Episode recap: Jen Shah is spiraling out of control on ‘The Real Housewives of SLC’

While awaiting trial, her behavior seems more and more unhinged.

(Randy Shropshire | Bravo) Angie Katsanevas and Heather Gay on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Since “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” premiered in November 2020, Jen Shah’s behavior has been highly emotional, over-the-top and, on occasion, borderline unhinged. She crosses that border in the latest episode of the series, which finds the Housewives and a couple of friends on holiday in San Diego.

The combination of spending time in confined spaces with the other women, a whole lot of alcohol and her looming trial on federal fraud and money-laundering charges leaves Jen looking and acting more desperate than ever.

At the time of the filming in early April, Jen was still defending herself against the charges and vowing to go to trial. In July, she changed her plea to guilty. She’s scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Angie K. vs. Jen

Emotions are still roiling after Jen poured a glass of champagne on Angie Katsanevas’ head and Angie retaliated by accusing Jen of swindling her out of $15,000 she paid for a birthday party she hosted for Jen’s husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah. Worth noting: Angie K. volunteered to host the party, and offered no complaints about the cost before Jen poured champagne on her.

(Randy Shropshire | Bravo) Jen Shah on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Jen says Angie K. was “coming at me at my most vulnerable time. You know this. [Expletive] you, Angie. She’s fake as [expletive].” Meanwhile, Angie is still obsessing over Jen pouring champagne on her head. “That was really hurtful. I mean, it was so degrading,” Angie K. says. “And not even funny.” Lisa Barlow agrees with her.

On the other side of the boat, Jen vows that “on my dad’s grave, I was just trying to lighten the mood” after Angie K.’s forced-march house tour. Which was weird. But the champagne dump looked more like annoyance than mood lightening.

Heather Gay tells Jen she saw Angie K’s bad behavior, but takes the opportunity to stick the knife in Lisa, who, she says, “took up for [Angie K.] immediately.” And Jen quickly decides Lisa was “super hurtful” to her. And, in a confessional, Jen complains about Lisa talking to Angie K. “I care about Lisa,’ Jen says, “and Lisa basically [expletive] on me.”

That’s not true, but this is typical Jen behavior.

Angie K. says she feels like she’s being “used,” pointing back to the birthday party. “This sounds really terrible, but here she is, you know, being charged for something where she is supposedly conning people out of money,” Angie K. says. “She told me she’s not guilty and I’m choosing to believe her. But then somehow I got conned into paying for this entire event.”

And, she adds, “I have the money.” She does not mention that hosting the birthday party was her big entrée onto the show.

“I’ve known Jen forever,” Angie K. says in a confessional, “but lately Jen has been very toxic, and I’m not sure the ladies are seeing this or if they are just willing to keep coming back for more. But I’m not willing to do that. I have too much self-respect.”

In a confessional, Housewives “friend” Danna Bui-Negrete adds, “I feel like a lot of the girls are either afraid, intimidated or something with Jen. I don’t like her behavior. I don’t like how she talks to people. If she can talk to friends like that, she will probably talk to me like that.”

(Randy Shropshire | Bravo) Lisa Barlow and Jen Shah on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

The DJ cranks up the music

Heather shakes her bootie as she climbs down a ladder, and then she grabs Meredith Marks’ butt as she comes down after her. And Meredith “has significantly more ass than I would have anticipated,” Heather says. Jen seems unsteady as she comes down the ladder, and she immediately gets another drink.

The women dance. Whitney Rose puts her pole-dancing skills to use (without a pole). And another battle breaks out between Jen and Lisa, with a lot of yelling and screaming back and forth. “Why are you acting like you’re mad at me? I’ve done nothing to you,” Lisa says. (And she’s not wrong.) But Jen is mad at Lisa for acting friendly toward her new mortal enemy, Angie K. Lisa chases Jen, trying to hug her and calm her down. Jen doesn’t “give a [expletive].” She’s “dealing with bigger issues right now.”

Lisa insists she’s been a good friend to Jen. After showing great patience — and watching Jen throw food overboard — Lisa demands, “Say you’re my friend” over and over again. Jen won’t. The women appear on the edge of a physical fight when Heather steps between them.

“It’s emotional manipulation,” Lisa says in a confessional. “Make everybody else feel like they’re the worst friends in the world to you and they’re horrible. Meanwhile, you’re the one doing all this [expletive] stuff. … You’re the fake one. You’re as fake as your boobs, your ass, your face, everything.”

Jen cries and says, “No one’s going through what I’m going through.” Which is true — but, given her guilty plea, she has no one to blame but herself.

In a confessional, Heather says, “If you are Jen’s friend, you know that she has been embarrassed enough this year. I don’t think Jen Shah’s a saint, but, like, I would never kick someone like that when they’re down.” To all appearances, Lisa was trying to be a supportive friend when Jen lashed out at her. And Jen’s big complaint about Lisa is that she’s “been all cuddled up with Angie the whole time.”

Danna, who previously interjected herself in the Jen-Angie Harrington fight without knowing what was happening, remains on point: “You guys started screaming at each other for no reason.” Lisa replies, “It’s not for no reason, Danna.”

Back at the front of the boat

Heather sets off more trouble by joking that they should throw Angie K.’s purse overboard. She’s kidding — but Jen immediately latches onto the idea and throws Angie K.’s $1,500 shoes overboard. Lisa freaks, but her $1,150 Yves Saint Laurent shoes are safe.

Jen lies to Angie K., telling her that her shoes were not thrown overboard and that she didn’t do any throwing. Then Jen says it was a “[expletive] accident,” which is a total lie. She appears very inebriated, and she passes out in the shuttle van on the way back to the house. She sleeps it off in the van for almost an hour-and-a-half.

The other Angie, Angie H., didn’t get invited on the trip — because Jen hates her, with good reason — but we see Heather video chat with her. In a confessional, Heather says Angie H. is “pure fun, without any of the drama.” Which is sort of a shocking evaluation, given that Angie H.’s husband (and, possibly, Angie H. herself) was behind a fake Instagram account that trolled Jen and Lisa and created all kinds of drama.

When Angie H. asks how she’s getting along with Jen, Heather says, “I like to turn up and have fun with Jen. I don’t have a lot of expectations.” Angie H. warns Heather to “watch yourself … because at the end of the day, like, is she going to be reasonable with you in moments that really count?” Heather replies, “No, she’s only going to be reasonable when she really needs me. She wasn’t reasonable in her fight with Angie. And then she got in a horrible screaming fight with Lisa.”

(Bravo) John and Lisa Barlow on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Lisa calls her husband

Lisa tells John that today has been “crazy.” He does not sound surprised. When Lisa tells him Jen pushed her, John says he’s “sick of that.”

In a confessional, Lisa says, “Jen has been talking nothing but [expletive] about Heather for the last few weeks And now you’re telling her how amazing she is and how you live for her. You guys are all crazy. This is, like, crazy town.” She’s not wrong.

When Lisa tells John she keeps trying to “have a relationship with Jen that she doesn’t want,” John tells her to remove herself. “If she starts going sideways, let her go and just don’t get involved.”

Jen throws a party

There’s no explanation where the money for Jen’s Hawaiian-themed party is coming from, what with her huge legal bills. (Did the show pay for it?) But it looks like fun, with music, fire dancers and hula dancers. In a confessional, Angie K. is rude: “These fire dancers are amazing. The sad thing is I’m going to have to pull them aside after and let them know they’re probably not going to get paid.”

In a confessional of her own, Jen refers to herself in the third person: “If there’s one thing Jen Shah’s good at, it is going through hell and then setting it aside and showing up ready to party.”

The Housewives get a dance lesson, and Meredith — who Jen has appointed CEO of Fun for this trip — acknowledges this is “definitely not my forte.” In a confessional, she says, “I was not cut out for this. I’m a 50-year-old with no hips, no butt. Like, what do you want from me? I’m doing the best I can.” But, much to her credit, she’s laughing about it.

(Fred Hayes | Bravo) Meredith Marks and Heather Gay on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

The dinner is delicious, and then the “fun police” show up. They’re strippers in cop costumes. ”Well, this is quite ironic,” Heather says. “The last time I was this close to cops, I thought they were strippers, and they turned out to be federal agents. It’s a strange reversal of events.” (That was when the authorities showed up to arrest Jen in March 2021.)

Lisa looks annoyed when Jen tells her, “You don’t look like fun right now.” But in a confessional, Lisa says she has “zero interest in this. Like, don’t touch me. All I’m thinking is how germ-covered they are. Like, I’m thinking they need Clorox wet wipes. The only person I want to see naked is John Barlow.”

To be clear, the strippers don’t strip. They arrive in pants and open vests, and they don’t take anything off.

Danna is a downer

At this point, everyone seems to be having fun and no one is fighting. But, never fear, Danna is there to kill the mood. She says the trip is going “great, but if feel like the energy’s off … and I think we need to address it.”

(Chris Haston | Bravo) Danna Bui-Negrete on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Danna then rehashes her argument the previous week with Jen, telling her, “I felt like you were not very nice to some of the girls.” Specifically, Angie H. “I think the way that you approached her and how you talk to her made me felt a little uncomfortable because I don’t know you that well.” Danna also didn’t understand what was happening, and inserted herself into the conflict.

Danna is, however, correct when she says that in the middle of the fight with Angie H., Jen told Angie K. — supposedly her friend at the time — to “shut the [expletive] up.” Then Danna turns on Heather for not standing up to Jen, and reveals that Heather told her that if Jen gave her an ultimatum about Angie H. “you would not be friends with her no more.”

For someone who claims not to relish confrontation, Danna drops a lot of bombs.

The Harringtons come across as awful people

The fake Instagram account Chris Harrington created continues to cause drama. Because the attacks were on social media, Sharrieff quite reasonably called for the Harringtons to apologize on social media. Which Angie had agreed to.

“But you knew why she couldn’t do it,” Danna says to Heather, defending the Harringtons. “She spoke to her legal team, and they advised her not to do it.” In a flashback, Angie H. says, “The attorney, and our PR people, were like, ‘Absolutely not.’” Because, Danna tells Jen, “They don’t want any association with you.”

(Bravo) Chris Harrington, Angie Harrington, Meredith Marks and Seth Marks on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

This is idiotic on multiple counts. Chris Harrington associated himself with Jen by creating the nasty Instagram page. The Harringtons had to know that this would be revealed on “RHOSLC,” so not issuing the public apology is pointless. (Is their “team” unaware that Angie H. has been fighting hard to win a regular spot on the show?) And Danna’s acceptance of Angie H.’s explanation seems naive, as does telling Angie H. “she needs to have a conversation” with Jen to explain it.

Danna further undercuts Heather by saying she recalls Heather saying Angie H. should not issue a public apology. Heather replies, “I said a public apology is ridiculous because you will be admitting to a horrible, indefensible thing that no one in the world will ever forgive you for.” But, again, they admitted to it ON THE SHOW.

Not surprisingly, this leads to screaming between Heather and Jen. And Heather asking Danna why she’s so “deeply invested” in something that doesn’t even involve her. Angie K. suggests Danna is now part of this because “you guys have gone to lunch together.”

Heather turns on Angie K.: “After the day you’ve had, I would sit there and listen. … and maybe not take an opportunity to take a side-swipe.” Angie K. tells Heather “there’s a whole lot of [expletive] coming out of your mouth,” further ramping up the hostility. Heather tells Angie K. that Jen threw her shoes off the yacht today, and that her relationship with Jen is “good.”

Angie K. says, “I’ve been a good friend to Jen, and I don’t know if I can say that you’ve been a good friend to her.” In a confessional, Heather says, “It’s highly surprising to me that someone who’s just annihilated Jen on a sprinter van would suddenly be so concerned about her welfare and about the terms of her friendships. Like, check yourself, sister.”

Heather tells Angie K. (and everyone else at the table) that she’s been a “ride or die” friend to Jen. “The deposits I’ve made in our friendship account should grant me a little bit of grace. And I would hope that every single person at this table would give me that same grace.”

Well, not Lisa, who brings up that, a week earlier, Jen said, “Heather is my friend 60% of the time. The other 40%, I’m supposed to eat it, not say [expletive], sweep it under the rug. The point I’m at in my life, with everything I’m going through, I don’t need friends like that.” There’s video of that.

Jen Shah, a cast member from the reality TV series "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" looks on while being driven from the federal courthouse Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Two members of "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" reality television show appeared in court for the first time Tuesday after being arrested on federal fraud charges alleging they cheated hundreds of people nationwide over a 10-year period in a telemarketing scheme. Shah, 47, of Park City, Utah, and Stuart Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah, were arrested in Utah on charges including conspiracy that were unsealed in New York City, authorities announced.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Then things get crazier

“You’re coming at me today?” Lisa yells at Jen. “I don’t [expletive] deserve that.”

“When did I come at you?” Jen says — and she seems genuinely oblivious to her horrific behavior a few hours earlier on the yacht. Lisa is stunned: “Oh my God, are you kidding me?”

It’s not just shocking, it’s cause for genuine concern. In a confessional, Meredith says, “I know Jen is not in a very great mental state. To be so upset and or drunk that you don’t have a recollection of what happened is not good.”

Lisa is less forgiving in her confessional. “Jen is a [expletive] liar. She only remembers what she feels wronged with. But it doesn’t matter what she does or says to anyone else. That’s how Jen works.”

When Jen is told (by Danna) that she shoved Lisa on the yacht six hours earlier (also caught on video), Jen completely denies it. She calls Lisa “mean,” which is ironic given that Jen is the resident mean girl on “RHOSLC.” Lisa says in a confessional, “Trust me, if there was a class on how to be mean, like Mean 101, Jen Shaw would be the professor.”

Jen says Lisa has “an issue if anybody is friends with Heather,” which Lisa denies. And it’s a startling accusation given that Jen has been insanely angry with Lisa for being friendly toward Angie K. in this episode, and she’s still mad at Heather for bring friends with Angie H.

Then there’s yet another weird turn. Lisa brings up the champagne dump, and Jen assumes a calm demeanor, turns to Angie K., and offers what seems like a sincere apology. And Angie K. accepts.

Lisa doesn’t get an apology. Even when she’s calm, Jen’s behavior is wildly inconsistent.

Lisa pushes Jen to admit how she’s been bad-mouthing Heather. Jen says her “feelings were hurt” when Angie H. showed up at Heather’s choir auditions. “That she showed up with Whitney in a matching outfit?” Heather asks cluelessly.

No! Jen is mad that Heather stayed friends with Angie H. after she learned of the fake Instagram page.

Heather says she didn’t know that Angie H. and Whitney were going to show up at the rehearsals … even though she invited them. Jen asks Heather point-blank, “If you know somebody did something so [expletived] up and evil to me or my family, are you OK being friends with them?” Heather replies, “If they’re accountable and apologize, yeah.” Jen says Chris didn’t call to apologize, “He called me because he got caught,” she says.

“What can I do?” Heather asks, pointing out that Whitney, Meredith and Danna are also friends with Angie H. “I am not going to not be friends with Angie,” Heather says.

“You’re supposed to be my ride or die,” Jen tells Heather. “And guess what? That’s not ride or die,” adding that she wants Heather to “not be friends with Angie Harrington.” And Heather replies, “I’m not going to do that. … I am a ride-or-die for her as much as I’m a ride-or-die for you.”

In a confessional, Heather says, “When I say I’m a ride-or-die for Jen, like, I’m still [expletive] here. I’m still showing up when you have stabbed me in the back, when you have talked [expletive] on me. I’m showing up for you in one of the darkest, hardest times of your life. And that’s all I need to do to be ride-or-die at this point.”

Heather tells Jen, “I don’t want any friends that will ever give me an ultimatum.” Jen replies, “I’m not giving anyone an ultimatum” — less than a minute after she did just that. “I need to know where people stand,” Jen says. “The only person I know where they are is Angie Kasanaves.”

This is so stunning the other woman can only stare at Jen. From mortal enemies to BFFs in 2 minutes?

“Hold up — Angie K.?” Heather says in a confessional. “The same girl who you poured champagne on her head, screamed at in the van and threw her shoes in the ocean? Is there gluten in this pig, because she’s talking crazy!”

The party begins to break up, and Heather suggests she and Jen “talk about it tomorrow.” But Jen can’t dial it back, insisting she needs to know “what category to put you in.”

Heather manages to remain calm, but she’s had it with Jen. “Guess what? Go find yourself another Heather Gay. I’m out,” she says.

The hour ends with Whitney making the most accurate statement of the episode: “Meredith, you are not the CEO of Fun.” And Meredith is also correct when she says, “I don’t think anyone would’ve navigated this any better.”

The next episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Wednesday, Dec. 14, on Bravo — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 10 p.m. on Comcast. Previous episodes can be streamed via Peacock or on demand.

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