Tom Schwartz Defends 'Re-Humanized' Tom Sandoval in “VPR” Season 11: 'He's Not a Worm with a Mustache' (Exclusive)

Schwartz condemns the "borderline unspeakable pettiness" his friend has experienced since the outbreak of the fan-dubbed "Scandoval"

<p>David Becker/Bravo via Getty</p> Tom Sandoval (left) and Tom Schwartz

David Becker/Bravo via Getty

Tom Sandoval (left) and Tom Schwartz

Tom Schwartz is sticking up for his friend Tom Sandoval.

The Vanderpump Rules star, 41, revealed that fans of the Bravo series will see his longtime sidekick and much-maligned costar experience a redemptive journey in season 11 in the wake of the "Scandoval" cheating scandal.

"I think early stage redemption arc," Schwartz tells PEOPLE of Sandoval's portrayal in the upcoming episodes.

"I think it would be nice to see Tom re-humanized," he continues. "I mean, some people, it's beyond forgiveness, I guess, for some of the audience, but just it'd be nice to remind people that he has a great heart and he's a good person who did a very dumb thing."

Related: Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz Are Headed to Bangkok to 'Celebrate Life' on New Year's Eve (Exclusive)

In Schwartz's opinion, his TomTom business partner, 41, is not the arch-villain he's been painted by some people in the months since the news broke in March that the Most Extras singer had engaged in a months-long affair with costar Rachel "Raquel" Leviss despite being at the time in a nine-year relationship with Ariana Madix.

"He's not a monster. He's not a worm with a mustache. He's a worm without a mustache now — just kidding," he quips.

He also took a moment to defend his costars from "pettiness" he saw in fans' reaction to news that their castmates Scheana Shay and Brock Davies had briefly stopped by Sandoval's hotel room after-after party at BravoCon 2023. Calling the backlash "borderline unspeakable," Schwartz called the surprise get-together "not that big of a deal."

He adds, "I don't think there was any betrayal there. It popped in for 10 minutes, from what I understand. I wasn't in there when Sheena was in there, but I was slightly annoyed that they got criticism for that. Come on guys."

Still, Schwartz said Sandoval — who got booed during this year's Vanderpump Rules panel at BravoCon — "can take it. He's put a lot of work into himself mentally, physically, and we had a good talk about it."

<p>Nicole Weingart/Bravo</p> Tom Schwartz (left) and Tom Sandoval in 'Vanderpump Rules'

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

Tom Schwartz (left) and Tom Sandoval in 'Vanderpump Rules'

While Schwartz is defending Sandoval, he did step back from their friendship during the worst of the wide-reaching Scandoval fallout. The pair recently reconnected, and Schwartz tells PEOPLE it feels "good" to have his buddy back.

"We took a break. I mean, that was the first time since I've known him, we've been really tight for 13 years, but we took a long break. But I think we're back," he says.

"We put a lot of work into our friendship and I love him very much and it's good to have our Tom Tom dynamic back," he continued. "I missed him, but I also needed some time to myself because my whole life kind of became consumed with his and it was weird."

Related: Tom Schwartz Says 'Brothers' Tom Sandoval and Jax Taylor 'Had a Little Breakthrough' at VPR Reunion (Exclusive)

Earlier this month, Schwartz also had a hand in bringing about a reunion between Sandoval and Jax Taylor, who has been very vocal about his distaste for Sandoval's treatment of Madix, 38. In a photo shared on his Instagram Story, Schwartz, Sandoval and Taylor, 44, could be seen hanging out at Schwartz & Sandy's.

"Got the band back together," Schwartz declared in the caption, adding three turkey emojis.

<p> Tom Schwartz/Instagram</p> From left: Tom Sandoval, Jax Taylor and Tom Schwartz hang out at Schwartz & Sandy's

Tom Schwartz/Instagram

From left: Tom Sandoval, Jax Taylor and Tom Schwartz hang out at Schwartz & Sandy's

When asked about the unlikely get-together, Schwartz explained to PEOPLE that Sandoval and Taylor "have been on the outs for a long time" but noted that the pair's friendship has deep history. "I think people forget that Tom and Jax have been friends longer than I've been friends with both of them," he said. "I'm talking almost 20 years."

"Sometimes their dynamic, it's love-hate — maybe more emphasis on the latter lately, but I feel like they had a little breakthrough recently. They've been communicating more often," he continued, adding that the two love each other "deep down."

Related: Jax Taylor Calls Tom Sandoval 'Very Selfish' for Raquel Leviss Affair: 'There's Just No Empathy There'

While Schwartz admitted that Sandoval and Taylor's relationship remains "touch-and-go," he said it felt good to help thaw the ice a bit between his longtime friends, who he said are "like brothers" to him.

"It was really nice for me because I kind of feel like a child of divorce sometimes with those two because Jax and Tom are two of my best friends on the planet and I love them dearly," he told PEOPLE.

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