There are certain seasons of reality television I will think about for the rest of my life: the shock of Ashley Jacobs terrorizing the “Southern Charm” cast in their fifth season, the charisma of Dr. Will on “Big Brother” Season 7, the hilarity of “The Real Housewives of New York City” in its ninth season, and the cruelty in the one and only season of “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.” But there’s one season of reality TV that stands out above the rest.
That would be Season 10 of “Vanderpump Rules,” which was rocked by “Scandoval,” the nickname for the real-life scandal involving cast member Tom Sandoval. With the Bravo series returning this month for what is sure to be a monumental Season 11, here’s everything you need to know about “Vanderpump Rules.”
Check out the video:
What Is ‘Vanderpump Rules’ and When Did It Start Airing?
“Vanderpump Rules” is arguably Bravo’s most successful “Real Housewives” spinoff series. Premiering in 2013, “Vanderpump Rules” centers around the former star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Lisa Vanderpump, and the current and past staff of her West Hollywood restaurant, SUR, which stands for — groan — Sexy Unique Restaurant.
Especially at its start, the “Vanderpump Rules” cast skewed younger than a typical “Real Housewives” cast, and their love lives, including the way they mixed the professional with the personal, reflected their youth. Only in recent years did things start to mature somewhat. Over the course of 10 seasons, we’ve seen these young people morph from bed-hopping hooligans to married couples, parents, and, in one case, divorcees.
Most of them no longer work at SUR, but they all still see Vanderpump as their leader or mother figure. The show continues to chronicle their interactions with Vanderpump and one another.
Who Is in the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Cast?
Like on the Real Housewives shows, the “Vanderpump Rules” cast has changed throughout its 10 years, but many Season 1 OGs remain. The key players you need to know for Season 11 are mostly coupled (or famously uncoupled), so I’ll present some of them as pairs.
Lala Kent: Kent, a Season 4 addition, was a hostess at SUR who was immediately labeled a gold-digger and is now learning to navigate life as a sober single mother.
James Kennedy and Ally Lewber: Kennedy, a D.J. at SUR, joined the cast in Season 3 and is generally considered a villain, but the recent bad behavior of others (like, uh, Sandoval) has elevated his standing in the group. We just met Lewber, James’ newest girlfriend, last season.
Scheana Shay and Brock Davies: Shay is a “Vanderpump” veteran from Season 1, but her husband, Davies, is a much more recent addition, officially joining the cast in Season 9. The couple had their first baby in 2021.
Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz: We were introduced to Maloney and Schwartz in Season 1 as a dating couple. They’ve since married and divorced, but they still co-parent a pet and travel in the same friend group, which causes noteworthy conflict.
Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix: Sandoval is Schwartz’s best friend, and until last season he had been in a nine-year relationship with Madix, who joined the cast in Season 2. The relationship ended after it was discovered he was having an affair with …
Rachel Leviss: Formerly known as Raquel, Leviss joined the gang in Season 5 as Kennedy’s quiet girlfriend. They broke up at the end of Season 9. In Season 10, Leviss took center stage as one of the three players involved in Scandoval.
What Is Scandoval and Why Was Season 10 of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ in the News?
As you may have guessed, the term “Scandoval” is a play on Sandoval’s last name and refers to the scandal caused by his affair with Leviss. The affair was discovered by Sandoval’s longtime partner, Madix, on March 1, 2023, and news of the affair broke publicly on March 3. At that point, Season 10 of “Vanderpump Rules” was more than halfway over, and loyal viewers like myself instantly became even more invested as we tried to uncover how the unexpected love triangle developed. We all became armchair detectives, looking for clues, many of which were right in front of our faces if only we had put the pieces together.
The shock of Sandoval’s affair transcended the show's fan base and even the reality TV world. The situation sparked countless social media memes, mainstream news coverage, and thought-provoking analysis. What made the cheating drama capture so much attention? Perhaps it was the brazenness with which Sandoval and Leviss carried on their affair while in the public eye, with each new revelation about their hookups causing people’s jaws to drop. Or maybe it was because Madix considered Leviss one of her best friends and many people can relate to issues of “girl code.”
No matter the reason for people’s interest, producers knew they had to capitalize on the scandal and immediately picked up their cameras to film an extension to the season. Bravo produced a new Season 10 finale in which the start of the Scandoval fallout was captured, followed by an explosive three-part reunion show. Now the imminent Season 11 is certain to fully examine the continued ramifications of Scandoval.
When Does Season 11 of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Premiere?
Season 11 of “Vanderpump Rules” premieres Jan. 30 on Bravo. The primary cast change we can expect is that Leviss will not be returning — at least not on camera. We won't see her on screen, but there is no doubt she will continue to be a topic of conversation among her now former pals. (Leviss was largely ostracized from the group after her affair with Sandoval was revealed.) Otherwise the cast has remained fairly stable — except in their relationships with each other, of course.
Tune in to see what former cast member Jax Taylor has to say during a brief return, how exes Sandoval and Madix are faring as housemates who don’t speak to each other, if Maloney and Madix ever open their sandwich shop, if Schwartz and Maloney retain any sort of friendship, and learn about the time Schwartz and Shay may have kissed in Las Vegas. Speaking of kissing, apparently Schwartz and Maloney kiss the same woman this season. What?!
What ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Episodes or Seasons Should I Watch to Catch Up?
If you don’t have time to binge all 10 seasons of “Vanderpump Rules” before Season 11 premieres, I suggest three alternative catch-up avenues. Like the Real Housewives franchise, “Vanderpump Rules” holds reunions after each season, and the installments are full of flashbacks, updates, and current reflections. Watching only the reunions from Seasons 1 to 10 will still give you a relatively comprehensive look at the plot and cast dynamics from the past decade.
You may also want to watch all of Season 10 to view Scandoval in all its messy glory, since Season 11 will center around the Scandoval fallout. Season 10 is a fascinating take on how meta-reality TV can become when current events have to be considered in the presentation of past events. But if you don’t have that kind of time, Bravo has made life easy for you: Check out Season 11, Episode 0: “A Decade of Rumors and Lies,” which premiered in December 2023. In a scant 28 minutes, you’ll gain a solid understanding of the trials and tribulations of the Vanderpump gang and what's made the group so compulsively watchable.
You can stream the latest episodes of “Vanderpump Rules” on Peacock. You can also view the first 10 seasons on Hulu, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+.