Welcome to 2021!! It may be a new year, but in Utah, it appears to be very much the same shit. The confessional hairpieces are still looking absolutely tragic, Meredith’s still disassociating around every corner, and Jen’s still a study in how it’s possible to do too much even on Bravo. But we’ve got some glimmers of that new-new on the horizon! Namely, Whitney’s refreshed identity as a drunken shit-stirrer, the introduction of a new “friend of,” and another brand in the Barlow empire. So before those novel nubbins grow stale, let’s get on with it.
Between sweeping panoramas of Heather and Whitney horseback riding, the Salt Lake City spawn are dishing out their preferred flavors of parental burns. Brooks roasts Meredith for needing to go to therapy to sharpen up her communication skills. Not cool, my guy! If you’re gonna be mean to your mom, at least pick something fun and fluffy to go on about. Like her dedication to wearing blazers indoors. Or the fact that her interior design aesthetic is “mausoleum modern.” Or perhaps borrow the best backhanded compliment I’ve heard in months, courtesy of Spawn Barlow: “I’m not really craving a microwave hot dog right now, so no I don’t need you to make me anything to eat.” [*Chef’s kiss.*]
At Shah Chalet, Jen is hard at work planning a surprise birthday blowout for Sharrieff with her “second assistant” (we’re nine episodes in and I’m still not over how her assistants are ranked). She read in some personal-growth book that if she wants more love she has to give more love, and naturally the best way to communicate that love is booking a venue to have a temper tantrum under the guise of a hip-hop-themed golf outing. The buffet will be filled all night and Jen informs Whitney over FaceTime that — big shocker incoming — Mary’s not invited.
How does Mary feel about this? More or less exactly how you’d expect. In between teaching her cousin-housekeeper to steam clean the carpets and making sure her grandpa-husband is properly watering the grass at their Florida home, Mary cries over finding out she wasn’t invited to the party. No one is surprised by either Jen not inviting Mary to her husband’s party or Mary being upset about it. What is surprising, however, is Mary’s reveal of the Cosby empire. It includes churches, daycares, a mortgage company, restaurants, Robert Sr.’s corporal being, and homes. More specifically, five homes in SLC, Las Vegas, NYC, Orlando, and oh, you know, CARMEL, INDIANA. Not only is Carmel an urban metropolis donned “The Roundabout Capital of the U.S.” but it is also home to the Museum of Miniature Houses. An entire museum filled with tiny shit! That Mary has clearly never visited or she’d be filled with enough joy to sustain a lifetime of housewife nonsense with nary a pout.
Anyway, over at Heather’s not-so-miniature house, it’s Valentine’s Day, which is apparently celebrated with the same fanfare as Christmas morning, complete with decorations, presents for all the kids, and a very awkward visit from dad. The real gift here is Heather detailing her breakup with ex-husband Billy. Very long story short, he was taller than six feet, rich, and Mormon, so she agreed to marry him, but once they were together, she discovered they weren’t compatible. The real turning point was when they saw Scary Movie in theaters and Billy stormed out of the theater after the glory-hole scene, but Heather stayed to finish her peanut M&Ms and get a few more LOLs in. Billy withheld sex to show how debauchery-inclined she was, and then later moved out because Heather wouldn’t move the date of her baby shower to accommodate his sister. Good Lord, this man loves a dramatic ultimatum! I really hope in their divorce paperwork, instead of irreconcilable differences, it just says “critical divergence re: the comedic value of Marlon Wayans being stabbed with a dick through one ear with such force that it comes out the other side.” A girl can dream.
Meanwhile, Mary’s back at home counting three chicken wings onto a plate and forcing Whitney to put booties on over her stilettos as if the Cosby household is a surgical suite. Listen, I get it. The outside is gross and most white people have a long way to go when it comes to respecting the sanctity of any and all interior upholstery. But why not just set up a shoe rack and call it a day? Are we supposed to believe Mary’s knee-high red Gucci boots are her house shoes? When it comes to shoe etiquette (among other things), you gotta practice what you preach. Alas, Mary tells Whitney she’s bummed that no one has her back and wonders if everyone else is just afraid of Jen. Whitney apologizes for ignoring their rift and vaguely for being a bad friend.
Thus begins Whitney’s one-woman quest to rectify her guilt. Who needs the Mormon church to handle sins when you can just repent by going full John Wick on everyone else’s mess? The only problem with this plan is that Whitney is comically bad at every aspect of gal pal peacemaking. Her first mistake is listening to her friend Sara (yes! the “wait, did someone let Raquel from Vanderpump Rules out of her cage to get sloshed in Utah?” one from the premiere), who suggests that Sharrieff’s birthday is the perfect time to air out grievances between other people. I think it’s safe to assume that if the person giving you life advice is doing so while saying condescending shit about their multiple maids and struggling to cut an apple with not just a knife, but one of those apple slicers made for that explicit purpose, maybe don’t take their word as gospel.
In lighter albeit somehow equally bleak news, Lisa dresses her family up in matching turtlenecks for a trip to the aquarium. Between ooohs and ahhhs at all the critters, Henry informs us it’s an undisputed fact that GloFish are made in Area 51 out of alien blood. If you wanted another proof point that creationism as the sole science curriculum is probably a bad idea, here it is! Since every Barlow scene requires at least 800 units of Girl Boss, Lisa somehow convinces Henry to say that he would name a penguin “Fresh Wolf” after the “kids’” new men’s grooming line. Nothing says family fun like gathering around ye olde bastion of late capitalism to execute your mom’s bidding by pretending it’s your idea!
Alas, the day of the hip-hop golf party has arrived. Everyone puts on one bonus culturally appropriative accessory and heads to the venue to surprise Sharrieff, who knows exactly what’s going down as he bad-acts his way through a clunky Popeye’s shrimp po’boy ruse like it’s an eighth-grade production of The Taming of the Shrew. Surprise or not, Jen pulled together all of Coach Shah’s friends, a table with bottomless bruschetta bites, and a step-and-repeat ripe and ready for absolutely painful dancing. Speaking of which, Justin should have maybe taken a break from improving his seven-iron accuracy to lightly suggest that the Roses call it a night after Whitney kicked someone in the face whilst twerking. Instead, double-fisting abounds, so by the time Whitney decides to do whatever she’s gonna do with Jen, she’s not exactly safe to operate heavy machinery.
What follows is honestly hard to watch. After seeing Whitney so maturely talk to her dad last week, we know there’s something in that noggin to facilitate a productive conversation. Yet the booze has her close-talking and word-sloshing and it’s all incoherent babble about wrong and right and clean slates. Heather pops in and is like “Whitney’s trying to tell you that Meredith and Lisa called Mary and said they’re afraid of you, but surely there are meatballs on a stick somewhere in this venue, so I’ll leave y’all to it!”
Jen predictably loses her shit. Lisa predictably coos her way over. Meredith predictably tries to hypnotize everyone by repeating “I am disengaging from this conversation.” Then Whitney decides it’s time to double down, telling Meredith that Jen is spreading rumors about her marriage. I need to know how the producers convinced Whitney to pack three episodes’ worth of drama exposition into three minutes of drunken babbling. Do we think they threatened to tease out how much of the Rose family fortune may have been earned at the altar of MLMs? Do they have dirt from one of their trips to Sturgis? Or maybe Whitney just genuinely thought this was all going to end in something other than Jen throwing glasses, screaming obscenities, and storming out of her own party?
Either way, Jen whips out every trope in the housewife playbook as Sharrieff, Rafi, and Omar attempt to defuse the situation. It’s futile and a bit exhausting. Shahbulous? I think not.
See ya next week to unearth some big news from the Marks family and perhaps get an update on young Jack Barlow’s progression into “shredded ladyslayer!”