RHOSLC: Does religion belong in the Real Housewives?

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY, Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Jen Shah, Whitney Rose, Meredith Marks -- (Photo by: Chad Kirkland/Bravo)
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY, Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Jen Shah, Whitney Rose, Meredith Marks -- (Photo by: Chad Kirkland/Bravo) /

RHOSLC is taking a dive into religion and the hush-hush aspects that usually surround the Mormon church and the people that make up the congregation.

With the addition of Salt Lake City, Utah, to the repertoire of Real Housewives franchise cities comes a lot more than just a new group of women.  The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City has it all: wealth, plastic surgery, chalets, drama, and of course, the Mormon religion.  RHOSLC has a long and polarizing road ahead of it, but are viewers interested in the church aspects of the show?

The usual stereotypes

Many local Mormons have spoken out against the show and the women on the show for talking poorly about one aspect of their lives or another.  Even though many of the women are not practicing anymore, it always seems to come back to religion for one reason of another.  The path to perfection is not an easy one, and it seems that some of the women decided to focus on other aspects of their lives in lieu of being “perfect.”

Lisa Barlow has self-described herself as Mormon 2.0.  She drinks and owns a tequila company but still loosely follows the religion.  Mary Cosby is the leader of a Pentecostal church.  Heather Gay says she’s “Mormon-ish” and was married to Mormon royalty before her divorce five years ago.  Meredith Marks is Jewish, Whitney Rose was ex-communicated from the Mormon religion after her affair while she was married, and Jen Shah converted from Mormonism to Islam after feeling that she was treated unfairly by the Mormon religion.

But while some people don’t enjoy this part of the show, others seem to be happy to have a whole new franchise to watch right now.  It is also nice when none of the wives are famous before they become housewives.  It offers an element of surprise since most people outside of Salt Lake City know the cast by name.

Too much for mainstream television?

In addition to that, there were two women who didn’t make the cut for season one.  Angie Harrington and Sara McArthur Pierce were both rumored additions to the cast but for one reason or another, they were cut.  Those reasons?  Their political leanings were likely a factor.  Sara was in the first episode where she wandered into Jen’s room with a birthday gift even though it wasn’t Jen’s birthday.  Her Instagram bio used to note that she was a big fan of President Donald Trump and that she was a big believer in Q-Anon.

According to Wikipedia: “QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against US President Donald Trump.”

Sara has since edited her bio, but many believe that her vocal stance on these issues led to her being passed over for the show.  Her Instagram was full of misinformation and wild theories, but she has since gone private and removed most of it.  Angie’s Instagram bio still says “#stopchildtrafficking,” which is one of the hashtags that Q-Anon uses to spread their misinformation.

Historically, there has been no discussion of religion on the franchises.  We don’t know if Ramona Singer goes to church, or if Vicki Gunvalson celebrates Hanukkah.  But with The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, the discussion of their religious beliefs seems to be omnipresent in conversations.  The fact that Whitney was kicked out of the church for her affair has been discussed multiple times within the first few episodes, and it seems to impact how the women on the show (and in her life) feel about her.

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So if Angie and Sara were too nutty for the show because of their beliefs, is that where we draw the line?  Will this be an experimental foray into religious discussion that goes well, or will more shows start to focus on the often unspoken side of the housewives lives?  I guess the jury is still out on that, but the ratings don’t show a huge interest in the housewives and their Mormon leanings quite yet.

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is on Bravo every Wednesday at 10 PM.