These aren’t model Mormons. Inside the absurd, surprisingly profound new ‘Housewives’





NOV. 18, 20206:10 PM


The stars of the latest series in the “Real Housewives” franchise are an assortment of over-the-top, attention-seeking personalities straight out of Bravo central casting.

There’s a tequila entrepreneur who picks up family dinner at Taco Bell in her Porsche. A baby-voiced blond who celebrates her wedding anniversary with a spin on the stripper pole. Oh yeah, and a woman married to her step-grandfather.

Like their counterparts elsewhere in the country, the affluent women of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” thrive on petty drama, conspicuous consumption and regular visits to the plastic surgeon.

But one thing sets them apart: The majority of the cast members are — or once were — members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion known for promoting wholesome values rather than rosé-fueled catfights.

The location offers snowcapped mountains as a scenic backdrop and — this is critical — affords cast members plenty of opportunites to wear extravagant après-ski fashion. But as the epicenter of the Mormon Church and a place where the LDS influence reverberates in everyday life, Salt Lake City provides rich anthropological terrain, particularly when it comes to the lives of women who don’t conform to church rules.

While the show includes the usual petty disputes (a feud has already erupted because one woman said another “smells like hospital”), religion is central to the drama in a way that is unique within the “Housewives” universe, where goat yoga class is about as spiritual as it gets.

“It is really surprising how open they are about Mormonism and how it relates to their lives,” says Bravo figurehead and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen.

Excessive drinking, lewd talk, immodest dress and messy personal lives are virtual prerequisites for aspiring housewives — but also contradict the church’s conservative strictures.

“To be Mormon, we are taught honesty and integrity, fidelity within marriage and, most importantly, to watch for sin,” the housewives explain in an opening montage, which shows them behaving in the opposite fashion.

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