Raquel Leviss in front of white background (l) Tom Sandoval in front of coral colored background (c) Ariana Madix in front of greenery background (r)

Eugene Powers/Shutterstock Michael Mattes/Shutterstock Joe Seer/Shutterstock (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

The ‘Vanderpump Rules’ subreddit is this season’s unsung hero

It’s hard to reminisce upon what the subreddit was like pre-Scandoval. There’s only then and now.

 

Tori Zhou

Internet Culture

Scandoval is the gift that keeps on giving—and taking—if you consider all the time Bravo fans have poured into this mother of scandals involving the cast members of the reality show Vanderpump Rules.

Each week of season 10 brought a new wave of easter eggs and bomb drops thanks to the episodes and cast member-produced content. 

VPR fans haven’t gotten a moment of respite since early March when Scandoval got its name after news broke that cast member Tom Sandoval had been having a months-long affair with co-star Raquel Leviss. The scandal promptly ended Sandoval’s nearly decade-long relationship with Ariana Madix—sending shock waves across the internet. The show’s season 10 finale aired on May 17, and the three-part reunion will premiere on May 24.

Inside the Vanderpump Rules subreddit

Every day of the week, but especially on Wednesday nights, there’s no better place to scream and vent with like-minded fans than Reddit, where the now-viral term Scandoval is rumored to have originated. There are several subreddits dedicated to VPR, but none are as enthusiastic or interactive as r/vanderpumprules. Created in 2014, just a year after season one premiered, the group currently has 155,000 members, growing by tens of thousands in the past few months. 

The VPR subreddit is perhaps the hidden cast member of the show, and at the very least, it has main character energy. It’s as quick-witted as Ariana, as passionate as Sandoval, as intuitive as Kristen Doute, and as articulate as Tom Schwartz. When Scandavol dropped like a hurricane, the subreddit dutifully updated the community’s profile photo to an image of Ariana. And “We ride at dawn” became a battle cry. 

It’s hard to reminisce upon what the subreddit was like pre-Scandoval. There’s only then and now. The subreddit has featured an endless amount of content to unpack, including weekly Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen videos, podcasts, and cast members’ social media posts. When new videos or episodes are released, users quickly update their Reddit flair with cast members’ witty lines, including Ariana’s “Diabolical. Demented. Subhuman” and James Kennedy’s “Worm with a mustache.” 

Many members have deemed this digital corner their safe space. After all, the group’s moderators have helped ensure it with their guidelines and rules, prohibiting body-shaming, hate speech, and attacks on fellow users, to name a few. Users also need a minimum of 50 comment karma to participate. 

Finding their people

In 2022, Reddit launched a TV campaign called “Find your people.” In the case of Scandoval, a phrase has never rung more true. 

Of the many things that VPR fans may have in common, one similarity is pervasive—many don’t know others that also watch the show. One redditor commented, “It really pisses me off that my coworkers don’t watch the show. I have all this energy about the show and literally no one to hash it out with or tell random jokes except my hubbs.” This is why the subreddit is needed—to be surrounded by viewers that have watched as long as they have and equally understand the magnitude of events. 

Ariana once scornfully referred to the show’s group as a hive mind. It’s safe to say that the subreddit is not. Reddit karma is almost like a dopamine hit, while downvotes can sting. Though many redditors have taken the same stance on Scandoval, there are still (usually) healthy debates—from dissecting a rumor to analyzing why an event unfolded the way it did. There’s also the continuing debate of how much is too much or too long to vilify Raquel and Sandoval and where the line is drawn. 

The VPR subreddit isn’t the only Bravo online community that’s alive and thriving. Saria Hannibal, a Twitch streamer and VPR viewing veteran, saw Scandoval as an opportunity to stream the episodes live every week, to the delight of fans who don’t have cable. Inspired by watch parties held at local bars, she says, “I had to take a break from the toxicity that’s being a woman playing video games online, and therefore decided to stream something in which the toxicity came from within the source—reality television.” 

Amid a tough news cycle, inflation, and waves of layoffs, this subreddit has become a much-needed distraction for redditors from the stressors of their daily lives. No matter the crappy day you had, you can come home and unwind on the VPR subreddit, fueled by a dislike for Sandoval and Raquel, and speak your mind under anonymity. “This sub, and the Vanderpump drama, has gotten me through so much. Just having a place to go to talk [about] unrelated reality TV chaos is helpful when you need an escape,” one redditor wrote.

The community even came together for Mother’s Day, with one user noting, “Having a place that feels like a safe place to call out BS behavior—because often the real world is not—is reassuring on a day that I find really painful.”

Saria is also a big fan. “Subreddits including the VPR one mean the world to me,” she says. “When I feel like I have nobody else to discuss even the most mundane, little things, I know that I can depend on the subreddit to find my people and be electronically-hugged.” She continues, “The hours spent following threads in which two idiots argue about the most useless things are memories I will cherish until the day I die.” 

Reddit’s Influence on VPR

The effects of this digital community have also trickled into the physical space. Real-life friendships were forged, thanks to the hosting of watch parties across the country. There are even calls for fellow fans to do a VPR pub crawl together, hitting up all of the L.A. businesses made famous by the show, like SUR, TomTom, and Schwartz and Sandy’s. 

Reddit has even caught the attention of cast members. Katie Maloney admitted to “trolling Reddit” on a recent Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, having read clues about Sandoval and Raquel’s affair. Ariana even has an account, verified by moderators, where she’s commented on a handful of threads clearing up rumors about cosmetic work she’s done and disproving misconceptions about her cocktail book. And even SUR manager and occasional cast member Peter Madrigal participated in an AMA a few years ago on the r/Bravorealhousewives subreddit. 

The fire of the subreddits have helped keep the show afloat. It’s the fans and redditors that buy cast members’ merch, shell out dollars for a Patreon video, and support the numerous VPR business ventures. All while knowing that none of the cast members are completely likable or without fault—but maybe that’s the point. Scandoval wasn’t the first scandal to hit Vanderpump Rules, and it definitely won’t be the last. Whichever direction it goes next, Reddit will be standing at the ready—prepared to dissect, defend, or scorch with their keyboards.

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