Real Housewives of New York Needs Eboni K. Williams, But Does It Deserve Her?

Illustration for article titled Real Housewives of New York Needs Eboni K. Williams, But Does It Deserve Her?
Image: Philip Faraone (Getty Images)

After a fraught season of Republican WASP antics and divisive debates over the tiki torches of the Charlottesville white supremacists, Real Housewives of New York has hired its first-ever Black Housewife, Eboni K. Williams. She joins longtime Real Housewives Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, and Sonja Morgan, as well as firebrand newcomer Leah McSweeney. It’s just too bad they didn’t fire Singer or the rest of them before her casting was announced, or this might have been better news!

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TMZ reports that Williams will begin filming immediately for Season 13, which is already in production. “NYC is filled with successful and dynamic Black women,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m excited to join this legendary franchise as the first Black housewife. Can’t wait to share a slice of life in this city that hasn’t been seen before.”

Williams is an attorney who has worked with Louisiana’s Secretary of State and Attorney General. Prior to her new gig as a Housewife, co-hosted Fox News Specialists, a WABC talk show, and was most recently a co-host on Diddy’s State of the Culture. Her long television track record, to say the least, is promising. In an exclusive interview with Essence announcing the casting, Williams said:

“This franchise historically has not had a Black lens and now it will for the first time in 13 years. I’m beyond. I’m thrilled. I’m honored. It is my great hope that my presence on this show will just do it justice. Do Black women justice. Do our culture justice. I can only hope to touch on the magic that are Black women.”

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That Williams is joining RHONY with such a clear mission is exciting, and she’s absolutely right: This show has never had a lens on Black people at all, which is shocking for a city like New York City, whose history and development is inextricably intertwined with Black political movements, art, music, writing, and fashion. Now, Williams will slot herself into a cast that has never seemed to care much about Black people, or people of color at all; for almost a decade now, the Real Housewives of New York has been heavily criticized for their classist comments about less wealthy, more racially diverse areas of the Big Apple; cast members like Ramona Singer or Dorinda Medley regularly proclaim that they avoid going to Brooklyn or south of 42nd Street. The cast, as far as I can remember, has never stepped foot in Harlem or Queens, and if they did, they certainly never made a habit of it. The last time any of them appeared in the Bronx, back in 2017, was with the express purpose to make fun of it, as sneering onlookers.

Historically the Real Housewives of New York has remained a blindingly white depiction of New York City’s most moneyed, and often conservative, group of women. Producers obviously shoulder some of this blame; after all, Bethenny Frankel has said she regularly gave Bravo the names of potential Black women for show. (And for now, we’ll take her word for it.) But on the show, where the Real Housewives have some agency to pick where and who and what to film, their choice to remain almost exclusively in the whitest social circles of the Upper East Side, or the Hamptons, was exactly that: a choice.

In her statement, Williams says she wants to “share a slice of life in this city that hasn’t been seen before.” It’s shocking, really, that in almost 13 seasons, there is such an overwhelming “slice” of New York City these women have never taken a bite out of. Hopefully Williams can change that.

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DISCUSSION

tsuyoikuma

after all, Bethenny Frankel has said she regularly gave Bravo the names of potential Black women for show”

And yet Bethany was the one member of the cast who continually dogged the only person of color to ever join the cast previously (Jules Wainstein). She just could not help herself but attack that woman at every turn and I really never saw anything that would have warranted that treatment. If Bethany was suggesting any POC’s names it can only be assumed that she was looking for her newest punching bag. Moral of the story: don’t trust anything Bethany says. 

I shudder to think of the racist shit that’s going to gush forth from Ramona and the non-countess’ mouth at Eboni (probably Sonja’s too, but it’s hard not write-off anything she does as simply being done because she’s a complete idiot), but hopefully this season will be the nail in the coffin for their careers because I’d be more than happy to never see/hear them again.