Each Real Housewives franchise has a specific esthetic. Just like each one of my ex-boyfriends has a specific annoying trait, but I digress.
Most locations have strong brand identities. For example, RHONJ is all about family and hair extensions, while RHOBH is about opulence and hunky real estate.
Real Housewives of New York City, though, has struggled to produce an exciting trademark. The ladies are notoriously upper class, elegant, and well mannered (before tequila that is). But to tell the truth, lately, the ladies were beginning to slip from elegant to boring.
And after news broke that Bethenny Frankel wasn’t coming back for the new season, I was starting to get seriously worried. Turns out so were the show’s producers because this season they introduced a new castmember with a little spunk.
Let’s see who Leah McSweeney is and how she is expected to shake things up.
Who’s that girl?
Leah McSweeney is 37 and lives with her daughter in NYC. She is a fashion designer and created a women’s streetwear label called Married to the Mob. Her designs have been rocked by a plethora of celebrities, including Cara Delevingne.
Leah is single at the beginning of the season but reveals that she is best friends with her daughter’s father, and they have dinner as a family several times a week.
Not only is Leah the newest housewife, but she is also the youngest. While other franchises regularly featured castmembers in their early 30s, Real Housewives of New York City has shied away from women under 40. Tinsley Mortimer, at 43, was the youngest housewife in the last couple of seasons.
Leah being younger brings in not only a new dynamic but also a new point of view. For example, her BFF is her tween daughter, so you better believe she is up to date on the latest hip stuff.
If life gives you lemons
Leah got the money to start her clothing brand by suing the NYPD. In 2002 Leah had an altercation with a police officer, which resulted in said officer throwing her on the ground, face-first into a metal grate.
Leah got her two front teeth knocked out, but instead of slinking away in shame, she filed a lawsuit, got $75,000, and put it towards her business endeavor. If she can deal that way with the NYPD, just imagine what the girl can do on a weekend trip to the Berkshires, if pressed.
Gasp, she has tattoos
Whether you think tattoos are cool, or like Dorinda, you think they signal a person who might kidnap you – there is no denying that this is a new look for the show.
Leah has a self-proclaimed “tramp stamp” on her lower back, and her knuckles are adorned with letter tattoos. If nothing else, I enjoy the perpetual shock Leah’s appearance gives Dorinda.
Some of the ladies referred to Leah as rough around the edges. And I think those edges are exactly what the cast needs to shimmy them out of their Hamptons-induced stuffiness.
No punches pulled
Leah is no stranger to the spotlight and is not afraid to make her opinions heard. She made headlines in 2017 when she revealed an unpleasant texting experience with SNL’s Michael Che. The two matched on a dating app, but things went south quickly.
According to Leah, Michael texted her some messages that she deemed rude. She was having none of that and decided to blast him on her podcast.
What do we learn from this? She is not afraid to call people out by name on a public forum. If that’s not a prime housewife quality, I don’t know what is!
The newest cast addition is sure to bring some fresh air and potential to the well-established franchise, and I am beyond excited to see what the rest of the diamond-encrusted season will bring.
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Bravo.More: Leah McSweeney, The Real Housewives of New York