Season 3 of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City ended like a puzzle smashed on the ground into 1,000 scattered pieces; barely anyone on the cast was getting along (see: their tense panel at BravoCon 2022) and the ensemble’s breakout star/dominating force, Jen Shah, was heading to prison after pleading guilty to fraud, following nearly two years of professing her innocence to anyone who would listen.
So, when cameras went back up on the remaining OGs — Whitney Rose, Meredith Marks, Lisa Barlow and Heather Gay — in early 2023, there was some work to be done to put the puzzle back together.
“You know, we may have had to cut some of the pieces to fit, but it’s fine,” Whitney jokes to ET. “The way it all puzzle, fits together in the end is a Housewife first. I’ve never seen anything like this happen.”
It turns out removing the puzzle piece of Jen opened up a lot of proverbial room among the women, room to finally connect on a deeper level. Whitney says she wishes Jen well (she’s six months into a five-and-a-half year sentence), but didn’t miss filming with her.
“Things were lighter,” Whitney remarks. “There is a lot of friendships that mended. I mean, it is a rocky road, but we get there. It’s just gone back to the original essence of Salt Lake City, like, season 1, the OG, you know, hospital smells, bathtub fights. I think we made our way back.”
In four short years, RHOSLC is already onto its second bathtub-related feud, though both have involved Whitney. In season 1, Jen sent the show’s camera crew into the splash zone during a fiery (and sort of one-sided) fight with Whitney. Then, this year, Meredith walked in, ready to go to war over the cleanliness of her tub, after Whitney called Meredith’s sharing of a bath with her husband, Seth Marks, “creepy” in an interview. Meredith read the quotes from that interview aloud to Heather, imitating Whitney’s girlish voice.
“She tried her best,” Whitney deadpans as a review of the impersonation. See the video above for Whitney’s impersonation of Meredith and the rest of her co-stars.
Meredith later confronted Whitney about the comments at a group event meant to be a “fresh start” for the group.
“I never thought the bathtub would come and haunt me, but I honestly, I feel like Meredith was reaching pretty heavily to have a reason to be mad at me,” Whitney surmises. “We did have lingering beef from the year prior, with all the Lisa rumors and, you know, her stirring all that up and not taking accountability for it.”
Whitney’s referencing her season 3 friction with Meredith, who implied Lisa did “favors” to get her tequila brand, Vida, stocked at various bars and shops. Whitney took that comment and assumed Meredith meant favors of the sexual variety, which snowballed into something bigger when there was a suggestion that Lisa also traded similar favors for courtside seats to the Utah Jazz. Lisa has denied all the allegations.
“So, I feel like the bathtub was a reason for her to be mad at me, and it wasn’t really even about the bathtub, I was throwing shade at the rentals,” Whitney continues, doubling down on a jab she’s made multiple times about Meredith’s living situation. The jewelry designer does not own property in Utah and has rented a new home every season of the show.
“I let her know that it’s coming up a lot in my interviews,” Whitney admits. “It’s really funny and, I mean, she knows. We’re good. We laugh about it now and a few days [after it aired], I sent her a selfie from my bathtub.”
“I don’t want to give away everything, like, it definitely– we are [in a good place], but it took time and there’s a lot more coming,” Whitney teases. “There’s more bathtub fights coming — not about the bathtub, but different things … similar vibes, yeah, and you know what? That’s what I love about Meredith is, she’s never really gonna tell you what’s going on. She’s gonna pull to something and reach, but eventually she gets there.”
Taking a little heat off of Whitney is new Housewife Angie Katsanevas, who snagged a snowflake after a stint as a “friend of” on season 3. Meredith’s been icy with Angie since the end of season 3, and it’s only getting colder from here.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Whitney offers when trying to get to the core of Meredith’s issues with Angie. “It makes zero sense.”
Whitney didn’t exactly help things when she invited Angie to tag along on the group’s outing to Palm Springs, California, a trip which Meredith was hosting.
“Meredith and Heather are really saying — especially Meredith — that it had to do with her relationship with Jen, but there is nothing more shocking than when Meredith flipped and became Jen’s friend,” Whitney rattles off. “So, that doesn’t really add up for me. I don’t think the issue is really about Angie. … I think Meredith just has to have someone to pick on.”
The desert vacation sends the two down a slippery slope of rumors (or, as Meredith pronounces the word in the season 4 trailer, rah-oo-mares) with potentially damaging consequences.
“In Meredith’s defense, a lot happens and a lot transpires; there will be a lot revealed, so it makes sense why Meredith harped so hard on Angie,” Whitney promises. “There is no real winner in this situation.”
For what it’s worth, Whitney says she never believed the to-be-revealed rumors, and had never heard them before they circulated within their circle. She finds that odd, given that she and Angie are the two women in the group born and raised in Salt Lake City.
“They’re heavy and they carry a lot of weight,” Whitney says, “and I don’t think there’s really any winner in this situation. But I believe that [they] come out equally as far as fault.”
Whitney gives Angie a 10 out of 10 when it comes to her Housewife debut; jury’s still out on rating Angie’s fellow newbie, Monica Garcia, who entered the RHOSLC orbit as part of Jen’s “Shah Squad,” aka her ever-changing cadre of assistants, and claims to know a lot of secrets about the women.
“We’ll definitely continue to think about that,” Whitney laughs, confessing that she does not trust her new castmate.
“You’ll see throughout the process, I never fully did,” Whitney says. “However, she brings it. I mean, one, she shares a lot of her personal life and I really appreciate that, and I bonded with her over a lot of what’s going on in her personal life, her personal family dynamics.”
Whitney’s exit from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came after she started an affair with her now-husband, Justin, while they were both married to other people. Monica’s ex-communication puts that to shame, as she confessed to her bishop that she’d carried on an 18-month affair with her own brother-in-law.
“I mean, I’m all about owning who you are, owning your wins and your loses, your mistakes,” Whitney says. “If you don’t own your own story, then someone else will, right? So I get that, but damn, girl! That just, like, flew off the top! … I mean, she didn’t need to share details.”
Monica first made that surprise confession to Heather, the one person on the cast Whitney probably trusted the least at the start of season 4. The two fell out over the course of season 3, with their divide widening after filming The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip season 3 in Thailand and seeming irreparable after Heather laid into Whitney, her cousin, onstage at BravoCon.
“Girls Trip, I thought we were on a better path. BravoCon caught me by surprise,” Whitney reflects, “so I was very hesitant. I kind of expected it to go differently. I just made the decision that, the past is in the past. I am going to move forward. I am going to leave Heather there in the past, however when we sat down once Jen was gone, and we sat down and had an honest conversation and each took accountability for things that were said and done — and really understood where each other was coming from — we realized how much we missed our friendship.”
“Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, and we are family and family fights hard, love hard,” she continues. “The trust had to be earned back on both sides, would say. But, we did the work and we are both grateful that we did.”
Whitney notes that there are “certain things that we decided we will never agree on,” including whether Heather was aware of the Lisa/Utah Jazz allegations before they came up on camera or not.
“We swept under the rug, and I agreed to do that,” Whitney says. “She took accountability for some pieces of that, and I also agreed to just sweep some of it under the rug and move on. … [Our friendship’s] definitely different, but it’s better. It’s healthier. There’s boundaries now. But, we love each other and we get back to having so much fun.”
When Whitney pulled away from Heather last year, she grew closer to Lisa. The two women operate almost like polar opposites, with Whitney working to pull those poles closer together.
“For whatever reason, Lisa and Heather will always have some sort of weird chemistry that I don’t understand,” she laments. “The next layer is, how do the three of us become friends? And, yes, things do come up, but it’s nothing that can’t be worked through, and I love Lisa, I love Heather. I love my independent relationships with them and I’m hopeful that we can learn to co-exist, the three of us.”
Whitney’s hopeful she can make that trio happen, as season 4 proved to be full of surprises — including the return of Mary Cosby. For the record, Whitney prefers her “little girl” insult from season 2 to Mary’s new nickname for her, “bobblehead.”
“With the friends, it’s so cool to see us get to know each other on a different level,” she muses. “Layers were shed when Jen was removed. There is space and everyone is willing, everyone wants it. So it was really interesting to see everyone make their way back to, you know, the Meredith and Lisa, the me and Meredith, me and Heather — it’s really cool. We got to know each other on a deeper level, and there is a bond now that wasn’t there before with the OGs.”
What’s to come is not without its struggles, though. Whitney warns the audience, they’re not ready for the trip to Bermuda.
“The Bermuda Triangle is real,” she professes. “There is definitely a force there, but … as chaotic as it can be, there is a very revealing energy in the Bermuda Triangle and, thank god, we did not get stuck there.”
As for her personal story, Whitney is still on her healing journey (or, as she says “hilling journey” — and yes, she’s aware of the memes and commentary surrounding her Utah accent), a story she never expected to share in the first place, which is why specific details surrounding her revelations about childhood abuse will remain private.
“It’s so good to be on this side of it, of accepting it and understanding that it’s not who I am, it doesn’t define me,” she says. “It happened to me. Actually, it has nothing to do with me, and accepting it and using my resources, like therapy, my energy healers, my spirituality, has made me really understand what my life path is, what my mission is here and why I’m on this earth and it’s great to be on this side.”
“I had been working through a lot of this when I started filming season 1,” she reveals, “and I made the decision after sitting with Justin and my producer, I was like, I will share that I’m going through something, but I can’t share the details of it, because it doesn’t just involve me, and there’s a huge legality issue there. I really worry for people. I don’t want anyone to shed light on the people involved, or the situation, because I worry about people’s lives.”
While the healing journey is ongoing, it takes a backseat to other things going on in Whitney’s life this year, at least on the show. While the trailer previews marriage troubles for the 36-year-old, she says the teaser’s slightly misleading.
“There’s no troubles,” she says, acknowledging their relationship’s been tested since reality TV entered their lives. Justin lost his job due to his then-employer’s objection to Justin and Whitney becoming public figures by way of Housewives.
“He’s back working, back to dual income, it’s amazing,” she now shares. “He’s very happy, and the company that he’s with is so aligned with who we are — and they love Housewives.”
“Personally, I feel like we have only seen a small portion of who I am so far, and we get to see a lot more sides of me,” she goes on to say. “How I am as a mom — I have a teenage daughter now, that is really fun to film with her and see the dynamic shifting as a mother — and I have two very successful businesses, Wild Rose Beauty and I started a new company, Prism … and we get to see the hustle of being an entrepreneur and a mom.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.