If you were wondering why Lisa Barlow tweeted, “Don’t be a f---er that makes s--- up” — and Meredith Marks tweeted “Jealousy is a disease to which I say get well soon” — well, the season 3 premiere of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” goes a long way toward clearing that up.
Meredith is clearly still furious about Lisa’s season 2 rant, in which her longtime friend called Meredith “a piece of s--- garbage whore,” among other things. Striking back as the new season begins, Meredith makes unsubstantiated claims that Lisa not only cheated on her husband, but traded sexual favors for business opportunities. And she claims that Lisa’s business is not a success.
There is one big difference between what Lisa said and what Meredith is saying. Lisa claims (and it certainly appeared true) that she didn’t realize she was still wearing a microphone when she went on her rant. Meredith, on the other hand, knows she is on camera — sometimes she is looking straight into it — when she’s saying vicious things about Lisa.
The episode opens with a flashback to Jen Shah’s Dec. 9, 2019, audition tape. She says she works in “direct response marketing,” adding, “I make millions. Hey, you got to do what you got to do for money. I’m like the Wizard of Oz.”
Later in this episode, Jen continues to claim she is not guilty of federal fraud charges against her. She says she has “no idea” why the other defendants in her case have taken plea deals, which she vows she will not do. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I’m not thinking about myself. I’m thinking about my family. I can’t imagine being away from them. It would literally kill me.”
Hopefully not, because she almost certainly headed to prison. She pleaded in July and is facing years in prison when she is sentenced in November.
Also at the top of the show, we see audition clips of Meredith and Lisa expressing their love and admiration for each other. And Whitney and Heather doing the same. That’s followed by season 3 preview clips of Jen saying she wants to kill herself and declaring her innocence; Meredith and Lisa at each other’s throats; and Whitney and Heather battling viciously.
And we’re off!
Meredith meets with Jen
Although they appeared on the verge of killing each other last season, Jen and Meredith meet, hug and get in a hot tub on the roof of a downtown SLC building. “If someone asked me eight months ago if I’d be hanging out with Jen, I would look at them like they were crazy,” Meredith says in a confessional.
Meredith says she is still dealing with her feelings about Lisa. Jen says her trials stars in a month and a half. (It was postponed, and then she pleaded guilty.)
Meredith says, “I’m hearing rumors left, right and center about Lisa. And am I spreading them? No. So let’s see, is it just her projecting her own truth, or is it just she decided to be a total a--hole because she was angry?”
Um, Meredith is spreading the alleged rumors ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.
She says there have been “question marks surrounding” Lisa’s marriage and business. In a confessional, Meredith says she has “no interest” in digging into the rumors, “But if you’re going to sit there talking about everyone else, fair game on her at this point.”
Jen says she has also heard rumors that Lisa has not been faithful to her husband, John.
Lisa meets with Heather
Although they have battled since the show began, Lisa invites Heather to lunch (at The Spur Bar & Grill in Park City) so she can ask her advice about Meredith.
“I agreed to meet with Lisa because she said she needed me,” Heather says. “And she’s never said she needed me before. … If I can do something of value for Lisa, then maybe she won’t hate me as much.”
Heather tries to convince Lisa that she has to humble herself and plead for forgiveness, which is not something Lisa seems anxious to do. In a confessional, Heather says, “I don’t think humble pie is something that Lisa likes to eat, will ever eat, or for sure never pretend to enjoy eating. And all three of those things need to occur for her to bridge this gap with Meredith.”
Lisa sees it differently. “I’ve eaten so much humble pie, it’s amazing I still fit in this dress,” she says in a confessional.
Whitney leaves the LDS Church
Heather visits Whitney and her husband, Justin, who lead her downstairs to their bar, hidden behind a pair of sliding bookcases. “This is so cool, you guys!” Heather says — and she’s not wrong.
Whitney tells Heather that she is recovering memories of being abused as a child. She doesn’t specify, but she does say that “one of the biggest … wounds I have is the [LDS] church. And I came to the realization that I’m ready to close that chapter and leave officially. And ask them to remove my name.”
Heather, who is not active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appears shocked. Whitney says she is doing it for her children “so that they do not fall into my cycle of limited beliefs. Of not being good enough and not being heard.”
“Having my name on the records of the Mormon Church means that they’re still tracking what I’m doing,” Whitney says in a confessional. “That means that they still send people to my house to check on me. They still come to collect money. Even when you move, they know where you moved and your record transfers.”
Heather questions Whitney “saying, ‘I choose outer darkness and no communion with God over being numbered as a member of the Mormon Church.’” In a confessional, Heather adds, “the Mormons believe that our names are recorded like in a ledger for God. When you elect to have your name removed from the list, it’s like a steel door on their version of heaven and their community forever.”
Whitney goes to quitmormon.com on her laptop, and Heather is shaken. She covers her face in her hands and shakes her head. In a confessional, she questions whether she could ever do the same. “I don’t know if my family would recover,” Heather says, “if they knew I did that. … I’ve hurt my family in so many ways, but I feel like that would be like the final knife in their back. And I’m not there yet.”
“I feel like I can’t sign this fast enough,” Whitney says.
Jen at her new home
For the first time, we see Jen at her newly rented house. She is struggling to make do in a 4,500-square foot house in the Avenues that’s half the size of the house she was renting in Park City — to save money for her legal fees.
She also says she downsized the Shah Squad, although she doesn’t specify how many of her assistants she let go. And she doesn’t know how to turn on the gas fireplace.
Jen tells her husband, Sharrieff, that her friend Angie Katsanevas has agreed to host his 51st birthday party. Angie went to college with Jen and to high school with Heather, and she is friends with Lisa.
(Angie is not a full-time Housewife in season 3, but she will recur. Two other women — Angie Harrington and Danna Bui-Negrete — are also part-time friends this season.)
Jen tells Sharrieff the theme of the party is the 1989 movie “Harlem Knights,” and he laughs. “You remember we’re in Utah. Salt Lake City, ‘K?” he says. “And ‘Harlem Knights’ is in Harlem. A lot of Black folks, which we’re devoid of here.”
(That’s not exactly true. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2.1% of Utah’s population identified as Black in 2020. That’s not a lot — about 68,700 out of 3.27 million — but it’s more than zero.)
Jen is inviting some of Sharrieff’s fraternity brothers. And she is planning to invite both Lisa and Meredith and their husbands.
“What I don’t want is to use the party as some platform for somebody to confront something — ‘Oh, I need to tell her about how I feel.’” Sharrieff says. “Do that [expletive] someplace else.”
Has he seen the show?
Meredith at her new home
Meredith has moved again, and scolds her husband, Seth, for what he bought at the grocery store. “Why did you get ramen noodles for? Do you think we’re college students or something? Who wants ramen noodles?”
Seth’s response is actually pretty funny. “For a guy who can’t keep a job, this is what we eat,” he says. (Lisa’s rant referenced Seth’s inability to keep a job — although he seems to move from one to another quite easily.)
Meredith says Lisa’s “negative commentary” could impact the “livelihoods” of Seth’s “4,000 employees.” She doesn’t explain that allegation.
And then Meredith impugns Lisa’s husband. “What does John Barlow do for a living? Other than follow Lisa around.”
Meredith questions the veracity of the Barlows’ owning a distillery in Mexico. She claims to have seen “SEC documents” indicating “their company is not making money.” She says the public documents were from 2018. And she once again brings up unsubstantiated rumors that Lisa is having an affair.
“I have never exchanged sex for money. That’s what a whore is,” Meredith says. “Maybe someone else has. I don’t know,” Meredith says in a confessional, smiling. Asked if she’s insinuating Lisa has “slept with someone for money,” Meredith shrugs and smiles some more.
Sharrieff’s 51st birthday party
Angie’s modern-architecture house looks great, as does the set-up for the party. Jen acknowledges that it’s “beautiful,” but cannot resist adding. “Now, if I hosted this at my home, it would’ve been a little bit different. It was hard for me to, like, let go.”
Lisa expresses reservations before she and John leave for the party. “I don’t know what I’m walking into tonight,” she says, adding that seeing Meredith and Seth will be “awkward. I know if the roles were reversed, I would at least be open to hearing the apology. And if it’s sincere, I’m sure I would accept it. I wouldn’t throw away a 10-year friendship over one bad moment.”
• Among the guests is Sharrieff’s friend, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Heather appears instantly attracted to him. (Davis has something in common with Jen: He’s also facing fraud charges in the Southern District of New York, one of 18 former NBA players accused of taking part in a $4 million health insurance scheme; a trial is scheduled for early next year. Milt Palacio, who was a guard for the Utah Jazz in the 2005-06 season, is also among those charged.)
• Other guests include Sharrieff’s mother and sister, who we meet for the first time.
• Heather tells Meredith that she met with Lisa, and she wants to tell her about it — but not at the party. Meredith does not seem interested.
In a confessional, Heather says, “I think that Meredith is a woman of principle. But on that same note, there’s a Mormon proverb that says, ‘Where much is given, much is expected.’ So if you’ve given 10 years to a friendship, you’re expected to have a conversation about a path to forgiveness.”
• Jen offers a toast, which is more about her than it is about Sharrieff: “This year was very special. It was important for me to show you how much I love and appreciate you. I know we’ve been through a lot. And because of everything we’ve been going through, it means more to me than ever in my life to have people that I know that really, truly love me and love our family. ... This birthday, I think, means more to me than anything, because we can still be here together to celebrate it.”
In a confessional, Sharrieff says, “The one thing that can bring me to tears almost instantly is thinking of life without my wife by my side. That’s hard to … it’s hard to stomach.”
• Then we see Sharrieff dance — a highlight of the 90-minute episode.
Lisa vs. Meredith
Lisa walks up to Meredith and gives her a hug. Meredith pastes a smile on her face and hugs her back. “I just want you to know I love you, and I’m really, really sorry,” Lisa says, suggesting that they talk at another time.
In person, Meredith agrees. In a confessional, Meredith is visibly angry. “You’ve had two months, nearly, … to reach out to me and [now] tell me you want to talk to me. Leave me alone!”
Lisa asks Seth if it’s OK to hug him. They hug, and Seth says he and Meredith were “devastated” by Lisa’s rant. “I regret all of it,” Lisa says. “I can’t even believe I said those things. I don’t feel that way about Meredith. I don’t feel that way about you.”
Jen tells Meredith that Seth is talking to LIsa. Meredith makes a sour face and says, “Whatever.” Meredith questions why Lisa is “attacking” Seth at the party. That’s not what Lisa is doing. She’s trying to apologize ... although she’s not doing a great job of it.
Amidst tears, Lisa tells Seth, “I literally haven’t been able to sleep. Like, it’s been weighing on me. ... I don’t even remember saying those things,. Meredith was hurting. I was hurting, too, I’m not making excuses, I was coming from a place of hurt. … I’m human, and I was hurting.”
Yeah, she’s making excuses. She was reacting to what she perceived as Meredith acting like less than a friend to her, but she’s still making excuses.
“It just seemed so hateful,” Seth says — and he’s not wrong. Lisa says that rant came because she was “hurt,” which could also be true. But then she explains and excuses.
Seth tells Meredith, “She seems to be excusing and not taking accountability for it. Is it an apology when you’re excusing the behavior?” It’s not a great apology.
In a confessional, Lisa says she has no problem apologizing and “taking accountability. ... But at some point, if it’s not being heard and the apology isn’t being accepted, there’s nothing more I can do. I have to move on.”