Vanderpump Rules' explosive affair turns drama into dollars, guess who is making profits?
As the viewership of Vanderpump Rules soared, so did the media visibility and commercial opportunities for Madix and her fellow cast members
In the realm of reality television, where drama reigns supreme, Vanderpump Rules has always pushed the boundaries of what makes great TV. And now, a scandalous affair known as the "Scandoval" has become both a curse and a blessing for the cast, exposing the messy economics behind the show.
From its inception, Vanderpump Rules presented itself as a portrayal of young servers and bartenders at Lisa Vanderpump's SUR restaurant, while secretly harboring the truth that their real job was to create captivating television. Over time, it became evident that the cast's real fame stemmed from their messy personal lives, which they couldn't openly acknowledge without shattering the illusion.
Enter the Scandoval affair—a clandestine romance between cast members Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss that shattered Sandoval's nine-year relationship with girlfriend Ariana Madix. This scandal has propelled Vanderpump Rules to new heights, with the finale recording a series-high of 4.1 million viewers from Bravo and Peacock.
As the viewership of Vanderpump Rules soared, so did the media visibility and commercial opportunities for Madix and her fellow cast members. This unfortunate turn of events has paradoxically become a windfall for their collective businesses and job security. The cast's ability to transform Madix's personal turmoil into lucrative ventures is a testament to the strange and satisfying nature of reality TV. It's a glimpse into the inner workings of the show, the artifice it thrives on, and the immense profitability it can generate.
Amidst the aftermath, Madix has emerged as the fan favorite, garnering support and admiration. Her personal misfortune has led to an interview with The New York Times, an invitation to the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, an endorsement deal with Bloomingdale's, a sponsored move from her shared home with Sandoval, and even rumors of a spot on Dancing With the Stars. Moreover, her castmates have rallied behind her, further capitalizing on the drama. Lala Kent and DJ James Kennedy have been particularly vocal in their disdain for Sandoval, mocking him at every turn. This united front not only strengthens their bond but also increases their own financial gains. Madix's breakup has inadvertently become a catalyst for prosperity in the Vanderpump Rules universe.
While it's not unusual for Bravolebrities to leverage their shows to promote their businesses, Madix's success is somewhat accidental. She has achieved unparalleled financial and cultural triumph, surpassing her ex Sandoval's futile attempts to achieve fame beyond the show. The fans have chosen Madix's side, and their outrage against Sandoval has driven support for Madix in both tangible ways, such as merchandise sales, and intangible ways, such as heightened fame.
Lisa Vanderpump, the show's producer and boss, finds herself in a delicate position. While she orchestrates the drama on the show, she also presents herself as a maternal figure.
Vanderpump's restaurants, including SUR and TomTom, stand to benefit from the heightened attention, but she downplays the scandal, emphasizing that Sandoval and Leviss haven't committed any heinous crimes. Her vested interest in TomTom may explain her relatively kinder treatment of Sandoval compared to the rest of the cast.
The sustainability of the show and its momentum moving forward present a challenge. Vanderpump, Bravo, and the cast all rely on the drama, but they also need the cast to remain intact to ensure consistent ratings. The dislike towards Sandoval and Leviss may deter cast members from filming with them, and there's a possibility that one or both may not return for the next season. Without the main culprits, the central drama of the show hangs in the balance.
In the midst of the reunion, host Andy Cohen acknowledges the cast's hypocrisy, with almost every member having cheated on someone. However, this is the essence of Vanderpump Rules and the world of Bravo—hypocrisy, drama, and entertainment. The viewers come to the circus for the clownery, and Vanderpump Rules delivers precisely that. The scandal has brought forth the raw and lucrative reality of the show, blurring the lines between performance, business, and reality with every captivating frame.