RHOSLC Audiences Are Already Mourning Monica Garcia
As confirmed by Andy Cohen himself, the breakout star of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City has gone where all the franchise greats end up: on pause.
It’s official: Monica Garcia, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City rookie who risked all and—for a brief, blessed moment—ruled reality television, is one and done. At least, it seems, for now. Herstorians will likely write that the single mom and the show’s self-proclaimed Gossip Girl flew too close to the Bravo sun and melted her own snowflake. But if you ask me, the network just made a very big mistake.
On Tuesday, hours before the final installment of the fourth season’s three-part reunion aired, People magazine reported that Garcia would not be returning per “multiple” unnamed sources. Then, RHOSLC executive producers—including Andy Cohen, himself—confirmed the news to Variety. Given Garcia has been all but ostracized by her cast since filming wrapped, the Bravosphere wasn’t exactly shocked. Many of us were, however, grief-stricken.
Word of Garcia’s premature departure arrived just weeks after the January 2 finale where she was revealed to have an alter ego: Reality Von Tease, a dated Instagram account dedicated to gossip (much of which involved the misdeeds of former cast member and convicted felon, Jen Shah) about her future cast mates and allegedly co-created and operated by multiple people three years ago. The finale episode would launch a thousand iconic memes and even more questions—many of which Garcia attempted to answer at the reunion though she was largely out-shouted. Any attempt at an explanation, from her involvement in Reality Von Tease (“I did not set up the account, I didn’t name the account, or open the account.”) to its purpose (“I don’t feel like that page was made for talking shit on these ladies.”) seemed to matter little in the end. None of her cast mates were interested in moving forward. That was that.
Network executives have yet to address the backlash but in classic Cohen coyness, the host has since teased that Garcia is on “a break” and could perhaps come back for a later season. Lori Gordon, RHOSLC showrunner, echoed that sentiment to Variety: “The women just need a cooling off period, and I think it’s just too soon. They’ve articulated it. It’s too soon for them to reenter into a friendship—a trusting friendship. Not enough time has passed.”
After the reunion episode aired, the “friendship” rhetoric was repeated by castmate Heather Gay on Watch What Happens Live: “What Monica never got is that it was a show about friendship. And she was not interested in being any of our friends.”
Here’s where Gay, her castmates, and Bravo writ large are woefully wrong: In the decade+ since I’ve been watching the Real Housewives, I have never once tuned in for a “trusting friendship.” The success of reality television—especially of the Housewives variety—wasn’t built on sisterly bonds but a noxious amalgam of table-flipping, reputation-tarnishing accusations, and thinly-veined childhood trauma. When fans were bored with the RHOSLC franchise, Garcia delivered just that and more. Now that she’s gone, what will we do for fun?
I know, I know. Some of the allegations against Garcia are inarguably unsettling. That she ran surveillance on Shah and (allegedly) the other women on the show is a bit much. Showing up to the reunion with a homemade Burn Book, and her assertion that the FBI enlisted her for drive-bys to aid in their investigation of her former boss, too, transcended absurdity. However, that Garcia would immediately be let go for her antics is, in one longtime viewer’s opinion, completely antithetical to the entire Bravo brand. When more than one Housewife has spent time in federal prison and countless others have weathered a range of scandals, why are we suddenly pretending as if the morality police have any jurisdiction here?
Frankly, the hypocrisy bears further scrutiny, especially where it concerns Gay and her reunion confessions. Not only did Gay confirm the long-running speculation that she was physically assaulted by Shah but she also admitted to covering for her, even long after Shah was found guilty of robbing scores of elderly people of their retirement. “I had been covering for her for three years, I was not going to stop at the black eye,” Gay told Cohen at the reunion. Cohen called Gay out, reminding audiences that in her effort to protect Shah, Gay publicly implied a producer was involved in her assault (which later prompted an internal investigation at the network). What he failed to do though was push her on how else she might have willfully defended Shah in the last few years. Since the latter is currently in federal prison (and Gay has a history of standing by her and claiming ignorance) that’s a missed opportunity to right the scales.
As of now, the terminally online fans of the franchise are justifiably frustrated by Garcia’s departure with some accusing the network of a double standard. The network’s code of ethics has always been dubious, but lately, they seem downright disjointed. If Mary Cosby was welcomed back, so shouldn’t Monica Garcia?