In the Oct. 3 episode of ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,’ cast members attend a fundraiser in Provo that involves faux gambling. And Jen Shah is shocked. Shocked!
“Having a casino night? This is a big thing for Utah County. We are literally two blocks away from Brigham Young University, there’s alcoholic drinks!” she says, pulling a face. “There’s a craps table and a roulette table,” Shah says, pulling another face. “The point is, we are in the holy land. This is holy land. And to get a roulette table and a crap(s) table here, this is literally, like, breaking the Word of Wisdom.”
[Read more: Will the Word of Wisdom ever change?]
Jen was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although she has converted to her husband’s Muslim faith. But maybe she wasn’t paying much attention in Sunday school.
When asked by a producer, “What is the Word of Wisdom?” Jen replies that it’s “like, thou shalt not smoke. Thou shalt not drink. Thou shalt not look at porn. Actually, I don’t know if that’s a thing, because I don’t think Brigham Young had porn back in 1822. But if he was right now, I think that would be a thing.”
(Um, the LDS Church was founded in 1830. Young joined in 1832.)
Getting ready to attend the same fundraiser, Meredith Marks asks her husband, Seth, “What is the Mormon culture and gambling?”
“Great question,” Seth replies. “But I believe since it’s fun, it’s not allowed.” (That’s pretty funny, right?)
The event is a benefit for Encircle, a nonprofit group that helps LGBTQ+ youth find community. The hosts, Angie and Chris Harrington, both mention their transgender child, and Angie says she’s done, at least for now, with the LDS Church
“Having a transgender child in the Mormon community has not been acceptable,” Angie says. “I will say the Mormon community is making strides to understand.”
“As of now, I am not Mormon,” Angie continues, “and my husband and I are kind of like — until (members of the LGBTQ+ community) have the same rights that the rest of us have, we don’t know if it works for us.”
Angie is an almost-Housewife. Or maybe a Housewife wannabe. Before Season 1, it was reported that she might be a member of the cast, which didn’t pan out. Her husband is a tech executive; her ex-husband is former BYU quarterback Bret Engemann, whose sister, Shawn Southwick, was Larry King’s seventh and final wife.
Whitney Rose has become friends with Angie, who is — ironically — a friend of Whitney’s enemy, Lisa Barlow. They bonded over a distant family tie.
“Angie came up to me and said, ‘I had heard that you’re related to Shadrach Roundy,’ who is an OG in the Mormon community,” Whitney says. “He was a bodyguard to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, the founding prophets of the church. And she said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but he is my great, great, great grandpa, too.’”
That’s not far off. Roundy was an occasional bodyguard for Smith, and he was in the first company of pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley, along with Young.
“It doesn’t matter where I go, I’m related to everyone,” Whitney says. “We all came from Mormon pioneers ... So it’s really important when you’re from Utah to do your genealogy to make sure you’re not dating your second cousin.”
Lisa referees the Meredith-Jen fight
The first quarter of the episode is devoted to the seemingly unending (and increasingly boring) fight between Meredith and Jen. Episode 4 picks up where Episode 3 left off, with Lisa trying to broker peace between her two friends during an ice fishing expedition at Echo Lake.
Meredith doesn’t think Lisa’s motives are altruistic: “I cannot understand what Lisa’s fixation is on me and Jen having resolution, other than it will make life easier on Lisa.”
As Lisa begs Meredith not to storm off, Whitney tells Jen, quite reasonably, that she needs to “own the fact” that what’s on her Twitter account upset Meredith. Jen is flummoxed, because Meredith is complaining about stuff that her account — which is run by people she hired — liked, not tweeted.
“Likes hurt,” Heather Gay says. “Somebody did it, and they’re using your name.”
Jen is so upset that she throws her $70,000 bracelet into the snow. She doesn’t seem to care, but Lisa does. “It’s easy to like Jen Shah, even when she’s pushing my buttons,” Lisa says in a confessional. “I have a high threshold for what I can put up with, but where I draw the line is when people start throwing diamonds.” She eventually finds the bracelet.
(Remember — in Season 1, Lisa threw her husband’s Rolex in a snowbank. They found that, too.)
Lisa convinces Meredith to return and talk to Jen. Jen’s assistant, Stuart, convinces her to talk to Meredith to “make peace with herself.”
“Everything that I’m learning with my therapist is forgiveness,” Jen says later in a confessional. “It’s for me so I can let it go so I can move on.”
Meredith once again accuses Jen of attacking her 21-year-old son, Brooks, for his (apparently still undetermined) sexuality. That remains iffy, at best.
Despite the fact that this conflict is between Jen and Meredith, Whitney inserts herself, asking Lisa why she’s defending Jen. Lisa says she’s not — that she’s just trying to listen to all sides. “From my experience, Lisa only listens to herself,” Whitney says later in a confessional. “I mean, does the chick even have ears?”
Meredith wants to postpone talking to Jen. “I just was listening to Jen screaming for the last 40 minutes. I think she’s very upset. I am not very calm myself right now.” Given that she was screaming and swearing and shoving Lisa, no, Meredith is probably “not very calm.”
After a bunch more noise, Jen tells Meredith she’s sorry, adding, “The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt Brooks.” Meredith thanks Jen for her apology. Lisa says, “I believe her.” Jen says she is responsible for the likes on her Twitter account, adding, “I’ll handle it with my people.”
Jen and Meredith “hug it out,” but nothing seems resolved. Not only did Jen say she was apologizing for herself, but Meredith says, “Jen has apologized before, and the behaviors continued. How can I trust that this apology means that the behavior is going to stop?”
Jen does seem to be making an effort. She wants to apologize directly to Brooks because what happened “breaks my heart.” And Meredith thinks “that would be very productive.”
The next big battle
The Lisa-Whitney battle heats up, with Angie in the middle. She meets Whitney for lunch at La Trattoria di Francesco (once the home of Salt Lake City’s $260 gold-coated steaks) and says that Lisa “asked me not to acknowledge you as my cousin.” (If that happened, we didn’t see it.) Angie throws lots of shade at Lisa, her alleged longtime friend: “Look, Lisa has a lot of opinions about people. And if I wasn’t friends with everyone she didn’t want me to be friends with, I wouldn’t have a lot of friends.”
According to Angie, the caterer she’d hired for her gambling event canceled, five hours after she told Lisa she’d invited Whitney and Heather. And the cancellation text mentioned Lisa.
“Lisa’s sabotaging you,” Whitney says, later adding, “I may be blonde, but I am not stupid. This is not a coincidence.”
To be clear, Lisa gave her OK to Angie inviting Whitney, adding “I would never control who people are friends with.”
All the Housewives show up at Angie’s fundraiser for Encircle. The theme is, weirdly, 1970s gambling. Angie is loaning out diamond necklaces for the night, and she found another caterer. “I cannot wait to see Lisa’s face when she walks in and sees how amazing this party is, because her plan backfired,” Whitney gloats.
Lisa arrives and gives Jennie Nguyen a big hug, pretty much ignoring Whitney. “Excuse me, Lisa,” Whitney says later. “You might have amnesia. I’ll start wearing a name tag for you. My name is Whitney [expletive] Rose.”
Angie pulls Lisa into another room and repeats her suspicions that Lisa sabotaged her fundraiser. “This has nothing to do with me,” Lisa says, flatly denying she told the caterers to pull out.
Angie says the original caterers were “stoked” about the event and then, “Someone called them and shut it down. ... The thing is, they said your name in the text. So somebody called them and threatened them. … Everyone around me thinks you’re involved.” (This is conjecture. Angie has only her suspicions.)
Angie throws even more shade at Lisa in a confessional: “I think Lisa is capable of meddling in my event because she doesn’t want me to be friends with Whitney, and she gets very territorial. So ultimately, I think this all boils down to control.”
Angie questions whether Lisa can be friends with Jen and still be friends with Meredith. Lisa pulls Meredith into the room, and Meredith rejects Angie’s assertion.
Whitney, having just said that she “didn’t want to intrude,” does just that, entering the room uninvited. Lisa tells her to leave; Whitney stays put.
Lisa again denies having anything to do with the caterer canceling. “I am seriously so upset right now,” she says, starting to cry.
“I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I’m telling you what happened,” Angie says. That’s a Big Fat Lie. This is all about accusing Lisa.
Lisa is unhappy to learn that Angie repeated everything she said about Whitney to Whitney. “I thought we were friends,” Lisa says. “Don’t we keep confidences?” She gets up to leave, crying again and telling Angie her behavior is “hurtful.”
And Whitney jumps on the Lisa-did-it bandwagon. “I have a Ph.D. in Lisa’s behavior,” Whitney says. “When Lisa is screaming, it’s because she’s being challenged. When Lisa cries, it’s because she doesn’t want to deal with it. And when Lisa walks away, it’s because she’s guilty and she’s been caught red-handed.”
Inappropriate comment • At Angie’s party, Seth Marks says to Heather, “Your personality is so distracting. I never noticed your breasts.”
Apparently, Heather is not offended, replying that her breasts are “what I want people to know me for.”
What’s happening? • Jen gets dragged into the room when Lisa, Angie and Whitney are fighting, and she’s a bit confused.
“I don’t really actually understand what this fight is over,” Jen says. “At least when I fight, you know what I’m fighting about. I’m throwing a glass. I’m drowning someone in the lake. I’m talking about your marriage. Whatever this fight is about, I’m just glad it’s not about Jen Shah.
Holding a grudge • While trying to calm Meredith, Lisa says she relates to being angry about what somebody else says about your child: “Jack, when he was 3, somebody said he had a big head, like, in the freakin’ convenience store, and I’m still upset.” Jack is 16 now.
Just weight a minute • During the ice-fishing expedition, Heather acknowledges she hasn’t been truthful. “I am not going to the weak side of the ice because I lied about my body weight,” she says.
Hard to say goodbye • During the big Meredith-Jen battle at Echo Lake, Heather is “deeply pissed” that she has to leave to attend a school function for her daughter. “This is why I paid the price for my ticket. … I want to see the action.”
Work it out • You’d never know it by looking at her, but Lisa doesn’t work to stay slim. “I might not work out, but I don’t sit still,” she says.
The next episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Sunday, Oct. 10, on Bravo — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV and 10 p.m. on Comcast.