The shady side of Vanderpump Rules

Bravo never claimed that Vanderpump Rules had some sort of moral high ground. Honestly, what does anyone expect from a series where just about every cast member has cheated on a cast member with a cast member? That’s part of what makes the series addicting to watch, but the drama isn’t always about the pasta or Jax Taylor “rage-texting” his friends (which is, apparently, an acceptable practice). Sometimes it’s actually serious and poses a significant ethical dilemma.

Though Lisa Vanderpump almost always steps in as the cast’s surrogate mother to point her wayward SURvers in the right direction, you can bring a peroxide-highlighted horse to water, but you cannot make it drink the Pumptinis. As a result of one particularly unpleasant scandal, some of the most controversial cast members have had to seek employment elsewhere (which might be tough if other reality show restaurants know how to Google). But that’s not the only dark spot tarnishing the Vanderpump Rules legacy. These are the cast’s shadiest controversies — and trust us, it was hard to only pick a few.

These OG Vanderpump Rules stars are out

The Witches of WeHo should’ve taken a page from Shakespeare’s weird sisters — you know, the three witches that conjured up images of Macbeth’s downfall — because, in a twist straight from a Shakesperian tragedy, the mighty have fallen. Then again, you don’t need magic to predict that alleged racism and blatant bullying will eventually have consequences.

Original cast members Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute had their reckoning in June 2020 when they were axed from Vanderpump Rules following a racially-charged scandal as Black Lives Matter protests swept across the nation. According to Variety, the decision came a week after former cast member Faith Stowers claimed the pair “reported her to the police for a crime she’d had nothing to do with” after seeing a 2018 Daily Mail article about a black woman who was wanted for theft.

“It was just funny, because they thought it was me because it was a black woman with a weave,” Stowers told E! News. “So, they just assumed it would be me, and they called the cops on me… It didn’t work, so they were upset about that.”

Though the pair issued public apologies, the damage was done. In addition to losing their Bravo gig, Variety reports that Schroeder was dropped from her agency and PR firm, while Doute was dropped from her book agency. At the time of this writing, Katie Maloney is the last WeHo witch standing.

Stassi Schroeder is 'sick' of everything being about race

Calling the cops on Faith Stowers got Stassi Schroeder fired from Vanderpump Rules, but it’s far from the self-proclaimed basic b**tch’s only transgression. There’s longstanding evidence which leads us to believe that Schroeder’s “dark passenger” isn’t just on a ride through the reality star’s consciousness while she binge drinks Aperol Spritzes. It may just always be there, tucking itself into a bed of racial insensitivity and general cluelessness for acceptable social mores.

In 2017, the star was met with criticism for an episode of her Straight Up With Stassi podcast, where she discussed the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. According to Us Weekly, who caught resurfaced audio from the since-deleted episode, the reality starlet admitted she was “really sick of everyone making everything about race.”

“Everyone giving their impassioned speeches about race and all of that stuff, I’m like, ‘Why is it always just about African Americans?'” she said (via Us Weekly). “Why aren’t the Asians being like, ‘We’re not represented.’ Why aren’t Native Americans and Latinos being like, ‘We’re not represented.’ And whenever they get upset everyone has to go above and beyond to then make them happy.”

At the time, Scarlett Johansson was still getting publicly eviscerated for taking on an Asian role in Ghost in the Shell, which premiered mere weeks after Schroeder’s episode. Schroeder has since apologized for both controversies, promising “to listen, to learn, and to take accountability for [her] own privilege.” But does anyone believe the woman who once labeled an #OOTD “Nazi chic?” 

Jax Taylor: Vanderpump Rules' perpetual villain

There’s a reason Jax Taylor might think that Vanderpump Rules is his show. The bartender is seemingly immune to getting fired for the same transgressions that got some of his co-workers axed (see: James Kennedy). The reality star was even welcomed back after quitting SUR in 2018 during an explosive confrontation where he yelled, “F**k you all,” to Lisa Vanderpump, the restaurant staff, and all of their customers.

By June 2020, even Vanderpump Rules’ longtime fans had turned on Taylor, calling for his dismissal. The star, who’s not exactly known for keeping himself out of Pump Rules’ biggest scandals, was unsurprisingly also involved in the Schroeder-Doute controversy. It all stems back to Season 6, when a now infamous tape revealed that Taylor had an affair with Faith Stowers behind the back of his now-wife, Brittany Cartwright.

According to E! News, the serial cheater eventually owned up to the illicit fling even though he initially denied it. After all, the audio recording — where he claimed he was “no longer sexually attracted” to Cartwright and “would never propose” to her — made it pretty hard to hide. The former Hooters waitress ultimately forgave him, and Taylor lashed out at Stowers when the episodes about the scandal aired. “Shes [sic] wanted by the police for grand theft auto and ‘awol’ from military, bad idea to be on a reality show dude,” he tweeted. “Someone’s going to jail” (Nobody went to jail).

Doesn't Vanderpump Rules pay enough to afford shades?

There’s some real irony here, the kind even Vanderpump Rules’ artful producers couldn’t make up. Two years before Jax Taylor accused Faith Stowers of grand theft auto, the bartender was arrested after allegedly swiping a pair of $300+ sunglasses from a Sunglass Hut during a trip to Hawaii. His fatal flaw was that he returned to the scene of the crime later that day.

According to local news station KHON2, Taylor was charged with second-degree theft and took a plea deal. He was promised a clean record if he managed to avoid trouble during his 364 days of probation. The star was also ordered to pay a $350 fine to Sunglass Hut, as well as “$105 to the crime victim compensation fund, and $1,150 in fees and fines.” In other words, just buying the sunglasses would’ve been far cheaper.

The Vanderpump Rules star also apologized to the courtroom, albeit in a very Jax Taylor way. Basically, he blamed it on the juice. “I had too many drinks, too many mai tais,” he said, adding, “I made a mistake, took full responsibility, and I understand this is going to follow me the rest of my life due to the fact that I’m on television. So I just want to say I’m sorry and I apologize.”

Racists tweets got this Vanderpump Rules star axed

One would think that if you have a history of using racial slurs, you would scrub your Twitter account before deciding to become a reality star, since people are undoubtedly going to find it once you’re famous. Alas, TomTom’s general manager let it all hang out until he was finally held accountable.

Max Boyens’ Twitter scandal erupted in January 2020, when he debuted as a new Vanderpump Rules cast member in Season 8. According to Us Weekly, social media users uncovered a series of racist tweets stemming back to 2012, including one where he argued, “It upsets me that the word n**ga is not allowed to be said unless you are black because quite honestly it’s my favorite word.” In a different tweet, he admitted that he wanted to “punch” Asians “in the suck hole.”

After the mass backlash, Boyens issued an apology where he claimed he was “disgusted, “embarrassed” and “shocked” that he ever wrote those tweets. “It is not a representation of who I am,” he said. According to Us Weekly, Lisa Vanderpump initially decided against firing him because she’d “never seen any inkling” that he still held those beliefs, but Bravo booted him anyway, alongside Kristen Doute and Stassi Schroeder.

What's with Vanderpump Rules stars tweeting the n-word?

Brett Caprioni dazzled on his first season of Vanderpump Rules with not one, but two love triangles. Sadly, his bright career as a professional reality TV Lothario was cut short, and he’s got no one to blame but himself. As it turns out, the SURver has more in common with his co-worker Max Boylens than their inexplicable affinity for Dayna Kathan.

Like Boylens, Caprioni was met with intense backlash when social media users uncovered some of his tweets from 2011 to 2013 that used racial epithets, according to People. This allegedly included numerous tweets with the n-word and one that reportedly read “wassup wit black people wearin so much Aeropostale I don’t get it lol.” Some of Caprioni other tweets were reportedly “sexist” and included the hashtag “#womensuck.”

At the time the scandal came to light, Caprioni apologized, telling People he was “incredibly ashamed” and “accept[ed] full responsibility.” Like Boylens, Lisa Vanderpump initially gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he was later fired when Bravo decided to clean house. “While I’m disappointed to no longer be part of the cast, I respect Bravo’s decision,” Caprioni told Us Weekly. “I continue to be truly sorry for the insensitive comments I made in the past and have worked within my community to repair the damage I’ve caused.”

Everyone associated with Vanderpump Rules should probably just stay off social media

With the cheating scandal, Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright were already bringing a ton of controversy into their marriage, so what’s some more? As we saw during Season 8, the pair had to make the difficult decision to fire their pastor amidst mass outrage, but the series never gave us the nitty gritty details of what exactly happened. Those came from a Buzzfeed report.

According to the outlet, Ryan Dotson, who planned to officiate the pair’s nuptials, had a history of making anti-LGBTQ statuses on Facebook. Fans were quick to share screenshots with the couple, including a Facebook status where Dotson alleged that “just because [same-sex marriage is] legal that doesn’t make it right.” He also reportedly voiced his outrage when the Methodist Church appointed a transgender deacon, claiming he’d “run from these churches.”

That’s bad, but it’s worse when you realize Taylor and Cartwright knew about the comments for at least six months before firing Dotson, according to Page Six. When they finally pulled the trigger amid public outcry, it didn’t go without Taylor somehow blaming Tom Sandoval for pulling him aside and asking about it during Stassi Schroeder’s party. According to The Daily Dish, he ended up temporarily kicking his castmate out of his wedding party over the incident, even though “several people” were also vocal about the controversy, including Lisa Vanderpump.

This Vanderpump Rules couple's weird beef with 50 Cent

With her newfound sobriety, Lala Kent managed to avoid scandal in later seasons, but that’s just what we saw on television. Behind the scenes, the Vanderpump Rules star and her fiance Randall Emmett were embroiled in a bizarre feud with rapper 50 Cent.

According to Us Weekly, the whole thing began with a petty jab on social media. 50 reportedly called Kent a “h*e” and shared a clip from Vanderpump Rules where she talked about Emmett buying her expensive gifts like a Range Rover. She fired back on Instagram Live, accusing him of trying to “diminish the validity of the #MeToo movement.” It devolved to 50 likening Emmett to Harvey Weinstein, a wildly offensive comparison to pretty much everyone who isn’t the Subway guy.

After that, 50 revealed the real reason he was sour: Emmett, with whom he partnered with on Cheetah Vision Films, reportedly owed him $1 million. The Grammy-winner posted some text screenshots between the pair as alleged evidence, but all the Internet really saw was Emmett accidentally called him “Fofty,” which unleashed an onslaught of memes. Eventually, Emmett paid up and Fofty had no regrets. During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live, the rapper admitted the public drama “got [him] paid right away.”

Bullying made this Vanderpump Rules star call it quits

In the past, former Vanderpump Rules star Billie Lee has spoken out about the alleged transphobia she experienced during her tenure at SUR, which played out on-screen when she was excluded from “Girls Night In.” After Lee had her explosive argument with Lala Kent during Season 7, it was clear the SURver had enough, but none of us knew just how bad things had gotten behind the scenes.

In the year since her exit, Lee’s come clean about the real reason behind her departure. In a blog post, the reality star claimed she was bullied on and off camera, so much so that she “developed depression and suicidal thoughts” which led her to quit SUR. “I honestly thought I was finished with this type of bullying after high school and college, but once again I found myself 34, depressed, and fantasizing about taking my own life,” she wrote.

More information came to light during Bravo’s June 2020 firing spree. In a tweet, Lee urged the network to cut ties with Jax Taylor, claiming he refused to film with her because she’s trans. This seemingly referenced a portion of her original blog post, where she claimed an unnamed cast member demanded she be fired from the show. He reportedly said, “I’m not gonna lose all I have worked hard for for something stupid I may say or do to offend her. Are we all supposed to tip toe around her because she’s trans?”

Monogamy isn't that important on Vanderpump Rules

At the time of this writing, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval’s relationship has immeasurably less drama than that of their castmates, but that’s probably because they got it out of the way first. Fans may have forgotten, but during Season 2, Sandoval was living with his then-girlfriend Kristen Doute when he cheated on her with Madix.

According to Wetpaint, who recapped the 2014 episode, Sandoval repeatedly denied his infidelity before eventually admitting that he “made out” with Madix in Las Vegas. This came after Sandoval already admitted to hooking up with a cocktail waitress, again, in Vegas. Vegas is not good for Sandoval, although it did give us the gift of seeing him in a Sia wig.

It’s hard to feel too bad about the situation, though. Doute cheated on Sandoval with his best friend, turning her into the veritable “villain of Vanderpump,” in the words of VICE. In a blog post for Bravo, the scorned star went in-depth about the gritty end of their relationship. “To set the record straight: I did have an emotional/sexual affair with someone years ago and I did sleep with Jax,” she wrote, adding, “Tom cheated with five girls in five and a half years. In hindsight, it’s obvious that Tom and I should have broken up a long time ago … For so many years, I didn’t feel like his girlfriend. I felt like his mom, his personal assistant, his maid.”

Even the editors of Vanderpump Rules have shady scandals

Alongside Raquel Leviss, the lone cast member to stick by James Kennedy throughout his struggle with alcoholism, Scheana Shay is one of Vanderpump’s purest souls. Her biggest crime is falling hard and buying extravagant gifts like penguins and Apple Watches for non-commital men who don’t deserve them. She’s unequivocally one of the most thoughtful cast members, but — for some inexplicable reason — Shay annoyed the wrong editor and was put through the ringer in post-production.

In recent years, Vanderpump’s producers have seemingly pushed Shay away from her role as the flirty and free divorcee to SUR’s resident desperate single — and we’re not the only ones who noticed. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Shay admitted her portrayal “gets worse every year.” In Season 8, her plotlines mostly revolved around freezing her eggs and chasing men like Brett Caprioni, who made fun of her behind her back. It was painful to watch, and it turns out that may have been on purpose.

In a since-deleted episode of the Twisted Plot Podcast With Evelyn Marley (via Us Weekly), editor Bri Dellinger admitted she purposely tries to embarrass the star. “If Scheana knew what was good for her, she’d befriend me because my favorite game is finding all of the embarrassing things that Scheana does and putting them all in,” Dellinger said, adding, “[The editors] joke that Scheana’s memoir will be Death By a Million Embarrassments.” According to Us Weekly, Dellinger was fired after the admission.

Katie Maloney was habitually body-shamed on Vanderpump Rules

Katie Maloney’s no angel. In Season 8, we saw the star basically exile Kristen Doute from the Witches of WeHo over a fight about seemingly nothing. At first, Maloney seemed mad that about Doute staying with her boyfriend, who she habitually complained about. In an episode of her podcast (via Us Weekly), Stassi Schroeder further claimed they dumped Doute because her romantic indecision made them “look like bad friends,” which unsurprisingly did nothing to make Schroeder’s case. 

However cold that may seem, it still doesn’t mean that Maloney is deserving of abuse. Throughout her tenure on Vanderpump Rules, the star has been painfully body-shamed by her castmates. Most notably, James Kennedy got plastered at L.A. Pride and told Maloney that her shorts were unflattering and she should “lose some f***ng weight” (though she did make fun of his shorts first). 

According to Us Weekly, she was also body-shamed by Kevin Lee, Lisa Vanderpump’s designer, in 2018. He said, “You were much thinner than this … you have to work on it …” Things got even worse in Season 8, when Maloney’s own husband Tom Schwartz called her “gross” and said he’s “never been more turned off in [his] life” in the middle of a party.

Thankfully, it seems like Maloney is moving on from the hurt. At the very least, she’s forgiven Kennedy and hasn’t divorced Schwartz, though she could always misplace their marriage license a third time if things get bad.

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