The announcement that Dorinda Medley wouldn’t be returning to The Real Housewives of New York City for Season 13 was a bittersweet one. On one hand, it was clear that Season 12 was a low point for the Queen of the Berkshires, who spent much of her time on screen ranting belligerently and lashing out at anyone who mentioned that they were a bit concerned about her behavior. On the other hand, it meant the series was down a brassy, ballsy, DGAF castmate who wasn’t afraid to call it like she sees it. Thankfully, we have Leah McSweeney to fill that role — albeit in a slightly more measured and less terrifying way — and now that she and diva in residence LuAnn de Lesseps seem to be getting extra pally, it looks like we’ll be in for a thoroughly entertaining new season.
Castmates have come and gone from RHONY over the years, but de Lesseps is one of the few remaining originals who, despite all her cringeworthy drama over the years, has emerged as one of the most sympathetic and enjoyable to watch. It was slightly surprising to see how well she clicked with McSweeney, especially given the latter’s refusal to pay lip service to anyone, even The Countess, but it’s become clear from their respective social media accounts that they’ve become even closer since Season 12 wrapped, and it’s a pairing you can’t help but love.
McSweeney is a bit of an outsider to the group in many ways. She lives downtown, she runs a quirky fashion line, she — gasp! — has tattoos (more on that later)… the list goes on and on. However, it was exactly her “otherness,” at least in terms of the Upper East Side norm, that has made her so compelling a character to watch. She immediately became an object of fascination to the other women, who often looked at her as if she was a bearded lady in an early 1900s Coney Island freakshow. It was almost as if they couldn’t fathom a woman who got naked and threw tiki torches or who dared to talk about her vagina over a $50 plate of pasta.
And yet, McSweeney and de Lesseps were drawn together pretty much immediately. Originally bonding over their shared arrest experiences, it seemed as though McSweeney’s frank and sometimes brutal honesty was exactly what de Lesseps had been craving for 11 seasons and had finally found. The younger woman offered refreshing and measured assessments of the other women and the fiascos they found themselves in, and de Lesseps seemed pleased to finally have someone vocalize the things she’d felt crazy for thinking about her lunatic castmates for way too long.
While it’s clear that the RHONY ladies don’t spend all that much time together outside of filming, judging by both McSweeney’s and de Lesseps’ Instagram feeds that they’ve been attached at the hip in many ways. Just last month, both women posted cuddly photos of themselves on a road trip, one likely being filmed for the show, of course, but with none of the other women pictured. They regularly comment on one another’s photos, sending kiss emojis and basically praising each other for being the queens they are. In the midst of all the faux friendships the show presents, to see a genuine one here is pretty great.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that McSweeney and de Lesseps are on track to be the platonic power couple of Season 13, consider this: the Countess recently went to get a tattoo on her forearm that says “life is a cabaret.” Questionable ink choice, sure, but considering how scandalized most of the RHONY castmates were to discover McSweeney’s body art, the fact that the Countess herself has joined the club says just how big of an influence the Married to the Mob founder has had on her. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that McSweeney got another tattoo at the same time!
While Season 13 is still a ways off, the behind-the-scenes peeks we’re getting into this new BFF-ship will no doubt be enough to get many fans excited for what’s to come. There will of course be plenty of over-the-top histrionics, drunken fights, snide comments, and wild vacations, but witnessing something a little more grounded, as the friendship between McSweeney and de Lesseps seems to be, will provide a nice balance to the insanity.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor from New York who cares too way much about fictional characters and spends her time writing about them.
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