Jenna Lyons, the woman responsible for J. Crew’s astronomical mid-aughts reinvention that propped her up as a household name, has been cast among five other women cast on the rebooted 14th season of The Real Housewives of New York. According to Deadline, we also have a lifestyle blogger (Sai De Silva), a model/hot-saucepreneur (Ubah Hassan), an owner of a home-renovation firm called Homegirl (Erin Dana Lichy), and then some real, actual housewives (Lizzy Savetsky, Jessel Taank, and “trophy wife in training” Brynn Whitfield). That’s more like that.
Call me crazy (just don’t call me a “bully” – the Housewives use that as a slur), but I’m most excited to watch the absolute randos on the show, not the successful businesswoman. It’s not that Jenna Lyons, who now has a direct-to-consumer fake eyelash company, is too famous for this show, it’s that she’s too aspirational. If I wanted to be inspired by a woman succeeding in business on her terms, I’d just look in the mirror :)
On these shows, I want to see these women pretending to be richer and more successful than they really are. I don’t want someone who is media-trained and already an HBO Max tastemaker. True success is antithetical to the storied RHONY allure, which traditionally has been a thoughtful mixture of chapter 11 bankruptcy, poop on the floor, prosthetic limbs flying through the air, and taxidermied fish. It’s not chic, and that’s the way I like it.
How did we even get here, a RHONY led by Jenna Lyons, and not, for example, a RHONY led by a Catholic jewelry entrepreneur a la Ramona Singer?
Well, the Real Housewives of New York City was once the crown jewel of the entire Bravo network, but then Jill put that snake on her head, and Bethenny got rich off Skinnygirl-branded jeans and deli meat, and then a balloon imbued with the spirit of her late husband haunted Dorinda, and then Luann went ACAB, the girls spent what felt like an entire season on vacation at a busted inn in Salem, MA, wearing their masks under their noses, and then Ramona “allegedly” said something racist about the franchise’s first Black castmate, Eboni K. Williams, and then the show got kind of canceled, and now we’re here.
The original cast, including Ramona Singer, will be rewarded for their own spin-off, tentatively titled RHONY: Legacy.
And now the woman who invented wearing a cashmere sweater with a sparkly skirt is here to pick up the pieces. Eugh.
I hope I’m wrong about Lyons. I might be. Once there was a literal Kennedy on RHONY in the form of Carole Radziwill, and her life turned out a lot kookier than we could’ve anticipated. But until I can see Lyons turn this ship around like she did a mall catalog store in 2008, I’m watching Potomac.