Hi friends and fellow viewers of one of the greatest* reality television shows of our time: Vanderpump Rules. Somehow, it has been approximately eight months since we last met to discuss Season 10 of Vanderpump Rules and every single thing related to #Scandoval. And yet, time has continued moving, and it is now time to gather round again! But this time for Season 11.
Season 11's premiere episode — entitled "Notes on a Scandal" — premiered last night on Bravo and is now available on Peacock to stream. And I'm here to do my duty and recap the entire thing for you. So, buckle up, and let's get into it!
First things first, WE'VE GOT A NEW OPENER FOLKS!! And yes, it includes the (definitely still not open) Something About Her sandwich shop with Ariana and Katie. It also includes the previously seen opening footage of inside Tom Tom with Schwartz and Sandoval, and then a shot of SUR with Scheana, Lala, and James with an ending pan to #BossBitch Lisa Vanderpump.
This season's cast is one of the smallest casts we've seen on Vanderpump Rules in a long time. With just seven full-time cast members (plus LVP — and don't get me started on her continued presence on the show), it feels like a new era, one that I am personally deciding to be excited about! The cast this season includes: Lala Kent, Scheana Shay, Katie Maloney, Tom Schwartz, Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix, and James Kennedy.
Listen, I'll take any cast that doesn't include Jax, Brittany, and a random ass man named Max, and/or Scheana's questionable husband Brock.
The episode starts off with a pointed pan to a sign that says "Valley Village," and while I know this is where Ariana and Tom live (lived? still live?), it also feels particularly ominous to me given the recent news about the new spin-off set in — you guessed it! — the valley. You can watch the teaser below. For what it's worth, I don't believe anyone asked for this. I certainly did not!
— Bravo (@BravoTV) January 18, 2024
But anyway, back to this. We start off in Ariana and Tom's house in Valley Village. The house that they are, yes, still sharing. Ariana is seen making her *own* latte, and there are various shots of #TeamAriana cards and numerous flower displays alongside giant framed photos of Tom and Ariana together still hanging on the walls.
Then we go all the way over to Marina del Ray to visit Scheana and her perfect, adorable angel of a daughter Summer Moon. Then it's over to Burbank to see "Cat Dad" James Kennedy's new house with girlfriend Ally, back to Valley Village for Tom Schwartz and his apartment with his new plants, and then *deep breath* we settle back at Ariana's house (Tom, move out bitch) for our first sit-down of the season with Katie and Ariana. I'll be honest, I am exhausted just thinking about the commute between these locations.
We learn that Tom Sandoval is currently not in the house because he is in New Zealand shooting Special Forces which is that one show on Fox that I definitely didn't watch, but I *did* save this photo of JoJo Siwa carrying Tom Sandoval from the show to my photo roll.
Anyway, Ariana shares that she was obviously not prepared for her entire life to blow up when her longtime partner decided to cheat on her with her former friend, and because of that, she wasn't prepared to move her entire life out of the house they co-owned and shared. Because of that, they do continue to both live under the same roof, but Tom has his room, and Ariana has her room, and they only communicate via Tom's assistant.
Also, poor Anne, aka Tom's assistant.
Ariana also shares that Tom wants to buy Ariana out of the property and continue to live there without her. So SHE has to move but HE DOESN'T? Classic Tom Sandoval behavior, tbh. She is not pleased by this, and as Katie says, if he has that kind of money, why doesn't he just get a new place?
Ariana then shares that she believes Rachel and Tom are still very much in contact at this point — Rachel even mailed a postcard from Arizona with lightning bolts all over it to the house that Ariana VERY MUCH STILL LIVES IN. As Ariana says, "Get a new bit already."
Back over to James Kennedy's new house — which is by the Burbank airport which is the BEST airport in southern California, IYKYK — and James shares with Ally that he's still very hurt by Tom Sandoval and also believes he has gone "cuckoo" while they sit on their turf yard by a pool.
Next, we learn from Scheana and Brock that one of Tom Sandoval's childhood best friends recently passed away. Spurred by this, both Scheana and Brock reached out to Tom Sandoval to offer their condolences, but neither of them heard back.
It's Lala time now, and we learn that her mother has moved in with her, and her brother also lives in the same complex. She describes her family as a "pod of orcas" and explains that dating would be difficult and possibly "fuck up this dynamic." We also learn a little bit more about Lala's custody battle, which, according to Lala, has Randall refusing to give her full custody because he doesn't want their daughter Ocean appearing on Vanderpump Rules, but he's fine with Lala getting final say on education and health which Lala says is "all she wants."
On to James Kennedy and Tom Schwartz meeting up for a lil hang in a restaurant and Tom Schwartz says this is the first time he's worn his Schwartz and Sandy's hat out in public for fear of being hazed or something? I have to imagine he would have a lot less fear if he didn't, you know, allegedly know about the affair since day one and not only encourage it but helped make it possible to continue for months. :)
Tom Schwartz goes on to say that he does have a lot of resentment toward Tom Sandoval and that his actions impacted their business. I'm not saying there was no impact to their business in the immediate aftermath — after all, I certainly don't have access to their books. But as someone who went to Schwartz and Sandy's pretty soon after #Scandoval broke, I can tell you that it wasn't empty, and no one was complaining about being there. Perhaps this is just another way for this man to make himself the victim in a world that certainly does not treat him or view him as such.
Thankfully, Tom Schwartz is now off my screen, and Scheana and Ariana appear to film a little girls day together and get massages. Ariana dishes on her current boyfriend — named Dan — who actually lives in New York. They met 10 days after #Scandoval, and they are doing long distance. Cut to Scheana saying, "I don't think Ariana has fully processed what happened with Tom, but hey, as long as Dan doesn't sleep with one of her best friends, it's already a giant step up." That it is. But we can still worry.
Scheana shares that she is three weeks into a new journey with Zoloft after having been diagnosed with OCD, and because of this, she is currently avoiding alcohol and cannabis. Scheana asks how Ariana feels about Tom Schwartz, and she reveals that she has him blocked but did text him after she saw him appear on Watch What Happens Live last year where he could be found encouraging people to "give Tom Sandoval a hug even if he doesn't deserve it." Then we find out that her text to Schwartz said, "Fuck you. Blocking your number. Go choke on Sandoval's dirty ass dick some more."
Ok folks. We've got our first group event, and it's an event at Tom Tom, which feels both random and low-key unnecessarily cruel for producers to do to Ariana this early in the season. But, hey, there's nothing like facing your darkest day in front of television cameras for millions of people worldwide to see! Ariana, as she's getting ready for the event, FaceTimes her new boyfriend Dan so we learn that he is apparently definitely filming this season. She shares that she's nervous to go because she hasn't been to Tom Tom since that night when it all came out.
We get a scene of Katie and Ariana walking into Tom Tom together, and they give us a side-by-side montage of the last time they walked into Tom Tom arm in arm which was when it opened and they were both living very different lives. Once inside, Ariana and Katie sit at a table with Lisa and Ken, and Tom Schwartz approaches to say hi. Ariana does not say hi to him, and instead gives him the cold shoulder, and you know what? I get it. Because, by now, I feel like I've made my feelings about one Tom Schwartz relatively clear, and I support all of us ignoring him if and when he says hello.
Ariana has a moment where she is visibly emotional, and Scheana and the other women comfort her. It must be so hard. I understand this is an ensemble cast, and they will no doubt have to film uncomfortable scenes for her to remain on the show. But my GOD. Going to the scene of the crime with cameras in your face, the way I would have already cried 12 times...
Lala sits down one-on-one with Lisa Vanderpump to discuss how some of her feelings have changed about Rachel Leviss. She says she was able to take a step back and see the situation differently. And that she is able to see now more clearly how Tom Sandoval isolated Rachel on an island, and that she knew if she betrayed him, she would be completely alone. She said, "I know what it's like to have a man in front of you painting a beautiful picture." Lala says she ignored everyone around her who told her she WAS the other woman.
We're nearing the end here, and I'm waiting for something good to happen. Not that this has been a BAD episode — it's no Season 8 — but I think we all knew that the high of Scandoval would feel a little like a letdown with the new season and without Rachel's return. We get a quick scene with Scheana and Katie trying to bond (again) and planning a girls night. Then we see Lala step out to the back alley and unblock Rachel from her phone AND THEN SHE FUCKING TEXTS HER.
Lala then goes on to say that "as someone who has had to walk through life constantly seeing comments about being a mistress" that she feels obliged to reach out to Rachel* because she doesn't want her to have to wear this shame forever. THEN SHE TRIES TO GET HER TO POSSIBLY FILM/HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH LALA. I'll be honest, up to this moment I thought she was leaving Rachel a voicemail, but then she said, "Oh god, she's seen it," so I had to go back and edit my above text to be "voice-to-text" because how does one "see" a voicemail/Am I old??? And does Rachel have read receipts on...?
**She prefers to go by Rachel now, btw, so I will be referring to her as such. I quoted Lala directly when she said "Raquel."
I will say this: Lala Kent knows she is not going to chance getting fired from this show, and she will do whatever she needs to do to secure her spot long-term. If that means seemingly betraying one of her besties, Ariana, in the process, what of it?
Nearing the end here and I've got to live through another Tom Schwartz scene. Except this time, he's with Katie, who tells the camera in a talking head that he's "no longer her problem anymore," and I do love that. He then tries to convince Katie to speak to Ariana on his behalf, and she tells him to just text her. Then we thankfully move on quickly to a girls dinner/drinks scene with Ariana, Katie, Scheana, and Lala.
Lala starts to say that Tom Sandoval has inflicted "mental abuse" on Tom Schwartz for many years, and I am trying not to laugh — because??? Why is everyone convinced that Tom Schwartz is a victim here?? — when the conversation turns to how Lala isn't sure if Ariana likes her or just tolerates her before starting to cry. She shares that she isn't sure she and Ariana are real friends because she isn't sure how to be friends with someone who "doesn't let her in." All of this is a good setup for her telling Ariana that she reached out to Rachel, and I am truly glued to my television screen for the first time this episode to see how Ariana reacts. Katie's face in this scene really says it all.
Ariana shares that while she does hope Rachel is able to heal and be well, she wants her to do so from a distance, and that she believes that while it's fair to hold Tom Sandoval accountable for a lot of things, it's ALSO fair to hold Rachel accountable for her part.
I think it's safe to say that this season will definitely have a bit of Lala vs. Ariana, and while it will likely make for an interesting season, I can't help but wonder what Lala's true motive is here. A good storyline? Does she really feel that badly for Rachel — the person she once deemed a "Bambi-Eyed Bitch"? I have to say, it remains unclear. But I'll be here watching each week to find out.
The last scene of the episode shows one Tom Sandoval returning home after being carried by JoJo Siwa on a reality show in New Zealand and then going into his bedroom of the house. That's it for this week. I'll see you back here next week for a brand new episode!
Don't forget, you can watch this episode and every other episode of Vanderpump Rules now on Peacock.