Bravo's Scandoval has made Peacock my number one streaming app

Sure, 'Poker Face' is great, but did you hear what Raquel said about Ariana?

Raquel Leviss, Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix (Nicole Weingart/Bravo)

Have you heard about the Scandoval? I asked a handful of friends this question over the past week, and a surprising number confirmed this strange new word had recently popped up in their news feeds, attached to stories from The New York Times, CNN and Vanity Fair. My friends didn’t quite know what it was, aside from the vague notion that it was related to the Real Housewives shows. More importantly, they didn’t know why it was being recommended to them, considering they didn’t follow Bravo shows or reality television.

That’s because this is the March Madness of reality TV. The Scandoval is an explosive cheating scandal involving the cast of Vanderpump Rules — and it’s unfolding in real time, with cameras on, allowing viewers to look for signs of deceit in every scene as it airs. There are clear villains and an obvious heroine, and it’s all leading up to the reunion, which was filmed at the end of March and has already provided a drip feed of drama and staged paparazzi encounters. The Scandoval is so monumental in the Bravo multiverse that it’s culturally important for people outside of this bubble to know what’s going on — just like folks who don’t follow sports are subjected to the NCAA’s media cycle every year.

The Real Housewives of Miami (Jeff Daly/Peacock)

It’s not all about the Scandoval, either. This is a golden era for Bravo and its streaming home, Peacock. Nearly every Housewives franchise is popping off in its own special way, and many of them are making mainstream news headlines: Jen Shah of Salt Lake City was just sentenced to six and a half years in prison for running a telemarketing scam and her surprise arrest was caught on camera; Erika Jayne of Beverly Hills continues to display obscene greed as her estranged husband, disbarred lawyer Tom Girardi, is federally indicted on charges he stole millions of dollars from victims of corporate malfeasance. Miami, a streaming-only series exclusive to Peacock, just wrapped a beautiful fifth season and cemented itself as a blueprint for future Housewives shows; Ultimate Girls Trip, a crossover event that brings wives together like the third act of a Marvel film, is in its third season and already serving hype for its fourth. Married to Medicine continues to be a powerful, captivating and hilarious franchise centered on Black women and doctors in Georgia, and it’s bringing in a notorious wife from the Atlanta history books for its upcoming season.

That’s not even all of it, and the above list doesn’t address the biggest bit of Bravo drama happening right now: the Scandoval. Here’s a brief summary, for the culture: Vanderpump Rules is a spin-off of Beverly Hills starring the servers and bartenders of trendy Los Angeles restaurants. Its tenth season is currently airing, and as it kicked off, news broke that Tom Sandoval, a bar owner with Peter Pan syndrome, had been cheating on his partner of nine years, Ariana Madix, with a younger cast member named Raquel Leviss for the past six months. Details about the affair have been dripping out online — lightning bolt necklaces will never be the same — and viewers are scouring each new episode for signs of the pair’s lies. Meanwhile, Bravo picked cameras back up after the affair came to light, and the mid-season trailer promises intense, intimate reactions from everyone involved, plus plenty of vengeful edits for Ariana. The reunion is poised to be a spectacle like Bravo has never seen.

VANDERPUMP RULES -- Pictured: (l-r) Raquel Leviss, Ariana Madix, Scheana Shay -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
Vanderpump Rules (Nicole Weingart/Bravo)

To put it back in sports terms: The Scandoval is like David Beckham cheating on Victoria with Emma Bunton. Or like Scottie Pippen’s ex-wife starting a relationship with Michael Jordan’s son — a storyline that literally happened on the latest season of Miami. See? As Quad said on season nine of Married to Medicine when asked whether she’d cheated on past boyfriends, our cup runneth over.

This all means Peacock is getting my money for the foreseeable future, no high-budget original series required. I mean, I loved Poker Face, but I haven’t thought about it much since watching the final episode of season one. Housewives and its related series live outside of the app, on message boards and social media and podcasts, filling the silence even between seasons. Meanwhile, the Scandoval is driving viewership for Peacock, where Vanderpump is available to stream next-day. Peacock is also the only place to watch Miami and Ultimate Girls Trip, two shows that already make it essential in my own app lineup. I never expected to get so much use out of an NBC streaming service, but here we are.

The next app to get my business will be whichever one picks up Married at First Sight Australia. If you’ve made it to this point in this article — a Real Housewives fever dream somehow published on a technology website — do yourself a favor and find a way to watch it (in between Vanderpump Rules episodes, of course).

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