Through 19 episodes of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” viewers have become accustomed to over-the-top behavior. Particularly from Jen Shah, who has become angry to the point of losing control of herself on multiple occasions.
Jen is, once again, at the center of a maelstrom in the most recent episode. But, somewhat surprisingly, she isn’t the one who comes unglued.
Showdown at Echo Lake
Through much of Season 2′s Episode 3, Jen and Meredith Marks sort of circle each other. Meredith is mad because, she insists, Jen liked homophobic tweets about her 21-year-old son, Brooks. And Brooks hasn’t told anyone if he’s gay or not.
Jen invites all the Housewives to an ice-fishing expedition at Echo Lake in Coalville. (Yes, it’s weird. But it’s the kind of thing they do on “Real Housewives.”)
Jen is joined by Heather Gay, Whitney Rose, Lisa Barlow and Jennie Nguyen. Mary Cosby, who makes it clear she can’t stand Jen, declines her invitation. Jen invites Meredith because “I care about her” — even though she’s “super [expletive] irritated with her.” Nobody thinks Meredith will show up, and they’re surprised when she does.
It feels more than a little like the showdown at the OK Corral. Everybody knows that a fight is going to break out.
“All these ladies are screaming ‘trout’ and running around like crazy,” Meredith says, “and all I can think about is I have a much bigger fish to fry — named Jennifer Shah.”
When Jen, Meredith and the other women sit down together, Meredith says, “I think it was really nice that you tried to get everybody together and I don’t want to ruin it.” Then she ruins it, because of “some stuff that’s been festering.”
“There are homophobic tweets regarding my son’s sexuality that you have liked. It is really painful,” Meredith says.
(To be clear — while some of the tweets Meredith insists are homophobic can certainly be interpreted that way, others only assert that Brooks is gay. Which is not, by definition, homophobic.)
Still, Meredith says they are “negative, homophobic microaggressions for a young adult who has not determined where he stands. ... Enough is enough. And I need to know that you are up against homophobic hate.”
“What are you talking about?” Jen snaps, adding that she “never said anything” about Brooks’ sexuality. Meredith takes out her phone and shows that Jen’s account liked a comment from a viewer who wanted “Jen to turn around and call Brooks a s!ssy b!tich.”
Jen says, “I have somebody that runs my stuff, so that is not me.”
“It’s your [expletive] Twitter, Jen!” an extremely agitated Meredith exclaims. Then she says, “All right, I’m done,” and walks away.
At this point, Meredith comes unglued. She yells. She curses. She hurls accusations. She pushes Lisa away. She waves her arms frantically. Her sunglasses fly off her face. “I cannot listen to the projecting, deflecting and lying anymore,” she exclaims.
“She’s disengaging, so I’m going to let her disengage,” a surprisingly calm Jen says.
Jennie’s a brave woman, because she walks up to Meredith and says, “I think you have to listen to her for a little bit.”
Jennie says she also has people run her social media accounts, and Meredith admits she does, too. “And you know what the first thing I say is? Don’t ever like something that’s mean about somebody else.”
An excellent point.
Meredith does not cut Jen any slack, and Jen does not apologize for any likes her people made on Twitter.
Heather and Whitney convince Jen to go over and talk to Meredith. Jennie asks Jen, “Do you want to be friends with her or not?” When Jen says yes, Jennie says, “Then you guys shut the [expletive] up and listen to each other.”
“Jennie is throwing down,” Heather says, clearly impressed. When Jennie stands up her, Meredith gets in her face and yells about how her “20-year-old child … is being called out to make a choice on something he has never discussed with anyone.”
If there are tweets in which Jen calls on Brooks to make a choice, we haven’t seen them.
Meredith, already exploding with anger, is angrier still when Jen says, “How do you think my kids feel?” Jen points out, correctly, that much has been made of Brooks’ assertion that, early in Season 1, he saw Jen’s private parts when she was doing high kicks and wasn’t wearing underwear. And that that was embarrassing for her sons.
Meredith does not acknowledge this as a possibility. She storms off, proclaiming, “I’m done.”
Ironically, the next clip — from a confessional — is Meredith saying, “I don’t think Jen is capable of seeing beyond herself.”
What talking about Jen makes Mary do
Meredith invites “a few of my friends … who really love and appreciate fashion” to have cocktails and “preview” designer wear at her house.
Mary arrives, even though she has no respect for Meredith’s taste in clothes. Asked by a producer how she would describe Meredith’s style, Mary pulls a face, hems and haws and finally says, “Meredith’s style is Meredith. Meredith Marks. And, um, that can be in style. That’s her style for me.”
According to Meredith, Brooks and Mary have bonded over their shared dislike of Jen. Brooks says he is “terrified to even talk about it because it’s just so frustrating that it’s even a thing. But, basically, like, I log on to Twitter to see, like, Jen liking horribly negative things about me.”
Mary advises Meredith to go to Jen’s ice-fishing event and confront her there. “This has to be stopped. This grown woman in her 50s,” Mary said. (That must’ve ticked Jen off when she saw it. She’s 47.)
Then Mary tells Meredith and Brooks that Jen upsets her so much she has to fart. And she does. In front of them. On camera.
“I need peace. I need quiet. To fart,” Mary says. “Sorry … And that’s what talking about [Jen] makes me do.”
Lisa is puzzled by Jen and Heather
Whitney is clearly not pleased that Heather and Jen have renewed their friendship. For once, Lisa agrees with Whitney.
“I don’t really know what their issue is,” Lisa says. “I just know that Jen says I [expletive] hate Heather and I feel like Heather feels the same about Jen. But then there’s this weird attraction that they have to each other. I honestly don’t understand the relationship. It’s not one I want.”
Lisa is clearly not OK with Heather, who she calls “completely manipulative.” Or with Whitney, “because every time I’m around her, it feels like she wants to have a problem with me.”
Mary and her son
Mary and her 18-year-old son, Robert Jr., go to Tulie Bakery in Salt Lake City and eat grilled cheese sandwiches. Mary says she loves him “even though he gets on my last nerve.”
She also says they have “an amazing bond … and can talk about anything.” That’s before she criticizes him about his table manners. For not praying over his food. For the way he prays over his food. For the volume of his prayer. For the way he eats his sandwich.
Mary wants Robert Jr. to join the Army. He’s unsure about that.
Jennie and Duy fight over having more kids
Jennie and her husband, Duy, are having a great time with their three children. They’re an adorable family.
(Duy, BTW, is wearing a Judge Memorial swimming hoodie.)
“I think our kids are so awesome, I think we should have more children,” Duy says.
Jennie stares at him stone-faced for a moment and then says, “Honestly, you know how I feel about this, right?”
“Yeah,” Duy says. “I want more kids.”
And then Jennie explains her stand. She’s had nine miscarriages and three C-sections, and her doctor told her it would be “very dangerous to have more kids.”
Duy says he “looked into it” and he “thinks there’s some solutions to this.”
“He’s a doctor,” Jennie says. “I know he knows that it’s very dangerous. So I just feel like sometimes he’s just being heartless.”
(FYI, Duy is a chiropractor.)
Heather, her daughters and the LDS Church
Heather’s oldest daughter, Ashley, will soon graduate from Skyline High and head off to college. “And I want her to be wild and to try everything and experience everything,” Heather says.
Heather asks Ashley if she’ll want to go to church after she goes to college. “Oh, I don’t see myself going back ever, honestly,” Ashley replies. “Not the Mormon church.”
Heather gets a big grin on her face and says she is “impressed” that Ashley has “such conviction at your age, because I never even had the option to have conviction.”
Heather says she raised her daughters to be “militantly Mormon ... beautiful, blonde, virgin Mormons.” And after her 2015 divorce, she was “even more committed to looking like the perfect Mormon mom. And it wasn’t until about three years ago when they started asking hard questions that I couldn’t answer. And I started to, like, force myself to be honest.”
Heather’s second daughter, Georgia, says she’s “worried” about going back to church “because we haven’t been in so long.” Her third daughter, Annabelle, says, “I want to go back now, but I feel like it’s too late.”
“It’s never too late,” Heather says, vowing to accompany Annabelle to church “not because I believe it and I’m going to do it again — so I can support you.”
• The pandemic and Zoom calls have been good for Heather’s business, Beauty Lab + Laser. “They are staring at their flaws all day long,” she says. “And that has dramatically increased our business,” she adds. “We’ve doubled where we were at last year. ... We want to keep putting Botox in people’s faces and filler in their lips and make them the best Zoom versions of themselves.”
• Jen’s husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff, has been spending a lot of time at home during the pandemic “doing a bunch of weird home projects,” which Jen can’t identify. “He just makes them up. He gets the ladder out and he starts, like, doing stuff. And then he goes to Home Depot ... and then he comes home and he just does stuff. So I think it’s going to be good for him to get on the road” on recruiting trips.
• Fun fact: Jen was on the drill team in high school.
• Because Jen has threatened to drown her a couple of times, Whitney brings a life jacket to the ice fishing outing. “Yeah, I threatened to drown Whitney,” Jen says, “but that was, like, last year, OK? But we moved past that. I’m zen Jen now. I’m not trying to drown anybody.”
• Neither Heather nor Whitney is looking forward to seeing Lisa, who they blame for being awful to them. “I think she’s just obsessed with me,” Whitney says, laughing. “Like, I think she might be attracted to me.”
• When she arrives at the ice-fishing outing, Lisa hugs Whitney. Whitney is shocked. “Ummm … did Lisa get new medication?” she asks in a confessional. “I’m used to the Lisa snub, and I’m getting the Lisa hug.”
• Lisa has no experience with fishing “and we all know I don’t cook. ... But you know what I do love right now? The fish tacos at Del Taco, like, are amazing!”
• Heather puts lip gloss on Jen just as Jen is about to talk to Meredith. “Always fight in full makeup,” Heather says. “That’s what my mom always taught me — fight in full makeup. You’ll always win.”
The next episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Sunday, Oct. 3, on Bravo — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV and 10 p.m. on Comcast. Past episodes can be streamed on Peacock.