For well over a decade, The Real Housewives of New York City has remained a consistent fan favorite. Whether it is Countess Luann’s fabulously received nationwide cabaret shows or Aviva Drescher’s prosthetic leg soaring across Le Cirque, the women of New York City can create a watercolor moment almost like no other. As far as the cast, the ladies of New York have kept two “OG” Housewives since day one, with Luann de Lesseps and Ramona Singer being with the show since it’s inception in 2008. (Dorinda Medley and Sonja Morgan also share the distinction of being on the show for five years or more a piece). With the departure of “OG” Bethenny Frankel last year, it remained to be seen how the show would pivot, and the casting of the much buzzed about Leah McSweeney has breathed a downtown hip vibe into the show, which does tend to exclusively show the Upper East Side perspective of what “New York City” is. Now however, that looks like that is about to change.
McSweeney, (who participated in the Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment landmark special that aired Sunday night on Bravo) spoke with Page Six and definitely thinks it’s time for a Big Apple diversity shakeup on her cast. “I hope that there’s not only diversity of race, but an even deeper diversity of where someone lives or what their interests are,” McSweeney she said. “I hope that there’s just more diversity all across the board because New Yorkers are not a monolith, obviously. I think that it is gonna head in that direction.”
If it is one thing that this franchise is not afraid of, it is a shakeup. For the Season Five premiere, four women were eliminated (OG’s Jill Zarin & Alex McCord, along with Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop) and three women were added (designer Heather Thompson, writer/journalist Carole Radziwill, & socialite Aviva Drescher), all who remained on the cast for a number of years, significantly driving story. Speaking with Extra recently, de Lessepps herself emphatically said “there’s definitely gonna be some new Housewives.” US Weekly spoke to insiders, with a source saying “Bravo is planning to shake things up with The Real Housewives of New York next year.” A second insider echoes, “There’s going to be some changes. … A handful of white women doesn’t necessarily represent what New York City is all about.”
A little known fact is that this is not the first time that RHONY casting has headed towards diversifying the cast. Famed music producer L.A. Reid’s wife Erica Reid (a friend of then-cast member Bethenny Frankel) was very close to joining the cast several years ago. What apparently stopped that from happening?-her music impresario husband. During a visit to Andy Cohen’s Andy Cohen Live show on his SiriusXM channel Radio Andy, Cohen said “She’s friends with Bethenny. I talked to Erica many times. Bethenny spoke to her. I mean this was going to be a big… we were very excited about this. Maybe it’ll still happen. I think you [L.A.] may have [squashed it] too. I kind of know you did. But I love Erica and I was very excited about the notion of that [she would be on the show], which ultimately didn’t wind up happening.”
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Thursday nights on Bravo (check local listings)