Vanderpump Rules star Ariana Madix has been making the press rounds since the highly anticipated finale of the Bravo reality series aired on Wednesday. The recently concluded 10th season had wrapped filming in September when Madix found out about a scandalous affair between longtime boyfriend Tom Sandoval and close friend Raquel Leviss, both of whom appear on the series with Madix, which has since been dubbed Scandoval. In order to capture the drama, Bravo fired up the cameras again in March to capture the fallout, with the results playing out during the finale.
“It is my real life and it’s something that happened so unexpectedly,” Madix said during one of her post-finale appearances, on The View, of sharing everything publicly. “Certainly watching the episode last night, it really brings you back to that anger, that gut feeling, that anxiety that I felt in those first moments.”
The finale confirmed many details about the affair that had been shared by the cast via social media in recent weeks. Madix and Sandoval, who had been dating for nine years and since the second season of the series, were out at Sandoval’s band’s concert where he dropped his cell phone while performing. Madix shared that a gut feeling drove her to check his phone, where she uncovered a sexual FaceTime recording between Sandoval and her close friend and co-star, Leviss.
Madix would go on to find out the pair had been secretly having an affair for seven months, and she filmed her first confrontation with Sandoval for the cameras in what played out as must-see unscripted TV. “I loved you then, when you had nothing,” Madix told Sandoval. “You got a little bit of money, a little bar, a little band, and then this girl is going to act enamored with you. Because that’s what you want, huh? You want someone to just gas you up. … I regret ever loving you. … I was 100 percent committed to you as of literally two days ago.”
Sandoval said he was seeking something in Leviss that he wasn’t getting from Madix and called their ongoing relationship “deep” and “real.” He then went to Leviss’ apartment, where they embraced and told each other they loved one another. “I’d never do this if there wasn’t something here,” he told Leviss, who would then step out of the public eye until the filming of the upcoming three-part reunion and check herself into a facility for mental health counseling.
Speaking to the New York Times, Madix said of her confrontation with Sandoval, “When he sat down on that couch [during filming] and tried to give the sad sack act, I knew he was going to try to sell a bit. I knew he was trying to be that person so that I would be the angry person; I could see what was happening in front of my face, and it was really frustrating. Honestly, when he started yelling at me, I felt a little bit satisfied that he was finally going to be the real him.”
She elaborated further on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live Wednesday night about what she called Sandoval’s “double life,” which included her defending Sandoval publicly even when she privately knew that he slept with Annemarie Maldonado, or as she was known on the show “Miami Girl,” before they were exclusive, which was a major plot point in the series and will be discussed during the upcoming reunion. She and WWHL host Andy Cohen previewed the reunion by calling it a reckoning. “We went there, and then we never came back,” she said. She also said she and Sandoval currently live together but don’t communicate directly and that she plans to sell the house they share.
The affair between Sandoval and Leviss was unknown to Madix and the rest of the cast, except for Tom Schwarz, who is Sandoval’s business partner. The finale confirmed speculation that Schwarz knew about the affair, as he admitted to his ex-wife Katie Maloney (who is Madix’s new business partner) that he knew about the first time they had sex and had been telling Sandoval in the last month to come clean. “I think he was actively participating in my downfall,” Madix told Cohen of Schwarz. The finale also captured Schwarz’s concern over backlash against his and Sandoval’s newest business venture, Schwarz & Sandy’s, over the public discourse aimed at Sandoval. (Sandoval later sent out two public apologies and defended himself on Howie Mandel’s podcast.)
Speaking on The View, Madix said she sensed a midlife crisis in Sandoval, but never the seven-months-long affair that was exposed. And she fired back at anyone who thinks what happened between them is just scripted drama. “I find when people say that to be very insulting to me, personally, because this is something that I am really going through, did really go through, and not just me but our friends, who were close to both of them. So when people say that, it’s as if my pain, our collective pain, didn’t mean anything,” she said, “I wanted it to be exposed. I wanted people to know exactly what happened. At the same time, going through something privately like this maybe would have been easier on some levels, but it’s just the nature of: This is my life. My life is on TV.”
Madix calls the upcoming reunion a “rollercoaster of emotions,” but says she felt she got everything out at the time. “However,” she added, “there were things I found out after we filmed that day that they were still lying about on that day. So I almost wish that somehow I could have found that out beforehand and could have confronted them.” She elaborated on WWHL, saying Leviss was not remorseful, and “I wish I had known all of the things I know now about all of the lies that are still being told, because I would have brought a lot of that stuff up.”
The three-part reunion, which airs starting May 24 and will release extended versions on Peacock, will see the entire main cast reuniting, including Madix, Sandoval and Leviss who will be part of both group and separate one-on-one discussions with Bravo host Andy Cohen.
Cohen and Vanderpump Rules boss Lisa Vanderpump have touted the reunion as more must-see TV. After filming, Cohen took to social media to say “nothing was left unsaid.” Vanderpump has since said, “I don’t think we have heard it all yet. I think there is still going to be more as soon as we start filming again.”
Vanderpump Rules was renewed earlier this week for an 11th season, amid Bravo’s unscripted announcements during the NBCUniversal upfront; a premiere date and cast have yet to be announced. With the cast collectively boxing out Sandoval and Leviss, and possibly Schwarz, production has yet to begin on the new episodes. Madix said on the Today show that she wants to return, but that she has “no interest” in speaking to either Sandoval or Leviss and doesn’t plan on being in a room with them. She noted, however, that might be out of her control.
In her Times interview, Madix drew a harder line, saying she’s not open to filming with them: “I have nothing to say to either of them. Our show is very real and follows a real group of friends, and neither of them are in the group of friends, so, good luck.”
And, with her star power on the rise — including several brand deals, landing a role in an upcoming Lifetime movie and being a hit presence at the recent White House Correspondents’ dinner — she shared her new outlook: “This whole thing happening very publicly. Part of me feels like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ The worst already did. So going forward, it feels a little bit like, ‘What can I not handle at this point?’”