As the Season 2 reunion for “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” gets underway, the women learn that cast member Mary Cosby isn’t going to be there — not that that stops them from talking about her.
Led by reunion host/producer Andy Cohen, Mary’s racist comments and actions are among the topics of discussion. And, the women learn, Mary doesn’t think she can be racist because she’s Black.
It’s only as they’re getting seated on the set that the women realize that Mary isn’t there. Andy says Mary’s absence is “disappointing, to say the least.” (Reportedly, Mary was later fired from the show for failing to show up for the reunion, as her contract mandated.)
According to Andy, “she was pretty upset about everyone speaking behind her back about her church. … And she was very upset that [Whitney Rose] called her a predator and was stunned by that and kept bringing that up.”
It’s worth pointing out that viewers saw Mary talk behind other cast members’ backs. A lot.
“I wish she was here,” Whitney says, “because I’ve tried to have conversations with her throughout the season and she would not afford me the respect of a conversation. … And now we still don’t get to talk about it.”
Heather Gay then quickly goes off the rails, asserting that “Mary said so many insightful things in confessional, and I gained respect for Mary watching the episodes.” Not sure what episodes she was watching, because Mary generally rambled non-grammatically and nonsensically in confessionals. Heather, however, claims that Mary “has this kind of, like, weird ability to read everybody like the Bible.”
Lisa Barlow isn’t having it. She interjects, “I don’t think they’re accurate reads.” And the two argue. Heather asserts that Mary got it right when she said Lisa “doesn’t know how to be real,” the first of multiple attacks Heather launches against Lisa.
When Jennie Nguyen points out Mary called Whitney a “whore” in one of her confessionals, Heather acts as if she missed that. Whitney says Mary “does have moments of great wisdom and insight.” Lisa replies, “Moments.”
Heather says she’s mad that Mary isn’t there to support Meredith Marks. Meredith says she has “mixed feelings” about Mary’s absence, “because I’m not so sure that the show is very healthy for Mary.” That, folks, is a moment of true insight.
Mary’s racism and Meredith’s non-reaction
Andy says that Mary made “a lot of racially insensitive remarks” that were “ignorant, intolerant and hurtful.” He brings up her anti-Mexican and anti-Asian comments and her mocking of Jennie’s accent. He does not bring up the anti-Black racism Mary — who is Black — admitted to in Season 1, or when she mocked Latter-day Saints in Season 2.
Jennie says Mary’s comments were “hurtful, because she’s a minority, I’m a minority. We’re supposed to support each other.”
BTW, there’s a disclaimer before the episode — the reunion was taped before Jennie’s racist social posts became public “and her subsequent departure from the series.” (Departure? She was fired.) None of that is addressed in the reunion.
Jennie says she has been “afraid for my life” because of the anti-Asian hate during the pandemic, and expresses concerns that one day her kids will see “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” and see racism on the show.
Andy says that it “seemed like” when Mary mocked Jennie’s accent, Meredith was giving her “a pass” because it appeared she laughed along with Mary. However, Meredith insists, “It was a grimace. I was horrified and uncomfortable” and she “was trying to give a reminder to her and it was not OK.
Meredith also has an explanation for why she refused to call out Mary’s “slanted eyes” comment when the subject came up on the trip to southern Utah. At the time, Meredith said, “I don’t know if it would be offensive.”
At the reunion, Meredith says, “My understanding” was … “you are supposed to really look to the party (Jennie) affected by it to get a cue. ... If I could do it again, I would have just said yes.” And, she says, the reason she didn’t say “Yes” is because when Jennie responded to the same question, “you said, ‘Well, it’s inappropriate.”
That’s true, but wildly misleading. Yes, Jennie said it was “inappropriate,” but she also said it was “discriminatory” and “racist” — which somehow Meredith didn’t hear.
Andy shoots Meredith down. “It doesn’t seem like there was any question about whether what she said was wrong,” he says. Meredith agrees — months after the fact.
Andy questions Heather’s comment that Jennie looked like an anime character in the photo of her in a blonde wig. “It was not because you’re Asian ... and it’s terrible that it came out that way, but you were wearing a vinyl corset. You looked like a cartoon,” Heather says. “I shouldn’t have said it.”
Jennie vs. Meredith
Meredith says, “I definitely regret that moment” when she failed to support Jennie against Mary’s racism. She says she texted Jennie “a couple of days later to make sure she knew that I felt horribly that she had gone through that and that she had my support.” And, she says, she didn’t go “quite so hard” in Mary’s defense as people who watched the show believe.
Jennie points out that Meredith never supported her when she tried to reach out to Mary and was rudely rebuffed. That, Meredith says, is Jennie’s fault. “Well, Jennie, maybe that’s because I felt under attack by you the entire season,” Meredith says. “You had made all these judgments and never once asked me a question.”
She points to judgmental comments Jennie made to Lisa about her a week after they met. And to comments Jennie made while talking to her husband. Meredith, Heather and Andy seem to think she’s scored a point — but Meredith wasn’t there when the comments were made. She didn’t know what Jennie said until she watched the episodes, months later.
Meredith adds that Jennie “also decided to … misinterpret a lot of things I said, and create a lot of problems between me and Jen (Shah).” This is also completely unfair, because the misinformation came from Meredith herself. Yes, Jennie told Jen that Meredith had hired a private investigator look into her — because Meredith told her and the other Housewives about what a private investigator she hired had dug up about Jen. It was only AFTER Jen confronted Meredith that Meredith clarified that she hired a private investigator to determine who was threatening her family, and that the P.I. turned up information about Jen.
Lisa judges Meredith’s tolerance
A viewer asked if Lisa was surprised by Meredith’s tolerance of “Mary’s ignorance.” And she came to Meredith’s defense.
“I was shocked that Meredith wasn’t more vocal. But I do know that Meredith does not like unacceptable behaviors,” Lisa said. Meredith says, “Mary and I have a lot of moments where we speak one on one. Mary knows exactly where I stand.”
And Andy shoots Meredith down again. “I guess, what good is it if you don’t call her out in front of the other women or on camera?”
“Oh, there’s plenty on camera,” Meredith says. But if it happened and ended up on the cutting room floor, why do all the other women insist she never called out Mary?
Is Jennie racist, too?
A viewer asks Jennie, “When are you going to address, take accountability and apologize for the fact that you constantly use a black-cent? You roll your neck and you wag your finger and other stereotypical depictions of Black women when you talk to or about Mary.”
Jennie denies that she has a “black accent,” and attributes it to her upbringing. “I grew up in Long Beach, California, and it shaped who I am. That’s where I get my accent.”
Andy asks Jennie if she was being “a little bit hypocritical to reprimand Mary for being violent with her words when you were violent with your actions” for throwing a glass at her at a party. And Jennie accurately points out that Andy is misrepresenting what happened.
“I didn’t throw it at Mary. I threw it at the floor,” she says. “If I want to hit Mary, I would’ve hit Mary.” She doesn’t actually answer the question, however.
And when Andy asks Jennie if she likes Mary, she quickly replies, “No! … I don’t like her because she didn’t like me.”
Jen diplomatically says that, on a tubing outing early in the season, Jennie “went in really hot” and “too strong,” thus alienating Mary. Jennie says it wasn’t aimed at Mary, and points out that she later apologized to Mary.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s Mary Cosby,” says Jen, who has complained repeatedly about having to offer umpteen apologies in Season 2.
Mary claims she can’t be racist
Jennie says Mary continued to be mean and racist. Heather agrees, adding, “There’s a part of me that thinks that there’s something in Mary that is racist. Because it didn’t stop there and it seemed to always come out.”
And then Andy drops a bombshell. “I did speak to her last week and she told me that she didn’t think that Black people were capable of being racist,” he says. Which, apparently, is her excuse about disparaging Mexicans, Asians and members of her own race.
That doesn’t land well.
“They are,” Jennie says. “Everyone is capable of being racist.”
Treating Jen gently
At least in this first of three reunion episodes, Andy barely broaches the subject of Jen’s arrest and upcoming trial on federal fraud and conspiracy charges, except to ask her how she’s doing.
“Honestly, this is devastating for me personally and more so for my family,” Jen says. “I think that’s why it was so hard for me, especially, you know, seeing the Vail trip.” Watching the episode in which Jennie, Whitney, Heather and Lisa learned of her arrest “broke my heart,” apparently because they didn’t immediately say they were certain she was innocent.
Andy asks Jen if she considered quitting the show after she was arrested. Jen says she “did have a discussion” with her husband and sons, “and I was, like, ‘No, I’m innocent’, and I felt like I needed to tell my story.”
Asked how her lawyers feel about her being on the show, Jen says, “They weren’t thrilled about it, but because I felt like it was important for me to be here with the rest of the group of friends and show up.”
A viewer asks how Heather can continue to be friends with Jen after she called her Shrek and Honey Boo-Boo, among other things. “Because it was a bad joke that she said behind my back to a random person. … I got over it,” Heather said. “And I think she’s deeply sorry that she said those things.” And Jen says that’s “absolutely” true.
Lisa and Heather fight some more
Heather says Lisa called her “horrible things.” Lisa denies it. They argue back and forth. Heather brings up the terrible things Lisa said about Meredith on the hot mic — when she called her a “whore” and that she “[expletive] half of New York.”
“That was in a rage in my room, and we’ll address that,” Lisa says. But not much in this episode. Later, Lisa does say, “I know what I said [on the hot mic], and I know it was horrible. I know it was wrong.” But she thinks too much is being made of comments she never intended anyone to hear. “I have to be perfect all the time or I’m held to, like, a different bar.”
Heather, who acted like Lisa’s friend toward the end of Season 2, is consistently on the attack at this reunion. “That is the Lisa Barlow I’ve known since Day 1,” she says. “I’m glad you revealed yourself. … That’s who you are, and it’s very ugly.”
At this point, they clearly hate each other so much that the reunion is ugly. They toss accusations back and forth, and talk over each other. It’s all but unintelligible.
Meredith gets hugely dramatic
Meredith says that what she " would like to accomplish today with Jen is a peaceful space.” Jen agrees. Meredith apologizes for “hurting you and/or your family for anything that I said.”
And then Meredith starts to cry. “There’s a lot more stuff that went on that goes well beyond you, Jen. ... I had some very serious issues that went beyond just losing my father, which was incredibly painful. The last time I saw my father was through a glass door on Facetime because of COVID.”
There were “some very serious issues going on in my family. I couldn’t get him buried. I couldn’t get any peace. I was fighting incessantly with my sister. I had a nephew with mental health issues. … My fears, my reactions — everything was amplified a million times over.” By the end of Season 2, she was “completely insane because I was emotionally devastated.”
Jen says she understands and relates to Meredith’s feelings. And Meredith says that as she watched Season 2, “Seeing how everything unfolded and the information that was given to Jen — or I should say misinformation — she was actually pretty kind at the end of the day.”
Andy stirs things up by asking Meredith, “Do you think ultimately she wound up treating you better this season than [Lisa]?”
“Yes,” Meredith says. And Lisa gasps in apparent disgust, and says that the other women are “rewriting history.” She says she’s glad that Meredith and Jen are now getting along, but that’s been “horrible” between the two of them “and I’ve been in the middle of it.”
Is Jennie Lisa’s puppet?
In response to a question from Andy, Heather and Whitney say they believe that Lisa manipulated Jennie into doing her bidding. Jennie takes offense at that.
“No. I’m not her minion,” Jennie says. “I’m her friend, and she will not control what I do.” Lisa adds, “I would never try to.”
And Heather goes on the attack against Lisa again, saying, “When you need her, you’re there for her. And when you don’t need her, you dismiss her.” Lisa replies that Heather and Whitney “use the word minions so that if anyone stands up for me, they’re the bad guys.”
Whitney apologizes for calling Jennie a minion. Heather insists she said it “because I like Jennie a lot.”
When Andy pulls Meredith into this conversation, she says, “I do think there is some level of control that goes on.” Lisa gasps.
Refighting old battles
Andy dives back into the controversy over whether Lisa sabotaged a charity event hosted by her now-former friend, Angie Harrington. We also see clips of another controversy, when Whitney gave free products to a dress designer with whom Jen had a huge falling out. At the time, Lisa said she brought it up so Jen would know what Whitney was doing; Whitney says her employees interacted with the guy and she told them never to do it again.
“By a show of hands, who thinks Lisa is the pot-stirrer in the group?” Andy asks. Meredith, Jen, Heather and Whitney raise their hands; Jennie does not.
“I think there’s more than one,” Jen says, implicating Whitney. And this is Whitney’s mixed-metaphor defense: “I think that Lisa does a brilliant job of stirring the pot, and I always take the baton.”
Back to the “catering debacle” — a viewer wants Lisa to explain the timeline. Lisa continues to insist she didn’t and pulls out some paperwork she says proves that the timeline of the accusation against her doesn’t work. Andy reads some of it, but it’s never really explained.
Heather and Whitney again go on the attack against Lisa. Whitney says Lisa sabotaged Angie to punish her for being friends with Whitney; Lisa denies it. There’s all sorts of crosstalk as Andy tries to regain control. Lisa, Heather and Whitney all think they have proof that they’re right, but it amounts to a lot of noise and nothing conclusive.
Lisa is called out for referring to Angie and Whitney as “inbred polygamy cousins.” (Heather thinks it was about her, too, but it wasn’t.) “Inbred” is just mean, but, apparently, “polygamy cousins” is accurate.
Heather attacks Lisa again, alleging that she fakes her wealth. It’s not altogether clear what Heather is talking about, except that she’s going out of her way to be mean. “Oh my gosh, she is so horrible,” Lisa says. “This is so insane.”
And then things take a crazy turn. “It’s not insane,” Heather says. “We know you, and we love you as you are.” She actually says that after attacking her repeatedly and expressing contempt for Lisa at every opportunity.
Andy’s having a tough time with that. “You love her as she is?” he asks quizzically.
“I liked her more when I saw her true self show up than I’ve ever liked her,” Heather says. “Because I don’t want to be friends with a caricature of some, you know, teen magazine she read in eighth grade that said how to be a cool mean girl.”
How much of this is real?
Apparently without realizing it, Heather casts doubt on whether “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is real. She interjects herself into an argument between Lisa and Jen about Jen’s now-former dress designer and tosses this out there:
“Jen told me that she texted you before and said, ‘Don’t mention his name, no matter what.’ Which is what you always do before anyone films with you. You make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to say or not say.”
It’s not clear who the “you” is in the second and third sentences — but how much of these supposedly “real” encounters are planned out in advance?
Part 2 of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” reunion airs Sunday, March 6, on Bravo — 7 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 10 p.m. on Comcast.