The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
Hello and welcome back to Salt Lake City! I could not write a single intro that will top the actual intro to this premiere, so I’m not even going to try!
It is perfect television! There are six angles! Ominous music! Heather asking Whitney about shotskis! Lisa looking like Janis Joplin if Janis Joplin ran an MLM! A new cast member sans introduction! Stockpiles of Charleston Chews! And that’s all before we see the look. Y’all know the one. The second Jen appears with the box braids and the cheetah boots and the brown fur? I’m screaming “HOLY SHIT, DRAMATIC IRONY!” at my screen. After that, not a second is wasted. Jen gets a call; we witness her brain leave her body as she begs Whitney to help turn her mic off. She scurries off the bus, barely telling the others she has to go before escaping into a Ford pickup headed for the hills. My notes at this point just say, “POLICE DESCENDING (NYPD? WHY?). SIRENS BLARING. HELICOPTERS CIRCLING. WE ARE 1 MINUTE AND 35 SECONDS INTO THIS SEASON, AND I CANNOT BREATHE.” I regain consciousness as Whitney reads off her phone that Jen and 1st Assistant Stu have been charged with stealing people’s money in a massively fraudulent money laundering scheme.
In case you missed certain events playing out in real-time earlier this year, Jen Shah was arrested on charges of wire-fraud conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy for her role in an alleged telemarketing scheme. My ringtone in 2004 was the theme to Law & Order, so I passed the bar by proxy and understand that this situation is not going to end up like that time Jax Taylor stole a pair of sunglasses in Hawaii. We’re talking about 30-year and 20-year maximum prison sentences for each charge.
I’d also like to take a second to make something abundantly clear. Yes, there will be nonsense forthcoming because this is an escapist TV show that I am contractually obligated to clown on, but there are also crimes at play that go far beyond Mary Cosby’s confessional looks. While I do not believe Housewives (or anyone else for that matter) exist on a clear-cut good vs. evil binary, targeting/defrauding hundreds of working-class, often elderly, victims so you can engage in a bit of Kardashian cosplay is some TRULY NEFARIOUS SHIT. My sympathy for entitled scoundrels stealing from vulnerable people is non-existent, so unless there is a wild twist happening in act three, I am firmly team “victims of Jen Shah.” I’ll spare you my thoughts on the prison-industrial complex, but if even a nubbin of these allegations are true, I will be praying for transformative justice or karmic retribution, whichever comes first. In the words of Jen herself, “assalamu alaikum, bitches!”
Alright, rad, now let’s jump two months back in time and see what’s what.
We kick things off at Shah Chalet 2.0 where Jen comes down to chop some celery sticks with Murilo, her new 2nd Assistant (I really hope all of these assistants, particularly those in the assault video, have solid legal and mental health support at this point). Lisa’s on her way over and will need sustenance to prance around saying, “I love this, I love that, I. Love.” about the new digs, listen to how Jen and Sharrieff almost got divorced, then gab about brokering peace amongst the gals. Quick post-reunion catchup: Lisa is friends with Jen and long-term friends with Meredith, who has beef with Jen. Lisa says that what Jen did to Meredith (perpetuated homophobic stuff about her child) is not that different from what Heather & Whitney did to Lisa (perpetuated lies about her character being generally dismissive). I disagree with that statement and its relevance. But also, if you can’t decide between friendship with your bestie of 10 years or with someone you have to hang out with because you’re on the same reality show and oh, they’re also facing criminal charges where you could be implicated? That is a YOU problem. Anyway, this entire scene is only here so we can watch Jen say, “Girl, you know I’ll go to jail for you. I haven’t gone to jail yet.” 👁👄👁
Next, we check in with Meredith, who’s executing her Max & Bone sponcon to perfection. The Marks have moved out of their haunted model home and upgraded to a different haunted model home with a considerably better view and much pointier furniture. Heather arrives straight from the mountain, and over vodka-crans, they catch us up on the state of Meredith and Seth (“good”) and the state of Heather (about to live vicariously through her daughter’s non-BYU college experience in a way we can only pray won’t be creepy).
A quick break for an infomercial about how Whitney had bad skin, went to the health food store to mix up some potions (Caroline Calloway, watch your back), and now she’s a skintrepreneuer! This is all great because her twenty-something stepsons are deprived of a role model who will take shots of Patron in a hot tub filled with dish soap and be a girl boss hustler with equal fervor. Or something. In my mind, there’s only room for one skinfluencer in this cast. And I’m sorry, but it’s going to have to go to the one who offers both a team of trained medical providers AND free laser treatment for those with self-harm/drug use scars. Maybe Karen Huger can hook Whitney up with her three-wick candlemaker to optimally fragrance all these cavernous Utah homes? Either way, time to pivot.
Speaking of which, Mary Cosby leaves her S1 closet behind to start building a podcast empire over at Faith Temple Pentecostal Church. She apparently got lonely during the early days of COVID lockdown since her grandpa-husband was stuck in Florida and her teenage son refused to speak to her (they breezed over this, and I’m glad — let that kid live). The only natural solution? Washing eggs in their shells, narrating wild thoughts to inanimate objects, and her new show, “Talking Facts With Mary Cosby.” She admits to smoking weed but does not admit (yet) to being a cult leader. Sophomore slump be damned, this is a strong start.
At last, we get to officially meet the new housewife! Her name is Jennie, and she tells Lisa how she landed in the U.S. at age 7 after escaping Vietnam, being captured by Thai pirates, and then converting to Christianity to get sponsored refuge by a church in Long Beach. She then converted again to marry her Catholic husband, who has a great body but a shit face (her assessment, not mine!). Jennie met Lisa when they bumped literal bellies at a school function way back when, but friendships are fleeting in the Bravo Cinematic Universe, so TBD on where newbie’s loyalties lie. From her lawn ornaments, all we know for sure is “AMERICA.”
Jen’s Auntie Nani stops by Shahlet 2.0 to show off her new bionic legs post-double amputation. Hospital smell? Gone. General tension emanating from Jen and Sharrieff’s general direction? Ripe. There is not enough “‘spensive Louis Vuitton perfume” in the world to rectify the energy. Fingers crossed Jen’s kids have solid support systems because it’s all just a lot.
If you thought we were leaving vagina-gate in season one, I have some unfortunate news. With Lisa notably absent, Heather, Mary, Whitney, and Meredith gather in a parking lot igloo to chat about their various Shah-rguments. Jen has called both Heather and Mary racist. Whitney asks why you’d want to be friends with someone who calls you racist, as if being called racist is worse than actually being racist. Mary just says she doesn’t need Jen’s friendship juice, which is a considerably better take. Then Meredith details Jen’s homophobia toward Brooks, and of course, there are receipts. Brooks may technically be an adult, but Jen, people’s sexuality is none of your business! Also, it’s terrible time management. As a general rule, if you don’t have a solid “avoid going to federal prison” plan covered, you should not be spending energy speculating about other people. Full stop.
Finally, Lisa and family head over to the Marks household for Shabbat in honor of Meredith’s late father. Quick aside, I admit the shameful amount of Depop perusing after spotting both Barlow spawn in their matching Off-White x Huxtable sweaters and cozy li’l boots. Between this and the RHOP x Telfar campaign, the PR people at Ugg are laying traps, and I’m full-body leaping into them. Alas, Lisa attempts to convince Meredith that she needs to take the first step and open herself to an apology from Jen. Meredith calls bullshit, gets out her thesaurus, and details Jen’s vendetta. Lisa compares arguing with Heather about not knowing each other in college to Jen terrorizing Meredith’s family for the last two years. Collectively, the women on this show may want to try connecting with each other in times of conflict in ways that are not a “pettiness pissing contest.” It’s exhausting and rarely the empathy flex they think it is. Anyway, Meredith says Jen needs to find a way to treat people the same way she demands to be treated. BINGO!!
I’m off to go hunt down Brooks’s challah recipe, but see y’all next week for kumbaya chanting, pasta classes, trout fishing, sister-wife discourse, Jen sporting Gizelle Bryant’s tiara hat in earnest, mud play, and a revisitation of those cult leader allegations. And that’s all before we even get to THE CRIMINAL CHARGES!!!