The debut of a new Real Housewife doesn't get more memorable than the one Monica Garcia made on the current season of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.
The circumstances behind her connection to the group were juicy in their own right: She had, at one point, worked for now-incarcerated former cast member Jen Shah, had called the Secret Service to report Shah’s fraud scam, and had been set to testify in her trial. That’s quite a production move: Replace the imprisoned cast member with someone partially involved with putting her behind bars.
Like many of the RHOSLC women, Garcia has a complicated relationship with the Mormon church, having been excommunicated. The reason why? Suffice it to say no one expected the answer that would come out of her mouth: “For fucking my brother-in-law for 18 months.”
Younger and from a very different income bracket than her co-stars, she also made a splash when she cried to her mother after impulsively buying a designer handbag she couldn’t afford because she wanted to fit in with the other wealth-flaunting women. She later confronted fellow cast member Lisa Barlow, whose meltdown after losing a $60,000 ring became more and more tone-deaf with each successive (incessant) mention of it. (One of the eventual fights that ensued took place in a sprinter van while Garcia was dressed in drag and wearing a planet-sized Dolly Parton wig on her head.)
Recent episodes have incited intense, polarized reactions, with Garcia getting into ugly arguments with her mother—behavior that some fans find disrespectful and others refreshingly honest. We caught up with Garcia in Las Vegas, where she was attending BravoCon. From the response to the scenes with her mom (she says they currently are not speaking) to her surprise connection with, of all cast members, Mary M. Cosby, we chatted about the whirlwind season so far.
You had quite a debut this season. I think everyone who was watching had their jaws on the floor when you revealed that you had an affair for your brother-in-law. It made for good TV, but how did you feel knowing that you were going to be bringing that up to this group of women right off the bat?
I know these women, and I felt like I wanted to say it first. I felt like it was important to get it out there. I felt like, in order to have a real friendship, I want people to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. And that is one of my ugliest things.
Everyone had a bit of a spit-take reaction. No matter what preamble you give, there’s no just preparing someone for that to be the next part of a story you’re telling.
It’s funny, everyone was actually pretty relaxed about it! But Whitney was great. She went through her own situation [with infidelity], and she and I are able to relate to each other.
People seem to be really fascinated by how you brought up the wealth gap between the other women and you—and, well, most other people in the world. The parading of and bragging about wealth and luxury isn’t usually directly addressed on Housewives. What have you made of people’s response to it?
It’s actually shocking. Honestly, I was really shocked. It’s been a beautiful thing to see. I’m grateful for the response. I know that a lot of people are also like, “We don't want a poor person here.” You know, “Get the broke girl off the show. But I'm here!”
And you’re calling them out too. Like, with Lisa and the $60,000 ring.
That $60,000 ring! But it wasn’t about the ring. It was the constant talking about it.
That Lisa was so unaware of how tone deaf and out of touch she was coming off.
Viewers have had strong reactions to the scenes with their mother. Good and bad. What do you think it is about those scenes and your relationship that has really struck the chord, where people have such polarized reactions to it?
I think that [tough relationship] is something that’s never really shared or talked about, but that so many people can relate to. So I think it was almost shocking, like, “Oh my gosh, I’m seeing this on Housewives for the first time, and that’s my relationship with my parents.” So I think it opened this door for so many people watching. So many people said, “It was like watching a conversation with my mom or dad.” So I just think so many people felt seen.
I was really impressed by how relaxed around Mary Cosby you were from the very beginning. She can be intimidating. What made you so comfortable right away?
Mary has always been so kind to me. She’s been great. She’s been nice. She may say her little things, but I just let it roll off my back. It doesn’t bother me. I mean, honestly, I see her for who she is. I take her for what she is. And she’s been a great supporter of me. That’s all I can go off of.
But she’s not at a place where she’s going to share her pizza with you quite yet.
Maybe we’ll get there.
When you’re going to take the plunge into something like this, I imagine there are things you predict might be easy and other that might be hard about the experience. Now that you’ve gone through a season, are there parts that were as easy as you thought, or more difficult?
The thing that has been the easiest has been dealing with the Bravo network and production. Everyone has been incredible. Everyone is welcoming and made me feel so appreciated and loved. That honestly was the simplest part. Everyone’s like, “Is it weird to have cameras around?” No, because the people behind the cameras are so amazing.
What’s been as difficult as you might have feared it would be?
Definitely coming into this group of women. For sure.
Has being at BravoCon around fans in real life, instead of dealing with the ones who message you on social media, changed how you’ve thought about this whole experience of being on the show?
That's such a great question. Yes, actually, because there’s so much hate online. And there’s so much love at BravoCon. So I needed it. I really did. And everyone’s been so incredible. Truly, the fans are amazing. But seeing it in person and having them come up to me and being able to have that conversation face to face, that is so special.