The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City recap: Self-titled sweatpants

Jodi Walker
·8 min read

EW Writers Pick Their Top Documentary or Reality Series of the Year

Chancellor Agard explains why he's so glad he decided to binge 'How To with John Wilson,' Darren Franich chats about the "quietly devastating" fifth season of 'Last Chance U,' and Samantha Highfill praises Michael Jordan and 'The Last Dance.'

The new year is approaching, so it’s time to lean into new goals and strengthen old relationships. For the Housewives of Salt Lake City, that means making sure that their sons sell out their self-titled tracksuit line; making sure they don’t pass the burden of shame down to their daughters; trying to stay calm while their dads suggest imminent self-destruction; and talking mad trash about their friends while pole dancing in a basement. Happy almost-New-Year, indeed!

I’m simply thrilled that this episode opened right back up at the Park City Fashion Show, mostly because it reminds me that, in a subconscious attempt to protect myself from an anxiety spiral, I failed to mention last week’s most high octane moment wherein Meredith’s toilet overflowed, setting off all the alarms in the house, causing the dog to bark wildly and defecate all over the floor, and causing Brooks to bark wildly, “Mom, were you cooking something? Were you cooking something? Were you cooking something? Mom, were you cooking something?” four times in a row, until his mom finally screamed that she was not cooking anything.

It’s unclear how much toilet water and dog defecation remained on the Marks home’s floors while they modeled their fashunz on the Park City runway — but model they did, as the other Housewives watched on. Brooks makes a beautiful model, and his tracksuits… are a beautiful canvas for his own name. Or should I say his tracksuit, singular. As Jen and Heather observe, the Brooks Marks debut is just 10 models wearing the same tracksuit. “Oh yeah, I’ve been rocking that tracksuit for months,” Jen says, as the editors roll a clip of her, indeed, rocking that tracksuit with a red beret…

“Hopefully he makes a second one soon, so I can wear that one.”

Now that is how you shade a pseudo-child’s not particularly impressive fashion line that only consists of one item! I should have been taking notes from Jen on how to politely talk trash about Housewives offspring all along. Of course, I shudder to think of what she’ll have to say about Brooks once she hears how he’s spoken about her this season.

Luckily not in need of any shading are Lisa’s adorable young sons who are busy making poster boards of their goals for the new year. My favorite thing about visiting Lisa’s family is trying to count how many fast-food cups are on the table at any given time. I’m not worried about the Barlow family’s ambition, but I am a little worried about them getting scurvy. Lisa’s oldest son says he would like to get shredded and run for student government in the new year; her youngest son would like to make all As and kiss a girl when he’s 15 (“that’s called a long term goal,” his dad tells him); and as for Lisa, she would like to stop being on her phone when she’s supposed to be listening to her family, and build a billion-dollar brand within the next five years.

When Lisa’s husband John tries to ask her how she’s going to approach one of her other goals — to say “no” more — he finds that Lisa is on her phone instead of listening to him. Once she gets off her phone, she says it’s very irritating that he would try to suggest she should say no more: “I know what I need to say no to!" He asks, "What are you gonna say no to?" "Nothing! Nothing. And I don’t need to.” I have no doubt that Lisa will monologue her way to that billion-dollar business in no time.

And given that one of Lisa’s many businesses is a tequila line, I do wish that Lisa and Heather could have a frank discussion about what it means to be Mormon while not strictly following every part of the doctrine. Because while Lisa seems to love being Mormon, Heather has made her distaste for the Mormon community’s judgment so clear that I was starting to wonder if she really considered herself Mormon anymore.

It seems that she does, but a lot of that comes down to not wanting to rip the Mormon identity out from under her daughters if they still want to have it. While Whitney gets a facial, she and Heather discuss being “under the thumb” of the Mormon doctrine, especially as women. Heather says the divorce was much easier on her husband socially because he can still “marry as many women as he wants in the temple, but I’m just out here, waiting for someone to accept me so that I can get back into heaven.”

Since her divorce, Heather has been trying to straddle the fence of wanting to expand her horizons, while also remaining part of a religion that says the things she wants to do (drink, date, have sex) are sins. Whitney tells Heather that she’s worthy of the life she wants to live, and that her daughters watching her tread water in her own life might be just as detrimental as what Heather is trying to prevent by not leaving the Mormon church for them.

So, a few scenes later, Heather sits down with her three teenage daughters and tells them straightforwardly that she’s not sure where she stands with Mormonism. She never wants to take away their faith or connection to the culture, but she wants to be open with them, rather than lead them down the path of shame and fear that she’s often walked.

Her daughters — who really just seem so lovely — tell her that they support her and that they feel like they can choose their own paths because she’s always instilled that independence in them. And I simply cannot believe the earnestness! There is something about Heather that always makes me root for her, and I think that thing is that I really hope Heather is rooting for herself. It is a breath of fresh air to meet a Housewife who doesn’t feel the need to be right all the time, and who is so open about her shortcomings. But I hope Heather also realizes that, per her lovely children, there’s plenty she’s done right.

For example, something she definitely did right: picking up that hottie Curtis in two minutes flat at Jen’s party last week. Heather tells Jen and Meredith while they’re out to dinner that it was a short-lived affair because Curtis had to get back to Atlanta, but asks Meredith if she plans on spitting any game now that she and Seth are separated. But Meredith keeps a tight lid on the current state of her marriage, telling the camera, “If I don’t get into a lot of detail, there’s not a lot for them to talk about.” And it seems like that was the right instinct — because for all of her raging about the importance of loyalty over the last few weeks, I was pretty disappointed to hear Jen trying to expose her good friend Meredith so hard all episode.

When Jen was pushing for details at dinner, it just seemed like an extroverted friend trying to get an introverted friend to open up about how she’s feeling. While asking Meredith about what led to their separation, Jen shares the difficulties in her own marriage with Sharrieff being away from home so much. (Jen also opened up about being on medication for depression and anxiety, and the journey she had to go through to accept that it was perfectly fine to seek help, which was a very humanizing and earnest moment for her. But she also mentions that before she got on the medication, Sharrieff almost left her because he was “done with [her] acting out" — which is slightly concerning considering Jen’s remaining propensity for…acting out.)

But later, when Jen goes to Whitney’s house to take a spin on the stripper pole, Jen’s motives seem much less innocent. She once again uses her own marriage to lead the conversation toward Meredith’s separation and then asks Whitney what she thinks about it. Whitney doesn’t think they could be seeing other people, because it would be too hard to keep that a secret. To which Jen coos, “Maybe you don’t know, but some other people know.” Whitney finally asks Jen what she’s getting at, but Jen says she could never say anything to Whitney about Meredith’s business (just imply in every way possible that there is something to be said)…

And then she tells the camera exactly what she’s talking about: a few months ago in New York, Jen went to one of Meredith’s trunk shows and ended up meeting a man who said that Meredith was the love of his life and that he’d be getting her home safely later: “Clearly there is something going on.” Yes, clearly, Jen. You, stirring the pot — that’s what’s going on!

If this episode seemed tame in comparison to other RHOSLC installments thus far, you may have noticed that Mary was almost entirely absent. But don’t worry, she was at the fashion show, so I’m sure we can count on her wearing anywhere from three to five Brooks Marks tracksuits on top of each other next week. See you there!

Related stories: