Rachel Leviss and Jo Wenberg’s Pettiness Towards Katie Maloney Backfired In a Big Way

Photo by Gilbert Flores/Billboard via Getty Images
Photo by Gilbert Flores/Billboard via Getty Images
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To quote the title of her podcast episode about it, Rachel Leviss made a mistake. Last week, the Rachel Goes Rogue host attended the iHeartRadio Music Awards. So did her former Vanderpump Rules co-stars Katie Maloney and Dayna Kathan. After the event, Jo Wenberg posted a best and worst-dressed list to her Instagram story. While praising Rachel’s spot on the best list, she also scrolled down to show that Katie and Dayna were listed as worst (although the reason given was just that they weren’t cohesive). Rachel reposted it to her own story.

Days later, Rachel had regrets and claimed this weighed heavily on her. On her podcast, she admitted to encouraging Jo to post the shady story. “I guess my ego got in the way a little bit,” she said and admitted the pettiness made her feel good at first. However, she added, “I decided that that was not my best decision. Because I am in this space of learning and growing. And also being kind.”

At least Rachel has apologized and attempted accountability, unlike former affair partner Tom Sandoval. However, apologies are empty words if one’s actions don’t back them up. And this very petty action by Rachel and Jo backfired for several reasons.

Why use this as podcast content?

By making a podcast episode devoted to this, Rachel brought way more attention to it than she would have otherwise. To the point where some wondered if that was her true intention. It’s good she apologized to Katie and Dayna, and that she did so privately before the podcast. But, oddly, she chose this avenue. Why not post an apology as a follow-up Instagram story instead?

Even in her apology, Rachel appears to insult Katie and Dayna. Rachel says she doesn’t want to “get on the same level as some of these other people.” Explaining her actions in the podcast, Rachel repeatedly said she and Jo were hurt by the same person, clearly meaning Katie. But this also reminded viewers of Rachel’s cruelty towards Katie in Season 10. And while Katie publicly feuded with Rachel and Jo, it begs the question, why drag Dayna as well?

It wasn’t until this podcast episode that Katie and Dayna responded to Jo and Rachel’s petty move. On their podcast’s Instagram story, they posted, “Do they teach beauty queens to apologize? Because you suck at it.” from Erin Brockovich. Then they fired back on their podcast, Disrespectfully.

Is Jo a mean girl after all?

Photo by: Kim White/Bravo via Getty Images
Photo by: Kim White/Bravo via Getty Images

Jo earned some audience sympathy this season. Viewers already knew that Katie made indefensible comments about her the year before. It was also hard to watch her cry after interacting with Katie, Ariana Madix, and Scheana Shay at Hotel Ziggy. Scheana teasing Jo for wearing a hat was straight out of high school. At the time, Ariana argued that Jo was the real mean girl for participating in the affair cover-up. And Kristen Doute reminded viewers that Jo threw away their years-long friendship to date Tom Schwartz once he split from Katie.

Still, audience sympathy continued when we saw more of her relationship with Schwartz. It was very obvious that Schwartz led her on. Though they claimed to be single and just friends, Jo admitted they exchanged I love yous. And Schwartz told her he wasn’t ready for a relationship, but now has a steady girlfriend.

However, Jo’s posting this story made some reconsider their sympathy. It also drew attention to her other social media activity. Just recently, she shared a clip from VPR, slamming Katie and defending Schwartz. She’s also liked a bunch of comments on her Instagram that insult Katie.

Rachel admitting she’s still in touch with Jo, and was the one who encouraged her to post, raises questions. Were they in contact when Jo started appearing on VPR? Were they planning her actions this season too?

Is Rachel stuck in pageant mode?

As Rachel attempts to move on from Vanderpump Rules, a common criticism is that she hasn’t really changed. At the Season 10 reunion, Lisa Vanderpump called her out for consistently competing with other women, as if she were in a beauty pageant. Putting so much stock in a best and worst-dressed list does align with that attitude.

Days before the petty Instagram story, Rachel posted that she was trying to lift women up instead of tearing them down. She also said that strong female friendships became an important priority. That’s an admirable goal, but this pettiness is a big backslide.

Understandably, Rachel would fall back into this mindset after being so immersed in pageants for years. Hopefully, she means it when she says she’s trying to lift women up going forward.

Bad timing for dissing Katie

The other reason Rachel and Jo’s pettiness got more backlash is that Season 11 is Katie’s best season yet. She’s earned praise for being the only loyal friend to Ariana and holding Sandoval’s feet to the fire. Her rejection of the much-maligned Sandoval redemption arc is refreshing. Between hating exercise and saying a $1000 bottle of water still tastes like, well, water, her confessionals are a highlight too.

That’s not to say it’s universal, of course. You’ll still find plenty of comments dissing Katie all over the internet. But a lot of Bravo fan accounts and podcasts are firmly Team Katie this season. Therefore, Rachel and Jo can’t act surprised when the same accounts and podcasts criticize their petty behavior.


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