Often when people grow up, they grow apart. We've all been through that, whether it's a romantic partner, a childhood friend, a best friend from high school who now sells essential oils on Facebook...but most people don't have to continue filming a hit reality TV show together like Jax Taylor and Tom Sandoval, whose ongoing feud has dominated this season of Vanderpump Rules.
For eight seasons, fans have watched the best friends, who were close years before the Bravo series even was a glimmer of an idea on Lisa Vanderpump's mind, remain close through thick (remember when Jax slept with Tom's girlfriend Kristen Doute while he was asleep in the next room?) and thin (How many trips to Vegas have they blacked out on now?).
But their current feud feels different than any of their previous spats; it feels more raw and real in the way a fight between two people with a real history can only feel. You can't help but think: do these two even like each other anymore or is it nostalgia for their past friendship (and jobs as reality TV stars) keeping them tethered together for close to 20 years now?
It's hard to even pinpoint when this feud really began, but fans all suspected something was up beginning in August, when Jax , 40, made headlines when he unfollowed many of his co-stars—including Tom and Ariana—on social media just after filming on season eight wrapped. (Tom and Ariana then unfollowed Jax as well.)
Soon after, he explained his decision to block some of the Pump Rules crew, telling Us Weekly, "I go through my phases in social media, usually when it's after a couple drinks and then I'll go through the blocking phase...they want to say something and see what they can get away with, so I block them. As far as blocking my castmates, I've unblocked one of them, Kristen, and two others are still blocked and they're going to stay blocked."
It was odd, considering just a month before the blocking went down Tom, 36, served as the best man at Jax's wedding to Brittany Cartwright in June 2019. But fast-forward six months later, and Jax is admitting in interviews he regrets having Tom stand by his side on the big day.
"I did change my mind and allow him to not only come to the wedding, but to be in my wedding and do I regret that, yes," Jax told ET. "I just wish I would've stood by what I said. I felt I was a little bit bullied into bringing him back in."
While the season eight premiere saw Jax contemplating removing Tom from the wedding party after he felt the TomTom owner wasn't dedicated enough to his groomsmen duties, it was still shocking to hear the SUR bartender admit his regret.
"I wish he was at the wedding, I just wish he wasn't in the wedding, if that makes any sense," Jax clarified. "Everybody up there plays a huge role in my life, huge role from the moment I moved to L.A., 'til the day I got married. That's why I had so many [groomsmen] and I couldn't just pick one. Each one of those guys, I love individually so much, and they've done so much for me, and I just you know the things that I was going through with Tom, it just...it didn't make sense for him to be standing next to me."
Jax has doubled down on that sentiment as the season has played out, taking to Twitter after the Feb. 18 episode aired, which focused on the controversy surrounding their original pastor, whose hateful homophobic comments had come to light months prior.
At the end of the episode, Tom approached Jax, questioning his and Brittany's motives for the delayed firing of the pastor. Things quickly escalated, ending with Brittany in tears and Jax threatening to kick Tom out of the wedding party.
Of course, seeing as how the wedding went down in June and many photos from the big day in Kentucky have already been released, fans know Tom ultimately was by Jax's side on the big day.
In responses to fans, Jax wrote of having Tom in the wedding party, "I made a huge mistake."
Not as active on social media as his co-star, Tom addressed Jax's comments in an interview.
"That's really sad and it hurts my feelings for someone to say that," he told Us Weekly of Jax's wedding party regrets.
Both reality stars said viewers will continue to see the drama (and temporary resolution) surrounding the wedding unfold, they just have differing opinions on what exactly will go down.
"There's some things he did during this season that haven't played out yet that were just uncalled for, absolutely uncalled for -- below the belt, should never, ever happen to a friend -- and I made my decision that I did not want him there," Jax told ET prior to Pastor-Gate. "I don't want to give it away but it's really uncalled for."
What Jax said was uncalled for was Tom questioning why it took Lisa Vanderpump asking the couple about their pastor's comments to spur them into action to fire him and find a new officiator in Lance Bass.
"Hindsight's always 20/20, if I had known it was going to get that reaction I don't know if I would've brought it up," Sandoval told Us Weekly of addressing the issue at SUR manager Peter Madrigal's birthday party. "But I mean these are the things you do as a friend, these are things that I would expect from my friend and vice versa."
For Jax though, the conversation felt calculated, writing on Twitter, "Hey let's wait till we have a party for poor Peter who just wants to have a good time, and the cameras are up to bring this up... you had all day to talk to me about this. Purely ruined the party so you could get attention in my opinion."
He later tweeted, "Tom does things for tv so he looks good. Period. You all live in a fantasy world."
Leading up to the wedding, Tom hinted to Us Weekly that some of the tension may come from Jax's expectations.
"Something you'll kind of notice, and I guess I'm honored by this but I'm also not, it's kind of frustrating, but I feel like Jax holds me at different standards than other people," he explained.
"I didn't' see Jax really do much of anything for [Tom] Schwartz's wedding but for some reason he expects everyone else to move mountains for him and his wedding and be on call any time of the day, any hour of the night," Tom continued. "And I can appreciate that, but I do the best I can. I think I made up for it in the wedding as you'll see."
All we've seen so far, however, is Jax firing Tom as his best man in last night's episode, filling his slot with Randall Emmett, Lala Kent's boyfriend, after he didn't receive the apology he wanted.
But it's not just the wedding tension that has caused their feud to continue, as Jax's negative comments about Tom's relationship with Ariana have stirred up drama.
During a January appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Jax implied that Ariana was a lesbian when a caller asked if he believed Tom was "just jealous" because he wasn't getting married. Jax said the reason Ariana didn't want to get married or have children was because "she likes women."
Ariana, who is bisexual, clapped back on Twitter.
And speaking to Us Weekly, Tom said he didn't even try to talk to Jax after he made the comment, saying, "It's not worth it. What am I going to get from him? I saw him like two days later, he came into TomTom and he gave me a high-five and I was like, there you go."
He continued, "I think Jax does things a lot of time to get a reaction nor whatever. I don't know, or because he's mad at me so he's going to discredit me as much as possible. Classic tactic."
Another piece of the puzzle? Their weird competitiveness about their recent home purchases. (The less said about this one the better.)
As for where things stand between the feuding friends now, Sandoval coolly said, "We're cool. We're cordial. This is something that is Jax's choice. I feel sorry for that guy."
Ironically enough, this week happens to be the four-year anniversary of one of Jax and Tom's most epic confrontations on the show, the one in which Jax infamously said, "Dude, stop acting like you're the No. 1 f--king guy in this group, man. I'm the No. 1 guy in this group."
Listen, we're not therapists but we've watched a lot of them on TV—this program included—but we think this entire feud comes back to that moment.
Vanderpump Rules airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
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