Scott D. Pierce: Among the millionaire ‘Real Housewives of SLC,’ Monica Garcia is a game-changer

In a series where wealth is flaunted, the less-affluent Monica brings something different to the table.

(Meredith Andrews | Bravo) Monica Garcia on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

When Monica Garcia joined the cast of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” this season, she brought something new to the show. Something … less, in a way.

Unlike the other cast members, Monica doesn’t have tons of money. She’s a single mother of four daughters who lives in a relatively modest home in Kaysville. And early in the current season, she cried when she talked about how she bought a bag at the Louis Vuitton store in the City Creek Center “because I just feel like I want to have something, like, nice around” the other, wealthier Housewives.

Some see this as a pleasant departure from the regular “Real Housewives” formula of women who have a lot more money than most of us.

Not everyone thinks it’s so pleasant, though. One of those is former Bravo-lebrity Jeff Lewis (who starred in “Flipping Out” from 2007 to 2018), who made his contempt for Monica quite clear recently at BravoCon.

“One of the reasons why I watch the show,” Lewis said, “is because it’s aspirational. Right? I want to see the nice hotels. I want to see the travel on the private jet. I want to see their homes. What is Monica doing on this show? … I mean, she was on food stamps, for [expletive] sake.”

His comment was met by laughter, cheers from some and boos from others. And he apparently was attempting humor with the comment about food stamps.

Lewis was onstage at BravoCon with “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen, who quickly disagreed with his assessment. Cohen argued that Garcia “came on super strong” when she joined the cast this season. And he praised her for that second episode, when she went shopping at a high-end consignment store with Heather Gay and got all teary when she talked about how she has less money than the other Housewives.

“She had a moment,” Cohen said, “where she was feeling insecure that she didn’t have the right clothes or whatever. I thought it was one of the most relatable and powerful moments I’ve seen on a Housewives show. …I thought it was really fantastic. And I think she’s a great voice on the show.”

Lewis didn’t back down. He said that when he sees “that little house” Garcia lives in with “all those kids” he gets “depressed. ... She’s got that Range Rover, but I guarantee she’s three payments behind.”

That was not only mean but untrue, according to Monica. She didn’t exactly return Lewis’ insults with insults, but she definitely threw shade at him: “First of all,” she said, “I don’t even know who Jeff Lewis is.” And, Monica added, “I don’t really care” what Lewis said about her. “You have people that feel that way, and you have a lot of people that don’t,” she said. “And at the end of the day, I’m here.”

It’s not like Monica is living in poverty. That modest home, which she got in her divorce settlement, is worth more than $400,000, according to Zillow. (She will have to pay her ex-husband $130,000 for his equity in the property eventually.) Monica was granted sole custody of their daughters, and was awarded almost $32,000 a year in child support and $48,000 a year in alimony. (The estimated average income in Utah last year was about $48,500.)

The other five Housewives all have estimated net worth in the low to mid-seven figures. Monica’s is estimated at less than $1 million but more than $300,000. She’s not living off food stamps.

Delayed addition

If Cohen had had his way, Monica would have joined the cast of “RHOSLC” last season. “She is someone who we had talked about bringing into the fold last season, and it didn’t happen,” Cohen said. “So we’ve had our eye on her for a while.”

Cohen did not say why she didn’t come aboard in Season 3, and when Garcia found out he didn’t share that information, she, too, decided to keep it to herself. “Well, maybe that’ll come up at the reunion,” she said. She did, however, say that it was “for sure” tied to her past relationship with Jen Shah.

She was one of Jen’s many assistants for a time, and her version of the story is that she was going to be a witness against Jen at her trial on federal fraud charges — which did not happen because Jen pleaded guilty just before her trial was scheduled to begin in July 2022.

(Bravo) Monica Garcia and her mother, Linda, on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

Not on speaking terms

Viewers have seen Monica and her mother, Linda, get into some big arguments on the show. Monica has alleged that, among other things, Linda selfishly abandoned her when she was 12, going off to pursue her own dreams.

Linda has taken to social media to refute Monica’s assertions — she posted that Monica “begged” her to be on the show and then “did me dirty.” And that has not landed well with her daughter.

“Yeah, we are not currently speaking,” Garcia said. “And her social media definitely has not helped that.”

Will Monica return to ‘RHOSLC’?

According to Cohen, the Season 4 reunion will be “intense.” And not just because, somewhat surprisingly, Mary Cosby was there for part of it. (It was filmed a couple of weeks ago.)

And, according to a seating chart released by Bravo, Monica will be sitting on Cohen’s right — and the Housewives who are central to the reunions are seated next to him. Plus, Heather will be on Cohen’s left.

(Meredith Andrews | Bravo) Heather Gay and Monica Garcia on "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

That might be because of the lawsuit filed against Monica for unpaid fees she ran up at Heather’s Beauty Lab + Laser. And the countersuit from Monica, claiming Beauty Lab “botched” injections she was given.

Heather, by the way, was recently named one of the 40 most powerful women in reality TV by Variety. And, when she was asked by that publication if she’d ever film with Monica again, she said, “I don’t think I ever will. Ever.”

There are three possible outcomes to this dilemma for producers: (1) Monica leaves the show; (2) Heather leaves the show; (3) Heather changes her mind and agrees to film with Monica.

Stay tuned …

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