There was one name on everyone's lips during Part 3 of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City Season 4 reunion: Reality Von Tease, a no-longer-anonymous Instagram account run by new star Monica Garcia and five other Salt Lake City residents (or so Monica claims).
The group learned about Monica's involvement in the troll account during a trip to Bermuda in the dramatic season finale, when Heather Gay received a phone call with "receipts, proof, timeline, screenshots, f*cking everything" confirming their fellow Housewife's secret identity, and the reveal — coupled with Heather's delivery — immediately turned the Bravo-verse on its head. Here was a woman who not only saved RHOSLC from obsolescence in the wake of Jen Shah's arrest and guilty plea, but who did so by bringing the Bravo Industrial Complex, with its fan accounts, spoiler blogs, and social media controversies, into the world of the show in an entirely new way.
For obvious reasons, Andy Cohen encouraged the women to hold off on discussing the Reality Von Tease scandal until the final segment of the reunion, which meant it wasn't until Tuesday night that Monica finally got a chance to tell her side of the story. Or, at least, she attempted to do so in the face of extreme opposition from the other couch, where Heather and Lisa Barlow (and sometimes Angie Katsanevas) sat as they picked apart Monica's lies, one by one.
As Monica explained, the Instagram account was started in 2021 to "expose Jen" and reveal "the truth of how she was treating her employees" to the public. (Monica used to work for Jen before serving as a witness in her federal fraud case.) In the months that followed, Reality Von Tease began posting about other members of the RHOSLC cast, though Monica insisted these comments — including one particularly derogatory remark about Heather — were made by Jen and re-posted with the intention of highlighting her "abusive" behavior.
Her co-stars weren't buying what Monica was selling. Heather took particular issue with Monica painting herself as "a hero" determined to bring Jen down, to which Monica replied, "I'm fine being the villain in your story, Heather, because you're the clowns in mine!" Whatever goodwill Monica's catchy retort generated with the audience was lost a few minutes later when she whipped out a Mean Girls-inspired Burn Book that included jokes about the cast ("LIE-sa BARF-low" is a "materialistic little byotch!" she wrote) and printed copies of every Reality Von Tease post, which she clearly thought exonerated her, in some way.
With the ladies at each other's throats, it was up to Andy to be the voice of reason. "It sounds like in trying to expose Jen, what you did was hurt all of them," he told Monica. "If Jen called [Heather] that and you guys posted that, then what you're doing is perpetuating something mean about her."
But the issue isn't just that Monica has spent the last two years trolling the cast — it's that she then fought to join their ranks, even as she continued posting from Reality Von Tease. While viewers have long since stopped believing that Housewives are actually friends, rather than a group of women thrown together by casting directors and savvy producers, the stars themselves remain oddly committed to this premise. But Monica's obvious effort to get cast on RHOSLC — as evidenced by the audio clip of her claiming she worked as Jen's assistant because "Kim Kardashian was a f*cking assistant and look at that bitch right now" and her email to the casting department, both of which were introduced in Part 1 of the reunion — runs afoul of that narrative.
"Do you want to be their friend, or do you want to be on the show?" asked Andy. At first, Monica played it diplomatically — "I think both can be true, to be completely honest," she said — but when Heather scoffed at the thought, the honest truth came out. "What is wrong with me wanting to sit on this couch?!" Monica yelled at her co-stars. "You don't think I belong here, right?! Because that is what you've said several times."
Monica's response, however poorly delivered it may have been, strikes at the heart of the controversy. Surely every woman in that studio sent a similar email to Bravo in hopes of being cast on the show; hell, Angie spent all of last season inserting herself into the drama in a bid to be promoted from friend to full-time Housewife. As Andy reminded the ladies, "plotting to get on the show is not a crime," but in their eyes, the way Monica went about it is inappropriate. She violated the unspoken rules of reality TV "friendship," and by doing so, she threatened to bring the entire house of cards down with her.
If Monica busted through RHOSLC's fourth wall like the Kool-Aid Man, the discussion about how Heather got her black eye in Season 3 smashed what was left of it to bits. In the final minutes of the finale — after she exposed Monica as an Instagram troll — Heather revealed Jen gave her the mysterious black eye during the group's San Diego trip in early 2022. At the time, Heather refused to say what happened, but during the reunion, she explained that she agreed to "cover" for Jen because she was "too scared to say anything" negative about her friend. (Jen has denied causing Heather's injury.)
When Andy reminded Heather of the degree to which she lied about the black eye — she even suggested production could have edited out the moment "because of a non-disparagement clause" with the rental company — he brought the incident beyond the bounds of the show, and into the realm of real-world legal consequences. "It's not funny to accuse the producers or the production company of covering up a crime and an assault," he said, his voice gravely serious. "It puts people's reputations and jobs at risk."
Once Heather had sufficiently apologized, Andy turned the discussion back toward Monica one last time, asking the cast "if there's any grace" to be extended to Monica, considering she and Heather had similar experiences with Jen. But if producers were hoping for a feel-good moment to end the season, they didn't get it: The women all agreed that there's nothing Monica could have said or done during the reunion to win back their trust and rectify the Reality Von Tease situation.
The group's banishment of Monica Garcia isn't surprising. From the first minutes of the reunion, it was clear that there would never be a real path forward for her because Monica wanted fame too badly, and she wasn't willing to play by her co-stars' rules to get it. But Monica's story won't end here. Her one, fourth wall-demolishing season on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was more than enough to cement her place in reality TV history — and now that she's officially done with "the rumors and the nastiness," she's free to take her talents elsewhere. Might we suggest The Traitors Season 3 as a first stop?
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.