"I hate to say this, but it wasn't like I missed her," Barlow said of filming 'The Real House Housewives of Salt Lake City' season 4 without Shah
The Bravo star, 48, admitted that she felt relieved when Shah, 49, could not take part in season 4 of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City because she is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for her role in a long-running telemarketing scheme.
“It was kind of a relief because everything had to be about Jen in the past,” she told Access Hollywood. “So, it wasn’t like you were seeing everybody else’s perspectives. It was like acquiescing to Jen.”
“I hate to say this, but it wasn't like I missed her,” she continued. “I forgot when we started filming that, like, ‘Hey, Jen used to be a part of this.’ There was so much other stuff going on that you didn't miss that other element.”
During Tuesday’s premiere episode, Heather Gay admitted she was doing "surprisingly" fine without Shah, saying, "I feel like a weight is lifted" now that Jen is in prison.
In a confessional, the Bad Mormon author admitted, "I felt like I couldn't be honest with Jen. With everything she had going on in her life, the stakes were way too high. It was not a time to talk about our friendship and to work on boundaries."
She continued, "But now that she is in prison, I feel like I can just shut the door on it and move on."
RHOSLC star Whitney Rose also opened up about filming without Shah on an episode of Two Ts In A Pod with Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge last month.
Rose, 36, admitted that “having Jen gone is like a breath of fresh air,” adding, “Honestly, it was so much easier.”
“I think it just felt weird not having her because she's been an OG,” she explained. “We built the show with her. But I don't think we missed her in the sense of toxicity — like we were able to all bond in a different way and get to know each other on a deeper level and that was nice. And I don't know if that's Jen or if it's just season four, the dynamics of it.”
Despite the change of pace, host Tamra Judge noted that Shah was “a good character on the show” and “entertaining” for audiences.
“She brought it for sure,” Rose responded. “And I think a lot of people are nervous about not having Jen but we brought it. It's still everything.”
Shah reported to Bryan Federal Prison Camp (FPC) in February to begin her 78-month (6.5-year) sentence for her role in a long-running telemarketing fraud scheme. Her sentence was reduced by one year in March and she is now scheduled to be released on Aug. 30, 2028, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' inmate database.
They both originally pled not guilty after they were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Shah's legal team attempted to have the charges dismissed in August 2021, but a judge denied the request.
Smith switched his plea to guilty that November, and Shah did the same at a hearing in July 2022. During her sentencing in January, she apologized for her actions.
"I am sorry. My actions have hurt innocent people," she said at the time. "I want to apologize by saying, I am doing all I can to earn the funds to pay restitution."
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The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.
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