The Vanderpump Rules Season 10 finale dropped bombshell after bombshell. The episode, “#Scandoval,” was filmed after the season officially wrapped, just days after the news of Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss’ affair broke. That resulted in an hour and 15 minutes of television that was raw and painful to watch at times, but compelling and enlightening nonetheless.
There will certainly be more salacious details coming out in the coming weeks as the three-part reunion airs and tabloids continue to cover the fallout — during her appearance on Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen immediately following the episode, Ariana Madix revealed that she discovered a letter Leviss sent to Sandoval at the home Madix and Sandoval still share earlier on May 17, the same day the finale aired. But the finale in particular marks a turning point for the future of the series and alters how the past decade of episodes will be viewed from now on. In the words of the Best Coast song that features Sandoval and Madix as a happy couple in its music video, “Everything Has Changed.”
Both the cast and crew seemed to approach filming these unplanned scenes in the finale very differently than they did the rest of the season, or even the series up until now. Instead of giving the feeling that a camera was literally right in every cast member’s face as is often the case, here the camera’s view was slightly removed, making the episode more voyeuristic. Sandoval and Madix have admitted in the past that they are very conscious of what parts of their relationship they show on camera and what parts they keep private — it’s what’s made other cast members wonder if there was more trouble in paradise than they were ever letting on throughout the series. So seeing them unfiltered, screaming at each other in the home they share, offered a glimpse into what they may have been keeping from the cameras all along.
Following an increasing trend for Bravo, those cameras were acknowledged more freely throughout the episode. There is no more fourth wall in the world of Vanderpump Rules. It first happened in the Season 10 premiere, when Tom Schwartz asked if the cameras were still rolling after Leviss asked him to make out. That incident was mirrored in the finale when Sandoval tells Leviss that he can’t kiss her because they’re on camera. There are mentions of past reunions and BravoCon, events that typically don’t get name-dropped in episodes to keep up the façade that these people’s regular lives are being captured, not ones made more famous because of Bravo.
Once that veil is officially lifted on a series, as it has been now for several of the Real Housewives franchises, it’s easier to break the fourth wall again. And it’s an even more blatant reminder that the Vanderpump Rules cast aren’t just characters on TV but real people, something that can be easy to forget during the series’s most highly-produced moments.
There were of course major revelations about Sandoval and Leviss’ affair, like the fact that the inciting incident happened in Leviss’ car on Sandoval and Madix’s driveway within days of Madix’s dog dying. But the confessions tied to this current affair also provided clarity on past incidents — Sandoval’s affair with the infamous “Miami girl” in Season 3 was confirmed to be true after he spent not only that entire season but years after denying it, and in the finale he admitted to cheating on Madix at least one other time. In an emotional conversation with Scheana Shay, he said he’d been wanting to break up with Madix for the past four or five years. It certainly adds a new perspective to the past seven seasons, if not the entire series.
It’s redemption for Kristen Doute, Sandoval’s ex-girlfriend who returned to film with Madix after being fired from the show in 2020. Doute and Sandoval were in a relationship when Vanderpump Rules premiered in 2013, and during that time, Doute was maligned for being overly paranoid and irrational for suspecting Sandoval of cheating. Even back then he did admit that there was some overlap between his relationship with Doute and his relationship with Madix. But when Doute attempted to warn Madix of his behavior or even tried to get an apology from Sandoval for how he treated her, she was completely written off and Sandoval was able to twist the narrative to make her look like the villain.
Doute’s return to the series and the moment she shared with Madix allowed Doute to finally exhale knowing that everything she said was true came to light. But even then, she didn’t appear to say “I told you so,” she was there out of genuine love for Madix, with whom she’s built a genuine, extremely close friendship in the years since she left the show. The touching scene of the two performing a cleansing ritual together painted Doute’s past behavior in a new light. It was a moment of catharsis for the two women to be able to share in how they were manipulated and mistreated by the same man, but were able to rise above and come out of it as better people.
The same can’t be said for Sandoval, who spent the Season 10 finale repeating the same behaviors with Madix that he did with Doute, trying his best to turn the tables and absolve himself of any guilt. His lack of remorse (at least for anything other than getting caught) and angry outbursts mirrored almost exactly how he acted in fights with Doute in early seasons. In this episode, while Madix, Shay, Schwartz, and James Kennedy ugly-cried through scenes, struggling to keep themselves together on camera as they typically did in the past, Sandoval struggled to muster up even a single real tear, wiping away at seemingly nothing on his face to appear human. It’s even more proof that Sandoval was villainous from the start of the season, and in fact may have been the bad guy from the beginning of the series all along.
Already the consequences of Vanderpump Rules Season 10 are being felt off camera. Schwartz and Sandoval’s business ventures are tanking while Madix and Katie Maloney’s business is thriving, and between a mountain of deals, a new boyfriend, and a slew of revenge outfits, Madix seems to be living her best life. In a recent deep dive from Variety about the production behind this season, executive producer Alex Baskin said that he wants to give the cast a breather before turning the cameras on again, noting that this was an emotionally exhausting season for all involved. But he tells Variety that production on Season 11 will begin sometime this summer — several contracts are still being negotiated and casting decisions are still being made, but he says “no one’s saying no” as of now.
Madix made it clear on last night’s Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen that, despite living with Sandoval, the two only speak through assistants. She has also cut off all communication with anyone who remained friends with Sandoval, including Schwartz. It will make for a splintered cast if everyone from Season 10 does choose to return for Season 11, and a completely new dynamic for the series in seasons to come.
Part one of the Vanderpump Rules reunion airs May 24 on Bravo and an extended “Pumped up” version streams on Peacock the next day. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.
TOPICS: Vanderpump Rules, Bravo, Andy Cohen, Ariana Madix, Kristen Doute, Raquel Leviss, Scheana Shay, Tom Sandoval, Tom Schwartz