We’ve arrived at the final hour of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Season 1. The third and final act of a historic three-part reunion. And you guys. I’m not ready for it to be over! Like really, really not. It’s been inarguably the best debut season of a new Housewives franchise since Beverly Hills back in 2010. And I’m saying that as a huge fan and ardent defender of the Potomac’s first season. (My original Bravo claim to fame was being behind one of the very first viewer-submitted reunion questions in RHOP history.)
But these SLC ladies delivered in every single way imaginable. They brought something new and completely different to the table, and added a fresh and unique POV to the Housewives universe. RHOSLC reinvigorated the franchise as a whole while some long-running tentpole cities are starting to feel stale and, ahem, long in the tooth. And that’s not just my bias talking as a born-and-bred former Mormon/Utah native. So indulge me while I savor this last recap before closing the door on Season 1 in Salt Lake City. K?
Part 2 ended with the reunion set in total chaos. The ladies couldn’t even stop their bickering for a proper lunch break. Lisa Barlow stormed off in tears, complaining to production about Heather Gay. Whitney Rose and Meredith Marks were so fed up, they left the set together. Mary Cosby was completely disengaged. And by the time Andy Cohen was ready to get the ball rolling again, Lisa was still nowhere to be found. But when she finally returns to set, she’s re-composed and better than ever. Just in time for the husbands to join the action.
Mormon Doctrine 101
Turns out only some of the Househusbands came to New York with their wives. Sharrieff Shah, Justin Rose and my eternal RHOSLC crush John Barlow are all seated behind the ladies at a safe social distance. Seth Marks and Robert Cosby Sr. are joining remotely on what look to be gigantic iPad screens. (Naturally, Seth is participating from his favorite place: Canton, OH.) Andy cycles through a number of pressing topics with the men. Robert Sr. takes particular time expressing his displeasure at all the “grandaddy junk” that was spewed about his marriage during the season. But Mary waves it off, because guess what grandpa, you’re too late. Mary already made up with Jen, so now you’re just embarrassing her in front of her new friends!
Justin also opens up about his status in the Mormon Church. Which leads to a surreal exchange about Mormon excommunication, priesthood disciplinary councils and temple sealings. In my 15 years as a Real Housewives fan, I can honestly say the last thing I ever expected to hear come out of Andy‘s mouth at a reunion was, “What’s the [temple] sealing?”
RELATED: Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City Star Whitney Rose Says She Wasn’t Technically Excommunicated From The Mormon Church
The conversation clearly triggered an emotional Heather, and frankly, it dredged up my post-Mormon PTSD as I watched too. Quick doctrinal side note: Heather was correct. Divorced female members can’t cancel their temple sealings unless they’re about to marry another worthy priesthood holder. That being said, I still think Lisa was totally (and hilariously) justified in throwing her hubby’s Rolex out the window for forgetting her birthday, though.
Coach Shah For the Win
Robert Sr. is very complimentary, and defensive, of Mary as Andy focuses back on the Cosbys’ unconventional relationship. He points out that he was only 22 when he married Mary’s grandmother. Which is math I never really considered. But yes, certainly not a geriatric age. He also insists Mary is more than simply the First Lady at their
possible cult controversial church. She’s a “co-pastor” and his equal in every way. And while I still have a million questions and red flags about the Cosbys’ church, I have to say one thing. That’s more equality, responsibility and authority than any woman has ever been given in the Mormon Church. And that’s simply a fact.
When the discussion turns to the Marks’ re-committed marriage, Meredith is — you guessed it — not engaging. Can you really blame her though? I’d be protective of my marriage in front of this group too. But, like a few Housewives before her, she does credit Real Housewives of Salt Lake City with helping save the marriage. Seth also takes a lot of responsibility for the couple’s marital issues. Though he claims he never really dated while they were separated the way Meredith did. Jen Shah offers a tearful apology for all the gossiping she did about the Marks family. And Coach Shah is there to back her up and help smooth over his wife’s many feuds.
RELATED: Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City Star Whitney Rose Shades Jen Shah For Behaving Differently In Front Of Her Husband; Jen Slams Whitney For Talking About “Everyone Else’s Marriage”
In fact, he also manages to talk through things with Robert Sr. too, whom Jen also apologizes to through tears. And in a lot of ways, the attempts at reconciliation work! Coach Shah is delivering his trademark wisdom left, right and center. So much so that Andy jokingly asks if he can keep the football coach in New York as his personal motivational speaker and life coach guru. Coach Shah really is pretty amazing. And I don’t know about you, but Season 2 opening with a double date between the Shahs and the Cosbys is officially on my wish list.
…Doesn’t Stay in Vegas
The husbands say goodbye and it’s time to talk about Vegas. And just like that, CEO of Fun Jen is back in the hot seat. She explains why she was still angry at Whitney, but her reasoning doesn’t really hold water. Nothing about it still makes any sort of sense. Jen just faked her way through accepting Whitney’s apology and then chose to still be mad. Collectively, all of the women (sans Lisa) agree that Jen preaches — and demands — loyalty all day long but doesn’t reciprocate it. Which is true. For her part, Meredith demands to know if, were the situation reversed, Jen would say she was a good and loyal friend. (Wisely, the answer is no.) And Meredith also explains that her feelings were hurt when her BFF Lisa did a full 180 on Jen after the women all got back to Salt Lake.
RELATED: Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City Star Meredith Marks Responds After Jen Shah Said She Wasn’t Authentic
Heather jumps in to claim that Jen is “as fabulous as she is horrifying.” (Ouch.) And then the lowest blows come when she reveals Jen compared her to both a manatee and Shrek off camera. (Bigger ouch.) And this is supposed to be your best friend?? But Mary‘s the one who manages to steal the moment by pulling a Ramona Singer by dozing off mid-argument. Yes, she falls asleep in the middle of the other ‘Wives conversation. And yet, miraculously, Mary manages to correctly answer the question Andy posed to her as she was drifting off. Apparently the First Lady is also a bonafide expert at retaining information while catching some reunion shut-eye…
An Aggressive Accusation
Here’s where things get dicey. Because rather than take accountability for her actions, Jen brings race into the conversation. In what felt like an attempt to shut down anything any of the other women — but namely Heather and Whitney — were trying to say. And I want to be really open and fair and balanced here. Because I do totally understand what Jen’s saying about white privilege. Especially in a place that has such little racial diversity like Utah. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with what Whitney and Heather are trying to communicate to her. Nor should it be used as an excuse for her explosive actions and deplorable behavior throughout the season.
For example, Jen claims no one should be allowed to call her “aggressive” as a person of color. But then what word should they use when she’s being legitimately aggressive? It doesn’t give you a pass to throw glasses in anger, push and slap Heather‘s hand, threaten to drown Whitney in the lake behind her house, or any of the other truly aggressive behavior Jen exhibited all season long any time she got upset. She gets so worked up about it that she walks off the reunion set too. And ends up sobbing in Sharrieff‘s arms, while Whitney calls her husband for advice on how to handle being labeled with racist accusations.
RELATED: Lisa Barlow Thinks Whitney Rose And Heather Gay “Put It On Heavy For The Cameras” And Are “Obsessed With Fame”; Says Jen Shah Is “100% Authentic” On Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City
Eventually one of Coach Shah‘s famous pep talks calms Jen down. And suddenly it’s time to wrap things up! Andy goes around the room asking each of the ‘Wives one thing they learned from the season. The answer that stands out most is Meredith‘s, who basically uses her time to not-so-subtly drive home that she’s still angry at everyone. And rather than a traditional champagne or cocktail, Andy and the ‘Wives toast with meatball lollipops as fake snow falls on the reunion set! But don’t tell Mary it’s fake; she’s too busy trying to catch it on her tongue! Until next time!
TELL US – WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY HUSBAND? WERE JEN’S APOLOGIES TO MEREDITH, MARY, AND THEIR HUSBANDS SINCERE? DO YOU THINK IT’S RACIALLY BIASED TO CALL JEN’S BEHAVIOR “AGGRESSIVE”? WHO DO YOU WANT TO SEE RETURN FOR REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY SEASON 2?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]