Andy Cohen Grills Alleged Fraudster Jen Shah in Tense ‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ Reunion Finale

·6 min read
Bravo
Bravo

After two tedious episodes spent rehashing drama about who sabotaged whose party by bullying caterers and watching Lisa Barlow pop several blood vessels trying to squeeze out tears over her brutal hot mic moment, the last episode of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion finally addressed the couture-clad elephant in the room. Andy Cohen assumed the role of cross-examiner to confront Jen Shah about the fraud charges against her and her upcoming trial in July.

RHOSLC fans have now given three weeks of their lives that they will never get back to this Season 2 reunion, which has been agonizingly spread out across multiple episodes, naturally holding out on the juiciest gossip until the final installment. It also, infuriatingly, has largely avoided addressing some of the main controversies from the season because: 1) Mary Cosby, who has been accused of running her family’s church as a cult refused to show up, and 2) the episodes were taped before new cast member Jennie Nguyen was fired over past racist and anti-BLM Facebook posts.

Sunday’s episode made clear that there could have been at least three whole hours about Jen alone, though her lawyers would surely be less than thrilled about it. First, Andy brings out the Househusbands to make some casually disgusting jokes about Whitney Rose’s ample cleavage. But Jen’s husband, Sharrieff, is quickly put in the hot seat.

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The assistant college football coach was impenetrably cool under pressure, unwaveringly supporting his wife. A question submitted by a fan pointed out the parallels between Sharrieff’s position and that of Beverly Hills housewife Erika Jayne, who was recently freed of all charges in husband Tom Girardi’s fraud and embezzlement lawsuit. However, unlike Erika Jayne, he unequivocally maintained that he has never doubted his wife. When Andy asked if Sharrieff ever questioned where Jen got the money to spend on, for example, a bedazzled Chanel turban, he replied, “No, my wife has worked for 20-plus years.” When asked if he ever worried that he was implicated, he said “no” at least four times.

At this point, the floodgates were officially open to discuss the Jen Shah of it all. And nobody was more willing to talk about Jen Shah than Jen Shah. She tried to call out Whitney for speculating about her extravagant spending and glared at Andy when he chimed in as a voice of reason, saying, “Yeah, but you’re being charged with fraud and money laundering.” She snapped back, “Andy, you’re innocent until proven guilty.” And boy, did she continue to double down on her innocence, saying that the mid-season call about Sharrieff’s internal bleeding was legitimate and not a tip-off (though it was apparently rectal bleeding), that she was not arrested on the side of the road after fleeing Beauty Lab and Laser just before Homeland Security showed up, and that she has no idea how many years in prison each of her charges carries.

Racism was a persistent challenge that the women grappled with this season, with Mary Cosby making several anti-Asian remarks directed at Jennie Nguyen and then the discovery of Nguyen’s own anti-Black social media posts. Jen invoked racism throughout the conversations on Sunday, ignoring attempts from Andy and the other women to point out that they were speculating about her money not because of her race, but because of the charges against her.

Pointing to a lawsuit still currently in litigation charging that Whitney’s husband’s company is a pyramid scheme, Jen, who is of Tongan and Hawaiian descent, said, “I just want to add that I don’t understand why it’s so groundbreaking that Jen, the brown girl, and her Black husband—‘How do they get all this money? Oh my gosh, it must be through something illegal.’ Why is that the first place that goes?” In response, the other women had a competition over who could press their mouth into the straightest possible line and said nothing.

At this point, the camera zooms in on Heather gripping Jen’s hand in support, and this is one of the most baffling aspects of not only the episode, but of the whole season. Heather immediately emerged during the show’s first season as a fan favorite for her hilarious, self-deprecating sense of humor and her candor about her break from the Mormon church. But the fact that she is riding so hard for someone who is charged with defrauding elderly and disabled people makes no sense, considering that Jen is not even a good friend to her.

Jen has admitted to comparing Heather to Shrek—and no, I can’t believe I’m typing this sentence, either—in a leaked, fat-shaming Instagram DM. Even more puzzling, Heather doesn’t even seem to think that Jen is innocent. When Andy directly asks the women if they believe Jen is guilty, Heather’s first response (after a notable moment of silence from the group) is, “I love Jen. I don’t care if she’s guilty or not.” She eventually adds that she believes Jen is innocent, but it feels like an afterthought.

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Another important moment from the season that gets brought up is the upsetting Ring doorbell camera footage of Jen’s sons (one a teenager and one in his 20s) with their hands up being led out of the house by armed federal agents on the day Jen was arrested. When the episode in question aired, Bravo faced backlash for including the frightening footage, which some viewed as exploitative. During Sunday’s reunion, Jen clarified that she submitted the footage herself and wanted it to be included.

“I went back and forth with this. I talked to Coach [Sharrieff] about it,” she said, “because it’s extremely traumatizing, but I feel like it’s important for people to see that it doesn’t matter if you live in a gated community in Park City. It doesn’t matter what you have. We’re in 2022 and this is still happening. These are how my boys were treated.”

Ultimately, after Jen and Lisa tried to set the record for saying “bitch” the most times in one single minute (“Don’t call me bitch.” “OK, bitch.”) to remind us that this is still Housewives and not a very dark, sad true crime series, Jen gets to end the episode with the last word. Leaning in to fist bump Andy from her coveted spot closest to him on the couch, she said, “I ain’t going nowhere.”

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