Vanderpump Rules has portrayed Raquel Leviss as the season’s antagonist since her cheating scandal, but the reality star’s controversial labeling may experience a turnaround sooner than expected. Raquel, a former beauty pageant contestant, first claimed her spot on the show during the fifth season as SUR busser James Kennedy’s girlfriend. Their relationship ended seven months after their engagement, with the two going their separate ways. James has since moved on with new flame Ally Lewber. Meanwhile, Raquel seems to be struggling more in the romance department, albeit in her own way while navigating life as a SUR server.
Ahead of the Vanderpump Rules season 10 premiere, the former beauty pageant contestant found herself nose-deep in a love triangle with her castmates. It involved allegations of an affair with VPR co-star Tom Sandoval, who had a nine-year relationship with Ariana Madix. The explosive discovery of the cheating scandal, now termed “Scandoval,” ultimately shot Raquel from a regular cast member to the center of Vanderpump Rules season 10.
The increased screen time should be good news for the star, except that it comes with its fair share of vitriol, for betraying her onscreen pal, Ariana. Despite the season’s attempt at portraying the 28-year-old as the antagonist, her background story and persona don’t exactly conform to the makings of a true TV villain.
Vanderpump Rules’ Raquel Leviss Had A Genuine 5-Year Love Story
Though it ended on a teary note when Raquel and James called it quits after five years of dating; while it lasted, the two showed genuine affection for each other. Granted, their relationship was never an easy one due to James’ alcoholism, ill-treatment, and regular outbursts, but somehow the ever-positive Raquel managed to keep him grounded, bringing out the best in him.
Barely four seasons into the show, James proposed to Raquel with help from Tom Sandoval. Sadly, they called off the engagement nearly seven months later, claiming they still loved each other, but “were not in love anymore.” Raquel would later pin the December 2021 breakup on the English DJ’s failure to get along with her family. And viewers completely resonated with her decision given the DJ’s past contemptuous behavior.
In a villain situation, her breakup from James would seem born out of a selfish reason or a scheme to hook up with a new partner. But seeing as she’s been in no serious relationship until now, that’s hardly the case.
Vanderpump Rules’ Lala Kent Betrayed Raquel First
Long before “Scandoval,” Lala Kent and James Kennedy had their little fling. In an episode of Vanderpump Rules season 10, Lala Kent admitted she had sex with Kennedy in 2016, while he was still dating Raquel.
The discovery of the fling drove Raquel to tears despite knowing she and James were long over. Reminiscing on the betrayal in another episode of the Bravo show following her and Tom Schwartz’s hookup, Raquel shared just how broken she was, saying:
“Really Lala? You’re going to sit there and judge me for hypothetically making out with Tom Schwartz, yet you slept with my boyfriend while we were together? You’re such a hypocrite.”
Raquel’s reaction to finding out about James’ infidelity showed she had a vulnerable side, unlike the typical TV villain with a “devil-may-care” attitude.
Vanderpump Rule’s Tom Schwartz Is The True Villain
Vanderpump Rules season 10 spotlighted the hookup between Raquel and Katie Maloney’s ex-husband Tom Schwartz. Their dalliance played out in August 2022, at Scheana Shay and Brock Davies’ wedding, where the two made out, but never got down to having sex.
Raquel took most of the heat for making out with her girlfriend’s ex, while the Tom Tom co-founder seemed to be let off the hook. Lala has since attempted to change the narrative. In a February 2022 episode of her Give Them Lala podcast, where she discussed the hookup, the author labeled Tom as the “true villain,” saying:
“The true villain in all of this is Tom Schwartz. I’ve said this from the jump. Tom, being a little basset hound ain’t cute no more.”
She went on to call him out for acting innocent and failing to take responsibility for his brief hookup with Raquel amid all the heat. According to her, two people committed the act, and while she didn’t condone it from either party, she considered it gross that Tom never thought to take Kate’s feelings into account. She added a note condemning the vilifying of women in Raquel’s position, saying:
“I’m done with females taking the brunt of these stupid men’s lies, deceit, and poor choices. I’m so over it.”
Lala’s word goes beyond her castigation of Tom but is a call for women, VPR viewers, and the rest of the world to think beyond the female as the villain when it came to cheating scandals.
The Other Women Dished Their Fair Dose Of Meanness
Viewers have watched Raquel Leviss transform from a meek beauty into a woman with a voice on Vanderpump Rules, leading to the cheating scandal. During her earlier days on the show, one noteworthy occurrence was the fact that the other women never seemed to like her. Over time, she managed to win them over after Lisa Vanderpump employed her as a SUR server. Yet, her place as one of the VPR girls remained to be questioned.
Hence, when news of her fumble broke, the others did not hesitate to tear her down. Viewers witnessed the full brunt of this on one episode of VPR season 10, where the girls slammed her for only having interest in married men. The spat commenced with Lala criticizing Raquel for making out with Oliver Saunders in her drunken state, voicing how she could “never trust Raquel with her man.”
The other women chipped in, spelling out Raquel’s red flags and seemingly ignoring the fact that Lala slept with James. The 28-year-old had a panic attack amid the confrontation and eventually bailed out early from their Arizona girls’ trip in tears, admitting she did not feel welcome.
Although Raquel gave some bashful clap backs as well during the spat with Lala, fans couldn’t but notice the foreshadowing from the others. Many sprung to her defense on social media, slamming the other women. One tweeted:
“The mean girl shit they do behind her back is no wonder Raquel has no loyalty to these bitches.”
Exactly! Plus the mean girl shit they do behind her back, it’s no wonder Raquel has no loyalty to these bitches
— Tiffany Schmidt (@tif552) March 16, 2023
Vanderpump Rules Raquel Leviss Apologized To Ariana Madix
Another not-so-villainous move Raquel Leviss portrayed was apologizing to Ariana Madix Right after the Tom Sandoval cheating scandal blew up. The reality star took to her Instagram on March 8, 2023, to share a lengthy apology to her co-star, friends, and fans for her wrong choices, maintaining she was no victim. She also explained how much she regretted hurting Ariana, attributing her mistake to an “unending behavioral cycle” she was working to correct.
Unlike Tom’s apology to Ariana, which has since been slammed for being insincere, Raquel’s was met with a warm reception, pacifying many fans who initially felt let down. While the brutal aftermath of her affair with Tom Sandoval is far from over, handling it graciously somehow flipped the hate switch, making viewers more willing to understand “Scandoval” from a less combative point of view.
Raquel Made Herself Vulnerable To Her VPR Fans
While penning her public apology to Ariana in the wake of the cheating scandal, Raquel Leviss laid bare a side of her previously unknown to fans. The SUR server admitted that while she was no victim, she dealt with “patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved.” The reality made her seek emotional validation by forming unhealthy intimate connections. She recognized that prioritizing these unhealthy intimate connections at the expense of her friendship negatively impacts others, and ultimately affects her well-being.
In her quest to become better, Raquel admitted she was already seeing a counselor and reflecting on her choices. She hoped these steps would enable her to make better choices in the future. Raquel wrote:
“I have begun counseling to end my unhealthy behavioral cycle, learn to set stronger emotional boundaries and learn to protect my mental health. I don’t expect sympathy, understanding, or forgiveness. Right now I must focus on my health and well-being. And as I strive to be a better person moving forward, I will prioritize my mental health and learn from my mistakes.”
Raquel’s apology and vulnerability not only explained her hookup with Tom Sandoval, but also her previous flings with any co-star willing to give her a shred of attention. Regarding the Tom Schwartz hookup, Scheana Shay has since claimed the bulk of the blame, admitting her part in matchmaking them. The Oliver drama remains tricky, as he seemingly lied to Raquel he was single despite being married to Samantha Saunders at the time of their Paris encounter.
At the end of the day, Raquel Leviss’ biggest TV blunder remains causing the demise of Vanderpump Rules co-stars Tom Schwartz and Ariana Madix’s relationship of nearly a decade. But given Raquel’s past relationship drama, toxic romantic sojourns, and her unhealthy “codependency cycle” there is a better chance of understanding the scandal from her point of view, and even sympathizing with her plight. That’s certainly not something one could say about a TV villain.