The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City recap: The sisterhood of the traveling Louboutins

·7 min read

Would it be possible to simply put Mary … back inside her closet? There's plenty of space in there, and plenty of airflow! She was having a good time in there in season 1, and we were having a good time in there with her. Because when Mary is merely trying on giant belts, talking to her mannequin heads, and FaceTiming out for the occasional Saran-Wrapped tray of liquids — or a bit of social contact with a co-worker — it's a lot easier to enjoy her more goofy, eccentric qualities.

When Mary is OOTC (out of the closet), however, and we're forced to face the totality of Mary Cosby as she relates to the world around her … things get a little more uncomfortable. But much like when Jennie calls all of her coworkers away from a fun party in order to sit them down on a sectional that's too small and draw a hard line on making overly racist comments — sometimes it is necessary to dwell in the discomfort if we're ever going to create change, even in our most stubborn reality TV franchises.

The question is — and this could be the Omicron talking (yes, please bear with me as I wrap my mind around this episode in between naps and Tylenol doses) — at what point do we become complicit in giving a platform to Mary word-vomiting these problematic ideologies all over the place? If once is a mistake and twice is a pattern, then exactly how many derogatory comments does it take to become a "Ramona-Singer-this-has-gone-12-seasons-too-far" situation? (And why would Ramona be given more chances than Mary?)

I guess only time will tell. Will Mary learn from a confrontation like tonight? Will she grow? Or — in laughing at the funny parts of Mary while turning a blind eye to the toxic parts — are we all just Meredith nervously cringing and asking Mary to keep her voice down while she uses a racially derogatory character voice?

Of course, in between the wildly problematic elements of this episode, a few of my favorite new storylines are gaining steam: Whitney bankrupting her family in order to shill hyaluronic acid, and Lisa stage-managing her adorable, endlessly patient sons. I do believe I could watch a professional photographer tell Lisa that she really doesn't need to be in the photo of Jack giving his prom date her corsage for hours. Alas, that scene is only a few minutes, while most of the episode is devoted to Whitney relaunching the skincare brand we'd never hear of, in order to become another brand that we've never heard of …

Until now! While Whitney neglected to include the new name of her beauty line anywhere in the brand relaunch photoshoot we saw a few weeks ago, in time for her brand relaunch party, our girl has finally gotten herself a Cricut and thrown "Wild Rose" on a few tote bags and pillowcases. Is Wild Rose a great name for an allegedly high-end skincare line? Doesn't matter — because as Whitney tells Heather, she's already sunk all of her and Justin's entire life savings into this relaunch. Heather's entire storyline this season is just trying to be supportive of her friends while they tell her things that make her want to scream. No one screams internally like Heather Gay. Or rather, just waits until her testimonial to say something like, "Mary's an asshole, but I'd shut my mouth and keep the shoes."

Indeed, that is what Heather says when, after playing citizen-detective with Whitney (vibe check: is everyone watching Yellowjackets? WATCH YELLOWJACKETS!) regarding Mary and Meredith's completely speculative involvement with Jen's arrest, Heather arrives at Whitney's rebranding party to find that Jennie's plus-one is a Saks bag containing the Louboutins Mary gave her in Vail. Because Jennie has things to address at this party.


Natalie Cass/Bravo The stars of 'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City': (L-R) Heather Gay, Jen Shah, Lisa Barlow, Jennie Nguyen, and Whitney Rose

But before she does that, it's basically just your average branded party. "WILD ROSE" is spelled out in flowers for the step-and-repeat. There's a completely unnecessary "blushes and nudes" dress code that Meredith skirts by hot-gluing purple feathers all over a power suit. Seth bashes spending time with his wife in order to try and bond with the other husbands, who unfortunately for Seth, really like their wives. And friends of Angie and SaraJane find reasons to touch Sharrieff's arm, which is absolutely the most relatable thing that happens throughout the entire episode. But finally, it's time for Jennie to gather all the women in a back room to talk. She wants to let Mary know that saying she had "slanted eyes" at the pho luncheon was not okay, and since Mary tends to claim she doesn't remember things, she wants all of the other women to witness the confrontation so that it's on the record. We stan a diligent, confrontational Housewife.

And confront, Jennie does! She looks Mary in the eye and tells her that she told her she had "beautiful, slanted eyes" when she could have just told her she had beautiful eyes. Mary immediately replies that she didn't mean any harm, and asks the others if they knew it was offensive to comment on an Asian person's slanted eyes. They're all like, Yep, except for Meredith who has spent the last few weeks suspiciously tightening up her alliance with Mary, and weirdly tells Mary in hushed tones, "I don't know if it would be offensive or not, but I wouldn't say it."

Hey Mere? Jennie is telling you it's offensive, so why don't you take her word for it! Mary apologizes for offending Jennie, and Jennie hands back over the Louboutins saying that in her culture, a used gift is offensive. Mary says the shoes weren't used, they just weren't originally intended for Jennie. Mary got them for herself and didn't like them, so then she brought them to Vail to give to Jen, but then Jen was arrested for fraud on the way to Vail, so she decided to give them to Jennie. So now that Jennie is giving them back, they're somehow passed back around to Jen, who says she has no reason to turn down Louboutins, and everyone laughs like, "Are we done here?"

Not so fast, says Whitney!

Whitney points out that she's not comfortable with how quickly they're shrugging off Mary's racially insensitive comments, and while I agree, I wish her request for Mary to explain why she thought it was okay to say such a thing also came with an attempted explanation of why it isn't. For many Asians in America, eye shape has long been a target of racism and stereotyping, and in the beauty industry, an object of fetishization and cultural appropriation. Mary clearly never grasps that in this conversation, but knows well enough to apologize for offending someone with a racially insensitive comment.

But when the conversation turns to the fact that Mary has made other racially charged comments — like telling Lisa "I'm not like Jen who's like a Mexican thug" (per Lisa's retelling now, a month later) — Mary is all done with owning up to things. She says she would never say something like that (cut to the editors rolling a clip of Mary saying something like that) and Meredith once again weirdly chimes in to say that the need for more respect in their group goes "well beyond prejudice." Uh, ma'am, I would call prejudice kind of the top of the respectability scale, and we can get everything else in order once we've got that one covered, k?

But Meredith is once again insisting that she wants nothing to do with Jen, while also calling out the other women (ahem, Lisa) for not being good friends to her Jen, which Meredith finds appalling. It's very bizarre! I think this episode made me realize that Meredith and Mary may bring out the worst in one another, including their love of fleeing an argument insisting that they don't have time for it…

Which of course means that the argument will spill over into at least four more group events until it's settled. See you back here next week to be emotionally scarred by the interior yet another sprinter van, and in the meantime, if anyone wants to join my prayer circle to keep Jen's mom from liquidating her retirement fund in order to pay for Jen's legal fees — please don't hesitate to reach out!

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