Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Vanderpump Rules S11 Needs To Stop Trying To Redeem Tom Sandoval And Let Female Rage Win

It's been over a year since the world learned the portmanteau "Scandoval" (coined by journalist Hannah Selinger), but in Season 11 of "Vanderpump Rules," the cast of former SUR-vers and bartenders are still grappling with the scandal's aftermath. Tom Sandoval's months-long affair with former cast member Rachel Leviss (who once went by Raquel, which is a whole separate issue), which left his girlfriend of nine years Ariana Madix reeling, is now the stuff of reality TV legend — and at the end of the show's tenth season, it led to some of the best episodes in the history of the genre (like "#Scandoval" and the explosive three-part reunion). In the eleventh season, the wronged parties (and also Sandoval) are doing their best to pick up the pieces and move forward, but realistically, the ensemble cast started filming Season 11 just a few months after Madix found that incriminating video of Leviss on Sandoval's phone.

Why is that timeline important? It's important because, throughout the ten episodes that have aired so far, Madix has been incandescently angry. Throughout most of those ten episodes, she and Sandoval have retreated to their separate corners — even while they're stuck living in the same mansion they purchased together — but in Episode 10, titled "Line in the Sand," Madix explodes. For me, it felt unbelievably cathartic; after Madix's serene rage at the Season 10 reunion, her furious inner volcano has been largely dormant. Now, she's angry, and the series — by way of Madix's castmates Scheana Shay, Lala Kent, and James Kennedy — is shaming her for it while attempting to give Sandoval a redemption arc.

No. Stop that. Let Ariana Madix be mad and let Tom Sandoval be trash. Let me explain.

Ariana Madix's anger should not be villified; Tom Sandoval should be villified

Imagine for a moment that you, dear reader, are Ariana Madix circa February 2023. You make a living by being on "Vanderpump Rules" and you live in a mansion you recently purchased with your partner of nine years, Tom Sandoval. You've stuck by Sandoval's side despite the troubles he's had with his two bars Tom Tom and Schwartz and Sandy's. You've stuck by his side as he pays out of his own pocket for a cover band called Tom Sandoval and the Most Extras, which is quite clearly a midlife crisis. You even stuck by his side when he started painting his fingernails white. Now imagine that, during a presumably terrible performance by Tom Sandoval and the Most Extras, you discover an explicit, intimate video that your longtime partner screen recorded ... while on FaceTime with your close friend. Wouldn't you be mad too?! Wouldn't you be mad enough to scream at him, a lot, in front of all of your friends?!?

"Vanderpump Rules" has spent basically its entire time on air devoting itself to portrayals of male anger. Former cast member Jax Taylor, who's now swanning about on the spin-off "The Valley," marked his nine year tenure on "Vanderpump Rules" by screaming at people all the time. Sandoval himself is known for his outbursts, which were helpfully placed in a video compilation titled "Tom's Favorite Hobby: Yelling at Women" on X (formerly known as Twitter). So why isn't Ariana allowed to be mad? Well, that's because "Vanderpump Rules" seems hellbent on giving Sandoval a redemption arc that he in no way deserves.

Tom Sandoval's redemption arc is marked by excuses and misplaced blame

Since March of 2023, Tom Sandoval hasn't been on an apology tour; he's been in his Excuses Era, to borrow a concept from Taylor Swift. Sure, he "apologized" during the Season 10 reunion, but at the time, his castmates — including and especially Ariana Madix — weren't buying it. Since then, he's gone on multiple podcasts and blamed Madix for his affair. (He also started his own podcast where he sometimes blames Madix for his affair.) He did "penance" on the reality competition show "Special Forces," where fellow contestant JoJo Siwa was forced to carry him up a mountain. He sat down for a baffling profile with the New York Times where he compared his situation — the one where he cheated on his common-law wife with their close friend on camera — to those of O.J. Simpson and George Floyd. Does this sound like a man who should be forgiven for a single one of his sins?

I'm not trying to be harsh here, I swear. People make mistakes; we all have. When you make a mistake, though, you would — in an ideal world — own up to that mistake. Tom Sandoval has not done that. Even in moments where he appears remorseful, it's quite plainly a smokescreen, because if everyone in the world decided that they liked Sandoval again, he would be perfectly happy. Sandoval is thoroughly uninterested in true remorse, true regret (because, let's be honest, he also hurt and manipulated Rachel Leviss throughout this mess), or true growth. He just wants to be the guy playing his sad little trumpet again. So why are his castmates trying to make excuses for him?

Ariana Madix's VPR castmates need to support their friend, not push her to move on

At this point in the Scandoval fallout, Tom Sandoval has done the following things: cheated on Ariana Madix, publicly blamed her behavior for said cheating, refused to leave the house that they share, complained about how she's "lazy," and endangered her dog Maya. How have Madix's close friends Lala Kent and Scheana Shay reacted? They've blamed and shamed Madix herself rather than coming down on Sandoval for everything he's done wrong.

Throughout Season 10, Kent has sat down with Sandoval one-on-one, invited him to multiple events, and complained in confessionals that Madix should move out of the house that she co-owns with Sandoval and also stop making excuses for her own wrongs, as Kent perceives them. (After Season 11 filming wrapped, Madix did, in fact, purchase a new house and move out.) Shay, based on her weird outburst over the fact that Madix booked "Dancing with the Stars" — apparently a dream of Shay's for years — feels envious that Madix is a cultural darling who's about to wrap up a successful run as Roxie Hart in "Chicago" on Broadway. So how do these two friends handle their feelings? They take it out on Madix and cozy up to Sandoval, which only furthers the show's narrative that Sandoval deserves forgiveness and Madix needs to calm down.

Madix does not need to calm down. Her righteous rage is welcome, and Sandoval — as well as her fair-weather friends — deserve every ounce of her ire. Stop trying to make Sandoval the reformed hero and Madix the villain, Bravo. It's not going to happen.