For weeks, Vanderpump Rules producers have been teasing a major “twist” that not even the cast would know about until it was revealed during Part 3 of the Season 10 reunion. Just one day before the June 7 episode, executive producer Alex Baskin told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’ll just say this isn’t a garden-variety getting-the-group-together-to-recap show or, in this case, just Raquel [Leviss] speaking her piece of apologies to Ariana [Madix]. There are revelations and developments that left even our heads spinning.”
In the month leading up to the Season 10 finale, wild theories popped up left and right online. Would Leviss announce a pregnancy? Did Leviss also have an affair with Scheana Shay’s husband, Brock Davies? Did Lisa Vanderpump know that Leviss and Tom Sandoval were together the entire time? As each subsequent rumor got shot down by cast members and producers in the press, it built up even more of a mystery around what would be revealed in the reunion’s final moments, leading to two likely conclusions: The “bombshell” would either be something so earth-shattering that the show would never recover, or the biggest letdown ever.
Leviss’ confession was not worthy of the hype. In the final five minutes in a post-reunion one-on-one interview, she tearfully comes clean about details that internet sleuths have already sniffed out. She admitted to hooking up with Sandoval at Shay’s wedding in Mexico, which was confirmed in April by Shay’s dress designer who said he spotted them kissing at the resort. After much prodding by an off-screen producer, Leviss also admitted to going to Sandoval’s hometown of St. Louis during the holidays, but photo evidence of that trip has already been out for months.
There is some satisfaction in seeing her confirm things viewers have known to be true and, for the first time on camera, actually show some remorse. In any other context, it would have been a gratifying end to a season full of unprecedented drama. But the producers’ need to keep heightening expectations ultimately led to an anti-climactic finish.
Bravo almost didn’t need to put effort into marketing this season at all. The endless rumor mill of the internet fed interest from the start, and Madix has been racking up brand partnerships left and right since news of the affair broke, making her presence ubiquitous. Over the past two months, it’s been nearly impossible to escape reminders of just how “monumental” this season of Vanderpump Rules has been. Baskin rarely weighed in on past seasons if at all, so his insistence that this revelation would change everything made people sit up and listen — only for the show to blow something minor way out of proportion.
The network has its work cut out for it for Season 11 — it’s unlikely there will be another affair that will rock the group as “Scandoval” did, and the cast members could certainly use a break from anything else upending their lives over the next year. But Bravo will be looking for something, anything, salacious to keep viewers, especially those who started watching Vanderpump Rules for the first time this year, glued to the show. If Leviss’ confession is the standard for a “bombshell” these days, however, it will be difficult to believe the hype.
Vanderpump Rules Seasons 1 through 10 are streaming on Peacock. 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.