If you’re keeping track at home — and truly, what else could you be doing but micro-analyzing every single fascinating thing that happens on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City — the first major fight on RHOSLC was over one Housewife telling another Housewife that she “smelled like hospital.” The second fight was over one Housewives sending another Housewife a single thumbs-up emoji. And on the third fight of RHOSLC, our true love (Bravo) gave to us… a fight about a sleepover.
I guess these are the seeds of discontent one has to sow for entertainment in an otherwise peaceful mountain town where every single townsperson other than these seven women appears to be a bespectacled white male assistant, just trying and failing to understand the table setting needs of an extravagantly wealthy woman.
Fight number three, however, stands apart from the first two, because the “thumbs-up means f--- you” and “smells like hospital” fights — fun as they were — were mostly surface-level. You only had to scrape off the most delicate layer of snow to understand that Lisa was getting her jollies from preying on Heather’s insecurities, and Mary simply doesn’t comprehend human socialization, empathy, behavior, or basic shapes of clothing… respectively. But Jen’s reaction to Meredith canceling their sleepover, and then daring to speak to Mary who, as far as Meredith knew, was completely fine to speak to given that the last time she saw Mary and Jen together, they were taking pictures in fancy outfits, and the time before that, they were hugging…
Oh, that emotional reaction is an avalanche for the record books. And I have a feeling we’re in for a long and twisted ride when it comes to digging into the deep depths of Jen Shah.
The episode picks back up in the middle of Whitney’s 1920s party wherein Jen has entered the room, spotted Mary and Meredith sitting next to each other, and just decided to be furious about it. At a previous point in the evening, Jen also decided to drink about 10 tequila sodas, so that probably also has something to do with it, but this argument with Meredith proves that Jen’s actions shan’t be guided by logic, and we shouldn’t ask them to be.
Jen marches over to the Housewives table, briefly sits down and glares at Mary, then asks Meredith to go to a different table to talk, putting them even closer to the bare butt cheeks of the burlesque dancers for this entire argument.
First, Jen tells Meredith she was hurt that Meredith would cancel their slumber party to… spend time with her daughter before she goes back to college. Meredith tells Jen that she can explain that more to her later, but Jen quickly reveals that she’s actually mad that Meredith is palling around with Mary, who everyone is supposed to suddenly understand is her sworn enemy. Meredith tells Jen that she doesn’t feel like she needs to pick a side, and Jen gasps that of course she’s not asking Meredith to pick a side, she just needs to stop communicating with Mary if she’s a loyal friend.
Meredith, who is the picture of calm during all of this, explains why she’s so confused about Jen’s sudden hostility: “When I saw you and Mary last, the two of you were crying and telling each other that you loved each other and that you were both sorry.” With tears in her eyes and no valid justification for her anger, Jen simply screams: “WELL THAT’S NOT IT!”
The thing is, you can tell Jen is really hurting, even though she’s obviously just invented a reason to be angry at Meredith because she wants to be angry at someone. But it’s clear to us, and probably to Meredith, that Jen’s pain really has little to do with her, and Jen will eventually confess as much to Heather…
That’s Heather who, along with Whitney, is leaning halfway onto the dancefloor to provide their spectator commentary as the situation unfolds, which leads to one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard: “If I can make eye contact, I’ll go over there… but if I can’t, I’m waiting for my lollipop chicken drumsticks.”
Heather is on fire for the entire episode because I think understanding Jen is a game that only Heather knows how to play — which means that she knows to sit still and eat her chicken lollipops for now. Lisa, of all people, volunteers to go moderate the situation, and the moment she arrives, drapes herself over Jen and tells her to calm down. I was absolutely shocked that Jen did not pulverize Lisa with her bejeweled nails on the spot. Meredith has finally had enough, telling Jen that this isn’t productive, and she’s disengaging. And I really respect Meredith for not making this situation worse by rising to Jen’s level of anger…
Plus, I shudder to think how it could have possibly gotten any worse. As it is, once Meredith leaves, Jen starts screaming after her, “Are you serious? You’re gonna go with Mary who f---ed her grandfather!?”
Mary does one of her big blinks from the very next table over, looking like everyone mistook her for an empty booth and started throwing all their coats on top of her, in that particular way that Mary always seems to look. Still, I really don’t take joy in Jen so boldly making Mary uncomfortable. But facts are facts, and I did take great joy in Heather and Whitney trying to maneuver around them in their testimonials:
Whitney: “That’s rude! Whether it’s true or not… that’s just rude!”
Heather: “I’d f--- a grandpa, big deal. But if it was my grandpa that I was married to, I would not want my friend to yell that at me at a party.”
That is simply a level of empathy I cannot understand. For her part, Mary stays silent under her pile of coats at the party, but in her testimonial, she says of Jen: “Clearly there’s something about me you find fascinating because I’m always in your mouth.” And it’s like…
Yeah, Mary! You’re the most fascinating person I have ever encountered! You are married to your grandpa. You’re a pastor who lives in a straight-up mansion and gives Louis Vuitton as a party favor. At any given time, you appear to be wearing an outfit made exclusively of gloves and hats. You are a person designed by a Fisher-Price See ‘N Say, and it is extremely fascinating!!!
But at the moment, Jen just sees Mary as infuriating. She is in such a rage that she cannot be reasoned with, slowly mouthing, “F--- you,” across the room at, presumably, Meredith, but she could be mouthing it at the party emcee who has just quipped over the mic, “Keep your hands to yourself, for the love of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!”
Jen finally calls Sharrieff to come get her, and storms out of the party. Heath finally deems this as the right time to insert herself, calling out, “Don’t clear that burger, guard the burger and the lollipops,” as she leaves her table to chase after Jen. Outside, Heather calls Jen’s name to see if she’s okay, to which Jen replies, “DON’T YELL AT ME! SHUT THE F--- UP!!!”
Jen as a Housewife, I will take; Jen as a friend — absolutely not. But Heather is in it for the long haul. She says in her testimonial, “The best way of dealing with Jen when she’s on a rampage is not to react — you express love and support, and then end it and move on.” Heather calls Sharrieff, tells him to look for her standing in the middle of the street “like a flapper with cankles,” and then tucks a weeping Jen into his car…
And it simply must be said: Jen just wiled all the way out on Meredith for no reason.
Or, I mean — there was a reason. But it wasn’t the listed reason that **checks notes** Meredith didn’t intuit that she was supposed to be giving Mary the cold shoulder in order to be loyal to Jen. And when Jen goes over to Heather’s house to talk out what happened at the party, she almost gets around to saying that she was projecting her emotions from dealing with the one year anniversary of her father’s death, and the resentment she’s holding onto about Sharrieff never being home. She goes so far as to tell Heather that she’s very, very lonely…
But Jen still can’t get past this idea that Meredith betrayed her in some way. And then Jen does something really bad. Something almost worse than the party where she nearly went full Dark Phoenix and wiped out all of Salt Lake City. Because this Jen does with a completely sober and seemingly sound mind…
She lets it slip to Heather that Meredith and her husband are separated, doesn’t beg Meredith to keep it secret, and then in her testimonial, says: “I have been there for her, so I’m like, if you’re gonna betray me, then I’m gonna go talk to my friend about this.” I am a fan of Jen’s antics, but that is some low down dirty stuff. What happens in Meredith’s marriage is between Meredith, her husband, and that poor waitress who kept trying to cheerfully offer them appetizers on that disastrous date we witnessed a few weeks ago.
Other various pairs debrief Jen’s spiral at the 1920s party, but we cannot go a second longer without talking about Mary’s “luncheon.” Deciding that the group needs to spend some intimate time with one another in order to get past their drama, Mary announces to Lisa that she wants to host a luncheon. Then she tells Lisa that it will be great because “we get to dress up formal, elegant.” Again, this is a luncheon. Then Mary informs the women that the theme will be “Met Gala.” Whitney and Heather, who continue to be the very best blonde Greek chorus in this episode, sum it up best:
Heather: “Today’s theme is the Met Gala, which is very confusing to me because the Met Gala is a location, and the theme changes every year.”
Whitney: “I’m really surprised that Mary invited Jen. If someone called me a grandpa f---er, I definitely would not invite them to my… Met-Gala-cocktail-attire-luncheon.”
Don’t let that Minnie Mouse voice fool ya, Whitney is funny!
Mary, however, is precisely as whacky as she seems in every single moment of every single episode. We first encounter her ordering two people around who look like she has yanked them directly out of a Panera Bread and told them they have to create centerpieces out of live betta fish. When she discovers that the monogrammed notebooks she’s gotten for each woman were placed upside down, Mary barks at them, “Do you guys know how to read?”
But that’s pretty run of the mill Housewife classism. The real Fruit-Loopery begins when the women arrive, and pass their keys off to the valets who are inexplicably dressed as either nutcrackers or Beefeaters, depending on which confused Housewife you ask. Inside, Mary passes around champagne, and tells the ladies that they’re sipping on Dom Pérignon 2003. “In 2003, ther was a heatwave,” she explains: “5,600 people died, and it made the best grapes of all time.”
For the theme, most of the women have selected elegant pantsuits which seems to be a unique fashion staple of RHOSLC. Even Mary has somehow managed to keep her outfit fairly elegant, I just wish someone — anyone! — would hand this woman one single bobbypin.
Jen arrives after everyone has been seated, and Mary greets her warmly, telling her that the notebook in front of her is to write something down that she wants them all to know about her. But eventually, they skip the writing step, and just start offering up details about themselves. Mary says that she has trust issues, Whitney says that she’s working on caring less about other people’s opinions of her, and Lisa goes full “my weaknesses are my strengths,” saying that she sets extremely high goals for herself.
And then Jen clears her throat, with tears already in her eyes. Meredith has already said in her testimonial that she thinks Jen should apologize to her, and it takes her a while, but she sort of gets there. Jen tells the group about her father moving from Tonga to find a better life for his family. She tells them how hard growing up in Utah was for her, and the unique pressures of being the eldest of six children in a Tongan/Polynesian family. She says she had to work “50 times harder than anybody else, just to get the same thing,” and that’s why she’s so passionate about her friendships.
I’m not sure if I totally follow the thread, but I think Jen is attempting to share why she’s so sensitive to any suggestion of disloyalty, because she is fiercely loyal to the people she cares about, and she knows it makes her seem crazy some times. Then finally, just before the sharing stick is about to be passed, she ekes it out: “I know that makes no sense, but I got your back — and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for yelling f-you.”
So, again, if you’re keeping score and home, that’s an apology to Meredith for yelling “f--- you” across the bar, but not an apology to Mary for yelling that she “f---ed her grandfather.”
Or as Mary keeps saying, “She called me a grandpa m-fer,” suggesting that Jen called her a “grandpa motherf---er.” Which, wow — would be an even wilder twist of events, if true. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out! Enjoy this brief moment of reconciliation while it lasts, because it looks like the only Met Gala of 2020 is about to go all the way off the rails.