Vanderpump Rules’ Charli Burnett: Tom Sandoval has ‘cult leader vibes’

Embed from Getty Images
It says something about the public fascination with a reality TV scandal when even peripheral characters are getting interviewed by outlets like Rolling Stone. Charli Burnett is a “server” in one of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants, an actress, an esthetician, and a “hustler” as Rolling Stone describes her. She wears many hats and joined the Vanderpump Rules cast in 2019 when it seemed the show was starting to shift to a new and younger cast before a bunch of them were fired for racism. Anyway, Charli is more of a background character (which is important, more shows need these) and she seemed to be paired with Raquel a lot in season 10 due to their similar ages and life stages. Charli weighed in on Scandoval in a Rolling Stone piece and I liked reading her thoughts because she knows more than us but she’s not one of the main players. Some highlights:

On being an unknowing accomplice to Scandoval: It’s been months since Charli last saw or heard from Raquel, when they both attended a watch party for the premiere of Vanderpump Rules Season 10 in the winter. Charli thought it was strange that Raquel tried to socialize with her and her boyfriend that night instead of Ariana, Scheana, and the other cast members she was typically closer to. “We haven’t spoken in like, four or five months, and you’re trying to be my friend in front of these people. Why is that? That’s so weird,” Charli said. “Then weeks later, the news broke. I’m starting to realize they had a plan to slowly pull away. Now looking back, even that night seems calculated.”

Shading Raquel’s pageant history: Although they didn’t become closer until they filmed Vanderpump Rules together, Charli says she knew Raquel and her family, who she says are very involved in Raquel’s life even as an adult, because they both participated in California pageants, an experience Raquel opened up about on the show. “It was weird to me when she was crying about that. It’d be different if you almost won, but you’ve never even placed in the top five,” Charli reveals.

Not questioning the sus things that happened: After Raquel showed up late to a menu tasting at SUR and revealed she slept at Sandoval’s house the night before while Ariana was out of town for her grandmother’s funeral, Charli says she asked her, “What the f-ck is going on? Why are you being so weird? What’s going on with you?” Still, though, Charli didn’t suspect Raquel and Sandoval were having an affair because she says it was “very normal” for members of their friend group to party and crash at Sandoval and Ariana’s home. “It didn’t seem like anything too far-fetched to question. And I think a lot of us were letting Ariana take the lead with things,” Charli says. “If she didn’t question it or she didn’t make a big deal or get upset, then why would other people?”

On Tom Sandoval’s “cult leader vibes”: “When [Raquel] made the throuple comment I was like, Tom has to have these cult leader vibes, where he convinces people what they’re doing is OK,” Charli says. “I think it’s a very dark, twisted, mind-control game and I honestly hope she gets out of it. To be honest, the best way that I would think she would be out of it is her not returning to the show and completely removing herself from the situation.” “To me, she seems like she’s in this vulnerable, needy stage because what was her thought process when she was doing this? I believe Tom had to be feeding her stuff and it had to be a whole mind game because she felt OK doing the bad things,” Charli says.

[From Rolling Stone]

Charli made the “cult leader” comment a couple of times throughout the piece, and I honestly think that’s giving Sandoval too much credit and not enough agency to Raquel. Much has been speculated about her parents’ involvement in her adult life and I don’t think she’s the brightest bulb, but I don’t think Sandoval manipulated her to the extent that some people are suggesting. He is manipulative, sure. And he may have been the mastermind of the attempted strategy to break-up with Ariana and start dating Raquel with clean hands (and look how well that turned out), but I think Raquel had an affair with him because she wanted to do so and she plays the adult baby card with everyone as way to deflect blame. Like, I don’t think she’s smart, but I think she’s savvier than everyone thinks or wants to think. But it makes sense that her former friend Charli would want to believe she was manipulated. What Charli said about following Ariana’s lead and not questioning things Ariana seemed to be fine with also makes sense. Another thing that makes sense — Charli lent a bit of credence to the rumors that old cast members might come back, saying “I don’t know how that will look but I imagine they’re probably going to come back with a force because they want to keep that spot again. They don’t want to lose that paycheck.” If this is true, it will be a bad 11th season for Sandoval. Filming is supposed to start soon.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

17 Responses to “Vanderpump Rules’ Charli Burnett: Tom Sandoval has ‘cult leader vibes’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. PrincessPeach says:

    Sandoval is a charisma-less poser. I don’t think he has cult-leader vibes at all. He just targeted a girl that was much younger than him and relatively sheltered. I also don’t think he would have necessarily broken up with Ariana had he not gotten caught.

    • Mallory says:

      He started sewing the seeds for his & Ariana’s breakup, with the plan for him to look like a loving partner who just couldn’t keep staying with such a horrible woman who put him down, yelled at him & wouldn’t have sex all the time. This attempted plot line was sewn by Sandoval, Schwartz & Rachel numerous times. Would he have then followed through & gotten with Rachel and their ethereal love? Neither of them can predict that.

  2. shanaynay says:

    Yeah, I don’t think she was manipulated to do anything she didn’t want to do. Personally, I feel she went into this with her eyes wide open. She’s as guilty AF as TS is.

    Both are nothing but snakes in the grass.

  3. Orange girl says:

    Raquel’s only validation comes from male attention… that’s why she was basically hitting on every single, SUR employee… She just wanted to get attention. It just stuck with Tom Sandoval, because he said just skeevy character.

    • Paige Liberato says:

      I don’t begrudge a girl for getting on a train if she wants.

      But she wasn’t attracted to Peter, dated him anyway, broke up with him, then acted sad when he wasn’t devastated and pining over her.

      She said she wasn’t attracted to Schwartz, but Scheana “put it in her head.” She made out with him, made jokes about “walking down the aisle” with him, then was visibly let down when he wasn’t pining for her.

      She broke up with James, but was devastated he moved on quickly and wasn’t pining for her.

      She was a secret side chick to Tom, and was thrilled to just be “picked.”

      It’s not sexually empowered, it’s a sad attempt to get validation.

      • Mallory says:

        I was thinking her motive was to make sure she stayed on the show. Her relationship with James was how she got on, so when they broke up she needed a new connection…But maybe it’s as easy as Rachel is the ultimate Pick Me.

  4. K says:

    Quick someone call HBO and tell them to fire The Weeknd. Our prayers have been answered.

    • Leslie says:

      This made me giggle.

    • Mallory says:

      Lol! Get The Weeknd, Sandoval & Jared Leto a show where they can all circle jerk on stage to cardboard cut out of fans, & please leave real women alone.

  5. Torttu says:

    They all act as if this is the first time in human history anyone has had an affair. They all seem really messy. Also, please stop with the long, knife-sharp nails.

    • Paige Liberato says:

      Her best friend was the one having the affair with her life partner. For at least 7 months.

      They all hung out all the time. Her best friend would pry her about their intimacy. Her partner dressed as her best friend/his side chick for Halloween, when they all went to a party together.

      It’s MUCH more twisted than the usual affair.

  6. Sunday says:

    Sandoval wishes he had cult leader vibes, lol. I think the reason Raquel seems like such an enigma is because half the time she’s got her pageant facade on for the camera. That’s why people can’t get a read on her, because half the time she’s (badly) pretending to be someone that she’s not. She’s borderline robotic, and then she’ll make a remark as an aside and you’ll get a glimpse of the real Raquel which is so much snarkier than her big dumb baby routine makes her out to be. She’s no evil genius, she’s still pretty dumb, but like normal “cast member of VPR” dumb, not “wow how is this person functioning as an autonomous adult” dumb. If her tears at the end of the reunion were real (and that’s a big if), she was only crying for herself because she got caught, not because she actually cares that she betrayed her friend.

  7. Paige Liberato says:

    I think anyone who has ever been deeply betrayed and gaslit relates to this content on a visceral level.

    It’s the worst nightmare: your best friend and partner conspiring to destroy your life and publicly smear your reputation.

    It feels like justice, even if it isn’t our own justice.

    • Mallory says:

      Agree- If you’ve been in a long term relationship & broken up with someone who is high on narcissism & ego, you feel this story to your core.

  8. AmyB says:

    Trying to give Raquel some pass is ridiculous; she is an adult woman who made her choices with eyes wide open. This wasn’t a one-time hook-up – this was an ongoing affair that lasted months with them lying, and flaunting it in front of their friends in such a twisted way.

    When we see her buy that lighting bolt necklace (a symbol for their relationship 🙄), or see her ask Ariana about her sex life with Tom – that is beyond nauseating, manipulative, and shows us exactly who she is! This was some game for her, a competition against the other women (specifically Ariana, obv) to win the attention of other men to get validation.

  9. Eloise says:

    She was a fan of the show. Anyone else think she single white femaled Ariana and this was her goal from the start 🤔

  10. Jezzebeelzebub says:

    IDK about “cult leader vibes” and Rachel is a for-real adult woman- she’s 28 years old. She has always come across vapid and dumb to ne, but like my best friend told me when i was wondering how my ex husband managed to be so conniving when he also has a room- temp IQ, “animals can be cunning”. I think that’s where Rachel is. She seems slow of wit & torture to talk to, but I guess her synapses fire off ok when it comes to social climbing and manipulating the unsuspecting. As for Sandoval, he has always been a chode. He has just been overshadowed by the atrocious behavior of the people around him- he was hiding in plain sight. I don’t feel bad for either of them. They both signed on to play stupid games, so I don’t care that they’ve won their stupid prizes. I do not for a moment believe that Rachel is this poor, fragile victim who fell prey to predator Sandoval. She’s an asshole who got caught abd didn’t consider how the consequences would play out for her. She’s the stand-in for the villain so many people have dealt with in their own lives. Sucks to suck, I guess.