Episode 4 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is a dumpster fire burning around Jen Shah. But we also get new insight into the pain that’s fueling the flames.
When Jen makes her big entrance at Whitney Rose’s 1920s-themed party at Prohibition in Murray, she’s already had “like, 10 cocktails in the car.” She drinks more after she arrives — and drinking and “Housewife”-ing is a dangerous combination.
Jen quickly confronts Meredith Marks about the cancellation of their sleepover. Meredith wants to postpone that discussion until what she considers a more appropriate time.
As if that’s going to happen. Jen berates Meredith for befriending Mary Cosby, who remains Jen’s mortal enemy in the wake of their odor-gate feud.
“I don’t take sides,” Meredith says, later adding, “Am I supposed to be mean to Mary?”
Jen says no, but adds, “How are you my friend if somebody’s hurt not only me, but my family?” And later, Jen says Meredith’s behavior is like a “knife in my back. Where’s the friendship? Where’s the loyalty here?”
Meredith is confused. She correctly points out that she saw Jen and Mary hug and make up when they had a confrontation at the birthday party Jen threw for her.
The only reason Jen accepted Mary’s apology, she tells Meredith, “was because it was your birthday,” recalling events in Episode 1. Later in the episode, she says she threw Meredith “an $85,000 f---ing birthday party, and this is how you treat me?”
Meredith walks away from the confrontation, later saying, “Even if there was a problem, we are not 10. We are in our 40s. Nobody should be dictating who should be friends with who.”
Good point. But it only gets worse, and Jen eventually makes a loud — and very crude — sexual reference to the fact that Mary married her step-grandfather after her grandmother’s death.
Everybody in the place hears it,, including Mary, who is justifiably unhappy about it.
As Meredith exits the party, Jen curses her out. Jen gives the finger to … pretty much everybody. Whitney goes to check on Jen “out of pure fear. Because I don’t want her to freak out at me for not checking on her.”
Jen calls her husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah, to come pick her up and goes outside. Heather Gay tries to keep her calm until Sharrieff arrives. No chance. Jen shrieks and curses at her until he appears.
“This is a crazy night,” Heather Gay says, “between the strippers and the grandpa [reference] and the drinking, it’s a good thing our Mormon friends weren’t here. Their skin and flesh would melt off of their faces in horror.”
Shopping for art at Gallery Mar in Park City, Meredith tells Lisa Barlow she and her husband, Seth, are separated. Lisa gasps in surprise.
“Really, for us, it’s like you get in and you have the kids and everything is so focused on them and you kind of lose your dynamic together,” Meredith says. “And so we just need to regroup and we’ve been kind of dating each other.”
“If you could make it work, make it work,” Lisa advises.
The only other Housewife who knows about the separation is Jen, who soon blabs to Heather, who then blabs to Whitney. So pretty much everybody knows.
Jen arrives at Heather’s house, quickly followed by the sushi she ordered. “It’s like she’s a toddler, and she has to have her sippy cup and her fruit snacks or all hell’s going to break loose,” Heather says.
“I’m a brown girl. I eat,” Jen says.
Heather asks Jen what’s been going on with her. “Physically, you’re a dream,” Heather says. “And that’s all that matters,” Jen interjects.
“Emotionally — total mess,” Heather says, later adding, “I’m, like, not dumb. I know that Jen’s behavior is absolutely crazy. But she’s also my friend.”
And she gets Jen to open up about what’s really bothering her. “A hundred percent I feel lonely,” Jen says. “I mean, I put on a good front, but, yeah, I’m lonely.”
It gets “very hard” during football season with Sharrieff devoting so much time to the team, she says. “You have to understand, I don’t see him.”
Plus, the first anniversary of her father’s death is coming up — we see Jen mourning at the cemetery, and we learn that Sharrieff couldn’t attend her father’s funeral because the Utes had a game.
“I sucked it up like a good football wife’s supposed to do — ‘OK, go play your game,’” Jen said. “But he’ll never understand how much this hurt me.”
She starts complaining again about how Meredith has been disloyal to her, but Heather sees through it. . “This is about [Jen] being frustrated with Sharrieff and not knowing what to do with her anger,” Heather says.
Jen says she calls “Coach Shah for a pep talk on a daily basis. When you start your day off with a Coach Shah pep talk, it makes your day great!”
“Be aware of situations that can become hostile,” Sharrieff says on Facetime. “Be aware of your own temperament.”
Judging Mary — and Utah
Lisa goes to Mary’s house, where the Christmas decorations are still up. To her face, Lisa says the house “looks magical.”
In an interview segment, Lisa says, “Mary’s house is a little disjointed from her personal style. When I look at Mary, I’m, like, she’s so put together. So chic. Best style.” But her house is “a little different. Like, more eclectic. Not quite Utah eclectic, but definitely eclectic.”
That’s the second time Lisa has disparaged Utahns and their style.
And Mary continues to act totally jealous of her 17-year-old son’s girlfriend. She’s not happy that Robert Jr. bought the girl a Prada purse ($795 to $4,400 on Prada.com) for Christmas. “That’s way more than he’s ever gotten for me,” Mary says.
Robert Jr. also gave his girlfriend a dog for her birthday and a chinchilla for Valentine’s Day, according to Mary.
Robert Jr. says he wants to be a fashion designer, and Mary is upset because he no longer wants to be a brain surgeon. “You don’t want to help people?” Mary asks, laying on some maternal guilt. “Wow, you’ve changed. That girl changed you.”
The (Met Gala?) luncheon
Mary hosts a luncheon so the Housewives can get together and talk. She goes all out (beta fish in the table decorations, gifts from Louis Vuitton and dishes that include truffles — which, Mary brags, cost $8,000 a pound) and she’s more than a little rude to the staff setting things up at Valter’s Osteria in Salt Lake City.
“Do you guys know how to read?” she asks. “Because the names are upside down” on the embossed journals she’s giving her guests.
Mary’s theme for the party is Met Gala, although her guests question if she even knows what that is. The annual fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute is known for the outrageous, avant-garde fashions attendees wear. “It just sounds fancy, and so she put it on the invitation,” Heather says.
When the Housewives arrive, there’s a red carpet, velvet ropes and valets in odd costumes — sort of like the guards at Buckingham Palace.
“Wow, I think Mary really loves Christmas, because she even brought the toy soldiers to her party,” Lisa Barlow says. “But I’m not quite sure what that has to do with the Met Gala.”
“There’s beefeaters and a red carpet. At noon in Salt Lake City,” Whitney says. “ ... It makes no sense, but it actually screams Mary.”
And Lisa holds out hope that the event will be peaceful. “I would love to be in a space where we could all have fun together and there’s no drama,” she says.
If that was true, there would also be no show.
Mary says she has “trust issues.” Whitney says, “I am many things, but I am not a swinger.” Lisa has “extremely high goals,” adding, “I love it about myself. I don’t want to change it.”
“I wish I had that much … confidence,” Whitney says later. “Or arrogance, one of the two.” (So, no, the Whitney-Lisa feud isn’t over.)
Jen tells the other five women about her experiences as the daughter of Tongan immigrants — she’s the oldest of six children, and “in the Tongan-Polynesian culture, the oldest child has a lot of responsibility to always be perfect,” she says. “It was “hard growing up in Utah … so I know what it’s like to be at the bottom and have to climb to the top. To work 50 times harder than everybody else just to get the same thing.”
And, she says, her recent behavior has been because she’s “passionate.” “I know I’m crazy AF and I might go off, but it’s because I love my friends,” Jen says.
“I know I have a very hard exterior,” she tells the women, adding she sometimes reacts the way she does [her wording was far more pointed] “because I care so much.”
“But sometimes,” Mary says, “ ... words can be just as deadly as a weapon.”
Jen issues a blanket apology, but Mary later asks, “Where’s my apology?” and says Jen’s dig about her and her step-grandfather was “cruel.”
Previews from the next episode make it clear that this luncheon is headed in the same direction as Whitney’s 1920s party.
Episode 5 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” will air Wednesday, Dec. 9 on Bravo — 8 p.m. on DirecTV and Dish; 11 p.m. on Comcast.