After a wild, up-and-down Season 2, the cast of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City gathered on a gloriously tacky winter-wonderland set to dig into all of this season’s juiciest drama. The women watched the final episodes, including Lisa’s explosive hot mic moment, hours before taping the reunion, so emotions were raw and every cast member came in with several chips on their shoulders. With a full season behind us, Andy and a host of viewers (including a Twitter user hilariously named “ugly adjacent,”) asked the questions that have been on everyone’s minds. Let’s dig into, in the words of Heather Gay, this “real, fake and fucked up” reunion with 10 takeaways.
1) Hi baby gorgeous!
After 21 truly unhinged episodes, pretty much every cast member had drama to reexamine or dirty laundry to air out. It was surprising, then, how much screen time was dedicated to Lisa—she was the undisputed center of gravity of this reunion. Everyone besides Lisa’s longtime friend Jennie had a bone to pick with her, and she spent what seemed like hours backed in a corner, forced to defend herself. Plenty of the criticism was justified, especially about the hot mic rant (more on that later), but I left feeling a little sorry for Lisa—she is far from the only one with bad behavior worth addressing! Still, the Lisa Barlow show had plenty of iconic moments. She is forced to explain why she compared Heather to a Lego and gets in a fight about whether she only rents yachts for Instagram pictures. She comes prepared with printed iMessage screenshots to defend her case—and pulls out reading glasses when she’s really ready to share the receipts. And in one of several litigations over Lisa and Meredith’s friendship, Andy tells Lisa that her support of Meredith is “not landing with her” and she protests, “okay, it is landing with me.” Lisa IS the main character.
2) The bad weather report
So much has changed between Seasons 1 and 2, but all I got from Heather and Whitney during these episodes was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Just as in the Season 1 reunion, the cousins focused almost all of their energy on taking down Lisa. Heather lands some solid burns—she calls Lisa “a caricature of some teen magazine she read in 8th Grade that says ‘how to be a cool mean girl’”—but for the most part their crusade just made me tired. These three seemed to be on better terms by the end of this season, their rivalry always felt convoluted anyway and Heather and Whitney spent hardly any time talking about the (more interesting) things they got up to this season.
3) Lisa Barlow does not care when the cameras are rolling
You would think that after reality TV cameras caught you calling one of your closest friends a “fucking whore” behind closed doors, you would be quite sensitive about the right time to share your thoughts while mic’d up. Lisa, though, has a thrilling disregard for when the cameras are (and aren’t) rolling. Though the cast is discouraged from talking to each other during breaks, she can’t resist apologizing to Meredith for her hot mic rant. She also, hilariously, explains that her rage came from a rumor that Meredith had made fun of her house. (Hell hath no fury like a woman who is sensitive about her recent remodel.) Meredith is in no mood for quick forgiveness— the wounds are still too fresh. Later, she goes to hug Heather and Whitney in between takes and the three makeup (ish) when Heather says her intentions were to defend, not attack, Lisa. This is…certainly not what happened on camera, but there’s still a glimmer of hope for these three fan favorites to set aside their differences.
4) Meredith engages
After a Season 1 where Meredith was best known for “disengaging” whenever a fight got interesting, she came into this season ready to stand up for herself. From her long-simmering anger at Jen and Lisa to her inexplicable defense of Mary, Meredith had some explaining to do during the reunion. In easily the most sympathetic appearance of the entire cast, she explained that her strong emotions this season sprung from the death of her father and other family issues she wasn’t comfortable sharing on camera. She appeared to be genuinely shaken up by her difficult year, and her statements were a reminder that these women aren’t just TV characters—they’re real people experiencing real pain. (Plus, she got the chance to use her lawyer skills to carefully build her case against Lisa, which was a lot of fun.)
5) All hail Andy Cohen
As a Real Housewives newbie, forgive me for what is likely an extremely basic observation: Andy Cohen is very good at this. He asks extremely probing questions with just enough tact to get the answers he wants. He pushes the right buttons to extract drama, but mediates the fights before they boil into unbridled chaos. And he’s genuinely, off-the-cuff funny. Hosting this marathon of a reunion can’t be easy, and Andy shows that there is real skill in making reality TV this stupidly addictive.
6) There’s Something About Mary
While viewers already learned weeks ago that Mary Cosby skipped the reunion, essentially giving up her spot on the show, the other cast members discover in real time that Mary won’t be showing up. Upset by the show’s treatment of her church and her racist comments towards Jennie, Mary refuses to come and defend herself. That doesn’t stop the cast from discussing her general rudeness to the other cast members, Meredith and Mary’s friendship and, most importantly, the allegations that she runs a cult. Even Meredith is uninterested in fullheartedly defending Mary, and without Mary there to respond for herself, the questions surrounding the series’ most confounding figure are left frustratingly unanswered.
7) The other elephants in the room
Mary isn’t the only person whose presence is needed at the reunion. Lisa and Whitney rehash the catering drama from Angie’s fundraiser (ugh), which is essentially useless without Angie there to explain herself. Uncomfortably, the women also discuss the relationship between Mary and Cameron, a friend of Lisa’s and a former Faith Temple member who passed away after appearing in this season. Considering his death, I think both Bravo and the cast should have avoided talking about him altogether. I strongly agree with this Tweet that says the long-suffering sprinter van driver Kevin should have been invited to tell his side of the story. This poor man has been through so much!
8) Jennie’s first (and last) reunion
Part one begins with a disclaimer that the discovery of Jennie’s racist comments on social media, and her subsequent firing, happened after the reunion was filmed. In a richly ironic moment, Jennie spends a large chunk of time discussing Mary’s anti-Asian comments and racism more broadly. Of course, Jennie’s own (stupid!) opinions don’t discount the real racism she experiences, but it’s cringeworthy to hear her preach that she and Mary should support each other as fellow people of color knowing her own anti-Black comments. After Andy shares that Mary doesn’t believe that Black people can be racist, Jennie says, “Everyone is capable of being racist.” She really walked right into that one.
9) The Real Husbands of SLC
Justin, Sharrieff, John, Duy and Seth (virtually) all joined their wives for the reunion, and they were mostly left unscathed in a charming appearance. Even Seth, who I usually find obnoxious, comes across well, and says he acted like “an ass” to distract Meredith from her grief. Justin is asked about a lawsuit against LifeVantage, the MLM he works for, so maybe there will be more legal drama even after the Shah trial. John…is there. Everyone gives Duy the side-eye as he tries to explain why he suggested bringing in a sister wife to have more children, but we won’t see him again, so whatever. Sharrieff gets the toughest questions—he’s asked if he knew anything about Jen’s alleged fraud and money laundering, which he denies, and he is directly asked about rumors that Jen has cheated on him. Sharrieff’s comments are unlikely to quell suspicion about Jen’s businesses (or his own involvement and knowledge), but he is easy to root for. He’s charismatic, he advocates for Black men to go to therapy and he seems determined to stick by his wife for better and (definitely) worse.
10) Law & Order: Shah Unit
Let’s cut to the chase: the only real surprise in this reunion’s treatment of Jen’s fraud charges is that it took until Part 3 to truly dig into it. She continues to deny that her business practices were illegal. (Duh.) Any time the questions about her case get too specific, she hits Andy with a lawyer-approved “no comment.” (Double duh.) And because Jen always pretends to be contrite for about two minutes before self-sabotaging, she spends a good part of the reunion sniping at her two closest allies, Heather and Lisa. (The biggest duh of all.) Jen does her damnedest to turn her arrest into a case study of racism in the criminal justice system, and while this is certainly an indisputable fact, she is, to put it mildly, not the best messenger for this important issue. Jen still seems resistant to any sort of plea deal, and her trial has been postponed until July, which could very well be after Season 3 wraps up filming.
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