Just a couple of weeks ago, we passed the two-year mark since Bravo announced that it would reboot the Real Housewives of New York. What once seemed like it might be a death knell to a long-running reality television franchise turned out to be an exuberant, joyous, and highly watchable new start for the series, thanks to some excellent casting from the powers-that-be behind the scenes. New Housewives Jessel, Brynn, Jenna, Erin, Ubah, and Sai all brought something unique to the table—just Sai annoying everyone else because she was hungry all the time was enough to stir the pot and produce something fresh.
The highs were high, and the lows could’ve been much lower, which is one of the better things you can say about a Housewives show, especially if you consider that this was the new New York’s “first” season. What’s even better is that allegiances and friendships were constantly shifting, lending an unpredictable nature to the show. That stayed true right up until the chaotic end, in a Season 14 finale that featured wig fittings, tea spillings, and even a mention of a dick slap or two. Throw in a blowout fight to shake things up one last time, and it’s safe to say that the new RHONY should be here to stay.
One thing that I have been a consistent fan of with this new group of women is that they’re all a little offbeat. They’re kind of freakish, and I mean that in a good way—none of them are boring, and only occasionally annoying. An opening montage of Sai trying on wigs, Brynn visiting her psychic (a young gay man with trendy spectacles, naturally), and Ubah and Erin meeting up to drive bumper cars reflects that bizarre vibe nicely. While on their bumper car excursion at Bryant Park, Ubah tries to level with Erin about the rift du jour: her and Sai’s continued judgment of Jessel’s marriage and sex life.
“You went in on [Pavit] a little,” she tells Erin about the way she and Sai grilled Jessel’s husband at their couples dinner the week prior. Erin tries to double down by saying that what Pavit claimed he loved about his marriage to Jessel—having a wife who is his best friend, that will let him be himself—felt strange to her. Ubah, however, says what I’ve been waiting for someone to finally nail down for weeks: “I think that’s the most loving thing you can say to someone.” Thank you, Ms. Hassan, it is! Spouses should want their partners to stay themselves in a marriage, and still have a life of their own while building another together. Erin and Sai have been acting like not having your partner constantly within reach is some sort of societal anomaly, when I think that’s really just more of a straight people thing.
Later, Jessel is commandeering Jenna’s apartment for a photo shoot for her e-commerce platform that promotes emerging designers from India and the Middle East. But walking from New York City to either of those regions wouldn’t be as exhausting for Ubah, who has to hoof it up the stairs in Jenna’s building while wearing heels because the elevator is out. Ubah arrives, huffing and puffing, but ready to blow the house down with some news: Erin’s not backing down when it comes to her suspicions about Jessel’s marriage. Erin, who is across town at a costume shop with Sai, says as much as the two of them pick out masks for Brynn’s upcoming birthday party.
After the two of them find a disguise they like, Sai lets it slip that Ubah is dating a man in Connecticut. This isn’t salacious information, but because Ubah swore Sai to secrecy about it, it’s a big deal that she spilled it to Erin without even thinking. It’s also a big deal that Sai said it with a camera present, but we’ll get back to that in just a second.
The night of Brynn’s party rolls around, and everyone starts the night in good spirits, including a bartender who is handling two cocktail shakers like he’s doing a Jersey Shore fist pump. All of the ladies arrive, and Brynn and Jenna share a little slightly romantic smooch between friends. But that’s the most love that happens at Brynn’s party, as it’s almost entirely downhill from there.
Jessel pulls Erin aside to squash their beef once and for all, confirming that she’s heard all of the shit Erin was talking behind her back about Jessel’s marriage. Sai moseys right on over, and Jessel takes it as an opportunity to lay down the law. “And just FYI, I heard you don’t like me,” Jessel says. Sai tells her that it’s not that she doesn’t like Jessel, but that she doesn’t want to be best friends. “I don’t want to be best friends either!” Jessel responds. Sai grimaces as Jessel takes back a little bit of the power, and mocks her when she walks away to grab a drink.
But Brynn won’t let that be the end of things, as her idea of a “fun party game” is just everyone going around and airing their grievances about one another. Sai takes this opportunity to repeat that she thinks Jessel doesn’t make any sense, and asserts that Jessel is constantly caught in a web of her own airheaded lies. “You lie all the time, you have so many white lies that just kind of flicker away—the [thing about Pavit going to Vietnam] for example,” Sai says. Jessel’s clearly had more than enough, and simply shrugs her shoulders and throws out a simple “Who cares?” I’ll tell you who cares: the woman who starts screaming in response.
“NO ONE GIVES A FUCK, JESSEL!” Sai yells from across the room. “Clearly you care!” Jessel retorts, gathering Sai in a very cool manner. A bit more arguing ensues before the two settle on the fact that they can be acquaintances but never real friends. “I deeply respect Sai,” Jessel adds in her confessional. “But I’m not going to beg and plead for anyone to be my friend, I realized that when the Q-tip meets resistance, you’ve got to stop digging in there.” Clearly, Jessel never saw the episode of Girls where Hannah ruptured her eardrum. Nothing smaller than an elbow in there, Jess!
Brynn’s party briefly steadies itself as everyone calms down and Brynn prepares to blow out the candles on her cake. Ubah tells her to wish for a husband for the both of them, and Brynn responds, “Ubah, I heard you got a man in Connecticut!” A hushed “oh no” can be heard from at least seven different people around the room. “After the costume shop, Sai and I took Brynn out for her birthday,” Erin explains in her confessional. “We looked each other in the eye, said, ‘This is the circle of trust,’ and that’s when Sai told us a little bit more about Ubah’s boyfriend.”
Ubah doesn’t take kindly to this, which is understandable. Her romantic life is private and this relationship is new. Plus, maybe Ubah’s man is the type who doesn’t know if he wants to date someone who is signing up to have her life documented on television. It was wack of Brynn to say it at the party, but it was even more wack of Sai to tell Erin once on camera and then leak it again off-camera.
“If you mention Connecticut, I am going to circumcise you,” Ubah says to Brynn. How that might work is about as clear as how Brynn once shoved a tampon up her ass by accident. “Sai started it, it’s on camera,” Brynn responds. For a very small woman, Sai has an extremely powerful set of pipes, given that she starts to yell even louder than before. “It was not on fucking camera!” Well, not that time.
Brynn’s birthday fizzles out, and Ubah draws a line between her and the birthday girl. Everyone ends the season a bit shaken up, which is exactly how I prefer a Housewives season to conclude. It gives the cast more to talk about in the reunion, and even more to hash out between seasons to bring in as ammunition for Season 15. I’m hopeful that we’ll get another season, despite the customary title cards that explain what the cast is doing after filming wraps feeling less than confident in their phrasing. The strange, royalty-free pop song they slapped over it feels like the editors were trying to make a fitting end in case the show isn’t renewed.
But on that note, I beg of you, sweet Bravo financiers, network bigwigs, advertisers, and Andy Cohen: Give these women a shot! They breathed new life into a dying series and took the Housewives franchise into an exciting new direction that deftly balanced drama and complete foolishness, without being beholden to the women that came before them. Let us stay 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, only that we give New York a fighting chance.