As Season 2 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” was winding down, and production was about to begin on Season 3, racist, anti-Black Lives Matters social media posts Jennie Nguyen made before she joined the cast became public knowledge. Bravo and the producers seemingly did nothing until there was a public outcry.
Despite her apologies, Jennie was fired in a matter of days.
Mary Cosby made her first racist comments in Season 1 of “RHOSLC.” She suffered no repercussions and returned for Season 2.
In Season 2, Mary made racist comments about Mexicans and Asians. She mocked Jennie’s Vietnamese accent. She mocked members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She made and repudiated some weak apologies. In other cases, she refused to acknowledge her bad behavior or show an ounce of remorse.
And yet Mary was allowed to continue on the show until she was fired, not because of the racism, but because she skipped the Season 2 reunion.
I am not defending Jennie’s posts. But it would seem that Bravo and the producers find some racism less troubling than other racism. Which is not a good look. And is, arguably, a form of racism itself.
Why would you want to be a Real Housewife?
The Season 2 finale of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” airs Sunday on Bravo (7 p.m. Dish and DirecTV; 10 p.m. Comcast), and it will be the regular-episode swan song for both Mary Cosby and Jennie Nguyen.
Mary didn’t show up for the reunion episodes, so we won’t see her again after Sunday. Jennie did show up, and we’re told she will appear in the multi-part reunion.
Which means that we can expect additions to the cast for Season 3. Maybe one. Maybe two. Maybe Angie Harrington. Maybe not.
But joining the cast is not without risk.
Mary will forever be known as the racist, mean-spirited woman who married her step-grandfather, hoarded designer clothes, and may or may not have swindled members of her church. It’ll be the first line in her obituary.
Jennie’s racist social media posts will haunt her for the rest of her life and beyond. Nothing disappears in this internet age.
I assume that Jen Shah would have been arrested on federal fraud and money laundering charges if she was never a Real Housewife, but, certainly, it would’ve been a lot less public.
And it’s not just them. All the cast members have their fans, but do a quick online search and you’ll see the vitriol aimed at Lisa Barlow, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks and Whitney Rose.
And at their family members. Marks’ husband, Seth, has become the object of scorn and derision because of his tawdry sense of humor. We’re told that the Marks’ 22-year-old son, Brooks, has struggled with being “outed” as gay since he’s been on the show.
Yes, the exposure as a “Real Housewife” can be invaluable. Lisa’s tequila brand, Heather’s medical spas, Meredith’s jewelry line and Whitney’s beauty line have all gotten the kind of advertising that money can’t buy.
But is it worth becoming pariahs? Or, at least, the subject of public ridicule?
Potential cast members should take that into consideration. Not that there’s any shortage of people just dying to be famous, no matter the cost.
Living in a bubble
Perhaps the single most hypocritical thing any cast member has said on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” came out of Mary Cosby’s mouth — she called Lisa Barlow a liar and accused her of living in “a bubble.”
Not only is Mary the biggest liar on the show — there’s video footage proving that — but it’s been clear for quite some time that she was raised in a bubble and remains trapped inside it. We got a clear understanding of that in the most recent episode when we saw Mary basking in the adoration of members of the church she leads with her husband. In that bubble, church members tell her “God shines on all that you do,” and that she’s “the facsimile of God” with “beauty that’s beyond divine.” One church member got down on one knee in front of her as he praised her.
Only someone who lives in a bubble like that would be completely unaware that talking about Asian Americans’ “slanted eyes” is offensive. Or would think it’s OK to insult Mexicans. Or would see nothing wrong with saying that if she sees Black men in front of a convenience store, she’d go to a different store.
Or would think it’s OK to marry her step-grandfather, a man she has admitted she did not love.
Although Bravo and the producers of “The Real Housewives” remain under the impression that most Salt Lakers knew about Mary Cosby before she was on the show, it’s safe to say that most of us who live here were unaware of her.
Mary would be better off if that was still true.