Bravo is steadily adding more women of color to its Real Housewives rosters brings some much-needed perspective and representation to the predominantly white franchise. But it has also opened up a dialogue that is perhaps a little uncomfortable, as seen in last night’s Real Housewives of New York episode where co-stars Eboni K. Williams (a newcomer), Luann de Lesseps and the controversial Ramona Singer get into a heated argument about race. The situation has even prompted Williams to announce that she is taking a social media break amidst these controversial episodes airing so that she can protect her mental health.
Eboni K. Williams’ announcement on her Instagram came ahead of last night’s Real Housewives of New York episode. In the six-minute clip, with mental health as a hashtag, Williams shares that she was coming from a “vulnerable place” and will be off her social media for the next two weeks in anticipation of these episodes. She said:
I guess I’m going to pull a Naomi Osaka and pull back to protect my peace because I know a lot of that conversation and discussion is gonna be rich and dynamic and important and productive and a lot of it is gonna be some bullshit...Some of the people that live on social media and live to make other people's life a terror and a horror and just like to show up as assholes and trolls, I’m not here for it. I’m not here for it and I won’t be a part of it and I’m going to avail myself to it. So I’m gonna take a little break, a little beat, work on my prayer, work on my situation spiritually and I will be back.
I can’t say I blame Eboni K. Williams. In last night’s episode, her conversation with Luann de Lesseps and Ramona Singer quickly escalated from a discussion about formal language to an argument about race and education that could spill over into public discourse. Williams had said she was the most educated woman at the table and called Singer out for her “white fragility,” angering de Lesseps, who then alluded to Williams being an “angry black woman.”
The teaser for next week’s episode sees Eboni K. Williams getting emotional over the label. Though she won’t be online to see the reaction to it, Williams urges Bravo fans to “lean into” and watch the episodes because they are “really important.” She also asks fans to “reject the knee jerk reaction” of choosing sides between herself and her co-stars.
Controversial dialogues about race have been cropping up a lot within the Real Housewives franchise of late. Just last week on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Garcelle Beauvais (the show’s first African American cast member) explained to co-star Kyle Richards why publicly outing her for an unpaid charity donation plays into racial stereotypes. Later on, Sutton Stracke and Crystal Kung Minkoff, the latter being the first Asian American star on the show, got into a heated argument about white privilege and “not seeing color.” Sutton later apologized on social media, which Minkoff accepted and applauded her for her growth.
Eboni K. Williams teased that the next episode of Real Housewives of New York has similar progress in store, despite her need for a mental health break at the moment. She said:
What happens tonight and what happens on next week’s episode is the foundational bedrock to an ability for me in this group of women to develop a true sisterhood. And if you believe in authenticity of relationships and shared humanity and sisterhood, this is what the fuck we’re talking about.
Times are definitely changing when it comes to the Real Housewives and reality TV as a whole. Toxic behavior is no longer ignored and conversations are pivoting into something much bigger, and hopefully better, in the long run for the franchise.