‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ Recap: ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’

After a long, epic season of federal fraud challenges, hot mic revelations and debates over whether eating at Taco Bell makes a person “fake” (if anything, it makes a person more real!) we have finally reached the end of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 2. And after 21 episodes of brain-smoothing insanity, this finale is a bit like palate cleanser, which is understandable but a little underwhelming. For most of the episode, we get relatively sympathetic, relatively quiet individual moments with the women, and the season’s final, inevitable series of fights and dramatic exits feels slight compared to the fireworks of Vail and Zion. After five long months, I’m tired, Andy Cohen is definitely tired and even the cast seems tired. I say let Jennie Nguyen throw her little glass and get her screen time while she still has the chance.

Before that, though, we get a perfunctory wrapup of several dangling subplots. Jen, a woman of the people, is moving into a 4,500 square foot Park City ski mansion from her 9,000 square foot Park City ski mansion. (Working class icon!!) As Murilo, who is still hot, takes notes, two patient, sweet movers realize that transporting Jen’s closet alone could easily turn into a years-long project. I need some sort of HGTV series about these movers trying to explain to Jen that moving to a house half the size means she can only keep half of her stuff. The trials and tribulations of a $2 million retainer!

I’ve always found Heather’s “good Mormon gone bad” narrative both compelling and sympathetic, but this episode makes me hope that she has a new character arc for Season 3. After pandemic delays, Heather finally plans a memorial for her dad, who died in 2020. The gathering has some noticeable absences—her mom and several of her siblings refused to show. For Heather, this is even more confirmation that she is being rejected for leaving the Church, and the celebration of life turns into a long speech on her own faith crisis. I have no idea why Heather’s family didn’t join the memorial, but I suspect it’s just as likely that some of the family didn’t want to participate in something so personal in front of reality TV cameras which, in my mind, is completely understandable. (Heather’s mom does briefly drive by the graveside service, but her face is blurred and she doesn’t stay.) Week to week, Heather is the most purely likable member of the cast, and while her faith crisis is a uniquely Utah story that the show was wise to focus on, she definitely has more to offer. I hope she gets a narrative makeover when the series returns. 

In, somehow, the show’s first scene at the Bonneville Salt Flats, undercover camp icon Meredith Marks plans a perfectly bonkers photo shoot for her jewelry brand that I completely forgot existed. Meredith also gets another chance to give a little TED Talk about gay allysip, confirming that all of her jewelry is gender-neutral and that this photo shoot will raise money for GLAAD. (Woke queen!) To show off her jewelry, a literal bus full of models (plus Brooks and Chloe) in Euphoria makeup put on some (honestly great) pastel suits. This shoot teaches us two things about Brooks: 1. Despite long standing rumors, the closest thing we’ll see to Brooks coming out is Meredith saying that Brooks “is on his own journey,” and 2. Brooks “Don’t Say The Word Vagina In Front of Me” Marks is perfectly fine with making an incest joke during the shoot. Great! Seth, who gamely wore some bold eye shadow for the occasion, has never been more likable, and the shoot ends with everyone in matching T-shirts that read “LGBTQ Rights? I’m Engaging!” If these aren’t for sale in time for Pride, Meredith is a damn fool!

In probably the most uncomfortable scene yet on the series—which is a tough competition— Whitney decides to end her sexual rut with Justin…on camera. He comes home from a trip and is “surprised” (Oh God I hope he wasn’t actually surprised) by Whitney in a sexy red swimsuit. Here’s what I can best tell happened as I watched this scene through fingers covering my eyes: Justin drinks champagne directly from Whitney’s boobs. Justin and Whitney move to the bedroom, where he’s instructed to take off his clothes. (His chain stays ON during sex.) Whitney wears only pasties and underwerar. They do some “love art,” which involves squirting body paint on each other, making out and Justin spanking Whitney. Hard. The cameras, graciously, stop rolling before things gets too hot for Bravo. Justin and Whitney have proved themselves to be the series’ best couple in Season 2, but, um, I didn’t need to see all of this! Y’all have fun though! 

During a moment of harmony in Zion, Lisa invited everyone to her ‘80s-inspired Vida Tequila party. Lisa, who has been accused of using guest lists to play psychological mind games, may have tried to extend an olive branch with the invite, but at this point, it’s too little too late. Every cast member has at least one other person they can’t stand being in a room with. Still, Lisa is not one to turn down a branding opportunity, so the event forges forward. I am hypnotized by Lisa’s descriptions of her event. She says the food is “inspired by mall eats on a luxury scale.” (Translation: Enjoy these overpriced churros.) She chose the ‘80s and ‘90s inspiration because that era is “the height of fashion and decadence.” (Why not.) Though the party had a clear theme, Lisa insists that she doesn’t want anyone to show up in costumes—if this is a way to subtly embarrass the other Housewives who do take the dress code seriously, Lisa is much more shrewd than Mary telling Whitney to show up to a pasta-making class dressed like Luigi or whatever the fuck.

When Meredith arrives, the rest of the women wonder what will happen after her and Lisa’s feud in Zion. (And nobody even knows yet about Lisa’s already-infamous “she’s fucked half of New York” rant!) In a development that should surprise no one, Lisa and Meredith seem…perfectly fine. Perhaps more than anyone in the cast, these two are able to grin and bear it in the middle of a social event, so we’ll have to look elsewhere for catfights. Mary, who, as usual, spends the party muttering hexes and making the most awkward small talk imaginable, gets dragged into conflict against her will. First, Jennie is mad that Mary is ignoring her, which seems like a lucky break to me, but whatever. Then, Whitney, who just chased Vida with more Vida, wants to apologize to Mary for criticizing her church. (To give Mary slight credit, I would also avoid any conversations with drunk Whitney.) Jennie, though, is desperate to grab her last morsels of screen time—she interrupts Whitney’s conversation to remind Mary that she’s rude, throws a glass when Mary tries to run away and milks the half-baked drama for all its worth.

After Mary leaves the party early, the rest of the cast gather for the final time this season to talk shit. (The husbands chat too, but their conversation is so boring I am physically unable to write about it.) Jen, for some reason, asks again why Meredith won’t be friends with her. Meredith simply loves to monologue about the pain inflicted on her “fam-uh-lee,” and I truly don’t know what Jen hopes to accomplish by once again giving her the opportunity. Somehow, they once again talk about Jen spreading rumors about Meredith’s marriage, which is, objectively, a thing that happened. Meredith gets to do another thing she loves—dramatically storm away from a party—while screaming “I’ll talk about who everybody dated that NOBODY knows about!” To this I say, don’t be shy Meredith! Jen and Lisa are left dumbfounded, and Jen tells Lisa,“You’re signing up for somebody and it’s not my fucking fault that she fucked the entire fucking Upper East Side.” And on this sour, slut-shamey note, we say goodbye to Season 2. By the end of the night, everyone seems vaguely miserable except for Whitney and Justin, who are fully making out in a corner. Have fun kids!                 

Next week, the cast meets on the set of an Off-Off-Broadway production of Frozen for a three-part reunion. Andy Cohen, doing the Lord’s work, will ask actual questions about Jen’s arrest, and I’m sure Meredith will have plenty to say about her bestie of 10 years saying every mean thing she can think of behind her back on camera. I can’t wait!

Random observations:

  • While on glam squad duties, Murilo (call me) wears a #FreeJenShah shirt with the photo of Jen in her box braids! I need one of these so badly!
  • Thank you to the Bravo editors for the Lisa love counter, which counted how many times Lisa said “love” in a single meeting (16). This data needed to be released to the general public.          
  • I’m still disturbed that Jack told Lisa to wear “whatever covers you up more.” Ick!
  • I don’t know if Jen’s Gucci outfit fit the 80s theme, but she did look good!
  • Speaking of party fashion, Seth wears a Reagan/Bush ‘84 T-shirt, eliminating all good will from the GLAAD shoot. 
  • Heather is definitely the person you want to hang out with at a mall-inspired Vida Tequila launch party. She has great rapport with the husbands, makes fun of Meredith for only eating a single slider and leaves the table as soon as Meredith and Jen are back on their bullshit. Great work! No notes.                      

Catch up with all of our recaps of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

Josh Petersen
Josh Petersenhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Josh Petersen is the former Digital Editor of Salt Lake magazine, where he covered local art, food, culture and, most importantly, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. He previously worked at Utah Style & Design and is a graduate of the University of Utah.

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