The season 14 premiere of the completely revamped The Real Housewife of New York City is right around the corner, and the new cast is stoked for fans to see how their version of the Big Apple is a creature all its own.
Stars Jenna Lyons, Sai De Silva, Ubah Hassan, Jessel Taank, Brynn Whitfield, and Erin Dana Lichy are dishing on what to expect from the reworked version of the iconic franchise as it aims to depart from the conformity of the Upper East Side and show a more diverse and realistic side of the famous city.
Jenna claims the original RHONY “was trying to capture this aspirational Upper East Side enclave.”
“Nothing is wrong with that, but it doesn’t speak to all of New York,” Jenna said while speaking to Cosmopolitan alongside side her co-stars. “New York has always been a little grittier and cooler than the Upper East Side.”
Erin agreed while delicately throwing a little shade at the series’ inaugural and past Housewives.
“The women before us in New York, how do I say this nicely? They’re grown. I work like crazy. I have three kids. I balance it all. New York is filled with hustling moms, and I think it’s something cool to show.”
The RHONY franchise of the past faced criticism that its depiction of NYC wasn’t as accurate as it should be, including not being racially diverse and inclusive.
The new cast maintains the new version takes in the full diverse scope of New York, and they naturally didn’t have to address the need for inclusivity.
“I don’t think we had to approach it at all because we just all come to the table that way. This is what our circle actually looks like,” Sai said.
“I’m biracial—my father’s Black and my mother’s white—but for me, I was thinking about diversity in the sense that I’m living in New York,” Brynn explained. “I’ve been engaged, I’m 37, I don’t have children, I’m single, I grew up poor on welfare, and I’ve created a fabulous life for myself on my own.”
Sai added, “We didn’t get up and marry rich men and hang out on our yachts. We work. None of us have private planes. I mean, I wish.”
Jessel, the franchise’s first Indian cast member, noted that she wanted to use the show to break down religious stereotypes that frequently plague the Middle Eastern community, specifically women.
“I’m the first Indian housewife ever to be cast in the franchise and I love to be the first. I’m Hindu and Ubah is Muslim,” she told the outlet. “And there are certain taboo topics for women that come from those communities. I really wanted to come and eradicate some of that stigma.”
Ubah echoed Jessel’s remarks, noting, “In New York, your soul is free. For a woman who was born into a culture where women are suppressed, the idea that I don’t have a bodyguard in the middle of the night, that I can dress the way I’m dressing is amazing. It makes me want to cry. It’s literally heaven.”
For Jenna, it was equally as important to show LGBTQ+ representation on the show and gay women in business specifically.
“I’m not going to lie. I have a business. I’m doing this for a specific reason, to connect to people and have them care about who you are. Also, other than Ellen or Rachel Maddow, there’s not a lot of gay representation on TV.”
Despite the franchise taking a new direction, the ladies had a lot to say about their predecessors.
“Ramona [Singer] was so funny. I love Ramona because…she’s Ramona! We met at a lounge, and she asks, ‘Are you married?’ and I said no, and she was like, ‘Forget it after this show,’” Ubah recalled. “You might think it was mean, but it was hilarious. She’s f—king right. I tell boys now, you got to put a ring on it because my price is about to go up.”
Erin and Sai revealed they had lunch with Jill Zarin.
“Sai and I had lunch with Jill Zarin and her daughter Ally, and then I ended up driving Ally to this party downtown, like now I’m her mother! She was great,” Erin said. She then revealed that The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Joe Gorga advised her husband on how to deal with the impending Housewives fame.
“Joey Gorga called my husband Abe, and the advice he gave was amazing: ‘You better watch your wife! Better make sure it doesn’t go to her head!’ He was like, ‘Get all the guys drunk, get them trashed!’ We were like, we don’t have that many guys,” she said.
However, not all their encounters were roses and sunshine. All the women seemed to agree that one unnamed Housewife wasn’t kind to them at all.
“I met someone who wasn’t very nice, but I won’t say who,” Sai said.
Erin mused, “I think she was mean to a lot of people.”
Jenna agreed, “Yeah, she’s definitely salty.”
Ubah revealed the advice The Real Housewives of Dubai star Chanel Ayan gave to her, “[Chanel] said to me, ‘Don’t go below the belt. With any human you interact with, don’t go to a place where you can hurt someone’s soul.’”
As a whole, the cast said the advice they were given by Housewives past was consistently the same.
“They all say the same thing: Be true to yourself because the audience will see right through you,” Sai said.
Putting the show’s politics aside, the cast exclaimed that the new season of RHONY will return to the fun and frivolity that ensnared viewers in the first place.
When asked to describe the new season in three words Ubah said, “Inspirational, stunning, [and] fun.”
Sai responded, “Aspirational, entertaining, funny.”
Jessel concluded, “Vibrant, feisty, and oh my god, it’s a runway!”
Season 14 of The Real Housewives of New York City premieres Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. EST on Bravo.