I’ll admit it. I was on the verge of an ugly Kim K cry when the final episodes of RHOBH and RHONY aired and the seasons came to an end. There’s just something about watching middle-aged women fight, scream, make up, lie, drink too much, spread rumors, and flaunt their wealth that makes me so unbelievably happy. And if you feel anything like I do, you’ve probably been counting down the days until Bravo’s newest Housewives franchise, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, premieres. I assure you, if I wasn’t so lazy or had even a shred of artistic skill, I would have made an advent calendar to track the days.
So why am I so excited? Well, RHOSLC is sure to bring the same level of craziness we’ve grown accustomed to on the other franchises—and then it tops that by promising the most religiously and culturally diverse cast we’ve seen to date. Before you tune into the premiere on November 11 and start following the #RHOSLC hashtag on Twitter, let me break down the six ladies on the cast so you know what you’re in for.
Meredith Marks, a Jewish woman, is a celeb jewelry designer whose pieces have been seen on A-list stars like Rihanna, Bravolebrities like Tinsley Mortimer, and Bachelor royalty like Hannah Brown. Call me a dreamer, but I’ll be praying to the Bravo Gods for a “friend of” scene with Riri.
Beyond doing online sales and over-promoting her jewelry on her personal IG, Meredith has a boutique storefront in Utah. Unfortunately, let’s just say that for someone like me who’s still living at home (thanks Mom and Dad!), the pieces are way, way, WAY, out of my price range.
But even though her products have an expensive price tag, her castmates Jen Shah and Lisa Barlow are apparently frequent buyers—which tells me that Jen and Lisa have real money (and not Dorit Kemsley/PK money).
Anyway, given the storefront is in a city neighboring Salt Lake City, we can bet to have a scene or two take place there.
Meredith has both a law degree and MBA, so she’s got brains too. TG, every cast needs at least one actually intelligent person.
From her Bravo bio, it looks like Meredith’s storyline will involve marital issues with her husband of 25 years, Seth Marks. The couple is originally from Chicago, and according to Seth’s LinkedIn, until January of 2020 he was actually living in Chicago and not Utah, which may have contributed to the relationship issues. I guess Meredith has more of a connection to Tinsley than just selling jewelry to her, huh?
Whitney Rose is a mother of two and the co-founder of a natural anti-aging skin care company called Iris + Beau. Besides founding and running a business, Whitney is now married to her former boss, Justin Rose, after the two had an affair a decade ago. In what sounds like a plotline out of a Lifetime movie, both she and Justin left their respective partners to be with one another when Whitney became pregnant as a result of the affair. The two are still married a decade later, and some of the cast were rumored to have filmed together at their 10 year vow renewal ceremony.
After visiting Whitney’s company’s website, I realized she’s one of three of the cast who runs a company in the beauty space. What makes hers unique is that it has a partner program—basically, earning commission off affiliate linking. From what I could find, her business doesn’t seem to be an MLM (it seems closer to your influencers who promote sweaters on IG stories to get a kickback on sales). But if your MLM senses were tingling, you weren’t that far off: Her husband is an exec at an MLM called LifeVantage, which happened to be sued in 2018 on claims that it was operating as a pyramid scheme. I mean, this is Utah after all, the pyramid scheme capital of the U.S. I know the allegations and businesses aren’t the same, but Whitney and her hubby are giving me MAJOR Teresa and Joe Guidice vibes. What I’m dying to know: Are they going to discuss the allegations this season, or will they keep this topic under wraps like they do on RHOBH?
Heather Gay is a mother of three, was married into Mormon royalty (WTF is Mormon royalty??), and has since divorced her husband of 11 years. She loosely practices Mormonism and as her Bravo bio states, considers herself a “good Mormon gone bad”. I’m sure they love that.
Speaking of good things gone bad, Heather’s already taken a step towards cringey by creating a Heather Gay fan page and updates page on Instagram. Ok, I have no evidence that she created either, but who TF would create an account for a cast member on a show that hasn’t even premiered yet?
For work, Heather co-owns a cosmetic medical practice in Utah called Beauty Lab + Laser and co-hosts a beauty podcast called Live Love Lab. Either her, her co-owner, or their social media manager think they’re funny, because the company’s Instagram is FILLED with memes. Personally, I’m hoping it’s Heather that’s the funny one—we need some Sonja Morgan-esque comic relief on every Real Housewives franchise.
An interesting disconnect is that in her Bravo Bio, it says “she owns a burgeoning Med-Spa business…” and on the company’s About page it says “WE ARE NOT A MED SPA. We are a Beauty Lab.” (yes, it really is in all caps on the site). WTF is the difference between a med spa and a beauty lab, and did we just catch her in a white lie?
Jen Shah is Tongan and Hawaiian, the CEO of three marketing companies, a mother of two, and converted from Mormonism to Islam. In her Bravo bio she mentions she’s “always decked out in designer brands”. If Jen’s bringing the type of outfits and glam Dorit Kemsley’s been serving us the past few seasons of RHOBH, I’m majorly here for it.
It’s unclear whether the three businesses mentioned in Jen’s Bravo Bio are the same three she lists in her Instagram bio. The first handle in her bio links to JXA Fashion, which sells custom couture pieces. @Jovani—move TF aside because we have a new designer in town…
The second and third handles link to Shah Beauty and The Real Shah Lashes, which are both “coming soon”. I’m no detective, but it kinda seems like she may have started these two businesses after hearing she was cast for the show, and is planning to build, launch, and profit off them after the season begins airing. I hope someone tells her this is Bravo and not The Bachelor, and she probably won’t leave this season with an automatic 100,000+ new followers willing to buy any Fit Tea she shills on IG.
And Jen’s business acumen doesn’t stop at the companies she runs. She’s also trying to build a brand around her family like she’s Kris Jenner, by adding hashtags like #ShahsOfSLC and #ShahsSlay on almost every photo she posts on IG. Alright then.
Speaking of Jen’s family, although they aren’t “Mormon royalty” like some of the other cast are claiming to be (again, WTF is Mormon royalty?), they do seem to be local football celebs. Her husband, Sharrieff Shah Sr., is a coach at the University of Utah, where their son also played and attended.
Lisa Barlow is a mother of two, owns a marketing company and a distillery called VIDA Tequila, and sort of looks like a cross between Kyle Richards and Scheana Shay. Although she’s an active Mormon, she only loosely follows the religion’s traditional rules, according to her Bravo bio (I mean, she owns an alcohol company, so how traditional can she be?).
Of all the cast, Lisa seems to have the most celeb friends. Both Brie Bella and Ashlee White have commented on her Instagram photos, and she’s posted pics of John Legend and Charles Barkley at VIDA Tequila events. If we can get a Chrissy Teigen cameo, I’m all for it.
Besides promoting her brands on her personal Instagram and adding a white frame to all of her pics (2016 aesthetic, much?), she seemingly runs her family’s IG account (@barlow_crew). And your mom just made photo albums.
Although the assumed purpose of a family account is to post photos of the family (shocking!), the @barlow_crew feed includes an overwhelming number of solo shots of Lisa. And on top of that, the account’s profile photo is literally a mirror pic of Lisa herself. Sure, every good Bravo Housewife is a little egotistical, and I guess Lisa’s already got that skill down pat.
Beyond running her businesses, Lisa plays the piano and flute and loves horseback riding (like any good Lisa on Bravo).
Mary Cosby is Pentecostal, has an online resale shop called Mari Marta Couture, and married her late grandmother’s husband, with whom she now has a teenage son. Yes, you read that correctly: she married her step-grandpa. WHAT?! If that doesn’t make for TV gold and interesting on-screen conversation, I don’t know what does.
In her Bravo bio, Mary notes that she inherited a portfolio of family businesses, which includes restaurants and churches. Going back to the step-grandpa thing… I guess they were trying to keep the money in the family??
Although it’s unclear of her day-to-day involvement in the family businesses, her online resale shop seems to be an endeavor she started on her own. From the shop’s site it’s clear that she pays almost zero attention to it, because there’s literally nothing listed for sale as of October 2020.
Of all the ladies on the cast, Mary posts the least on IG. When she does, it’s often a confusing AF video of her doing nothing/walking/sitting OR a photo montage put to music. Seriously, her social media is a 911 situation that requires a MASSIVE overhaul.
Honestly, I’m just shocked that none of these women are at the top of the LuLaRoe pyramid. Either way, I’ll be tuning it on November 11th on Bravo.
Images: Chad Kirkland / Bravo
Now, you’re probably wondering what is a “one and done”? This is what I call a housewife who is only on for one season and then fired. Some need to go ASAP, and Bravo usually does a good job at realizing who has staying power and who doesn’t. But there are some who I feel deserved a second chance. It is hard for any housewife to come on and join an already established cast, especially when some cities have been on TV for 10+ years.
What is the perfect recipe for a good housewife? You have to be confrontational, or at least opinionated in confessionals (Carole Radziwill was so good at this). And personally, I love someone who isn’t afraid to show her entire life and really open up. Shannon Storms Beador (Storms is her maiden name and I’m obsessed with it) is a perfect example of someone who came on to the show and literally showed us everything, from her ex husband’s affair, to her weight gain. And that’s why people relate to her, because she is super raw. Another thing that makes a great new housewife is there ability to be self-aware. This isn’t a super common trait we see, but when we do, we take notice. Bethenny Frankel, Gizelle Bryant, and Margret Josephs are great at this. And that’s why they will be in the Real Housewives hall of fame.
The Real Housewives of New York City: Jules Wainstein
Guys, I loved Jules. I think she is one of the most underrated housewives of all time. TBH, a trailblazer. She was the first housewife to ever come out and be honest about having an eating disorder. It was amazing to see how she was incredibly raw and honest about it. At times it could be triggering because, as she stated on the show, you’re always in recovery and it is a daily battle. Also, she and her husband Michael had what I call the “Kelsey Grammer” syndrome, meaning he pushed her to do the show while he had an affair so she wasn’t so focused on what he was doing. They filed for divorce shortly after the show wrapped. I would’ve just loved to see single Jules coming out on the other end of a divorce and balancing motherhood with her business Modern Alkeme. I will welcome her back with open arms at any time.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: Kathryn Edwards
Hear me out. Kathryn deserved a second season. She had a deep connection to Faye Resnick (Kyle Richards’ controversial BFF), and that connection is OJ Simpson. The whole OJ trial actually always seems to run under the surface in this group due to their location, and they’re all one degree of separation from the Kardashians. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, literally ever. She sat down for dinner at Kyle’s BBQ and immediately went in on Faye’s book she wrote, where she insuated that Marcus Allen (OJ’s best friend) was having an affair with Nicole Brown Simpson, and that Kathryn was the “kind of woman who turned a blind eye to adultery.” Also, her husband was super hot, and we all need a little eye candy.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta: Claudia Jordan
Truthfully, this is the one that puzzles me the most. WHY WASN’T SHE BROUGHT BACK!? I will never understand it. She brought it all, she had glam, was down to earth, was outspoken. AND. Let us not forget one of the most iconic reads in history of RHOA, when she came for NeNe Leakes and her “ramen noodle hair”. When I tell you I let out an audible gasp. I had never seen anyone come for NeNe like that, and successfully. She is one of the only people on the show besides my queen, Phaedra Parks, who I felt had the wit and sophistication to take down the OG of RHOA. It was truly a moment that should be studied in the history books of reality television.
The Real Housewives of D.C.
This cast walked so Potomac could run. Andy has said in the past that he wanted to bring it back for a second season, but the whole White House Gate-crashing situation kind of left a “stink” on the show. But I would’ve watched regardless. Michaele Salahi and her husband at the time, Tariq, were essentially cons and some how finagled their way into Barack Obama’s first White House State Dinner, and then had to testify before the Congressional committee in which they invoked their fifth amendment rights. Also, Michaele said she was a Washington Redskins cheerleader, but got caught in that lie as well when she could provide no proof that she was.
We gave Real Housewives of Miami three chances, and did they have someone break into the White House State Dinner? I don’t think so. And Cat was my favorite—she’s British and has an incredibly dry sense of humor that I just really appreciated. And her husband was the White House’s photographer until he filed for divorce from Cat, and she was left in D.C with her daughters and was given no explanation. I’m bitter that they never got their second chance. But then again, because of them we have the second best show on television, The Real Housewives of Potomac.
Images: Giphy (4)