That Wasn’t the RHOSLC Finale. That Was a Herstoric Coup.

In the season 4 finale of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, rookie Monica Niki Garcia singlehandedly resurrected the franchise with a shocking reveal.

That Wasn’t the RHOSLC Finale. That Was a Herstoric Coup.
Photo:Bravo, Monica Niki Garcia Instagram

Women’s stories matter. On Bravo, they’re some combination of pettiness, piss-your-pants giggles, and, at times, even genuine poignancy. It’s why so many—millions in fact—watch the Real Housewives. If you ask me, every season of every franchise is worth watching, but so rarely is one worth me weighing in on, save for maybe in a bar populated with other Bravo devotees. But the finale of the fourth season of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City? I’m ready to have that conversation. Why? Because I believe in the commemoration of herstoric moments.

Tuesday’s finale concluded with a reveal so scandalous, so undeniably singular to the Bravoverse that, dare I say, it could alter the whole thing forever. Among the cast, we now know, is not a truly diabolical housewife, but something of a dedicated, deceitful—and probably accidental—labor rights activist. Allow me to explain.

Last year, the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City had stalled. By the end of the franchise’s third season, the lives of its five full-time cast members had grown stale. Resident villain Jen Shah finally admitted her role in a telemarketing scheme against the nation’s elderly and was sentenced to 78 months in prison; Heather Gay refused to reveal who’d given her the infamous shiner that outshone all else episode after episode; Meredith Marks and Lisa Barlow arrived at an impasse in their friendship; and there seemed little else to say for Whitney Rose’s “hilling journey.” Fans were bored.

Then, this season, there came a single mother whose intentions were as dubious as her Louis Vuitton bag: Monica Niki Garcia. Immediately, viewers were—at the very least—amused by Garcia and her candor. It only took a few episodes before she admitted to an affair with her brother-in-law that not only ended in her divorce but got her excommunicated from the Mormon church. Later, she revealed an embattled relationship with her mother, “LD Millionaire,” and—in one of the most meme-d moments of the season—tearfully told viewers she’d bought a bag she couldn’t afford just to fit in with her wealthier castmates. Of course, it didn’t hurt her burgeoning popularity that she also confirmed she was once Shah’s assistant and became a witness in her former employer’s federal trial.

The finale episode began with Gay delivering a monologue that alluded to a betrayal in the group: “She has plotted and profited from our lives and our pain…she’s not our friend.” Then, after some filler footage (scooter rides and a shopping excursion), we finally learn what it all means. Garcia had an alter ego in the form of an Instagram account dedicated to gossip (a lot of which involved Shah’s misdeeds including berating another former employee) about her cast mates called Reality Von Tease.

“The mystery for me with Monica is, ‘Who is the real Monica?’” Gay, with grave seriousness, asked during the season’s final dinner.“I know who you really are, and who you really are is the cyberbully, internet troll Reality Von Tease.”

Garcia, by contrast, seemed nonplussed. “That’s not true entirely…” she answered. “Von Tease was never just one person,” she explained further in a confessional. Allegedly, a handful of others contributed to the account for three years and her role was strictly laying Shah’s bad behavior bare. “There were several other humans involved, but bottom line, our mission was to take down Jen. The other women were just collateral damage.” Hey, all is fair in vigilante justice, right?

This is what I call prestige television and the origin story of a very promising villain.

The evening’s events escalated further—as they inevitably tend to do in the Bravoverse—before culminating in a second bombshell from Gay: Shah gave her the black eye, which both women remained mysteriously mum about for over a year, that dominated plot lines last season. Shah remains in prison, but a denial was posted to her Instagram account after the episode aired. An old housewife can’t change her jumpsuit, am I right?

“We have been through this bullshit before with Jen,” Gay began. “We are the type of girls that ride or die, and each one of us at different times rode hard…I ate shit every day for her. I felt like I had to lie to protect her. I did whatever it took. I went on book tour and defended her and took shit for the fact that she gave me a black eye.” Why Gay (let alone anyone in the cast) had to eat shit for Shah, meanwhile, is frustratingly unexplained. Was it in the name of blind loyalty? Fear of blackmail? Or just utter stupidity? Regardless, the revelation prompted the entire ensemble cast (and everyone watching at home) to let out a collective gasp. Moments later, Garcia was banished from the sit-down and perhaps, even the show.

Long after I turned off my TV, it wasn’t the black eye confirmation that I lingered on. It was Garcia’s response to the cast’s confrontation—more specifically, how hypocritical their reactions were to lying given their admitted support for a woman who adamantly maintained that she didn’t swindle money out of unsuspecting grandmas and grandpas—that kept me awake.

When Barlow hurled out that she felt uncomfortable with the possibility of someone filming her without her consent, Garcia yelled back: “Don’t abuse your employees like your best friend Jen then and you’ll be just fine.” Later, in a confessional, Garcia further stood her ground. “I don’t think Von Tease was a bad thing,” Garcia said, resolutely. “I think that scamming elderly people out of millions of dollars is a bad thing. But I think having a fucking burner page on an Instagram account to expose someone in their abuse is not a bad thing. I think that’s just telling the truth.” I’ll say it: If that’s truly the motive for her involvement, she’s not wrong!

Frankly, we don’t know if Garcia is telling the whole truth just yet—especially where it concerns those Beauty Lab allegations. Hopefully, we will soon. But you know what? For now, I have to respect the fact that she played a part in exposing her criminally toxic former employee, unceremoniously subsumed her spot on the show that made her famous, and then proceeded to pose a threat to her cast mates regarding the removal of any skeletons from their own closets. That’s what I call the origin story of a very promising villain and prestige television.

If Garcia only gets one season, at least she’ll have proved to all of the assistants, hair stylists, makeup artists, and all other peons tasked with trailing housewives out there that they, too, can stage a coup in the name of getting their Bravo bag—or, nabbing their imprisoned boss’s. In one woman’s opinion, that alone offers more hope to reality television talent than Bethenny Frankel’s attempt at a union.

Finally, if you’re one of those fans whining about how women must support other women on these shows: Grow up. Housewives was never supposed to be the stage for women’s rights. It is—at its best—the diamond-encrusted wrestling ring for women’s wrongs.

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