The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
I have returned. At first, I thought the hiatus situation two weeks ago was a gift from Joseph Smith himself to give me a bit of breathing room as I planned a cross-country move, but it turns out it was actually just the holidays or whatever given the show came back in the middle of me driving from Chicago to L.A. (P.S.: Thanks again, Louis!). It turns out I am not at the center of the Bravo cinematic universe, something Mary M. Cosby is apparently still grappling with.
I’m gonna go ahead and assume y’all have seen the news that Mary played hooky on reunion taping day because she didn’t want to comply with whatever “ta-ta towel meets Big Bird at the job fair” dress code Meredith schemed up. Or more likely, she just didn’t want to deal with a moderated(ish) conversation about any of her, um, actions. Mary also confirmed her absence with an IG post, which features some quotes from a psychiatrist named Marcia Sirota about how “bad reality TV rots our brain and makes us rude,” among other things.
As much as I want to skip Seth’s birthday party and do a close reading of Mary’s art direction and hashtag choices, I’ll leave it at three stray observations: (1) This same psychiatrist going off on the ills of reality TV also writes a blog about The Bachelor that reads like those Insider pieces where a New Yorker goes to the Midwest and is like, “There was weather and a grocery store, and I couldn’t believe the people there were wearing shoes. I was also surprised to find traffic lights.” (2) I have chosen to read the “bad reality TV rots our brain …” line with an emphasis on bad, so this entire situation becomes one of cultural criticism. (3) Fascinating for Mary to decide two seasons and a shitload of paychecks in that suddenly she has an ethical issue at the exact moment she can no longer control the narrative. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation — but just food for thought, ya know?
Back in Utah, John, Justin, Duy, and Seth go golfing. Why are we seeing this extended hoedown bro-down complete with husband talking heads? If I wanted to watch dudes unironically demanding “cleavage and courage” themed birthday bonanzas, I’d head on over to HBO Max and strap in for the Entourage spinoff feature film. Alas, the boys are jazzed for Seth’s party and plot a Mother’s Day trip to Zion for their wives.
Heather also plots a spa day for Jen to show she cares about her criminal accusations or whatever. They have a conversation (using conversation very loosely here because the editing looks like what would happen if you asked Sonja Morgan to make a TikTok) about Meredith’s loyalty to Mary, which I agree is bizarre bordering on nefarious. Both gals surmise that Mary and Meredith must have been behind the Feds storming the bus because “how else did they know we were at Beauty Lab?” Um, maybe because you are filming a TV show that rotates between approximately 3.2 locations?! Like, I’m pretty sure I could roll over to SLC this very moment and pop into Beauty Lab or any of the Osterias and run into at least two of the 46 Angies in y’all’s orbit! Jen is not invited to Seth’s birthday party to exactly no one’s surprise.
It’s not like she missed much, though. Aside from Meredith’s Party City x Westworld Host look and Seth being 7 percent creepier than normal (the bar is high), the footage was mostly just Teddy the dog snarfing around a hot tub. Also Meredith sits down with Mary so she can tell her the racist comments were basically fine and a totally understandable mishap. Absolutely not. Mary’s comments (which I’m not repeating) were not a misreading of Mariame Kaba or difficulty grasping a specific Ocean Vuong nuance. Like, I’m pretty sure most kids learn this specific anti-racism lesson from Elmo. Meredith and Mary then pivot to discussing how Lisa is jealous and that’s why she’s “coming after” Mary by telling Jennie the shoes were regifted. Sure, okay.
After everyone engages in a lengthy discussion about Whitney’s bazoombas, Heather asks Meredith if she considered inviting Jen, and of course she didn’t! Meredith switches right back into her “terrorized and traumatized my family for two years” mode, and finally someone asks if there’s more to the story because Ms. Marks has been milking the teat of a few Twitter likes for a solid 14 episodes now and those poor udders are raw and shriveled. She says “Of course, there is” but gives no details, an interesting choice for someone who insisted on more details when she already had a firsthand account of someone’s religious trauma, complete with corroborating bank statements!
Over on a spinoff episode of House Hunters: Defendant Downsizing, the Shahs do their couples-therapy painting homework while discussing the closet size of the two-bed, two-bath Jen checked out earlier that week. Jen says her love is strong and eternal and blessed. Coach says that [dog that looks like both a worm and a turtle at the same time] and that Jen is, in fact, invited to the Zion girls’ trip.
The distance from Salt Lake City to Zion is four hours and 20 minutes (sick, bruh). I’m telling you this not to pontificate about how much McDonald’s Lisa brought or how many breaks Kevin the driver was mandated but in the hopes of making sense of the madness that unfolds. I watched it back a few times and I still don’t understand how they went from mutually ragging on Mary and Meredith’s absence to Jen and Lisa full-on brawling. At this point, my hypothesis is Jen boarded that bus with plans to fight with Lisa — whether they were hers or production’s plan is unknown. Otherwise, I don’t get it! Like, girl, you were invited! You have an open federal criminal case! All you had to do was pal around a bit and mind your own (real and/or fraudulent) business(es)!
Part of me wants to empathize here as someone who just spent 32 hours in a car with a cat who refused to take his sedatives and thus spent the entire time guttural moaning while attempting to claw his way out of the carrier: Road trips are hard! There was absolutely a point where I, too, was like, I’M SHUTTING THE FUCK DOWN RIGHT NOW GET OUT OF MY FUCKING FACE. I AM DONE. But then I remembered how lucky I am to be alive and healthy and moving to a place that carries Home Run Inn frozen pizza in select grocers without also having a damn near annual polar vortex. I guess perspective, gratitude, and self-awareness don’t exactly make for riveting reality television, though. So if I’m ever in that situation again with a camera present, I’ll be sure to tell my cat, “You’re not taking accountability. Come on — come at me, bro,” and see if I can tempt him into a physical altercation.
Anyway, see ya next week for “to be continued!” In the meantime, a hypothetical: Would you rather have Seth Marks as a husband or a dad?