In the third and final installment of the Season Two “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” reunion, host/executive producer Andy Cohen finally gets around to asking Jen Shah about the charges against her.
And, somewhat surprisingly, Jen’s husband — University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah — corroborates her version of the day she was arrested. She did not, he says, leave four other Housewives behind that day to try to avoid police.
Sharrieff backs up Jen’s story
Sharrieff says that Jen’s seemingly unbelievable story of the day of her arrest on federal fraud and money-laundering charges — that she got a call telling her that he was in the hospital suffering from internal bleeding — was true. He says he has a history of “rectal bleeding,” and on that day “I was bleeding so much that the doctor thought it was important.”
He was with an assistant, who used Sharrieff’s phone to call Jen while she was on the shuttle bus waiting to go to Vail, Colorado They both say that the speculation that the call was to tip Jen off that Homeland Security was looking for her was false.
“Within 25 minutes” of when his assistant called Jen, Sharrieff says he “received a phone call from Homeland Security and my heart just stopped.” Sharrieff says that neither he nor his assistant ever called Jen to tell her about Homeland Security looking for her.
Clarifying the timeline • Jen says she left the shuttle bus to go to the hospital — not to avoid arrest — and that she was pulled over by the police “maybe 20 minutes” later.
She was taken to the federal courthouse. “They said I needed to see the judge, and that’s when they said he’ll explain,” Jen said. She didn’t know why she had been arrested until the charges were read, and her reaction was “shock.”
Guns drawn at the Shah Chalet • When Sharrieff got home, he " found law enforcement officers at my house with guns, some of which pointed up my baby” — then 15-year-old Omar.
Andy asks Jen why she gave “RHOSLC” producers doorbell camera footage of her son and other family members being escorted out of her house at gunpoint. “I feel like it’s important for people to see … that it doesn’t matter if you live in a gated community in Park City. It doesn’t matter of what you have. We’re in 2022 and this is still happening,” she says. “These are how my boys were treated.”
Omar, her nephew, her nephew’s wife and their 12-year-old son were taken out of the house at gunpoint. When she saw the footage, she “fell apart to have my son marched out like he did something with his hands up? With rifles pointed at him?” And it made her “sick to her stomach” to think that something could’ve happened and they could’ve been shot.
Did Sharrieff question where the money came from? • He tells Andy he did not, and that “so much of what people may see in her closet are things that she has accumulated over 20-plus years.”
Sharrieff also says that he was never concerned that he would be implicated. “We’ve been dealing with this now for almost a year, and it has been painful every day. But I have not worried [or] had any issue about myself.”
Sharrieff never doubted Jen • Andy asks if there was “ever a conversation that you had with Jen where you doubted her or said, ‘Was there anything improper that happened in your business?’” Sharrieff says, “No,” four times. He adds that he understood what Jen’s business dealings were, but he can’t talk about that because of the charges against her.
How does Sharrieff stay optimistic? • He tells Andy, “You don’t have a choice. You just don’t. Because the other choice is to absolutely roll over.” And, he adds, “This cloud will not go away until my wife is vindicated through this trial.” Sharrieff says he will be at the trial “to the extent that I am able.”
The trial has been rescheduled for July 11. Fall camp for the Utes will probably start about Aug. 5. (By the way, Andy says the trial is scheduled for March 22, but the reunion was filmed before it was rescheduled.)
It hurt • Sharrieff says that watching the other Housewives’ response to Jen’s arrest — including speculation that Jen was having an affair — was “unbelievably painful.” Jen says, “I couldn’t even watch it.”
Andy asks Sharrieff and Jen if they have “had crises of infidelity in your marriage.” Jen says, “No”; Sharrieff shakes his head no.
Do you think Jen did it? • Andy bluntly asks the other Housewives if they think Jen is guilty of fraud and money laundering. There’s an uncomfortable pause before Heather Gay says, “I love Jen. I don’t care if she’s guilty or not.” Which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Lisa Barlow says, “Jen told me she’s innocent and I believe her.” It then occurs to Heather to add, “And I believe her, too.” Meredith Marks says she has “no idea” if Jen is innocent, adding, “I hope so. I’m not the judge and jury.”
Jen says she won’t take a plea deal. “I’m fighting this. I am innocent.”
Casting herself as the heroine • Jen says she “will fight for every person out there that can’t fight for themselves because they don’t have the resources or the means. So they don’t fight. I will fight because, number one, I’m innocent. And, number two, I’m going to [expletive] represent every other person out there that can’t fight.”
Back for Season Three? • Given that filming on Season Three is underway and her trial isn’t until July, it’s pretty clear that Jen will be back next season. And she says she’ll be acquitted.
“You’re going to be on the couch at the end of Season Three with me?” Andy asks. Jen replies, “Of course. I ain’t going nowhere.” The reunion episodes will be filmed months after the trial.
Jen alleges racism
In the wake of Jen’s arrest, the other Housewives speculated about where she got her money, how she spent so lavishly, and whether she was guilty of the charges against her. Jen takes that as a personal affront — she believes a true friend would instantly be 100% convinced of her innocence.
Jen goes on to say that she was suspect “because I’m brown and Sharrieff is Black … and you’ve got to put down successful people of color.”
Jen likes to ignore that she’s been charged with federal crimes, and it’s tough to make a case that speculation about her money AFTER she was arrested is because of her skin color.
She points out that Sharrieff is a success all on his own. He has three degrees and was an attorney for 13 years. He was also “a certified NFL agent” while he was practicing law. And, she says, while some viewers think Sharrieff is “a Little League coach. … My husband is a D1 coach in the Pac-12. We just played in the Rose Bowl.”
(According to USA Today, Sharrieff’s annual salary is $450,000, and during the 2020-21 school year he made $553,215 in salary, bonuses, benefits and retirement contributions.)
Whitney Rose, Heather and Meredith all deny speculating about Jen’s money. Which we saw all of them do. Meredith tries to say she just didn’t understand Jen’s business, but that’s an attempt at deception.
Andy points out that, in her audition tape, Jen said she spends “at least” $50,000 a month. “That seems like a lot to people.” Jen doesn’t respond.
Andy also points out that a lot of viewers still don’t understand what Jen’s business was. Jen says it definitely wasn’t “lead generation,” as is alleged in the charges against her. “I don’t do lead generation, I do data monetization,” she says. Andy asks her to explain that, and Jen says, “Monetization is generating money from data, a name and a phone number.” (Huh?)
Jen and Stuart
Jen says she and her former No. 1 assistant/co-defendant, Stuart Smith, haven’t spoken since their arrest. Andy doesn’t make clear that the court ordered them to have no contact with each other.
Jen is unclear to the point of being deliberately obtuse about her business relationship with Stuart.
“We didn’t work together in the businesses that, you know, were being discussed. …meaning on a daily basis,” Jen says. “I mean, Stewart was not around me every day, which is why I had a lot of other assistants. Because he was doing his own stuff.” (Huh?)
So … Stuart was not Jen’s business partner? “No,” she says, “meaning, like, he’s been around me for 10 years, and I’m going to take care of people that are around me. So as I expanded my businesses, I brought him into that. And he always knew that I would always make sure he was taken care of. If I could be successful in something.”(Huh?)
What’s Jen’s reaction to Stuart changing his plea to guilty? (Speculation is that he’s going to testify against her.) “I wish I could respond … but I can’t” because of the pending case against her.
Heather, however, has an incredibly optimistic take on Stuart’s guilty plea. “There’s a chance that he’s just going to take it, own it, and this will be Jen’s vindication,” she says. Which, given that the case against Jen is going forward, seems highly unlikely.
Whitney and Justin’s savings
During the season, Justin said that Whitney spent half their savings on rebranding her skincare business. Whitney said she spent “my family’s entire savings, plus some.” Now, the story has changed.
• Whitney says some of the money went to buy out her partner out.
• Justin says the money came out of a savings account earmarked to buy a cabin. “It’s not our entire savings.”
• Justin says “her business is doing great.” Whitney doesn’t offer numbers, but does say her business was up 540% from January 2021 to January 2022.
This was clearly not the impression left by the show. A viewer asked, “Whitney, did you feel guilty knowing that Justin’s 20 years older than you and you’re squandering his retirement? Now he has to work until the day he dies.”
Jen goes after Whitney
Jen says it was “very hurtful” to see Whitney “speculating on what I do. … We’ve never had a conversation about my businesses.” Andy interjects, “Yeah, but you’re being charged with fraud and money laundering.”
“And I’m innocent until proven guilty,” Jen shoots back. “And because I’m charged with that, [Whitney] puts a blanket statement out that, ‘Oh, Jen’s doing this, and she’s setting up companies.’
Jen is wrong. Whitney was reading the indictment and explaining what the charges are, not speculating on what Jen was doing or her guilt.
Jen goes after Justin
Jen pulls out that LifeVantage, where Justin is the chief sales and marketing officer, had a lawsuit filed against it, accusing the company of being a pyramid scheme. “How would you feel if … everybody’s, like, automatically,” speculating that that’s why Whitney started her skincare company, Jen says. “It’s the same thing.”
It’s not. Jen is trying to throw Justin under the bus. Andy gives her an assist, asserting that Justin has been “embroiled in a lawsuit.” Justin points out that the lawsuit was filed four years ago, his name was “quickly removed from it,” and that LifeVantage is fighting it.
Seth’s tacky behavior
Andy questions Seth about his obsession with Whitney’s cleavage. Whitney says, “The first couple times it was funny,” but she didn’t want it to be “a thing.” Justin said he wasn’t offended because “I know where it comes from with Seth.” Andy replies, “I think I know where it comes from, too.”
And Seth offers an excuse for his tacky behavior. Asked for his reaction to Lisa’s hot-mic rant when she called Meredith a “whore,” Seth says, “nobody played through pain more than Meredith Marks did this year.” Her father died the second day of filming on Season Two, and Meredith “never got a chance to grieve and heal. ... All I tried to do was make an ass out of myself to distract the heaviness.”
He did not explain why he made an ass out of himself in Season One, which was filmed months before the death of Meredith’s father.
When Andy asks his reaction to Lisa ranting that Meredith had sex with half of New York, Seth says, “Did she mention the part that I had sex with the other half?”
Seth is not in the studio because of “COVID concerns,” Andy says. On the phone, he offers Meredith some unforgiving advice about how to deal with Lisa: “Just remember, sometimes second chances — you’re giving another person a bullet ‘cause they missed the first time.” When he’s appearing on set via video link, Seth clearly contradicts himself — he says he’s “super hopeful” that his wife and Lisa can “heal” their friendship.
Why all the terror?
Asked to say specifically what Jen has done to terrorize her family, Meredith doesn’t deliver. “Multiple parties” — including other Housewives — told her that Jen was “out to destroy” her. Pressed by Heather to say which Housewives, Meredith refuses to answer. So much for specifics.
“And then I started hearing other things, and that led me to believe that there was collusion involved, things like that,” Meredith continues, being even less specific.
And Meredith’s story changes yet again. She didn’t hire a private investigator — as she said repeatedly during the season — it was a “cyber specialist.” Her sons and Heather had gotten “very bizarre, threatening texts.” Heather describes them as “horrible rhyming messages of death.”
The cyber specialist “believed it could be Jen” who was sending the texts, “but he didn’t say conclusively,” Meredith says. “And so that’s why I dropped it.” By “dropped it” Meredith apparently means — repeatedly accused Jen of terrorizing her family.
Jen then starts shouting about the “horrible, racist text messages and emails” she’s gotten, and asks if she should blame Meredith for them.
“But I didn’t say it was from you, Jen,” Meredith replies disingenuously. No, she just said that her “private investigator” was “90% sure” it was Jen. But, Meredith says, that’s because she “read about encrypted messaging” in the indictment against Jen, “and that’s what triggered that.” That, too, is a new version of the story.
Is Duy still looking for a sister wife?
Jennie Nguyen and her husband, Duy, have an ongoing conflict over whether to have more children. The conflict escalated to the point that Duy said he wanted to add a sister wife who could bear more children.
They have three, and Jennie has had nine miscarriages and a daughter who died shortly after she was born. Duy says that he and Jennie have struggled since the newborn’s death in 2008, but he still wants more. “You guys saw a little window of how awesome our children are,” Duy says. “Wouldn’t the world be nicer if we had more of that — more kindness, more beauty?”
And then Andy says “there’s a disconnect with viewers,” and reads a question from one who asks, “Duy, as a medical professional ... how can you justify pressuring her to literally risk her life for another child, much less her emotional stress?” Duy says, “I worship this woman, and at no point did I ever ask Jennie to get pregnant again.” Which is not consistent with what we saw during the season.
Duy says he “hadn’t been planning” to ask Jennie for a sister wife, adding that he was speaking as a business person who “just wants results. … Unfortunately, I did not consider my wife’s emotion at the time.” Jennie tells Andy she issued her husband an ultimatum — seek therapy or “I think this relationship will not work. And he agreed.” Duy says it has been helping him.
Lisa, Heather, Whitney ... and Meredith
During a break in the filming, Lisa has what Andy refers to as “a big kumbaya moment” with Whitney and Heather. Which is super weird, because throughout the reunion — throughout most of the first two seasons — Whitney and Heather have acted like Lisa’s mortal enemies.
Lisa walks over and sits down between the other two; Lisa and Heather hug; Heather says, “We don’t want you to go anywhere. We love you.” Whitney is Whitney. “Do I get a hug, or is it just Heather?” she asks. So Lisa hugs her. Heather is empathetic about the hot-mic rant. “I felt for you ‘cause I know what it is to lose your [expletive].”
Lisa tells Andy that she, Heather and Whitney “left the end of the season great. ... And we’re getting to know each other.” Andy agrees that Heather “did end the season well with Lisa, and then you came in strong tonight.” Heather says that’s because she thought Lisa “was going to come in contrite and horrified, and, um, with her hat in her hand.” And she was “triggered” when Lisa didn’t act like that.
“I just want to be in the ugly with you,” Heather tells Lisa. “Lisa is the reason that I’m on this couch. I have never forgotten that.” (Lisa recommend Heather to “RHOSLC” producers.) “Well, so am I,” Meredith interjects. “Don’t leave me out. I recommended you.”
And Heather says she recommended both Lisa and Meredith. “I still feel allegiance to that threesome,” she adds.
Andy says he believes he’s seeing “some thawing” between Meredith and Lisa, who says, “I think it’s going to take more work.”
And Heather points out that “Meredith was mad at Jen for a year over liking a tweet.” Meredith says, “I actually do not hold grudges.” Jen looks surprised. And so, no doubt, do viewers who watched Meredith hold a grudge against Jen throughout all of Season Two.
The end ... for now
Bravo has not officially announced that “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” will be back for a third season, but (a) we know production is underway; and (b) Andy just asked Jen if she’ll be there for the Season Three reunion.
We know that Jennie and Mary Cosby won’t be back. They were both fired — Jennie when racist tweets surfaced; Mary, not for the racism she displayed in the show, but because she refused to show up for the reunion episodes, as her contract required.
There’s almost no mention of Mary in this 75-minute episode. But maybe Heather takes a shot at her when she commends Jen “for showing up today.”
In the final moments, Andy asks the women what they’ve learned this season. Heather’s takeaway is ironic. “We’ve all done things we regret and we can move on and we can make it up to people,” she says. “And no one is beyond redemption in this group.”
Except, apparently, for Jennie and Mary.