Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City series premiere recap!
Before we get to the action of last night’s episode, let me quickly introduce myself. Some of you may know me from the comments section, and many of you have no idea who this mess is, but all you really need to know is that I’ve lived in Salt Lake City most of my life and am familiar with the cultural quirks of my fair city and state. When I found out about RHOSLC, I reached out to Reality Blurb to do the recaps because what could possibly go wrong? It turns out I got the job and here we are, so it’s party time, Blurbers!
It’s been a few years since we’ve been introduced to an entirely new batch of Housewives, so please bear with me on the length because we’ve got a lot to get through. I’m not even including the taglines until next week, so feel free to discuss those in the comments. Judging from the trailers, Bravo wants us to know that religion matters a lot with this crowd. I’m a bit iffy on the premise because this is a Housewives show we’re dealing with here. As Dorinda Medley once slurred into the night, “We’re naw cockshell party talkersh, we’re bag bishesh!” It remains to be seen how much religion will play into the storylines on RHOSLC, but let’s hope they tread softly on that front.
Speaking of which, Utah is obviously known for Mormons (or “Latter Day Saints” as they prefer to be called), and the religion accounts for about 60% of the state’s population. HOWEVUH, it only makes up half of Salt Lake City, and the other half is filled with godless, liberal hipsters (half-joking), so we’re a mixed bag whose ideologies and lifestyles frequently clash. Just like the rest of the USA, amirite?
Since I have some LDS family members and friends I’d literally die for, I’m not inclined to bash the religion like so many outsiders do. Poke fun at bits of the culture? YES. Dehumanize the shit out of them? HELL NO. One time at the airport, a woman asked my brother in all seriousness if Mormons had horns. HORNS, people! And on that bright note, let’s get to the recap!
After taking in some gorgeous Wasatch mountainscapes, we first meet Jen Shah and get a glimpse of her ski chalet-style mansion. Jen’s husband Sharrieff is a U of U football coach, and they have what she calls a “FaceTime marriage.” Jen says, “In Utah, I’m Black…because they don’t know any better.” Our state is painfully white in many areas, so this statement checks for some folks. She converted from Mormonism to Islam because Sharrieff told her the church “didn’t accept Black people into the church until like 1970-something,” which sadly checks as well. There’s a staged-looking scene of Jen asking her two smart-aleck sons if they know what ‘sexting’ is, which I glazed right over both then and now.
Next up on the roster is Heather Gay. By the looks of her powerful body, I’m guessing Ms. Gay is an excellent skier. She shows off her business, Beauty Lab and Laser, and then we listen to her spout artificial poop like “perfection is attainable,” “the family that facials together stays together,” and “dip your hand in a river of money.”
Heather says that every descendant in her line was Mormon, her grandfather-in-law inherited part of Howard Hughes’ fortune (!), and everything was all good until she got a divorce five years ago. From there, she distanced herself from the LDS church, put on her greaser leather jacket and shades, and went wild by swearing (!!), smoking (!!!), and drinking alcohol(!!!!). There’s more to her story, but we still have much to get through, so let’s put a pin in her for the time being.
Next, we welcome to the stage…Meredith Marks. Ope, another Housewife jewelry designer. At first, I was thinking about Lynne Curtin’s gladiator cuffs or Kary Brittingham’s, uh, crafty beads, but then we learn that Meredith designs for people like Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, and Rihanna. That sounds legit! Meredith is a Jewish transplant from Chicago, and she says, “Utah has a certain underlying kindness that you don’t get in Chicago.” Many people from other cities have expressed the same sentiments about our state, and it’s fairly true. You will find locals that are so syrupy sweet, it’s disarming…and a little suspicious. We watch Meredith go on a hike with her husband and son while in heeled boots. Reader, I laughed.
Now we’re onto the breathy-voiced Lisa Barlow, who has framed posters leaning above her sons’ headboards that say ‘Grit’ and ‘Hustle.’ Originally from New York, Lisa came to Utah to go to school, and she is Jewish by heritage but Mormon by choice. She owns Vida Tequila and defiantly tells the viewers, “I’m sure other Mormons care that I own a tequila company, but what’s important is that I don’t.” It’s not as uncommon as it used to be for some Mormons to drink, but back in the day, LDS drinkers would have been labeled as ‘Jack Mormons.’ Lisa, her husband, and her son pile into their Porsche to grab Sonic, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s for dinner, so I’m guessing neither of the parents cook.
There’s a brief interlude between Housewives introductions as Jen Shah, in her python boots, massive furry camouflage coat, and taloned nails waltzes into Heather’s Beauty Lab with her assistant Stuart in tow to get botox in her armpits and knees. I guess this is a Housewives show after all! Jen and Heather discuss throwing a birthday party for Meredith at the Shahs’ ski chalet, and Jen suggests hot male strippers. Heather is all, “I don’t know about Meredith, but that’s the type of party for meeeeee!”
Up next is Whitney Rose, who tells us she’s a descendant of “Mormon Royalty.” Okay, Whitney. I mean sure, she’s related to Shadrach Roundy, who was the founder Joseph Smith’s bodyguard and was also one of the first pioneers to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. And sure, Joseph Smith declared himself as prophet, priest, and king of the world. But if you dig into LDS history, you may be surprised to learn that early-day Mormons actually practiced a form of COMMUNISM. It’s not for nothing we’re called the Beehive State.
So back to Princess Rose, we’re all of a sudden at her wedding? This was the weirdest moment of the episode, and to summarize as best I can, Whitney and her husband Justin had already been married for 10 years, so this is really a vow renewal ceremony. Apparently, she and Justin had an office affair romance, which turned into a pregnancy, which parlayed itself into shotgun nuptials, and now Whitney is ready for her big fairytale event with lots of cleavage! I don’t want to be mean (too late), but does her wedding look a little chilly and slapped together to anyone else?
Moving along, we’re back to Jen (Bravo sure seems to be gunning for her as fan-favorite) cruising around downtown SLC with Stuart. While waiting at the light on Temple Square, they talk about cake, a diamond ice sculpture (look away, Kyle!), white drapes, and a red carpet for Meredith’s party. That seems very over the top, but now I suddenly want Jen to throw me a birthday party. (Fun fact about this scene: they are driving in a zigzag.)
Lisa comes over to Meredith’s house, and Meredith points out lipstick on Lisa’s teeth. They creepily laugh in unison, and then we see Jen crawl out of her car in stiletto sandals onto freshly fallen snow in Meredith’s driveway. Apparently, Lisa Barlow is the Sundance Queen, and if you want to get into the Sundance Film Festival, you better kiss the ring. Lisa and Meredith inquire about Saturday night, and Jen lies through her square jaw that it’ll just be a small cocktail gathering. Lisa giddily pulls an “I don’t know her” about Heather, which Jen knows hurt Heather’s feelings because they went to BYU together. Looks like a storm’s-a-brewin.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we finally get to meet the lady who married her late grandmother’s second husband! Here comes Mary Cosby, strutting down the street, and whoaaaa, is her outfit BONKERS. She meets up with Whitney at the Lake Effect, and the fashion labels get even more intense as Mary takes her coat off. Whitney looks upon her in awe. The ladies glaze over Whitney’s vow renewal ceremony (LOL) and get right to the juice about Mary’s very unconventional relationship. So this is an arranged marriage? Her grandmother wrote in the will that she wanted Mary and Robert to be together after she died? Are incestual boundaries being crossed?!?
Well, to the couple’s credit, not at all. But sing it with me: she’s a very freaky girl / she’s a super freak / the kind that marries her grandfathuh / she’s a super freak! I love the other women’s reactions when asked about it. Mary seems unbothered by the criticism so kudos to her. She goes on to tell us she’s the First Lady of her Pentecostal church and she likes to pronounce Christmas as ‘CHRISTmas.’ We need to move on, but wow, just wow, Mary!
Whitney tells Mary about the birthday party Jen is throwing for Meredith, and Mary is certain she won’t be invited because…she said Jen smells like a hospital. WTF? Apparently, Mary smelling hospital on people takes her to a dark place, and one night at dinner, Jen rubbed her hospital smells all over Mary, which made her want to puke. Jen is pissed about Mary’s insensitivity since the reason there was any smell in the first place was because she got back from the hospital after her aunt’s legs got amputated! It turns out Jen actually invited Mary to the party, so this should be interesting.
It’s FINALLY the day of Meredith’s birthday party, and Jen is barking orders at her million assistants through a pink microphone. Poor Heather has to hike up the car-lined street with her arms full to get to Jen’s house, and once they sit down together, Jen brings up Lisa pretending not to know Heather for the last 20 years. Lisa also said Heather was a party girl at college, which Heather denies, denies, denies.
Now we’re back to Meredith’s salmon-pink modern home. Brooks is lighting candles amid half a million rose petals strewn all over the house, and Meredith’s husband Seth approves through FaceTime. What a sweet son Brooks is! Meredith walks in and is floored by the beautiful birthday gesture, but she is disappointed Seth’s not there for her. As Meredith gets ready for the party, she has Brooks zip up the back of a huge pink dress she could have very easily bought at Kyle by Alene Too (if it were still open).
Everyone heads up to Park City for Meredith’s birthday bash, and Jen’s house is LIT. Shirtless muscle men are serving champagne, and the bar is flowing with alcohol. Upstairs, Jen is showing off her Jessica Rabbit-pink dress to Heather, and in comes her ditzy friend Sara that is wearing the exact same color. The other women file into the party, and Meredith stops in her tracks at the flower wall that spells ‘Shah Chalet’ in roses. Nothing gets past that Meredith. She seems fully aware that this party is more for Jen than her.
There’s a montage of Lisa schmoozing with the party folk, throwing out fake compliments left and right. Mary announces her seafoam green dress with tulle darting out all over the place is Valentino, guys. Meredith and Lisa cheers to having slick hair, and Heather is alone in a corner licking a meatball lollipop. Jen makes a grand entrance of her own at Meredith’s party, and Lisa privately tsks in disapproval. Jen, being of Hawaiian and Tongan descent, has Polynesian dancers come out and shake it while a hot Tongan man pops out of a cake! JEN, if you are reading this, invite me next time, ’kay?
Lisa makes it a point to blow Heather off, and you know what? I’m siding with Heather. Lisa seems like a stuck up beyotch so far. Mary and Jen sit down for a heart-to-heart about hospital smells. They bicker about who said what when, and Jen summons her friend Keri to come vouch for her. Mary won’t back down or apologize, and she tries to dismiss Keri from the conversation. She then tells the viewers Jen’s aunt probably lost her legs because her diet was bad! Jen storms off in anger, and it looks like we’ll have to see how this fight gets resolved next week.
Welp, color me surprised because I thought this episode was fun as hell and am very much looking forward to what RHOSLC has to offer this season. If you’re reading this last sentence, thanks for sticking with me to the end, and I can’t wait to read the Blurbers’ comments about the show!
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