Like many fans, “Vanderpump Rules” executive producer Natalie Neurauter had many questions when the “Scandoval” broke in March. As the head of post-production for Bravo’s long-running reality TV show, her team’s job was to reconstruct the timeline when Tom Sandoval began cheating on longtime girlfriend Ariana Madix with castmate Rachel “Raquel” Leviss.
When production resumed to capture the fallout from the scandal, Neurauter and her story teams sprung back into action. “Our producers were able to come back on and start searching through footage for more like clues,” Neurauter recalled. “We had all these puzzle pieces. And it felt like they were from different puzzles, and we didn’t know how to put them together. So it was helpful when you know the ending that you’re looking for.”
In an interview with TheWrap, Neurauter details when the “Vanderpump Rules” editors was first clued into the “Scandoval,” the challenges of pulling the additional episodes together, and what’s in store for Season 11.
Congratulations on the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program and Outstanding Editing Emmy nominations. How does it feel?
Neurauter: This is the show’s first two nominations. And to be honest, docusoaps are recognized so infrequently that it feels like a tremendous honor.
Production had fully wrapped when the “Scandoval“ broke and cameras went back up. How did that impact your timeline?
We had locked through Episode 11 and thought we had three more episodes left for the season. Everything was put together. But there was a little bit of footage that didn’t make sense to us, footage that we were mulling over at the time.
And that footage clued you in that something was amiss?
After the beach day, we had Rachel come into SUR the next day for brunch. She had stayed the night at Tom Sandoval’s house and [Tom] Schwartz was there. And that was why she was late. The three of them had hung out a lot that year so it didn’t seem strange. But the way they all spoke about it is what made it stand out to us. The fact that the guys lied about it. That didn’t make a lot of sense to us until the affair was revealed.
[Editors note: Watch the “SUR” scene play out below]
You watched a significant amount of the footage that came in. Was there anything else from your initial viewings that felt off?
It feels obvious in retrospect, but one thing that I remember vividly not making sense to me is the fact that Tom didn’t want to move forward with fertilizing Ariana’s eggs. Because it was something that he had seemed really keen on in the past. And that the second she started talking about it with him again. He was shutting it down. And that felt strange to me. And it didn’t fit with everything we had known about his desire for children in the past.
And Lala Kent. She sometimes sees things that other people miss. And a lot of times she’ll throw out things that sounds so wild and off the wall, that we have to really wonder if she’s saying it for attention or saying it to be funny? We should never think of her that way because she sees things, especially when she’s just slightly removed from them.
What about Rachel? Were there any flags?
Nothing that jumps out at me.
I think what we recognized in Rachel last season is that, on the heels of her breakup with James Kennedy, she seemed a much more confident version of herself. And so, for most of the season, that is what we saw: a young woman trying new things and diving headfirst into her life and her friendships.
Not only did you have to finish the final episodes of the season that filmed real-time, you also had to prepare for the reunion that had already been on the books.
In a situation like that, where everything is happening at once, it feels like bells going off everywhere. For me, the only thing that’s ever worked [in those situations] is having a wonderful team and trusting them to do their jobs. Because you can’t do it all yourself. Everyone comes to it from a place of creativity and love for the cast, and also for figuring out the most interesting way to present their truth to the world. So I think that’s the only thing that that saved it.
Now that you’re several months removed from the “Scandoval” frenzy, how does it feel looking back?
It’s definitely a mix of emotions because I’m very proud of the work that everyone did to make things come together. But it’s hard not to think pretty constantly of how much the lives of the cast have been changed forever because of it. And that changes things. You know, it is not a show that you can sit down and like write an episode of and put on TV like “White Lotus” and have no layered feelings about what’s happened.
It’s funny, because it still feels like we’re in it having begun filming Season 11 so soon after. But in general, I just have always felt lucky to work on a show where the cast is so open and vulnerable. And you know, people behind the scenes put such care into how they work on it and tell the stories that I’m happy that all of that is being recognized for what it is.
Season 10 of “Vanderpump Rules” is currently streaming on Peacock.