Can we trust any man? That’s the burning question I’m left with after tonight’s episodes of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Viewers are already well-versed in Meredith’s tense separation from Seth and Heather’s divorce and Mary’s … situation. The ugly parts of the other Housewives’ marriage, though, haven’t been as obvious. This episode changes that, as we learn lots of concerning details about the other cast member’s marriages.
So, seriously, are any of the Housewives thriving at home? Maybe Whitney and Justin, who seem to be enjoying belly-button slurping debauchery and sex every weekday. Justin even gets supportive husband points for being a big fan at Whitney’s first fashion show. But even then, Whitney has alluded to some unnamed problems in their marriage—plus, that swingers allegation is still in the air, mostly unaddressed. Are these women okay? Do we need to stage an intervention? I’m concerned!
What I’m less concerned about is this show’s ability to be stupidly entertaining. This episode, there are no explosive fights, no off-the-rails parties and less screen time for Mary, which means less bonkers one liners. Yet, tonight’s episode is still plenty of fun to watch, especially because at this point of the season, we’re all familiar enough with the cast that the (comparatively) quiet moments register.
We jump right back to where the last episode ended, at the first ever Park City Fashion Week. The women are taking this fashion show pretty seriously for an event that I am confident most Utahans have never even heard of. Mostly, this portion is an excuse for each Housewife to show off their favorite fashion, whether they’re on the runway or not. (Mary, who calls Salt Lake shopping “the pits,” is especially excited.) Whitney is pleased with her runway debut, and Meredith gets to not-so-subtly show off pieces from her jewelry collection. Pretty much everyone is in a good mood except for Brooks. Seth isn’t there in person to see the show, and their video call quickly devolves when the only compliment Seth can muster is “you guys look interesting.” It’s hard to imagine Brooks will be much happier after watching the episode—Jen, correctly, notes how one-note Brooks’ fashion line is. One track suit does not a collection make! (However, Jen does actually wear the track suit, which is confirmed with photographic evidence. Supportive but shady: it’s the Shah way.)
Soon after the show, Whitney stops by Beauty Lab for a facial. We get plenty of small moments that illustrate Utah’s bizarre beauty industry, and then we are blessed with the most strangely funny moments of the season. During the facial, Heather explains the origins of her business, while Whitney zones out in safety goggles. An inspired editing choice cuts between Whitney—face wrapped in a towel, living her fantasy—and two floating Heathers. Why not!
The afternoon takes a more serious turn when Heather asks Whitney for an update on her father, who is still in sober living. Both women criticize Mormon culture for what they consider to be judgemental attitudes about addiction. Heather compares this to her family’s feelings on divorce, and if that feels like a jarring transition, that’s because it is. Still, the divorce is on Heather’s mind constantly, and she feels both guilt for deviating from the “perfect Mormon family” and resentment that this standard exists in the first place. Both Whitney and Heather agree that the Church culture is particularly tough on women, and Heather debates whether she should be more open with her kids. Later in the episode, Heather does tearfully confess the pressure she feels to her daughters, who are all universally supportive. Heather has complained that Mormonism can feel all or nothing, and now we seem to have a more definitive answer on where she falls.
Now, we turn to the bad marriage portion of the episode. First up is the Shah household. Viewers learn more about Jen’s personal history when her fourth (!) assistant reminds her to take anxiety and depression medication. Apparently, after Jen’s dad died, she struggled emotionally, but Sharrief told her to not take medication and suggested that she “pray it away” instead. Soon, Jen’s irritability almost ended their marriage. Things finally turned around when Jen’s son encouraged her to treat her mental illnesses and start medication. Sharrief’s questionable attitudes about mental health are disappointing and surprising, especially because he was the obvious husband MVP just a few episodes ago. The couple seems to be on better terms now, but this odd hiccup, and Jen’s continued loneliness and isolation, is far from resolved.
More husband drama pops up in Draper as the Barlows get ready for FHE. (Okay, the show doesn’t use that term, but if you know you know.) Lisa’s idea of a fun family night is long-term goal setting, because she’d rather talk about real money than play Monopoly. Really, there’s a lot to unpack from this whole night, from the term “hundies,” referring to A+ grades, to the kids’ individual goals— for Jack, it’s getting shredded and becoming a “ladyslayer” and for Henry ti’s meeting Post Malone and having triplets. Tensions rise when Lisa reveals that pretty much all of her goals are business-related. Just last week, I complained that the “workaholic” narrative was unfair to Lisa, but, um, I’m starting to eat my words. In a confessional, John estimates that 90% of their couple time is work-related. Later, when he tries to express concern with Lisa’s five-year plan to build a billion dollar company and become the female Warren Buffett, she is too busy answering work texts to listen. Lisa’s high expectations are getting more intense by the episode, and her vision of God-approved capitalist dominance is starting to make the Romney family look relaxed.
None of this marriage turmoil compares, though, to the evening’s biggest plot twist. Seth and Meredith’s marriage issues have been a major plot point in a few episodes already, but some juicy new information suggests that there is much more to come. Over dinner at Toscano, Jen and Heather try to learn more details about Seth and Meredith’s separation. Meredith is tight-lipped about the details, and at this point, even viewers don’t know much about what specific issues the couple has. Jen is annoyed by Meredith’s coyness, and suggests in a confessional that there’s more to the story. Indeed, more to the story comes out later when Jen and Whitney practice pole dancing at Whitney’s house. Jen can’t resist bringing up Meredith and Seth again, and Whitney straight-up asks Jen what she knows. Jen demurs, apparently because she doesn’t want to directly reveal Meredith’s secrets….except for I guess the American viewing public can be trusted more than Whitney, because Jen gives it away in her confessional. Apparently, Jen and Meredith traveled to New York, where Jen met a man who called Meredith “the love of my life.” The episode ends before many more details are revealed, leaving us with many questions (Does Seth know? Did everyone find out before this episode aired?) that we will have to carry through Christmas.
- Brooks slurps grapefruit juice through a metal straw because it’s “fat burning.” Park City culture at its finest.
- Is your face … supposed to be that red right after a facial? (I wouldn’t know.) Whitney’s skin looks beautiful soon after, but the immediate aftermath did not look fun.
- We get more shots of the 15 minute botox parking sign! You know, for when you’re in a rush to get to Swig before picking up McKinzleigh and Brekklyn from school.
- In a brief scene at 350 Main, Lisa says that Vida Tequila is kosher. Good to know!
- I should plan to dedicate at least one bullet point every episode for Heather’s alarming ideas about marriage. Tonight: “Everyone has a whore phase as soon as they separate from their spouse.” Also, she doesn’t understand why Meredith and Seth are separated if they aren’t seeing other people.
- I didn’t talk about Whitney’s dad, who might leave sober living early. Two quick thoughts: Whitney is right that this seems like a bad idea. Also, more serious life discussions should happen at trampoline parks.
- “The stripper pole goes where I go” — Whitney Rose sharing a beautiful proverb that has been passed down for generations.
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