Real Housewives Of New York’s Leah McSweeney Gets Candid About The Race Conversations That Were Had During ‘Doomed’ Season 13

screenshot of Leah McSweeney on The Real Housewives of New York
(Image credit: Bravo)

Last year on The Real Housewives of New York, the show's first-ever Black castmate, Eboni K. Williams, initiated several conversations pertaining to race and culture on the show. And the reactions from both her veteran co-stars and the Bravo viewers were divided, to say the least. While some considered the dialogue either “preachy” or outside the purview of reality TV drama, others contended that Williams was within her rights to speak about her own life experiences. Following the controversy, the reunion special was cancelled and, more recently, the network has decided to pursue a more “inclusive” route by splitting the show into a reboot and spinoff. Cast member Leah McSweeney is now getting candid about her perspective on that subject and others amidst filming that last “doomed” Season 13.

Of late, the 39-year-old has been busy promoting her new memoir, Chaos Theory, which delves into her childhood and history with drugs and alcohol more extensively. But while she was discussing the book with Entertainment Tonight, the conversation inevitably turned to the now-infamous thirteenth season, which was Leah McSweeney’s second year on Real Housewives of New York. She shared that several factors played into what happened on the show but, ultimately, those race conversations needed to take place, saying,

I think that season 13 was doomed in so many ways. I'm standing by, we all did our best. I'm sorry if people were not entertained, we had important conversations that we needed to have. There were five of us, there was nothing open in New York City. My grandmother died and I did not want to be filming. I was suffering from depression and anxiety. I was literally having panic attacks during that whole [season].

There were many episodes in Season 13 that prompted major backlash online, such as Ramona Singer taking issue with the “Black” Shabbat dinner. However, none were quite so explosive as the cast’s trip to the Hamptons that saw a major debate over the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype, which later forced Eboni K. Williams to take a mental health break from social media. Leah McSweeney backed up Williams at the time, yet she doesn’t think everyone’s feet should’ve been head to the coals for what was only a short period of time. She said:

I was only in the Hamptons for three days. It went on the show for four or five weeks. So, I understand by the end of it, you're like, 'Leah, shut the F up and just go home to your grandmother.' But it's like, I was only there for a few days, it just seemed very long, but I think people were vile. People were vile to all of us and it was like, you were either on one team or the other, but all of us got shit and it was ugly. I think it showed the kind of mental state that people were in, in our country.

When the Season 13 episodes were rolling out, the star again defended Eboni K. Williams' discussions about race to the press, saying that the Real Housewives of New York cast should not be “censored.” Nevertheless, Williams recently revealed that the real reason behind the latest changes to the long-running series was that none of the cast were willing to negotiate about her future and that of other potential newcomers. As she would tell it, only Sonja Morgan was willing to “come to the table.”

Leah McSweeney told the outlet that she thinks the reboot’s new cast for Season 14 and the “all-star” spinoff is a “super cool idea.” The RHONY star added that she doesn’t know if she’ll be asked back one way or the other. What she does know is:

I mean, look, the old crew, do I love fighting with Ramona sometimes? Yeah, but do I also think that I know a lot of badass chicks in New York that maybe would be on the new one? Yeah.

I don’t know about y'all, but she seems to be hinting that her known friendship with Julia Fox could indeed help increase the chances of their places on the reboot, as speculated... For now, though, not much is confirmed about the particulars of the reboot beyond that it will be on a streaming platform, most likely Peacock Premium, not Bravo itself. We'll see if the first season of the revamped show runs a bit more smoothly than Season 13 did.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.