The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
Note: this week’s episode, “Everybody Needs a Switzerland,” is now available to stream early on bravotv.com.
Before we get into it this week, I thought I’d take a second to debunk a common misconception about Mormonism. No, it’s not about plural marriage or special underwear, but caffeine—specifically, what we hear in the cold open as Lisa croaks about her Diet Coke needs. Previous to embarking on this journey, I was under the ignorant impression that caffeine was a Mormon no-no. But I’m an idiot and didn’t realize that religious texts say nothing about caffeine and only reference alcohol, tobacco, and “hot drinks.” So as long as Lisa’s Big Gulps are served on the rocks, she’s still keeping it holy, at least on the beverage front. The more you know!
In terms of not adhering to Mormon doctrine, the episode kicks off with Whitney planning a “not dry, very wet” 1920s-themed party. There’s something to be said for the fact that production doesn’t even try to create a reason for this soiree. Oh, you mean to tell us there’s a combination antique store/TGI Fridays that will let us shoot for a few hours as long as they can stay open to other patrons? Done deal. Book it quick before the disproportionately large local baby shower community snatches it up.
Meanwhile, Heather’s double-fisting miniature Range Rover Evoques to gift to the 25 percent of her employees who are wrapping up their pregnancy pact. Jen and Heather’s friends Dre and Ange also pop on by so Heather doesn’t have to put bows on the baby cars alone. She explains that the theme of the Beauty Lab baby shower is “white” and I don’t even need to make a joke here because she did it for me. What a gal! After flipping through some old photos, Heather rehashes how her world fell apart when her husband left. Everyone else does a solid job pretending like this is all new information even though if Heather’s divorce were a sentient being, it would be learning to read by now. She talks about how she got married to keep up the expected performance of family and perfection, since it’s the social code against which Mormons are judged, and how she doesn’t want to put that pressure on her daughters. Jen and friends tell Heather she’s a good person, but is this just more of the exact type of external validation that is the root of her insecurities and lacking sense of self? No idea honestly, so let’s put a pin in that because…
BROOKS IS BACK to call his mom an intoxicated moron when she makes a mess of her Vida Tequila product placement. Quick side note — it has come to my attention that some folks don’t watch each episode three times to transcribe shit and are having trouble telling Meredith and Lisa apart (fair), so I’ll share my mnemonic device with the class. Lisa has a Lost voice and a Sad husband. Meredith has Brooks (turn that “M” 90 degrees clockwise and it makes a “B”) and a Dick husband. Confusion cleared!
Speaking of husbands, both Seth and Sharrieff are nowhere to be found this episode, which is partially why Jen is at Meredith’s house eating veggie straws, planning a sleepover, and making Brooks uncomfortable with her labia-revealing couch aerobics. Was her vagina in his face? Unless either party was really stretching, absolutely not. Was it still weird for her to be chanting “Grindr, Grindr, Grindr” like he’s her little pet? Absolutely yes. Brooks gets the screen time he was thirsting for, with plenty of room to saunter off to Best Buy with his denim-lederhosen-donning sister.
While Brooks and Chloe are shopping for HDMI cords and ring lights, there’s a brief interlude where the editors completely troll Lisa as she rattles off advice for her son that’s technically about driving but is more closely related to her own personal and professional dealings. “Stay in your lane.” “Confident, not cocky.” “Forty-four ounce Diet Coke, easy ice with lemon.” Ultimately, it’s all overshadowed by a 15-year-old telling his mom he has “strong pull-out game.” I would like to get off this ride.
Alas, we finally get some more intel into the grandpa-husband situation when Meredith takes Mary out to dinner so they can chomp down some cod and chat about arranged marriage. It turns out Mary’s grandma made it very clear that she wanted Mary to inherit the money, houses, and church, and the only means to do this was Operation Grandpa-Husband. I’m no estate lawyer, but there has to be an easier way than this incestuous grooming nonsense. We also learn that Mary’s mom really wanted to get the bag and have a daddy-husband for herself, and that the battle for Robert Sr. did a real number on the Cosby family. Mary has since “detoxed people not beneficial to her life” and this is some scientology shit if I’ve ever heard it. Meredith apparently loves mess even more than we do and asks Mary if she can come check out the cult church for herself.
Back at their respective ranches, Meredith and Mary use blenders as a plot device (seriously though — why are there three separate blender scenes in 44 minutes of footage? If Bravo tries to make this a bit, so help me God.) Robert Jr. tells Mary that he doesn’t want to go to boarding school in LA because it isn’t necessary and he wants to stay with his girlfriend. Brooks tells Meredith that she can’t go to Jen’s sleepover because she needs to stay home and help him FaceTune the ecomm images for his “clothing line” until he looks like a character from Grand Theft Auto VI. Kids these days, always getting exactly what they want!
Fast-forward a few days and Meredith, Whitney, and her dad Steve are bundling up to hang out with Mary and the Lord at Faith Temple Pentecostal Church. Mary puts on a helluva show, cry-breathing into a gilded microphone and speaking directly to God. Whitney calls it “love and acceptance.” I call it “further evidence that there may be something to those unsettling rumors around Mary’s church.” But hey, different strokes I guess?
If you thought maybe we’d get a break from the Mary discourse at Heather’s work-sanctioned baby shower, you thought wrong, since Jen and Whitney are also in attendance. Whitney took Lisa’s clean slate apology to heart and invited both Lisa and Mary to her upcoming 1920s party. This sends Jen into a hospital smell tizzy, as she completely loses her shit upon discovering that Meredith went to Mary’s church. It’s apparently fine that Whitney double-crossed her by checking out the church since it was under the guise of her dad, but Meredith’s attendance is A PERSONAL DIG. Jen, don’t do this! History is not kind to housewives who police their friendships. And even if this were an okay thing for a grown ass woman to be doing, grabbing a front row seat to investigate the potential cult someone is running with their grandpa-husband supersedes even the strongest of friend obligations. Jen thinks this is some two-party system where the only options are her or Mary, and that logic is beyond flawed. Blind loyalty is the enemy of nuance (and um, critical thinking as a whole).
It’s the day of the 1920s party and everyone’s getting gussied up. Meredith and Lisa ignore the theme, Whitney gets into full character, and Jen reveals her outfit to the Shah Squad, which is seven people. I need more information here. What are their job titles? Does Jen offer benefits? Surely she only needs three of them to lace up her daily gladiator stilettos? At the venue, there’s a stripper pole and also at least two dozen complete normies trying to nab happy hour deals on well drinks and potato skins. Some might say the magic is lost when half of your party is filled with confused dads in bootcut jeans and corporate fleeces, but in the words of Marianne Williamson, “we live in a world of constant juxtaposition between joy that’s possible and pain that’s all too common.” In this case, the “joy” is not the ‘wives, but the Utahns bellied up to the bar, minding their own business. Especially since Ms. Shah just waltzed in and saw Meredith and Mary doing a chat. “A knife to the heart!” To be continued next week, where we’ll see how Jen attempts to spin a contractually obligated acquaintanceship into a personal attack.