Breaking down Vanderpump Rules

Be cool and dive into the Bravo universe

As the end of my undergrad degree approaches, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve spent around 60 days watching Bravo shows.

I’m like a medieval king. I always need to have my little jester present to do anything. Whether I’m eating, reading, or changing my cat’s litter, I’m watching Bravo. This has inspired a lot of conversations with people close to me about why I like reality television and, specifically, these Bravo shows.

I think the best example of the addictive quality of the genre is the show Vanderpump Rules (VPR).

VPR is a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH) and follows the staff at SUR Restaurant & Lounge run by Housewife Lisa Vanderpump. It’s the perfect mix of relatability and high-spirited television.

Unlike franchises like The Real Housewives — most people will never relate to flying across the country in a private jet with their besties while downing a glass of champagne — lots of people have worked in the food service industry and have had a few messy relationships of their own.

I even find myself relating to their issues and drawing parallels in my own life.

The relationships between the cast members are the same as that group in high school that all dated each other. Stassi Schroeder is the popular friend who is just a little too mean sometimes. James Kennedy is the random guy who produces SoundCloud remixes and manages to get hold of the AUX at every party. They are all extra, but it’s these basic similarities that make the show that much more relatable and enjoyable to critique.

In the same way they are all relatable, they all do things that just seem psychotic. Scheana Shay is introduced as Real Housewives Brandi Glanville’s ex-husband’s mistress. By the end of the first season, Jax Taylor admits to cheating in Las Vegas and getting a girl pregnant, Stassi Schroeder makes very uncomfortable and violent descriptions, Tom Sandoval shaves his forehead with a body razor, and Kristen Doute just looks greasy — and makes me feel similarly — whenever she is on screen.

But, like all reality TV, it’s the over-the-top arguments, drama and backstabbing that make a show amazing.

Take the most recent drama, “Scandoval,” for example.

Just over a year ago, Ariana Madix found proof that her boyfriend of nine years, Tom Sandoval, was cheating on her with her best friend Rachel “Raquel” Leviss.

This in itself is terrible, but the situation has become more and more appalling.

But as the show has gone on, some of the cast matured and became better, more emotionally aware people, including Madix. She became better friends with Schroeder and Katie Maloney, opened up about her sexuality and overall grew on viewers.

We have also come to love Leviss.

Leviss has become more interesting. Her banter with now-single Tom Schwartz is awkward but kind of adorable, and she begins to blossom into her own being.

We have finally gotten to a place in Vanderpump Rules where you aren’t meant to hate the entire cast like in the earlier seasons. People are still annoying, but that is a given for shows like this. It isn’t until Leviss sits down with producers a few days after the reunion that we actually understand the betrayal.

Not only did Leviss and Sandoval have an affair, it started before filming season 10. Meaning Schwartz, Sandoval’s best friend, knew and didn’t say anything about the affair.

While Madix flew out to her grandmother’s funeral, Sandoval and Leviss were getting down and dirty in Madix and Sandoval’s new home in the Valley. At the holidays, multiple people were welcomed into Madix’s home knowing about the affair and didn’t say anything.

Now that half of season 11 is out, it seems like the show is at a crossroads.

There is a very obvious divide between Madix and Maloney versus the rest of the cast and Sandoval.

One option is to follow Madix. I would prefer this, but Madix is the first cast member to really have her big break from the show. She is currently playing Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway, she’s on Dancing With The Stars and she’s the new host for Love Island USA.

The other option is to follow Sandoval. From what it seems, that is the direction the show is going. Lala Kent and Shay have both expressed their sadness over the loss of their friendship with Sandoval even though Sandoval was a jerk to both of them and helped Leviss file a restraining order against Shay. But Sandoval would probably be in jail before he would ever willingly leave Vanderpump Rules. And production knows that.

Production probably knows that Madix would leave if she got her big break into more serious roles. So, they are putting their eggs mainly in Sandoval’s basket while making sure they have other avenues to keep the cash flow coming in, like the release of the spinoff The Valley.

I have enjoyed watching Vanderpump Rules, but I don’t think it will last much longer unless the cast gets mean again. No viewer likes Sandoval, and with the release of The Valley, it seems like even production is getting ready to call it quits.