Just a few weeks ago we passed the two-year mark since Bravo announced a reboot Real Housewives of New York. What once seemed like it would be the death knell for a long-running reality TV franchise turned out to be an exuberant, joyful and very watchable new beginning for the series thanks to the stellar cast of creators behind the series. New housewives Jessel, Brynn, Jenna, Erin, Ubah and Sai all brought something unique to the table – except Sai annoying everyone else by being hungry all the time was enough to stir the pot and produce something fresh.
The highs were high and the lows could have been much lower, which is one of the better things you can say about a housewives show, especially considering that this was the new thing new Yorkis the “first” season. What’s even better is that loyalties and friendships were constantly changing, giving the show an unpredictable nature. It stayed that way until the messy ending, in a Season 14 finale that featured wig fittings, tea spilling, and even a mention of a slap or two. Throw in a massive battle to shake things up one last time and it’s safe to say it’s the new thing RHONY should stay here.
One thing I always like about this new group of women is that they’re all a little unconventional. They’re kind of weird, and I mean that in a good way – none of it is boring and it’s just occasionally annoying. An opening montage in which Sai tries on wigs, Brynn visits her psychic (a young gay man with trendy glasses, of course), and Ubah and Erin meet to ride bumper cars captures this bizarre mood well. During their bumper car ride in Bryant Park, Ubah tries to reason with Erin about the rift of the day: her and Sai’s continued judgment of Jessel’s marriage and sex life.
“You went in [Pavit] a little bit,” she tells Erin about how she and Sai grilled Jessel’s husband at their couple’s dinner the week before. Erin tries to double down by saying that what Pavit claimed he loved about his marriage to Jessel – having a woman who is his best friend and who allows him to be himself – seemed strange to her . However, Ubah says what I’ve been waiting for weeks for someone to finally say: “I think that’s the sweetest thing you can say to someone.” Thank you, Ms. Hassan, that’s it! Spouses should want their partners to remain in a marriage and still have lives of their own as they build a new life together. Erin and Sai acted like not having your partner within arm’s reach was some sort of social anomaly, although I think that’s more a straight people thing.
Later, Jessel commandeers Jenna’s apartment for a photo shoot for her e-commerce platform, which promotes emerging designers from India and the Middle East. But the journey from New York City to one of these regions wouldn’t be as strenuous for Ubah, as she has to walk up the stairs in Jenna’s building in high heels because the elevator is out of service. Ubah arrives huffing and puffing, but ready to blow the house up with news: Erin isn’t backing down when it comes to her suspicions about Jessel’s marriage. Erin, who is at a costume shop with Sai across town, says this while the two are picking out masks for Brynn’s upcoming birthday party.
After the two find a disguise they like, Sai reveals that Ubah is dating a man in Connecticut. This isn’t salacious information, but since Ubah has sworn Sai to secrecy about it, it’s a big deal that she revealed it to Erin without even thinking about it. It’s also a big deal that Sai said it to a camera, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The night of Brynn’s party approaches and everyone starts the evening in a good mood, including a bartender who handles two cocktail shakers as if he were one Jersey Shore Fist pump. All the ladies come and Brynn and Jenna have a little romantic smooch with their friends. But that’s most of the love that happens at Brynn’s party, because it’s almost all downhill from there.
Jessel takes Erin aside to end them once and for all, confirming that she heard all the crap Erin was saying behind her back about Jessel’s marriage. Sai mosey immediately moves on and Jessel takes the opportunity to pass the law. “And just for your information, I heard you don’t like me,” Jessel says. Sai tells her that it’s not because she doesn’t like Jessel, it’s because she doesn’t want to be best friends. “I don’t want to be best friends either!” Jessel replies. Sai grimaces as Jessel comes back from power a little, and mocks her as she walks away to get a drink.
But Brynn doesn’t let that end because her idea of a “fun party game” is simply everyone running around voicing their displeasure with each other. Sai takes this opportunity to reiterate that, in her opinion, Jessel makes no sense and claims that Jessel is constantly caught in a web of her own silly lies. “You lie all the time, you have so many white lies that just flicker away – those [thing about Pavit going to Vietnam] for example,” says Sai. Jessel has clearly had more than enough and simply shrugs his shoulders and utters a simple “Who cares?” I’ll tell you who cares: the woman who starts screaming in response.
“Nobody gives in CRAP, JESSEL!” Sai shouts from across the room. “Obviously you care!” Jessel replies, collecting Sai in a very cool way. Another argument ensues before the two agree that although they can be acquaintances, they can never be real friends. “I respect Sai deeply,” Jessel adds in her confessional. “But I won’t beg and plead for anyone to be my friend. “I realized that when the cotton swab meets resistance, you have to stop digging in there.” Apparently Jessel never saw the episode of Girl where Hannah ruptured her eardrum. There’s nothing smaller than an elbow in there, Jess!
Brynn’s party momentarily stabilizes as everyone calms down and Brynn prepares to blow out the candles on her cake. Ubah tells her to want a husband for both of them, and Brynn replies, “Ubah, I heard you have a husband in Connecticut!” A muffled “Oh no” is heard from at least seven different people in the room. “After the costume shop, Sai and I took Brynn for her birthday,” Erin explains in her confessional. “We looked into each other’s eyes and said, ‘This is the circle of trust,’ and that’s when Sai told us a little more about Ubah’s friend.”
Ubah doesn’t take kindly to this, which is understandable. Your romantic life is private and this relationship is new. Plus, Ubah’s husband might be the type of guy who doesn’t know if he wants to date someone who signs up to have their life documented on TV. It was crazy of Brynn to say that at the party, but it was even crazier of Sai to tell Erin once on camera and then leak it again off camera.
“If you mention Connecticut, I’ll cut you,” Ubah tells Brynn. How this could work is about as clear as Brynn once accidentally sticking a tampon up her ass. “Sai started it, it’s on camera,” Brynn replies. For a very small woman, Sai has an extremely powerful set of whistles as she begins to scream even louder than before. “It wasn’t on Fuck Camera!” Well, not The Time.
Brynn’s birthday falls apart and Ubah draws a line between her and the birthday girl. Everyone ends the season a little mixed up, and that’s exactly how I prefer it housewives End of season. It gives the cast more to talk about when they reunite and even more to talk about between seasons to bring in as ammunition for season 15. I’m confident we’ll get another season, despite the usual title cards explaining what it’s about. The cast no longer feels as confident in the wording after filming. The weird, royalty-free pop song they slapped on feels like the editors were trying to create a worthy ending in case the show wasn’t renewed.
But with that in mind, I ask you, dear Bravo financiers, network bigwigs, advertisers and Andy Cohen: give these women a chance! They breathed new life into a dying series and took over the housewives franchise in an exciting new direction, deftly balancing drama and utter silliness without being beholden to the women who came before them. Let’s stick with these ladies (or at least most of them – sorry Sai) and see how they grow and how life in the public eye changes their dynamics and personalities next season. I’m not asking for the same Dorinda Medley-level darkness, just that we give New York a fighting chance.