Welcome to another weekday night jam-packed with tacky decorations, discussions of school dance chastity and unchecked hormonal meltdowns. No, it’s not a Mutual activity gone wrong—it’s just another episode of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City! (Hey, you could be watching that horrifying Grinch musical instead.)
Tonight’s episode picks up right where we left off last week: with a good old-fashioned brawl. Mary is throwing a luncheon at Valter’s Osteria to heal old wounds, but Jen is already upsetting Mary.
Jen considers herself a raw truth-teller, and she uses Mary’s vague invitation to open up to explain her rough edges: though she will “eff you up and down, sideways and backwards,” she is fiercely loyal to those in her inner circle. Meredith appreciates that Jen is showing her vulnerability, but, pointedly, Jen does not explicitly apologize to Mary. Mary, of course, notices, and the snide comments start flying.
In no time at all, Jen and Mary trade passive-aggression for straight-up aggression aggression. Everything from Mary’s GIF-ready facial reactions to Jen’s cursing becomes fodder for the argument, all while poor Valter just tries to serve pasta. Mary all but drags Jen out the door, and Jen fumes outside the restaurant.
This luncheon, unsurprisingly, is mostly the Jen vs. Mary show, but the other Housewives play a role, too. Heather tries to calm both women down, and, perhaps with the help of some savvy Bravo producers, encourages Jen to come back inside for some more camera-ready fighting. Lisa, like a good Mormon peacemaker, hates the conflict. Meredith seems above it all. And Whitney is just confused about how the night fell apart so quickly, giving this unintentionally hilarious summary: “It started so amazing: I mean we had a red carpet, Beefeater guards, Beta fish, Louis Vuitton, 20-year-old wine. I got a journal and a nice pen with my name on it!” She then admits that she mostly came for the pasta, which is both relatable and a sign of solid priorities.
The fight takes a nasty turn when Mary tells Jen not to “get ghetto” and calls her a hoodlum. Jen understandably does not appreciate these loaded terms, especially when she hoped for sisterhood with a fellow woman of color in Utah. Jen then brings up an explosive bit of history—apparently, Mary told her that she drives away from a 7/11 if she sees Black people. Mary….does not deny this! In her confessional, Mary says, “Convenience stores, hospitals, I just have a fear of them. My mind automatically goes violent when it comes to convenience stores,” which absolutely leaves me with more questions than answers. Mary’s comments are definitely disturbing, but honestly, it’s about the 20th deeply bizarre thing that’s happened at this luncheon. After both women try to engage in some Mariah Carey-style “I don’t know her” shenanigans, Jen leaves for good. So, yeah, Mary is about as good at facilitating group healing as she is at executing a Met Gala theme.
Back at Heather’s house after the luncheon, we get more insight into her new, Mormon-ish lifestyle. Her teenage daughter Ashley has been dating the same boy for more than two years (gasp!) and Heather drops a bit of Mormon trivia that will surely be a head-scratcher to out-of-state viewers: horny, righteous teens aren’t supposed to go to a school dance with the same person twice in a row. (Okay, that’s not exactly doctrine, but it’s definitely a thing. Exploring the minutiae of Utah high school dance culture could easily fill an entire episode—I went on enough excruciating group dates in my youth to know!) Both Heather and her girls feel less-than at church after the divorce, which is disappointing and a bit surprising to me—divorce is not that uncommon in the religion, and many members are becoming more progressive on the issue.
After our time with single Heather, it’s time to check in with the forgotten cast members of the Real Housewives—the real husbands! Though most episodes so far have isolated the six main cast members and reveled in the drama, there is plenty of material to be mined from husbands, family members or, in Mary’s case, both at once! We start with Meredith and Seth, who has just flown in from Ohio. Previously, we learned that the couple is separated but still dating. Their reunion gets off to an awkward start when Seth half-jokingly asks if he should get in the front or back seat, and the couple’s “date” soon devolves into a disagreement about moving. Seth’s new job is based on Akron, but Meredith is not eager to uproot the family again. (Despite the intriguing possibility of The Real Housewives of Akron, I can’t blame her. Not even Seth’s copy of “99 Reasons to Love Akron” is convincing.) These two haven’t even finished the car ride home and they’ve already fallen into a resigned silence. It’s no surprise when later in the episode, they tearfully agree to stay separated.
In a clever bit of editing, viewers get to compare and contrast the marriages of the episode’s two main characters: Jen and Mary, as both explain their sides of the Met Gala from Hell. (That’s what I call building! a! narrative!) The very circumstances of Mary’s marriage is always going to feel like a cautionary tale against heterosexuality, and I am not a fan of the CBS sitcom dynamics these two fall into so easily. (“He never compliments me,” Mary whines after fishing for one.) Still, Robert Sr. manages the very basic task of listening to Mary and offering supportive statements, which counts as a win for this couple. Still, he can’t hold a candle to Jen’s husband Sharrieff, who manages to simultaneoulsy calm Jen down, offer her unconditional support and share a nuanced take on internal racism—all via FaceTime. Maybe it’s the coaching experience that makes him so good at this, but whatever it is, I’m going to need Sharrieff to call me whenever things go wrong in my life.
Though Whitney has her own juicy marriage origin story—and she is suspiciously defensive about rumors that she is a swinger—the series has mostly focused on her father Steve, who is trying to recover from a prescription drug addiction. In this episode, we meet her older brother Will. The two have a “special relationship,” which apparently means they train together at Unified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. (After a combat montage, Will tells Whitney, “I’ve wrestled a lot of people and you’ve got the talent to do this.” Thanks, big bro!) We also learn that Steve has agreed to move into sober living and that Whitney has been supporting her dad both financially and emotionally through his years of addiction.
Finally, Lisa does her duty as a good Utah mom and supervises too many hyperactive children for her son Henry’s bowling alley birthday party. While the kids stress out minimum wage employees, Lisa and John find time to gossip about Meredith and Seth. Lisa believes that their conflict is an inevitable side effect of their midlife crises, and explains, with a touch of self-righteousness, that her attitude toward marriage is more “eternal companion” than ‘til death do us part. Lisa feels that her faith makes the marriage stronger, which is probably true, though her Mormon Message: Housewives Edition does start to backfire when she admits to throwing John’s Rolex from a car window during one particularly bad fight. (Don’t worry, they found it in a snowbank.) It’s not an entirely encouraging portrayal of their relationship.
In a moment of rare equilibrium, the episode ends as it began: with Mary making batshit statements over cocktails. She is with Heather at dinner because Heather believes she can prove her loyalty to both Jen and Mary. (Good luck, girl!) Mary randomly declares that carbonation hurts your ovaries, which should really put a damper on Lisa’s next Swig run. More importantly, Mary has no plans to make nice with Jen. She believes that Jen treats her differently because of her race. (“Like, it’s a Black thing?” Heather helpfully interjects.) Whether it’s a “Black thing” or not, Mary is tired of feeling judged about her marriage. The conversation takes a dark turn when Mary emotionally explains that she struggled to follow through on her grandmother’s wishes and it took her a long time to get over her initial discomfort. Heather tries to empathize, saying, “I think everyone understands choosing faith over love… The big difference is I never had to call Billy grandpa or even daddy, for that matter.” On that thought-provoking note, we say goodbye to yet another unbelievable week of Real Housewives and look forward to next week’s episode, where Sundance parties will certainly bring out everyone’s best behavior.
I am still unpacking one of the wildest lines from last week’s episode, which I will reprint in full so that we can reflect on it as a nation: “You guys are drinking Dom Perignon 2003. In 2003 was the heatwave. 5,600 people died and it made the best grapes of all time.”
“Yes, Mary said that Jen smells like hospital. Jen called Mary a grandpa fucker. At this point, the score is settled.” Great point, Heather! No notes.
“The problem is, she brought that brain and that mouth with her.” Never change, Mary.
It’s difficult to overemphasize how funny it is to watch Valter and his staff silently absorb this insane luncheon. At one point Mary said she doesn’t want to fight around Valter, who is apparently “very upset,” Lisa croaks out an apology to Valter and Jen claims she is also friends with Valter and Arturo. They stay completely stone-faced this entire time. Leave these men alone!
Jen’s office prominently displays an ornate tiara, because of course it does.
In honor of the most husband-centric episode yet, here is my non-scientific ranking of the husbands in order of how much they want to be on TV:
- Robert Sr.
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