Everything You Need to Know About the New Era of Real Housewives of New York

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Opulence, glamour, and some good ‘ol reality TV drama will grace our screens on Sunday, July 16, with the premiere of Real Housewives of New York, season 14. Making its long-awaited return to Bravo, the season introduces viewers to a brand new cast, after season 13 ended amid controversy and low-ratings.

The rebooted RHONY stars Sai De Silva, Ubah Hassan, Erin Dana Lichy, Jenna Lyons, Jessel Taank, and Brynn Whitfield, and ushers in a new chapter for the show, which originally debuted in 2008, making it one of the longest-running and beloved housewives franchises, with a cast that’s one of the most diverse in Bravo history.

The challenge of not only re-casting, but reinterpreting what shape the show took was no small undertaking, something that Andy Cohen, the face of Bravo and an executive producer on RHONY acknowledged at the show’s premiere party ahead of its official release.

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“What a task. How to reboot a show with a legacy as brilliant as RHONY and with a group of all stars who really made that show what it was?” he said. “And the answer seemed simple: Just find a new group of women. No biggie…And guess what? We found the right group of women.”

While the original RHONY was famous for producing some of the most iconic pop culture figures, moments, and memes to come out of Bravo, the new cast promises plenty of potential for fresh new adventures in the Big Apple—especially with its influential cast, which includes Lyons, the former president and creative director of J. Crew, and a fashion industry giant.

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the show’s past, present, and future, as well as the new crop of housewives, ahead of the premiere of season 14 of RHONY.

The Real Housewives of New York City - Season 14
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY -- Season 14 Premiere Event -- Pictured: (l-r) Ubah Hassan, Sai De Silva, Andy Cohen, Erin Lichy, Brynn Whitfield, Jessel Taank, Jenna Lyons at The Rainbow Room on July 12, 2023 -- (Photo by: Cindy Ord/Bravo)Cindy Ord/Bravo—2023 Bravo Media, LLC

Why did the old RHONY end?

The end of the RHONY viewers had grown familiar with over a decade of episodes materialized in a perfect storm of challenges and conflicts that included low ratings, alleged tension among cast members over race and politics, and the pressures of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, culminating in a cancelled season 13 reunion and an announcement from Bravo and Andy Cohen that the franchise was being “rebooted and recast.”

After former cast members Tinsley Mortimer left filming midway during season 12 and Dorinda Medley was “put on pause” following its conclusion, the cast was smaller than in past seasons, despite the addition of Eboni K. Williams, RHONY‘s first Black housewife, who joined the franchise following Bravo’s push to address its missteps and shortcomings with race after nationwide reckoning with racism in 2020.

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The smaller cast was one factor that fans have speculated led to RHONY being reworked; others included the difficulties and limitations of filming during the pandemic, as well as the differences in age and lifestyles of the older and more experienced housewives like Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan with the younger housewives, like Williams and Leah McSweeney. This dynamic often played out in heated discussions about race and politics, especially between Singer and Williams, as filming took place ahead of the 2020 election.

According to People, there were reports of an internal investigation after complaints of racism were filed among the cast; the investigation included the interviewing of cast and members of production, but was ultimately closed after “nothing substantial was found.” The report also alleged that this contributed to the cancellation of the season 13 reunion.

Who is in the new cast?

The new cast of RHONY is younger and more diverse than their predecessors (and most of the other franchises) in what appears to be Bravo’s bid to not only keep up with the times, but appeal to a younger audience that cares about inclusivity. The multiracial cast of six women is majority POC, a first in the history of the franchise. It also features two firsts for RHONY housewives: the first openly gay housewife, Lyons, and the first Indian housewife, Taank. The rich diversity of New York City was at the forefront of the show’s producers as they revamped RHONY and began looking for its new cast.

“There are thousands of stories to tell here,” Cohen said in an interview with Variety, ahead of the reboot. “This is the most multicultural, diverse, and energetic and exciting city in America: We are searching for a multicultural group of friends who really best reflect the most exciting city in the country. We’re looking for a group of women who are real friends, and who are of diverse backgrounds, races and religions.”

The diversity of the cast also extends to their professions and lifestyles, which run the gamut from fashion to being a social media influencer. Lyons is undeniably the most high-profile of the cast; as the former president and creative director of J. Crew, she’s still a fashion heavy weight, who now has her own line of false eyelashes, Loveseen.

Taank also has her feet in the world of fashion, as a brand consultant and fashion publicist, while De Silva is one of the pioneers of fashion blogging. She’s been running her website, Scout the City, since 2008, but has also become an influencer on YouTube and Instagram. Hassan’s experience with fashion came by way of the runway and editorials; she’s worked with brands like Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta. She’s no stranger to the world of reality TV either; her cousin, model Chanel Ayan, appeared on Real Housewives of Dubai.

Meanwhile, Lichy works as a luxury real estate agent for Douglas Elliman, while also running her own design firm, Homegirl. Whitfield was a former PR lead for Assembly, and now works as a freelance communications consultant and is also a certified yoga instructor.

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What happened to the old RHONY housewives?

While they may no longer be on the RHONY roster, the cast of season 13 has stayed booked and busy since the show went on hiatus. For Luann “the Countess” de Lesseps, a housewife since season 1, and Sonja Morgan, a longtime fan-favorite, this meant a Bravo spinoff of their own, the hilarious series Luann and Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake, a delightfully campy, Simple Life-esque romp for the zany dynamic duo in Benton, a quiet midwestern town in Illinois.

Both de Lesseps and Morgan will join fellow RHONY season 13 housewife Ramona Singer and season 12 housewife Dorinda Medley for an upcoming season of Peacock’s wildly popular housewives spinoff series, Ultimate Girls Trip; de Lesseps and Singer both appeared on the first season of Ultimate Girls Trip, which took place in Turks and Caicos, while Medley hosted housewives at her famed (some would say infamous) vacation home, Bluestone Manor, for the series’ second season. For season 5 of the show, which was filmed in St. Barts and is anticipated to release this fall, de Lesseps, Morgan, Medley, and Singer will also be joined by former RHONY housewives, Kristen Taekman and Kelly Killoren Bensimon.

Leah McSweeney, a housewife for seasons 12 and 13, appeared on season 3 of Ultimate Girls Trip, which filmed in Thailand; since her time as a housewife ended, she’s launched a podcast, The Leah McSweeney Show and published a memoir, Chaos Theory: Finding Meaning in the Madness, One Bad Decision at a Time.

Eboni Williams, who became RHONY‘s first Black housewife on season 13, has had plenty on her plate since closing out her housewives chapter: she’s published her second book, Bet on Black: The Good News About Being Black in America Today, re-launched her podcast, Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams, and begun hosting a daily news show with The Grio. She’s also set to host a court show called, Equal Justice With Judge Eboni K. Williams.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com