If you’re a Bravo fan who hasn’t yet recovered from the eye-popping drama of the finale episode of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City last month, you’re not alone. Lisa Barlow gets it.
“It was overwhelming, the weight of it all,” she tells Glamour. “It was such a big deal.”
The “big deal,” in case you were living under a rock, was the revelation during the final episode of the fourth season that the newest cast member, Monica Garcia, had been behind a troll Instagram account (with the instantly iconic name Reality Von Tease) that had terrorized the wives, including Barlow, for years. The moment when fellow castmate Heather Gay informed the rest of the wives of this fact has been compared to the finale of Big Little Lies. And the visuals of the subsequent showdown during which the women confronted Garcia about her deception has been likened to a Renaissance painting.
Barlow and her castmates have not only had to deal with the fallout from realizing someone they thought was their friend had been bullying them online but also had to relive it again as the scandal overtook the internet once the show aired. But incredibly, Barlow says she thinks the show’s best seasons are still to come.
“The dynamic is still so good,” she says. “There's still raw emotion; there's still energy behind everything. When you're on a show for so long or on a network for so long—and we're going into our fifth season—it's hard to keep it fresh. But I think we're all still so vulnerable, and I think it translates through where there are real issues, there are real annoyances, there are real things to clean up.”
Barlow, who recently partnered with Clorox, spoke with Glamour about how she keeps grounded amid the drama in Salt Lake, whether she thinks Monica could ever appear on the show again, and what it was like to break the internet.
Glamour: We have so much to talk about, but first, we must address the breaking news that Andy Cohen revealed on last week’s Watch What Happens Live: You debuted bangs.
Lisa Barlow: Oh my gosh, that was so funny. I actually liked the bangs. I don't think the audience did. It's a commitment to have those bangs full-time.
They were just for a photo shoot, right?
When I was going into the shoot, my stylist was like, “We should do bangs.” I thought they were going to get a better response…. I felt very Jacqueline Smith. I felt like my mom too. I looked like my mom when I was a kid.
It was kind of funny, but I loved them. I'm glad I tried it, but I'm glad they're not permanent…. I saw some people online that were like, “Lisa's having a midlife crisis. She got bangs. Next thing she'll be platinum blonde.” I'm like, “Sorry.”
Well, I like them if you ever want to bring them back.
I think I might bring them back while we're filming.
I say do it. So it's been about a month since the RHOSLC finale took over the entire world, bringing you guys to a new level of fame and attention. What has that been like for you now that the dust has settled a bit?
It was such a big deal. We have dealt with so many things since season one, like Homeland Security, the feds, NYPD, everything. And we just didn't talk about [what happened], which is crazy that it didn't get leaked; it was a miracle that it didn't get leaked. It was kind of crazy. But watching the whole world experience while we relive it again was crazy, crazy. When Jennifer Lawrence was commenting on it, I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is nuts.
That’s a good point—why do you think the finale didn’t get leaked at all? That’s pretty unusual these days.
I think we were all just so impacted by it. And I mean, if you look at our franchise with what we've been dealing with since season one, it's a lot. It wasn't like [we said], “No one say anything.” Bravo didn't call and say, “Keep this a secret.” It was just like something innately we all did. And I think a few things were getting leaked to defend Monica. I think she was talking to a few people, but it didn't explain what was happening. It was just like, Oh, there's more coming. You'll see there's more. But it was crazy, crazy.
I have been watching RHOSLC since the beginning, and you’re right that you guys have dealt with a lot of drama since season one—most Housewives don’t deal with the feds. Did you have any idea what you were signing up for?
I thought it was going to be different just because I'm a transplant from New York, and…I think Utah's weird. I think there's so many interesting people here. You have the religion and different cultures here, and I think a lot of transplants. So I knew there was something special here. I moved out here and I find Utah addictive. It's hard to leave. The weather's amazing. You get all four seasons. I thought it was going to be special, but the dynamic is so good.
So the latest news on Monica is that she's “on a break.” I guess that's like being “put on pause,” but it seems unlikely she's going to come back. Do you think she has a chance?
I keep saying it's so above my pay grade, but I just think it's so hard when there was no real apology for anything. At this point, [if she apologized] it would be an apology just for gain. It wouldn't be authentic. A point I made at the reunion was…if she really were sorry, she would've led with that. It was all deceit. When you're admitting something because you got caught…I don't even really talking about her to be honest. I healed from it months ago, but just the deceit really bothered me.
I feel like you guys as a cast really want to be rid of the ghost of Jen [Shah, the former cast member now serving time in federal prison for fraud]. But this whole thing with Monica and Reality Von Tease has brought it up again, and made her such a part of a season she wasn’t even on. Can you guys be rid of her for good?
There's still so many raw emotions because, as we're going deeper in our friendships, there's other things that have come up. But Utah is full of dynamic, interesting…I mean, I could have a list of a hundred people they should look at every season. There's so many amazing, interesting, dynamic, troubled people here. So this next season I actually think it might be better, our best one ever, just based on what I'm seeing. I think it's going to be pretty amazing.
Let’s talk about your partnership with Clorox. When I was telling my colleague that I was talking to you about this, she reminded me that there's an iconic scene of you scrubbing a toilet in a crop top, which is the first thing she thought of when she found out about your partnership. So are you a neat freak?
I am such a neat freak. Everyone knows I love my glam now because I cried about it in Palm Springs, but my makeup artist knows I'm insanely clean. I grew up in a house that could be hermetically sealed. My mom is a neat freak and there's six of us kids and we're all the same. One thing that's really cool for me with Clorox is I organically use it. Everyone's always asking me, “What are your things you can't live without?” And I'm always like, “Clorox disinfecting wipes.” It has been out there for years…. So for me, it was like the best partnership ever. It's super organic. I love that they have the sweepstakes where two people are going to have the chance to win an opportunity to have a glam weekend in New York City and attend a live taping of Watch What Happens Live. That's where you see the big messes unfold. There's always something happening there. Then there's up to 80 prizes that Clorox is giving away. And it's so fun for me because it's a brand I love.
I’d imagine there’s some pressure heading into this next season based on how much more attention is on the series now. How are you staying true to yourself amid the craziness?
The only thing I'm good at doing is being me. And I think I'm multifaceted where all my eggs aren't in the Housewife basket. I have a little in the Housewife basket, a little in the Vida [Tequila] basket, a lot in the mom basket, a lot in the wife basket. So I think one thing about me on this show is I just want to be myself…. I think that would be hell for me to not be able to be myself…. My husband keeps me humble. People think [my husband] John's quiet. He's not. He's totally type A, and he checks me. And my kids constantly check me too. They keep you very balanced, very real.
I feel so grateful that I got to be a Housewife. I've said this to a bunch of people. It is like being on an NBA team. So many people want to be on it…and it is not always tangible for everybody. But I feel grateful that, hopefully, I'm showing people you can do more than one thing. You can be a housewife, you can be a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, and create things. There's a lot of things they don't talk about on the show. I sold a company a couple years ago, and it got bypassed. But I think having other things that keep you balanced are really important because, at the end of the day, it's a privilege to be on the show and I'm lucky to be on it, but I have more parts to my life that fulfill me.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie McNeal is a senior editor at Glamour and the author of Swipe Up for More! Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influencers.
Originally Appeared on Glamour