One Year After Scandoval, an Expanded Vanderpump Universe

A little more than a year since TMZ reported that the “Vanderpump Rules” stars Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval had broken up because he had been having an affair with another co-star, Rachel Leviss, it remains the defining story in the greater world of reality TV.

The short version of the story goes: Sandoval was performing a show with his band, he lost his phone, and someone handed it to Madix for safekeeping. She went through the phone and found a screen recording of a FaceTime between Sandoval and Leviss that confirmed the affair. The long version … well, let’s reflect on the state of the Scandoval, one year later, with the help of a “Vanderpump” executive producer, Alex Baskin.

A Uniquely Disastrous Affair

Since the beginning of the show, cheating has been part of the landscape — arguably, a vital part of the drama. But none of the indiscretions between other castmates made it to the headlines of CNN, The New York Times and Time magazine or got a dedicated name and hashtag like #Scandoval.

So what made this affair different?

Baskin sees the scandal as a few different factors “swirled together to make it something that had a far greater impact than the numerous cheating scandals that had come before it on the show.”

First, it was a long-term affair, meaning that Sandoval had been living a bit of a double life. That’s somewhat more intriguing for viewers and more devastating for real-life participants than a one-off kiss or one-night stand.

The magnitude of the scandal also set it apart, since producers resumed shooting, despite Season 10 filming having wrapped.

“It felt like this had a significance such that we should cover it in real time if we could,” Baskin said. So they borrowed the camera teams from “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and got back to filming.

“It’s really chilling to watch because you were seeing in the moment the group come to terms with what had just happened,” Baskin noted.

Additionally, Baskin noted that Season 10 was still airing when the news broke, so “it became then a series of Easter eggs that the audience was spotting in the show itself.”

Of course, the scene of Ken Todd, Lisa Vanderpump’s husband, staggering into the kitchen to say, “I can’t believe Tom had Raquel over while Ariana is away, in the Jacuzzi as well, and she stayed all night,” immediately comes to mind.

(And just in case you were wondering, Ken was confused but not that confused: Raquel and Rachel are the same person — on the show, she went by Raquel but has since switched back to her given name, Rachel).

The Fallout: Leviss left the show after the end of Season 10 shooting, and in February she filed a revenge-porn lawsuit against Madix and Sandoval, in relation to the distribution of the FaceTime footage that revealed the affair. Lawyers for Madix and Sandoval have asked a court to toss the claim. Season 11 kicked off in January with the most-watched season premiere in Bravo’s history.

‘A Point of Demarcation’

Though production of Season 11 resumed as usual, the show exists in a time period of its own making, B.S. or A.S. — before or after Scandoval.

As the season opened, Madix refused to speak to Sandoval at all, though they were still sharing their Valley Village home. With each episode we have seen Madix and Sandoval tolerating each other more and more socially.

Of late, “Vanderpump Rules” has returned to some of its normal, ensemble-oriented shenanigans that made the show so beloved in the first place. There was Lala Kent’s sperm donor party, James Kennedy’s weeping breakdown over his dog Hippie (formally known as Graham), whom he considers a fur baby, and of course the race between the exes Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney to date a 25-year-old singer.

“It still was important for us to serve all the other story elsewhere because we wanted everyone else to still be alive and as important to show as they were before,” Baskin said. “Also, tonally, I think that watching a series of episodes of Scandoval would grow really wearing to the audience.”

It’s Not About the Pasta: There is still a Scandoval-related conversation in almost every scene.

“Vanderpump Rules,” “The Valley,” “Vanderpump Villa” — oh my!

To no one’s surprise, the increased publicity has led to a significant expansion of the Vanderpump universe.

Bravo is currently airing the first season of “The Valley” which stars the former “Vanderpump” cast members Jax Taylor, Brittany Cartwright and Kristen Doute as they try to “adult.”

Then there is “Vanderpump Villa,” airing on Hulu, which follows the staff of Vanderpump’s French chateau.

More Pumptinis, please: Lisa Vanderpump is nowhere close to slowing down her restaurant empire — “Vanderpump à Paris” in Vegas is still up and running, and she and her husband, Ken, just opened “Wolf by Vanderpump” in Lake Tahoe.

So what’s next?

One of the biggest and most obvious results from Scandoval has been Madix’s success outside of the show. She made it to 3rd place with her partner Pasha Pashkov on the latest season of “Dancing with the Stars” and recently finished up her run as Roxie Hart in “Chicago” on Broadway.

Will the show veer away from Los Angeles and follow Madix on the road?

“I think that the show has always grown and expanded, according to whatever is really happening with the group, so I do anticipate that we would cover all of that, but still the central focus is the core friendships within the group,” Baskin said.

A Scheana Shay-less Summer: “Vanderpump” would take a break from filming this summer, TMZ reported, though the show usually films through June and July. Madix is the one cast member who is booked and busy during that time, with a new hosting gig on “Love Island U.S.A.”

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