Scandoval As Told Through Cinema

Rachel "Raquel" Leviss, Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix
(Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty Images)

There’s just something about Scandoval that feels so Hollywood. The shocking cheating scandal between Tom Sandoval, Rachel Leviss, and Ariana Madix revived Vanderpump Rules, and it’s not hard to see why. Scandoval had everything—lust, betrayal, drama—and it made for great TV. The storyline couldn’t have been more compelling if it had been scripted (and some believe it was).

This got me thinking, and with a film studies background, I couldn’t help but see parallels between Scandoval and other moments in cinema history. Here’s how Scandoval played out, as explained by movies.

The Room

Not everyone may be familiar with this iconic bad movie. However, the Tommy Wiseau masterpiece bears some resemblance to the situation between Sandoval, Ariana, and Rachel. In the movie, the innocent Johnny’s partner, Lisa, has an affair with his best friend, Mark. Getting cheated on by a significant other is awful. But the wound stings even worse when the other man or woman is a friend.

Rachel may be trying to downplay her former friendship with Ariana, but she was definitely in the friend group and knew Sandoval should have been off limits. Like Johnny, Ariana faced the ultimate betrayal, and Rachel and Sandoval were tearing her apaaaart! (Seriously, watch this movie)

Requiem For a Dream

When the affair first came to light, Tom Schwartz revealed that he was already aware. He even had some choice words about Sandoval’s feelings towards Rachel. On Watch What Happens Live, Schwartz claimed Sandoval was “obsessed” with Rachel, and said she was Sandoval’s “heroin.” The Schwartz and Sandy’s co-owner claimed, “he’s addicted. It’s an infatuation of all infatuations.”

That kind of addiction immediately reminded me of Requiem For a Dream. Darren Aronofsky’s bleak exploration of addiction depicts the way it can take hold of a person’s life. Of course, I’m speaking of actual addiction. What Sandoval had was lust and infatuation…and though he was obsessed with Rachel, he was at no risk of losing an arm over her.

Sandoval may have seen himself as Jared Leto’s character, helpless in the face of his addiction, but he was just making excuses.

Being John Malkovich

Rachel, on the other hand, was also obsessed with Sandoval. Her obsession made her blind to anyone else’s feelings but hers, and Rachel’s selfishness was on full display. It’s unclear if she ever even considered the harm she was doing to her friend, Ariana, which leads me to believe she sees the world as John Malkovich did in the film Being John Malkovich.

In the film, Malkovich views the world through his own eyes (literally) and sees only Malkovich. No seriously, everyone in the restaurant he’s in is himself and the only word on the menu is “Malkovich.” Perhaps Rachel sees the world the same way, putting herself front and center, and blind to anyone else.

However, it’s anyone’s guess whether Rachel only hears “Rachel, Rachel, Rachel” when people talk to her.

The Social Network

When Ariana first found out about her long-term boyfriend’s affair with one of her friends, she must have felt a betrayal like no other. It ignited a fiery rage inside her that felt akin to the fury portrayed by Andrew Garfield in The Social Network.

In the film, Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin discovers that his business partner, Mark Zuckerberg, severely diluted his stock in their company, Facebook. This revelation leads to an explosive confrontation, where Garfield expertly portrays the hurt and betrayal Eduardo felt. Ariana must have felt similar emotions finding out what her friend and boyfriend did to her.

Sandoval may have felt like Rachel was worth a million dollars, but Ariana was a billion. As Justin Timberlake said, “A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool?…A billion dollars.”

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Ariana confronting Sandoval about the affair and verbally ripping him to shreds was both compelling and enormously satisfying. She managed to absolutely eviscerate him with just her words, not unlike Gene Wilder’s famous (fake) freakout at the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

When Ariana told Sandoval off, saying, “You’re worth nothing and I want you to feel that deep in your soul,” it gave the same energy as Willy Wonka shouting “you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!” to Charlie Bucket at the end of the movie.

Of course, Mr. Wonka was just testing Charlie, and later apologized for yelling at him. Sandoval should expect no such apology.

Legally Blonde

After going through hell and coming out the other side, it’s now time for Ariana’s reinvention period—not unlike Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

In the movie, Elle is dumped by her boyfriend, and it’s the same level of betrayal that Ariana felt after finding out about the affair. Though Elle is devastated, she picks herself up, exclaims, “I’ll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be!,” and becomes the best version of herself at Harvard Law School.

Ariana has risen from the ashes as well, and has now gained numerous endorsements, magazine covers, business opportunities, and even a cheeky new cocktail book. Like Elle Woods, Ariana may have felt devastated due to the actions of her boyfriend, but now her life is better than ever, and she’s happily left Sandoval in the dust.

Who knows, maybe one day she’ll go to law school too.


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