Keeping it Real in Salt Lake City: A 'Real Housewives' review from a long-time fan and a guy who's never seen it

Posted at 12:14 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 13:46:39-05

SPOILER ALERT: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 Episode 1 of "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City"

FOX 13 web team members Melanie Porter and David Wells are watching "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" and giving you their real reactions. Melanie is a real "Real Housewives" fan, and Dave deliberately steered clear of it until now. Melanie and Dave are "Keeping it Real in Salt Lake City."


Okay so I guess I’m the expert of this show. I started binge watching the other Real Housewife series a few weeks ago to prepare for the Salt Lake City edition and got hooked on the drama and insane lifestyle these women have.

The New Jersey Housewives are my hands down favorite because of four qualities that I think makes a season truly iconic.

  1. Extravagant shopping: I mean we are talking blowing THOUSANDS of dollars in one trip. Jewelry, clothes, decor, cars, the whole enchilada.
  2. Big fights over little things: MY personal favorite is when the argument is about who’s botox is better or who’s house is better. Food fights or dumping wine on someone is a bonus.
  3. Brunch/lunch dates: Not JUST a brunch date, but only two or three of the main characters gather together to talk trash about other people in the group and overall stir the pot.
  4. Girls trips: They always seem like a good idea and always involve DOZENS of suitcases (no matter how long the trip), a surprise adventure (The NJ season has the ladies participate in a rodeo), a LOT of drinking and even more tears/fighting. They always end with the women bonding over traumatic experiences but all of them secretly being mad at one person who they claim is *very* toxic.

So looking at episode one, I think we have already begun to check off boxes. It’s no secret that these ladies came. to. play.

The drama is already bubbling between Mary and Jen because Mary said Jen smelled like a hospital. She also said to production that Jen’s aunt should have just had a better diet and then she wouldn’t have had to have her legs amputated...girl that’s not how that works.

I am fully prepared for more Mary/Jen drama and I’m sure Jen will come for the fact that Mary is married to her step-grandpa,(!?!?!?!?!) which by the way is NOT normal even for Utah. Hopefully we will get more on that later.

One of my favorite parts was watching one of the women struggle to walk in the snow in a pair of open-toe stiletto heels. First of all, let me congratulate her because wow that takes talent. But GIRL it’s not worth it! Put some moccasins on and live in comfort.

Okay lastly let me just say I wasn’t impressed with the birthday party Jen threw. The theme of the party was really all over the place, nobody seemed to be really invested and even though the party was “for” Meredith, it was clear it was actually for Jen to show off.

So I think we’ve got a good season lined up for us! I’m hoping to see more of the individual family dynamics and overall more of Utah besides just the snow. Maybe the ladies will visit Lagoon?? Take a trip down to St. George?? Visit Harmon’s or Smith’s?? Get ready for things to get HEATED in snowy SLC!

Preamble: Heaven help me, what have I done?

Here at FOX 13, we were kicking around ideas for how to cover "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City." I was aware of the series, and I was aware they were shooting a Salt Lake City version, and that's about as much as I cared to know.

I dislike reality TV (don't tell my boss I said that) and have never watched a single episode of "The Real Housewives." It was nice that way. Life was good. But we decided it would be fun to bring a "non-expert" into the conversation and get his take on the series now that it's in Utah. I liked the idea, so what the heck, I volunteered.

Look, I'm not a hater. If people enjoy this show, great. As my grandfather wrote in a letter to his parents back in 1940, "I always try to wish people the sort of pleasure *they* like, not what I like." I feel the same way.

But I do have a strong feeling that "The Real Housewives" isn't for me.

So, with a mixture of curiosity, dread and hope, I am now buckled in for the first episode. My expectations are low and, no matter what happens, I only have about an hour or less to suffer through. Who knows, I might even become a fan of the show. (Yeah, right.)

watches episode

OK, I'm back from my first-ever viewing of "The Real Housewives" and I didn't die. Good.

The show is exactly as my preconceived notions said it would be: rich, married women put the drama of their lives on display for the public. Some people take pleasure in it. I didn't, but maybe I'll come around.

RHOSLC's portrayal of Salt Lake City, so far, is tenuous at best. I get it. Salt Lake City is the setting, not the star. It's kind of fun to see shots of the SLC Temple, the Utah State Capitol and streets I've driven and walked on, but that doesn't mean I feel an instant connection. Most of the show (again, so far) takes place in rich neighborhoods I've never visited. Sandy, maybe?

Some of the stars mention their Mormon heritage, upbringing or conversion, but the first episode doesn't show them engaging in LDS church-related activities. Without spoiling anything, I'll say the stars' bishops may not approve of some of their activities.

This episode looked like it was mostly shot during a typical Wasatch Front winter, complete with snow-capped mountain peaks and heavy pollution over the Salt Lake Valley. One family goes on a quick hike (it looks like they walked no more than 1/4 mile before calling it a day.)

I was hoping to find some "Easter eggs" for Utahns in this show. I only noticed one, but it was a good one: Crumbl cookies, which Lisa and her family munch on shortly after visiting a Taco Bell drive-thru in their Porsche.

Lisa is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who happens to own several liquor brands. If the idea of a Latter-day Saint owning a liquor brand seems shocking, maybe you've never heard of "Valley Tan."

She became my favorite character when she said this: "I'm sure that other Mormons care that I own a tequila company. What's important is that I don't," Lisa said.

Another great Lisa moment was when she went to wake up one of her sons and said "Good morning. Jack, are you kidding? Oh, you have the worst hair and breath."

I'm running out of time, and I could go on, but I'll say this: Whitney's renewal of vows with Justin was sweet, Jen's armpit Botox treatment was bizarre, Mary's aversion to the odor of a hospital is relatable and the birthday party Jen threw for Meredith (or was this really a party for herself?) was somewhat tacky, IMO.

Sorry if I didn't mention your favorite character. See you next week.

John Franchi's Review:

I could hardly contain my excitement when I learned the “Real Housewives” franchise was expanding to Salt Lake City. As someone who has seen every episode of “Real Housewives of Orange County,” I thought this would be a good chance for our wild west, mountain lifestyle to be showcased around the world, much like the carefree beach vibe is highlighted in the O.C. show. After watching the first episode, I was left feeling so disappointed.

There is nothing “real” about these real housewives. The show takes some of the unfair stereotypes people have developed about Utah and magnifies them to the extreme.

Maybe I need to get out of my bubble, but I don’t recall ever seeing women walking in snow and ice while wearing 5-inch heels. Do people really throw parties where servers aren’t wearing shirts? Seems like a health code violation to me.

And no, Utah is not a place where it’s common for people to marry their step-grandfather.

Also, the constant digs on the church throughout the entire premier episode make Salt Lake City seem so one dimensional. There is more to Utah than the LDS church, snow, and Botox.

The first episode came across as fake and lacking any genuine qualities. I don’t get that fake vibe from other “Housewives” franchises.

Will I watch again? Yes. Not because I enjoy the show, but so I can be prepared when my friends and family who live in other parts of the country confront me to ask, “is life in Utah really that bizarre?”