Andy Cohen, Heather Gay and ‘RHOSLC’ EPs Break Down Season 4’s Burning Questions: What Did Production Know About Monica, Why Isn’t She Returning and That Burn Book Flop

Rexa Vella

Andy Cohen, Heather Gay and ‘RHOSLC’ EPs Break Down Season 4’s Burning Questions: What Did Production Know About Monica, Why Isn’t She Returning and That Burn Book Flop

Monica Garcia will not be returning for Season 5 of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” after she was unmasked in the Jan. 2 season finale as an abusive troll who had anonymously attacked the members of the cast since March 2021. Garcia’s castmate Heather Gay, who’s been on the show since the beginning, had received the “Receipts! Proof! Timeline! Screenshots!” of Garcia’s deception on the final day of filming the show’s fourth season, during a trip to Bermuda.

In an exclusive interview for Variety’s Making a Scene, Gay says when she got the confirmation that Garcia was behind the burner Instagram account Reality Von Tease, she wasn’t even sure she’d even be allowed to bring it up on camera. “Social media has never been a part of storyline,” Gay says. “I didn’t even know if production was going to listen to me.”

They were wise to, as it turned out: Gay’s exposing of Garcia during the women’s final dinner led to an epic finale, one that immediately became a classic “Real Housewives” episode.

Garcia’s actions as the troll Reality Von Tease caused the show’s entire full-time cast to unite against her, and her presentation during the three-part reunion — the last of which premiered on Jan. 23 — didn’t score her any points, as she went from attack mode to, by the end, seeming defeated. The result of all of these factors has led to her ouster from “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” the show’s producers confirm.

“What I love about reunions is it’s like the Housewives’ court of law,” says Andy Cohen, the executive producer of “The Real Housewives” franchise, who also hosted the reunion. “I think if Monica had come out and was able to sway even one of the women back on her side, it might be a different conversation right now.”

Jocelyn Prescod/Bravo

Lori Gordon, the series’ showrunner says: “The whole franchise is based on friends, and people who know each other and circulate in the same circles. And at this time, the women just need a cooling off period. And I think it’s 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.”

Season 5 will begin production on Feb. 5, according to Gay. And though Garcia helped the show’s fourth season enter the pantheon of “Real Housewives” seasons, and her duplicitous actions provided the season with its arc, Lisa Shannon — the SVP of programming and development at Shed Media, and also an executive producer — echoes Gordon.

“We’re starting to film relatively soon, and I think everyone needs a minute,” says Shannon.

If Garcia plays her cards right, though, she might be able to find her way back onto the show. “Who knows?” Cohen asks rhetorically. “Anything can happen. And I love a comeback. And so it would be very cool to find a path forward for her.

“But Lisa and Lori are right — it feels too raw right now.”

Gay is relieved by this decision, and is resolute. “Monica has no connection with any of us right now,” she says. “There’s no chance that she will be in my home, in my business, or around me anytime soon.” (For our full interview with Gay, read this story.)

Courtesy of Bravo

During the reunion, Gay and Lisa Barlow asked Cohen whether Bravo and the producers knew that Garcia was Reality Von Tease. Or, to quote Barlow, “You guys brought her on knowing she wanted to fucking take every single one of us out, and no one gives a fuck.”

As Garcia proclaims that she told production the first time they came to her house during casting, Cohen scoffs at the idea. “If you’d said you run a burner account,” he tells her, “we wouldn’t have cast you.”

Shannon says no one behind the scenes knew that Garcia had been posting as Reality Von Tease, and the idea of it violates production’s bond with the cast.

“You have to have the trust of your cast,” Shannon says. “And we would never jeopardize the trust of the cast, nor would the network, nor would Andy. Especially over something so seemingly silly — and not knowing that it’s going to pay off. We just would never do that. Especially with the entire cast — you’re really blowing up your relationship with everybody.”

Shannon says that if they’d found out about Reality Von Tease during filming, or even if Garcia had come to them and confessed, they would have helped her craft a way to help her tell them so she wasn’t so busted, and left without any excuses or explanations.

“Had we known, we probably would have encouraged her much earlier on to have a come-to-Jesus with the ladies,” Shannon says.

In her interview, Gay tells Variety the story of what happened after she got off the phone with the person who’d confirmed to her that Garcia was Reality Von Tease. After getting through her hesitation about bringing it up on camera, she told Gordon that she wanted to speak with Barlow, Meredith Marks and Whitney Rose, the other original “Salt Lake City” cast members who’d been targeted by the account.

“I can’t tell you how bonding it was, for us to just have that moment together as friends,” Gay says. “That has not happened in four years of me being friends with Lisa Barlow — for her without hesitation to say, ‘We have your back.’”

Cohen loves the beach scene, the imagery of which has drawn to the Season 1 finale of “Big Little Lies.”

“When you see the four of them on the beach, and she says, ‘The four of us have been through a lot,’” Cohen says, “I think in that moment you see a level of sisterhood that’s the kind of sisterhood that I love seeing on the ‘Housewives.’ I love when they find their common ground.”

Knowing that she had her fellow castmates behind her, Gay says she began to plan what she would say at the dinner: “Once I knew that I was going to be able to confront Monica at dinner, there wasn’t a minute that I was getting ready that I wasn’t rehearsing in my mind, “What am I going to say? How am I going to say this? What am I upset about?”   

Clearly, Gay was able to articulate what she was upset about, creating a moment that “Real Housewives” fans will never forget.

“She’s extremely eloquent, Heather, and I thought her entire speech was epic, honestly,” Gordon says.

Watch the video for the full story of how “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” became a zeitgeist phenomenon — with Jennifer Lawrence claiming she’d like to give them her Oscar, and with Rep. Robert Garcia of California quoting Gay’s finale speech into the chambers of Congress.

“This is Top 10 ‘Housewives’ episodes of all time,” Cohen says. “Put it up there.”

Watch the full conversation above.


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