The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Went From Bravo’s Diamond in the Rough to One of the Most Contrived Shows on TV


The Real Housewives franchise has been around since 2006.

What started as one hour-long show has become one of the biggest franchises in the world.

Somewhere along the way, the formula of different cities started to grow stale — until The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (RHOSLC) burst onto the scene in 2020.

Armed with a dynamic cast that delivered drama weekly, it was a fresh take that ushered us into a very different era of the franchise.

Unfortunately, it has gone so far off the rails during The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 3 that it’s hard to imagine the show recapturing its former glory.

RHOSLC was destined for doom when its resident pot-stirrer Jen Shah pleaded guilty to one count of fraud ahead of the season premiere.

In the promotional material lauding the September 2022 premiere, Shah feigned innocence to the allegations against her.

As a result, the season was difficult as she told everyone she was innocent and that it had all been a big misunderstanding.

The best move, both for the show and viewers, would have been to delay the series indefinitely and minimize Jen’s presence as much as possible.

Did she deserve the platform Bravo gave her in those months leading up to her sentencing?

It wouldn’t be the first time Bravo kept certain reality stars employed after brushes with the law, and maybe it is too much to consider putting ethics above profits.

The network sent mixed messages when Jen was allegedly iced out of the reunion, only for Bravo to reportedly try bringing her back at the last minute.

Did the network realize that the series spent too much time on her story not to have her at the reunion?

If you watch The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City online, you know Jen’s antics and imminent trial have dominated the season.

It would be strange for these women to talk about these events without Jen’s presence, but that’s exactly what’s on the menu for the two-part reunion.

Four housewives (Lisa Barlow, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks, and Whitney Rose) showed up for the reunion taping, but season-long storylines felt contrived.

Whitney did have a personal storyline earlier in the season, but the feud between her and Heather felt more like a ploy made up for the cameras than anything else.

I know the ladies need to bring a certain level of drama for Bravo to retain them for the next season, but feuds that feel rehearsed and go nowhere are easily picked apart by viewers.

On top of that, the “Who gave Heather the black eye?” storyline wasn’t as scintillating as producers might have hoped. It’s not on par with “Who Shot JR,” no matter how hard they tried to play it up. In the end, it is damaging instead of entertaining.

These women are supposed to share aspects of their lives with viewers, but this particular storyline is so bizarre that I have questioned whether we’re watching a daytime soap or a Real Housewives series.

I know there’s always been that fine line between the two, but Heather’s flippant nature about what happened to her eye as a means to craft a season-ending mystery must be triggering for victims of domestic violence.

If the editing is to be believed, Bravo has footage of the incident, which makes the producer badgering Heather to ‘fess up about what happened on camera even more frustrating.

Bravo has shown that the ladies rarely control the narrative, but this is not a good look.

As a result, Heather went from being a fan favorite to one of the most divisive housewives over the course of a few episodes. The star has been vocal that the editing is to blame, raising questions about how far is too far with this type of storyline.

Is Bravo leading us on, or is Heather purposefully hiding the truth until a better opportunity to tell her story presents itself on-screen?

They say we shouldn’t take TV shows too seriously, but it’s hard not to have some thoughts when the editing perpetuates a violent encounter.

Looking ahead, Jen will likely never be on the show again now that she’s been handed a 6.5-year sentence by a federal judge.

Then there’s Mary Cosby. She was the glue that held the series together. She had a brand of crazy that made it difficult to look away from the TV.

She was uncomfortable, sure, but the show’s glory days were due to her bonkers scenes.

If the show could find a way to bring her back, even as a friend, for Season 4, it might give it a jolt in the right direction.

I’m ambivalent about Meredith and Lisa this season. Their feud has been out there, but it’s not dominated like some of the other storylines.

My best guess is that the series will get another chance to right the ship, but there needs to be a shake-up to shift the energy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Angie Katsanevas or Danna Bui-Negrete got elevated to housewife status.

They both have made moderate impacts this season.

The same cannot be said for Angie Harrington. Harrington doesn’t seem to have much of an in with these ladies, making her appearances more like instructions from a producer than anything natural.

What are your thoughts on the state of RHOSLC?

Do you think it’s time to let the snowflakes defrost and put the show out of its misery, or do you think adding some new snowflake-wielding housewives can send this show in the right direction?

Hit the comments.

Catch the season finale Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Bravo.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.


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