When Andy Cohen announced at BravoCon 2019 that the next Housewives franchise would center around a group of women in Salt Lake City, Utah, there were some mixed reactions from fans online.
The city hosts the Mormon Church's headquarters, and many Bravo fans had preconceived notions about what The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (RHOSLC) cast members would be like.
But, since RHOSLC debuted in November of 2020, the ladies have been surprising viewers — and none of them fit the mold of what viewers were initially expecting.
Jen Shah, who is the first Polynesian housewife on any franchise, had a breakout and polarizing first season. The businesswoman spoke exclusively with Distractify about defying expectations, where things stand between her and former bestie Heather Gay post-reunion, and the latest on the "shah-mazing" Season 2 possibilities.
Jen Shah said the husbands bring a "different dimension" to Part 3 of the 'RHOSLC' reunion.
Like the rest of Season 1 of RHOSLC, the reunion has already delivered on the drama. On Parts 1 and 2, viewers got to see everything from tearful apologies, to screaming matches, to a cast member walkout — and the third and final edition promises to bring a similar level of intrigue.
That's partly because five of the six official cast members will be joined, either in person or virtually, by their spouses (Heather Gay is divorced from Billy Gay).
For Jen Shah, who has been married to Coach Sharrieff Shah for 26 years, the presence of the husbands on the reunion stage was one of her "favorite parts" of the entire day. When viewers get to see the spouses interacting with one another, it adds another level to who the ladies are.
"When you see everybody's husband or significant other, it tells you a little bit more about the women," she told us. "It gives you the other side of us as individuals. It helps things to make more sense, like 'You can't be that fake, because your husband is nice...'" she told us. "They bring a totally different dimension to it."
Jen also shared that the RHOSLC husbands actually all get along, and that they "love hanging out with each other."
But, the same can't necessarily be said about their wives. Once the husbands depart from the stage, the cast will wrap up the season with host Andy Cohen.
Though Part 3 of the reunion will be a wind-down for the season, that doesn't mean that the RHOSLC cast will go out with a whimper.
Jen said that some of the best drama of the season is still to come.
"The Salt Lake City ladies still deliver, and we won't let you down. We're still coming in hot on Part 3," Jen teased. "Some of the friendships and alliances that come out of the reunion will be unexpected to viewers."
The reality star shared who she's closest with now, and where things stand with Heather Gay post-reunion.
At the onset of Season 1, one of the strongest "alliances" was between Jen and Heather Gay. However, as the show progressed, Heather felt like Jen was growing more loyal to Lisa Barlow and Meredith Marks, while Jen wanted apologies for the way that Heather and Whitney Rose handled the drama at Sharrieff's birthday party.
Their issues further played out on social media as the season aired, but they made some progress at the reunion.
Since the reunion taped, Jen said that she's had sporadic contact with the Beauty Lab and Laser owner.
"We've talked and texted here and there, but nothing really in depth," Jen shared about where things stand between them now.
However, the mom of two does have hope that their friendship can move forward, particularly because they have such a deep history together.
"Heather and I have been friends for a long time, and friendships go up and down. What makes a good friendship is being able to make it through the hard and the difficult times, to hear each other, to listen, to understand, and to move on," Jen added.
She then hinted at getting things back on track soon, which could be explored on Season 2 (however, none of the cast members have officially been confirmed yet).
"It will be telling to see what happens in the near future, if we're both really able to do that. The love is there, but there just needs to be a chat so that things are really put behind us so we can move forward with a fresh start," Jen concluded.
While Jen did say that she feels like the ladies did develop "deeper friendships" as a result of their shared time on the show, there is one person in particular who she is now very tight with.
"I'm closest with Lisa at this point on the cast," the entrepreneur said.
Between the continuing "JeLisa" friendship and the potential reconciliation of Jen and Heather, many are hoping that the cast doesn't change too much ahead of Season 2.
Though Jen didn't say whether she would be back, she did say that the cast is preparing for the "next steps."
"We're so excited that there's going to be a second season," Jen dished. "We're just waiting for the word on next steps with that."
Part 3 of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 1 reunion airs on Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.