Coachella planners would never casually drop Ariana Grande on a Friday afternoon, so it was unexpected (and, perhaps, a bit of a relief?) that BravoCon scheduled the cast of Vanderpump Rules just a few hours into day one.
The panel marked the first time the group spoke in a public forum since that contentious, three-part reunion special — dubbed “a shitshow” by Lisa Vanderpump — that concluded the “Scandoval”-rocked season. If you still need a primer on that, I’ve no clue why you’re reading this, but do please continue.
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Former couple Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval were both on the stage, as were castmates Brock Davies, James Kennedy, Lala Kent, Ally Lewber, Katie Maloney, Scheana Shay, Tom Schwartz and, matriarch and Las Vegas restaurateur, Vanderpump. The 45-minute session did not have the “fuck yourself with a cheese grater” acrimony of the reunion, but things did get testy. Sandoval, wearing a kilt and quite apparently still a pariah for his exposed philandering, was booed absolutely every time he spoke. Sometimes, it was deafening. The only respite from his audience scolding came when he and Kennedy, both apparently sober now, engaged in a push-up competition.
“I love [the cast] all individually, and they’ve all screwed up,” said Vanderpump, gesturing to Sandoval after some of the boos. “Maybe not to this extent. I can’t judge them on one episode of their life. I understand people have reactions; it’s because they’re invested.”
On the flip side, Madix was greeted like the late Princess Diana emerging from an active minefield. She spoke carefully about her experience filming the recent 11th season, including scenes with Sandoval, which wrapped production in September and the network announced would bow in January. “It is what it is,” she said. “It’s weird. It was difficult and I’m glad it’s behind me.”
There was very little talk of what went down while filming the upcoming season, mostly because these shows live and die by secrecy — “I was given explicit instructions to shut the fuck up,” offered Kent — but Vanderpump was happy to tease it out to the best of her abilities.
“This season was extraordinarily difficult for Tom and Ariana to get back into it,” she said, the lone diplomat among them. “It is very different from any other season. It was difficult to navigate. But that’s Vanderpump Rules. It’s not Little House on the Prairie.”
When asked to describe the season in one word, nearly half of them said “sad.” Schwartz, for his part, said “Shakespearean” — more boos! — in one of his only comments of the panel. The most memorable was when he told ex-wife Maloney that she looked fabulous. Maloney, in turn, informed him that he looked like a couch.
Quite conspicuously, there was not a single mention of Raquel/Rachel Leviss, the third party in the cheating scandal who seemingly never came to terms with Bravo on a way for her to return for the recent season. But there was a cryptic teaser of the new season, which included maybe 10 seconds of footage. In it, Madix accuses Sandoval of attempting to kill her dog and informs he’ll be hearing from her lawyer. So, I guess there’s that to look forward to!
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