Last week I was making dinner when my phone lit up with a slew of texts. Sure enough, in 2020 fashion, there was breaking news.
But this wasn't about the pandemic or riots or election. It was my girlfriends urgently alerting me that Bravo had just released the first trailer for Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.
I confess I abandoned my cutting board and couldn't view it fast enough. It's not that I'm a fan of the series - I've actually never watched - but I reside in Salt Lake and therefore feel personally invested. Since this newest addition to the franchise was announced, I've been part of an ongoing group text, speculating over who would make the cast. Utah is famously the birthplace of influencer culture, so our list of prospects was a mile long.
To my surprise, not one of our picks made the final list. And if you haven't seen the trailer, let me spare you. It's a one-minute-thirty-second montage that includes cat fights, selfies, strippers, pole dancing, drunken arguments and door slamming, all interjected with pronouncements like, "Hashtag blessed!" and "Perfection is attainable."
The real what? Of where now?
One of them also says that "good Mormons don't have sex." Has she not seen the number of children lining the pews of our congregations?
After watching I contributed a few sarcastic remarks to the chain and went back to making dinner, but my mind wouldn't let it go.
It's not that I don't understand the appeal of a show like this. We’re talking about Bravo, not C-Span. I totally get that people enjoy watching things that are campy and escapist, and that a program about housewives who put in an honest days work at a dental office or nail a PTA fundraiser wouldn't stand a chance.
These women are certainly entitled to represent themselves however they choose. But if a viewer’s only perception of Utah comes from watching Real Housewives or heaven forbid Sister Wives, we have ourselves a real PR problem.
When I lived on the east coast, I was so surprised by the number of people who could barely identify Utah on a map, let alone had ever visited. Many had a warped perception of our culture.
This is why I was bothered when, at the end of the trailer, the words "Salt Lake City" flashed across the screen as a woman could be heard saying, "This is how we do it here."
I am here, and that's not at all how we do it.
Honestly, one of most impressive things about Salt Lake City are the women. I'm continually amazed by the high density of industrious, educated, talented women who run homes, business, and rally together for charitable causes. In my neighborhood alone are women who work as mothers, nurses, teachers, attorneys, school principals, pharmacists and published authors. Women who have pressed on in the face of death, divorce and deployment, and still make time to contribute to their neighbors and community. Women who, as Beyonce would say, "are strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business."
Women who make it hard to swallow a depiction of housewives as superficial, materialistic competitors of one another.
So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands, and assemble a more fitting cast. Every week until the show premieres I will be seeking out and posting a “cast bio” of a (real) real housewife of Salt Lake City. Women who don’t have television contracts, thousands of Instagram followers or coats made from swan feathers (see trailer), but are deserving of the spotlight and representative the Salt Lake City I love.
If you know of any, please share the good and let me know! This is how we do it here.