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Episode 15: ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ raise the issue of racism again

Part of Mary Cosby’s surprising defense: She asks Jen Shah if her husband, Sharrieff, is a racist.

(Photo courtesy of Heidi Gutman/Bravo) Whitney Rose, Heather Gay, Andy Cohen, Jen Shah, Lisa Barlow and Mary Cosby socially distanced at the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" reunion.

In Part 2 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” reunion, the battles among the women intensify, and Mary Cosby defends herself against charges of racism by questioning whether Jen Shah’s husband, Sharrieff Shah, is racist. What?

(Photo courtesy of Bravo) Sharrieff and Jen Shah on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Who’s racist?

Earlier this season, Jen told the other Housewives that Mary had refused to go into a convenience store because there were black men standing out in front. “It’s not true. I didn’t say that,” Mary says.

Reunion host/executive producer Andy Cohen points out that Mary “admitted on the show that you said it.” Mary again denies it, even though we saw and heard that admission.

[Read more: Was that racism on ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’? Here’s what experts say we can learn from it.]

And then things take a strange turn. Mary says, “But I did tell Jen my taste for Black guys — that’s not my taste.” Andy asks Mary if she prefers white guys, and she nods her head. “I mean, you’re married to a Black guy,” he says.

“Well, he’s white,” Mary says, confounding Andy and viewers. Because, yes, her husband, Robert Sr., is Black. It turns out that Mary means she prefers men with “lighter” skin tones: “It’s just more so of a preference.”

In the ensuing discussion, Mary asks Jen — out of the blue — “Is your husband a racist?”

There’s not been the slightest bit of evidence that Jen’s husband, U. assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah, is racist. He’s been a calm voice of reason on the show. “I’m just asking the question,” Mary says, feigning innocence.

It’s disgusting behavior. And then Mary backtracks. “The way I say things can come across offensive. I think all colors of Black are beautiful. … I love all Black men.”

This has been one of the most racially mixed casts in the “Real Housewives” franchise — Cosby is Black, Shah is Polynesian and the other four Salt Lake City women are white.

(Photo courtesy of Bravo) Mary Cosby is not a happy woman in the latest episode of "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

All about Mary

Andy asks Mary a lot of questions, clarifying a number of things that came out during the season.

• Mary explains why she had her odor glands removed. (And that surgery is why she’s scared of and hates the smell of hospitals.) She says she has a condition called “hidranitis” — maybe she meant hidradenitis suppurativa? — and “my immune system kept attacking my odor glands,” which resulted in “boils” that got “as big as an egg” over “70% of my body.”

• Mary makes it clear that her grandmother did not leave a will stating that she wanted Mary to marry her husband/Mary’s step-grandfather, Robert Sr. “Well, my grandmother told me for herself that she wanted me to take her place,” Mary says. Her grandmother did not tell Robert Sr. that, Mary adds, but Mary and Robert Sr. “prayed about it for two years and we felt like it was God’s will.”

• Andy asks Mary if she’s in love with her husband. “I absolutely think I am,” Mary replies.

• Mary admits that she was married once before, when she was 19. “Everybody gets married young in Utah,” she says. But she insists she did not leave her first husband to marry her current husband.

• Andy asks Mary if she’s “physical” with her husband, and, after a long pause, Mary says that in “the last few years, no.” And they have separate bedrooms.

“You can’t go through a marriage for 22 years and be happy,” she says before pointing out that her husband has bought her all her designer clothes. “We’re happy,” she contradicts herself amidst tears. “Marriages are hard. They’re horrible. They could be a nightmare. And I have a beautiful one.”

• Mary says that an audio recording of her calling members of her church poor and stingy — which has been circulating online — is genuine, but “was taken out of content.” (Presumably, she meant context.) It was really about “Jesus saying the poor will always be among you.”

It remains confusing and unclear what she’s claiming she was trying to say.

• In response to rumors that her church is a cult, Mary says, “We have the exact same beliefs as the Mormons.” Which seems unlikely.

• Mary denies her excessive spending comes from church funds. “My church couldn’t possibly take care of me,” she says. “I’m a God fearing woman. I would never do that.”

• Andy reads a question from a viewer who wonders how Mary can be the leader of her church and say “really mean-spirited things” about Jen’s aunt. (Which she did: “I don’t know what you want me to do about your aunt — her legs are gone. Why are you getting your legs cut off at 60? That means your diet’s bad.”

Her excuse: “I was aggravated because it kept coming up.” (Reminder: Her mean-spirited comments came later in confessional.)

She does, however, tell Jen she’s sorry. “There’s no excuse for it. I can’t take it back. And I apologize.”

OdorGate returns

Way back in Episode 1, the trouble between Mary and Jen started because Mary reacted badly to a hug from Jen — she said Jen “smells like hospital.” Andy is stunned when Jen says, “I never went to the hospital that day.”

“Well, this is the headline,” Andy says, and Mary continues to insist she “smelled hospital.”

“So your odor glands were removed, but your sense of smell is very strong,” Andy says.

“Really? That’s a dig,” Mary says. Yes. Yes, it is.

And then Jen and Mary start arguing about who has apologized to whom and whether those apologies were sincere.

(Photo courtesy of Fred Hayes/Bravo) Jen Shah and Mary Cosby in “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”

Is the Jen-Mary war over?

Andy asks Jen if she wants to apologize to Mary for making loud, vulgar comments about Mary’s marriage to her step-grandfather, and Jen starts to do just that — but Mary interrupts and says, “And I can say it’s not sincere.”

Jen says, “I shouldn’t have said that.” Mary says, “I didn’t hear an apology.” Jen tries again: “I’m sorry. Very, very sorry. I take 100% blame. I shouldn’t have said it. I’m really sorry.”

But Mary does not seem to be in a forgiving mood. She points out that Jen made many attacks upon her, including on social media. Heather Gay, who we were led to believe was close friends with Jen, tells her that on social media, “You are pretty detached from emotion and cruel.”

“I agree,” Mary says.

But, later in the show, Jen and Mary appear to make up. “I think we just needed to talk through it,” Jen says. “And I apologize again,” Mary says.

We’ve seen them bury the hatchet before, only to turn around and bury it in each other’s backs. So … we’ll see.

Birthday party brouhaha

One of the season’s biggest controversies came when Mary told Whitney Rose that both Meredith Marks and Lisa Barlow were afraid of Jen. This led to Whitney raising the issue at the surprise birthday party Jen threw for Sharrieff, ruining it.

Reminder: We saw Mary tell Whitney this.

Andy asks Mary if Meredith and Lisa said they were afraid of Jen. Mary says, “No.” Asked why she said that, Mary replies, “Because I said they are.”

So she lied. And set off the string events that ruined Sharrieff’s party.

(They also digress into Whitney and Heather saying that Jen is triggered every time she hears Mary’s name. Jen denies it — but we saw that happen more than once.)

(Photo courtesy of Gabe Ginsberg/Bravo) Whitney Rose, Heather Gay and Lisa Barlow are caught up in the drama in Episode 12 of "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Lisa and Heather hate each other

The biggest battle in the episode erupts between Lisa and Heather, who — to all appearances — loathe each other. Lisa says both Heather and Whitney are like a “tornado” who “spin the truth, destroy.” And when she says she is a real friend to Jen, both Heather and Whitney say that’s not true.

“Lisa isn’t actually friends with anyone, other than Lisa,” Heather says. When Meredith says Lisa has been “100%” a friend to her, Heather says Lisa has been an [expletive] friend to Meredith.” And even Meredith doesn’t understand what she’s saying.

Lisa loses it and starts yelling at Heather, asserting (accurately) that Heather (and Whitney) both talked about Meredith’s marriage behind her back. “I was [expletive] livid,” Lisa says. “You are a disgusting human being and you’re an [expletive] liar.” And she calls Heather a “perpetual victim.”

And, later, we return to the argument over how long they’ve known each other. Heather says Lisa must have known her because Lisa recommended her to be on “Real Housewives.” They call each other liars.

Lisa says they met in 2017, and offers up a text exchange — apparently from that year — in which she texts, “Can’t wait to meet you in person” and Heather replies, “Same!!”

And, later still, Heather accuses Lisa of manipulating Jen to go after her on social media.

Meredith’s marriage

“I want to make something abundantly clear,” Meredith says. “The next one of you who has anything to say about my family in any way, shape or form — you are not my friend.”

She says that she and her husband have worked hard “to get into a very positive space.”

[Read more: ‘Real Housewives’ cast member Meredith Marks’ marital woes are playing out on the show]

(Photo courtesy of Heidi Gutman/Bravo) Heather Gay and Andy Cohen in the "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" reunion.

Heather in therapy

Throughout the season, Heather openly struggled with her self-image as a divorced “Mormon” mom.

“Filming all that and being kind of forced to just, you know, figure things out was huge for me,” she says. “And it was absolutely therapy” and “absolutely transformative. … I just didn’t think there was an audience for the mess that I am. And to have marginalized Mormons and just humans across the globe reach out and laugh and relate to anything has been totally healing.”

[Read more: ‘Real Housewife’ Heather Gay is brash, bold and surprisingly vulnerable]

It also changed the way she deals with her daughters. She had “preached … absolute abstinence” to them and now they talk about sex “in a way that they feel safe.” When she says she wants her daughters “to be wild” and “have multiple partners. … Get wasted and live,” Mary has a look of horror on her face.

Heather says the only “negativity” she’s received is from “really active Mormon people who feel like I’m not representing the church in a positive light, which I totally understand. I would have felt the same.” But she’s felt a lot of love from “marginalized Mormons … gay Mormons, ex-Mormons, female Mormons.”

Lisa says she also hears from members of the LGBTQIA “Mormon” community “that are, like, ‘I want to live the church the way you do it. Like I want to have cocktails, I want to do it more leniently.”

[Read more: Lisa Barlow of ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ is a ‘Mormon 2.0’]

Just a note: “Really active” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints likely don’t call themselves Mormon — following the instruction of President Russell M. Nelson in 2018.

And Whitney and Lisa hate each other

“Lisa never thought I was good enough to be in this seat. This woman has put me down over and over to my face, behind my back,” Whitney says. “And that is the [expletive] truth.”

“It is not!” Lisa says.

And later, Lisa says, “You don’t like me. It’s OK. I don’t care. It’s OK.”

Heather and Lisa go on the attack — again

During what was apparently supposed to be a break in filming, Heather goes after Lisa, trying to drive a wedge between her and Meredith. She says that Lisa wasn’t a friend to Meredith “in a million ways ... subtly.”

(After working to drive that wedge in, Heather then denies that’s what she’s doing.)

There’s more arguing, and Meredith says, “Andy, are you sick of all this yet?”

”It’s my life,” Andy replies wearily. He’s made boatloads of money from “Real Housewives.” Not feeling sorry for Andy.

“There’s so much hostility and anger here that you guys don’t hear anything,” Meredith says. And that’s 100% true.

“It’s relentless,” Lisa says. “It’s mind-numbing.” Also 100% true.

Lisa leaves. Backstage, she bursts into tears as she vents to her husband. And she indicates she may not return for Part 3 of the reunion.

And that final installment of Season 1 will include appearances by the Housewives’ husbands. At least some of them.

Episode 16 (Part 3 of the reunion) debuts Wednesday on Bravo — 8 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11 p.m. on Comcast.

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