group believed James was actively cheating on Raquel; she, in turn, defended her "boyfriend."
It's uncertain how serious their relationship was while she was away at school.
However, the couple became more serious when she finished school and moved to LA to be with James. Raquel soon became more of an active presence on Vanderpump Rules.
The Ultimatum Works
Back to the original couple still together: Katie and Tom Schwartz.
Katie had given Schwartz an ultimatum that he needed to propose and push their relationship forward, or else she would dump him. And after the disastrous string on a ring debacle, he had no more leeway. Schwartz needed to make a decision.
Schwartz eventually proposed to Katie, and they got married.
Actually, they got married twice because he lost their original marriage certificate. That's a layered issue we'll get to later in the timeline.
Speaking of engagements, James finally took his relationship further by proposing to Raquel.
He worked with his closest guy friend on Vanderpump Rules (you guessed it!) Tom Sandoval, to plan an elaborate proposal for Raquel. We're talking fireworks, festival grounds, and a music festival vibe in the spirit of Coachella.
After all the ups and downs in their relationship (i.e., the cheating, James' alcoholism, etc.), it seemed like a new start for them.
Giving Back The Ring
We spoke too soon. Everyone, from the cast to the viewers, was shocked that James and Raquel called off the engagement!
During the Vanderpump Rules Season 9 reunion, the (now former) couple revealed they had ended their relationship. Raquel initiated the breakup, while James reluctantly said he agreed with the decision.
Raquel cited all the tensions in their relationship and with family members over the years, as well as not being attracted to James anymore, as some of the reasons why she ended the relationship.
What's most shocking was that Raquel returned her engagement ring live during the reunion! (I mean, the mic drop of that moment.)
New Girl, New Mindset, Past Drama
James and Raquel's post-dating life plays a part in Scandoval through bits and pieces.
Like, James quickly jumps into a new relationship with a new girl, Ally. This decision ignites tension with Raquel; she feels disrespected by James.
Also, Raquel discovers that James had hooked up with his best friend, former SUR hostess Lala Kent, early in their relationship.
Raquel is now entering her post-breakup phase. She's putting herself first, finding new confidence, and speaking out more. She wants to discover herself; by now, she's very close with many people from the friend group.
The End Of An Era
At the start of Vanderpump Rules Season 10, Katie and Tom Schwartz are going through a divorce.
Their relationship was a roller coaster at times because it got very toxic. Sometimes it would be Schwartz cheating on Katie (like his kiss while visiting Vegas), Katie putting Schwartz down, or Schwartz never defending Katie.
Like, in any situation, Schwartz barely to never had his wife's back!
When Schwartz spurned Katie again to side with his BFF Tom Sandoval to work on a new bar, that move was part of the biggest last straw. Katie finally had enough of not being a priority in her husband's life.
Trouble In Paradise
Here is where the timeline isn't precise with dates.
At some point in their relationship, Tom and Ariana started facing issues that left a lasting impact.
Tom and Ariana shared some of their concerns on Vanderpump Rules Season 10 Episode 14. And there was always the big debate of him wanting to get married/have kids while she didn't.
Whatever the case may be (it's their relationship, so I'm not assuming anything that led to this), Tom initiated the affair with Raquel.
The Affair Begins
Like the above, there isn't an exact date for when Tom and Raquel first got together.
The affair had been (allegedly) going on for around six to seven months by the time it was revealed in March 2023. Chances are it started around September or October 2022.
That being said, this is all alleged. If the affair happened earlier, that tidbit would change its placement in the timeline and how things began.
Breaking Katie's Trust
Even though Katie and Schwartz were going through a divorce, they consciously tried to preserve their friendship. Both of them set boundaries beforehand on what they expected for their friendship.
One of Katie's rules was clear: no hooking up with someone in the friend group.
Scheana was playfully trying to get Schwartz and Raquel to make out, especially since they mentioned they both thought the other was attractive. Scheana's matchmaking tactics soon exploded into an all-out war that left Katie's friendships with both Schwartz and Raquel in flames.
And, by extension, Katie's friendship with Tom Sandoval, who kept bashing Katie since the bar business debacle. Schwartz and Raquel's kiss ignited the beginning of the end.
A Night At The Abbey
Who questioned the first signs of Scandoval? It was none other than James' new girlfriend, Ally.
Ally noticed Raquel and Tom Sandoval together at the popular Los Angeles bar during a party night out. The sighting was in the middle of the night, arousing suspicions of why they would be together with no one else from the group.
What made Ally's intuition go off was that Ariana was nowhere in sight. Ally naturally shared her concerns with James, and the discovery was discussed with some group members, like Scheana.
Not Getting The Stories Straight
Now, here is where it all began to unravel. In the now-infamous segment on Vanderpump Rules Season 10 Episode 13, Raquel arrived late at SUR for a food-tasting meeting. People like Lisa Vanderpump and fellow SUR server Charli Burnett were left waiting.
Raquel claimed she slept over at Tom Sandoval's place due to a late night of drinking with him and Tom Schwartz.
Lisa was suspicious of Raquel's story because Ariana wasn't in town when Raquel stayed over. During a phone call with the Toms, Tom Sandoval couldn't keep his story straight of where Raquel slept in his house.
Lisa told her husband, Ken Todd, the story, which eventually was revealed to Katie.
In the ongoing news cycle, since Scandoval was revealed, some new details about Tom and Raquel's affair came to light.
For example, the couple each had a lightning bolt necklace they would allegedly wear whenever they wanted to tell the other that they loved them but couldn't say it in group settings. Tom already had his lightning bolt necklace.
We first saw Raquel purchasing her necklace while shopping with Charli on Vanderpump Rules Season 10 Episode 14.
There have been other possible hints of the affair, like Raquel drinking more Coors Light (which Tom likes), Tom dressing as Raquel for Halloween 2022, and an alleged double date between the Toms, Raquel, and Schwartz's friend Jo before Katie and Ariana's sandwich shop event for "Something About Her."
Another troubling sign that emerged was Tom actively trying to be away from Ariana.
In a past moment, while Ariana was dealing with the loss of her grandmother, the group was partying at a Labor Day pool party. All of the footage was captured through Scheana's Vlog.
Later during the post-Something About Her event drinks at SUR, Lala revealed to Ariana that Tom lied and purposely stayed behind at the party. Ariana and Lala caught him in his lies about not wanting to be with his girlfriend during her time of need.
Raquel even spoke with Ariana about her relationship with Tom. She questioned if Ariana should even be with Tom anymore and whether Ariana was attracted to her boyfriend anymore. Ariana said she still wanted to be with him.
During a quiet fateful day, Scandoval was revealed to the world.
While at a performance of Tom's band, Ariana discovered a sexually explicit video from Raquel on Tom's phone. She soon read through a text thread of racy messages between the two going back for many months. Ariana was blindsided by the affair.
News outlets ignited with stories, social media blew up with theories, and most fans were effectively #TeamAriana. This betrayal was nothing like the Kristen/Jax/Stassi/Tom hookup of the past; this scandal was now about a nearly 10-year relationship.
Vanderpump Rules Season 10 went back into production to capture footage of the post-reveal drama. Plus, trailers of the confrontation between Tom/Ariana and the season finale were leaked early to the world.
Layers To The Rumor Mill
As mentioned above, more details about the affair have come to light. Some are true, and others are speculative based on the details.
Out of the many rumors, two popped up as the most damning. The first is that Schwartz allegedly knew about the affair earlier and played a part in covering it up. The entire storyline of Raquel and Schwartz kissing has come into question as being a ploy for Tom and Raquel to hide the affair.
The other rumor is that Raquel allegedly hooked up with someone's husband: Scheana's current husband, Brock. This theory blew up on social media after Brock allegedly bragged about the hookup during a drunken hangout with his friends.
Once again, these are rumors and just alleged. There is no confirmed proof to validate any of these online theories.
The Breakup and Reunion
We're still in the thick of things with Scandoval, and there is possibly more to come in the future of Vanderpump Rules.
As of now, Ariana has broken up with Sandoval. Raquel and Sandoval are allegedly still in a relationship.
Post-discovery, Ariana confronts Sandoval about the truth during Vanderpump Rules Season 10 Episode 15, and Ariana is comforted by her friends, like the returning Kristen Doute. Plus, more drama will erupt during the 2-part reunion.
Now, over to you, Pump fans!
What did you think of the Scandoval controversy? Was there anything I missed in the timeline?
What's been your favorite moment during the series so far?
Vanderpump Rules airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Brave. Plus, you can watch Vanderpump Rules online via TV Fanatic to catch up on all the past drama.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.