LIFTING THE VAIL

by Jessica Besser-Rosenberg

I have seen tiny men wrestle each other on RHONJ, I have seen Mama Joyce try to fight Kandi’s best friend on RHOA, and I’ve seen  Kim… be Kim on RHOBH, but hand to god, I have never seen an episode of Real Housewives that is this batshit crazy. Almost every scene could be a season-long plotline with way more juice than the eponymous Lucy Lucy Apple Juice story arc. 

Mary Cosby is throwing an Italian cooking class at a local culinary school and has required everyone to dress in Italian streetwear, because Mary loves watching a Utah housewife fuck up a costume challenge. Clad in billowing scarves and hats, looking like a high school drama teacher who just left a Stanislavski workshop confident in the fact that she’ll book that national Christmas commercial for Kay Jewelers and finally tell her middle schoolers to screw off, she calls up the ladies to invite them. Unfortunately, Whitney isn’t answering her calls, because Whitney is doing carpool and it would be unsafe to talk while driving children around. Doesn’t Whitney know Mary talks directly to Jesus and has the power to prevent car crashes, IF ONLY SHE’D PICK UP THE PHONE. Mary also has the power to destroy Whitney, and that is just what she plans to do, given her calls have gone unanswered. Instead of sending her the same dress code assignment that all the other ladies received, she plans to humiliate Whitney by asking her to dress as a mafia wife in hotpants and a belly shirt. Whitney would happily show up to Parent/Teacher interviews wearing hot pants and a belly shirt so this ain’t gonna embarrass her. But what’s truly offensive is that Mary has never seen a mob movie or show. Carmela Soprano and Kay Adams-Corleone were more designer cardigans and less Hot Topic sales rack.

Heather is off at a lunch of heathens with her daughter, her niece, and her niece’s husband. Her niece used to be a golden Mormon child, but very recently decided to leave the church. Apparently she now drinks wine in their closet like a regular old good-time gal! Heather then explains the four tiers of Mormon heaven: The Celestial Kingdom, for the founder of Mormonism and probably Mitt Romney; the Terrestrial Kingdom, for cool Mormons who own Tequila brands like Lisa Barlow, still decent but not the nicest heaven; the Telestial Kingdom for murders and Ted Cruz; and finally Outer Darkness for people like Heather who have left the church, and engage in sacrilegious behavior, like raising three wonderful daughters, and being a really good friend.

Meanwhile Jen Shah and her assistant/co-conspirator Stu take a day off of white-collar crimes to go snowshoeing. Jen confesses that she wishes she spent more time with her family but has to manage all of her businesses to ensure that her truckload of employees can continue to feed their families. This is JUST. SO. RICH given that she’s about to be arrested for defrauding the elderly. Brava to the Bravo editors who sat on this footage until the most poetic moment.

The ladies show up for Mary’s cooking class dressed in their interpretation of Italian street wear, which for Jen Shaw is a big Italian flag. 

Mary insists on speaking to the chef in a horrifying Italian accent – I don’t know what’s more offensive, the fact that she’s doing an Italian accent to an Italian chef or how inaccurate it is. 

Whitney opts for a take on a pinstripe suit, à    la mobster requirement, and Mary is FURIOUS that Whitney didn’t dress like a hoe and humiliate herself. Mary morphs from quirky and cute to Kathy Bates in Misery. 

After a quick pasta-making lesson, the ladies sit down for their meal and Whitney, Jen, and Lisa start in on each other over a series of minor slights that would be huge news on Beverly Hills but not on Mary Cosby’s franchise. On Mary Cosby’s franchise, when Jen Shah exclaims that she has Mary’s back and Whitney repeats this to Mary, Mary calls Whitney an insecure little girl for not answering her calls and commands her to leave. Whitney walks out in tears while Meredith chases after her. 

Whitney confides in Meredith that she’s always defended Mary and she’s not going to do it any longer. Meredith reveals that Cameron, a former church member and pastor in Mary’s church, warned her about Mary. Whitney confirms Meredith’s suspicions when she reveals that Mary’s congregants view her as a direct line to God. This is getting pretty Koolaid-y.

But that lunch party’s over and now the federal indictment portion of the evening is about to begin. The next day, the ladies board a bus for Vail, Colorado, where they’ll meet Meredith for a luxurious getaway. Mary has also opted to skip the bus, presumably because it’s faster to catch a flight on Jesus’ back.

Jen receives a mysterious phone call and tells the group she needs to leave because her husband is at the hospital with internal bleeding. Not but a minute after her departure/absconsion (potAto, potAHto), a team of officers from the Department of Homeland Security and NYPD descends upon the bus demanding to speak to Jen Shah. At first, the ladies assume this is a prank, and then it dawns on them that yes, this is real and perhaps they just aided and abetted Jen in evading the authorities. Jen, it seems that you may be guilty of more than just being “Shah-Mazing”.

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