Luann’s legal issues, Tinsley’s frozen eggs, Bethenny’s sudden departure and more.
The Real Housewives of New York City is back. Arguably the best of the Bravo reality TV franchise, this city’s women never fail to deliver drama, humor and plenty of alcohol-fueled antics year after year as they have dealt with divorce, death, arrests, ill-fated trips to the Berkshires, never-ending feuds, the infamous scary island and a prosthetic leg tossed across the room over the course of 11 seasons.
Season 12 promises to be no different, as Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, Dorinda Medley, and Tinsley Mortimer return for more cabaret, love lost, delusional business ventures and concussions, as well as the introduction of newcomer Leah McSweeney. The Housewife joins the cast after Bethenny Frankel’s sudden departure from the show, promising to mix things up with her own history of baggage.
Ahead of the Real Housewives’ return, ET is looking back on all the key drama and recent headlines leading up to season 12 and what to look forward to with McSweeney’s addition.
Luann’s Legal Troubles
Luann’s encounters with the law have been pretty well-documented on and off the show.
Her issues first started in December 2017, when she was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, for disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest, among other charges. She eventually pled guilty in 2018 to battery, disorderly intoxication and trespassing and agreed to 50 hours of community service, attending AA and abstaining from drinking alcohol for one year. During that time, she also entered an alcohol treatment program.
In May 2019, Luann was accused of violating her probation and returned to rehab for a second time. By August, she revealed that she had completed her yearlong probation. “I’m happy to say after a difficult year… I’ve made it through!” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m humbled and grateful for this life lesson and ready to put the past behind me and move on with my life.”
While speaking with ET, she said that she’s “writing a book about the journey because, let me tell you, it wasn't an easy one… and I think there are lessons to be learned from it. And, you know, I'm still learning those lessons and plugging them into my life.” Later, in an interview with New York Magazine, Luann revealed that she now drinks “on occasion,” adding that “I’m not on probation anymore, so I can do what I want, you know?”
Questions about sobriety, however, haven’t just been limited to Luann. In recent seasons, Sonja’s drinking and alcohol-related injuries have resulted in her castmates rallying for her to slow down, especially on camera.
Jovani? Jovani! “Feelin’ Jovani!”
For Luann, ever since her arrest, life has been a cabaret. Shortly after getting back on her feet, she starred in the cabaret show #CountessandFriends, which she used to joke about her legal issues. “I self-deprecate about it because it was such a tragedy for me and so, now I try to make light of it because it happened,” she told ET about why the show has become so popular.
While her fans love it, it’s become a point of contention among her castmates, who have quickly grown tired of attending Luann’s shows and her never-ending ability to bring it up in conversation. It also sparked a season-long feud between Luann and Dorinda, after she cat-called Luann over her wearing Jovani dresses onstage. Of course, that fight became the inspiration for Luann’s latest single, “Feelin’ Jovani.”
Now, she’s planning to debut a new show called Marry, F, Kill, which she promises will be “more about sex, relationships and men, of course.”
Tinsley’s Frozen Eggs and Romance With Scott
Remember that time when Tinsley tried on a wedding dress and then started sobbing when her doctor called her to update her on the status of her frozen eggs? Dale certainly hasn’t.
In fact, no one has, since much of Tinsley’s storyline on the series has been about her desire to get married, have kids and reclaim her place on the social scene hierarchy. During that time she’s had an on-and-off relationship with Scott Kluth, with whom she was set up by former housewife Carole Radziwill.
Their relationship, however, has drawn some ire from the other ladies, including Bethenny, who believed Tinsley was setting women back by the way she acted around him, and Dorinda, who had suspicions about her lifestyle during “off time” from Scott. The latter has turned into a season-long feud that has spilled over into season 12.
While the ladies were filming, it was revealed that Tinsley got engaged to Scott. It was also widely speculated that she has stepped back from the series and hanging with the women in the last couple of months as she spent more time in Chicago with her fiance.
When it comes to what happens on the show, Luann says, “We'll see where that goes, you know? One makes a choice in life, and I don't know where she’s gonna land. I wish her the best and hope that she has a long, romantic, wedded blissful life.”
Bethenny’s Sudden Departure
OG Housewife Bethenny made a welcome return to the series in season 7 after a four-year absence from the show. Not only did she shake things up for the current roster of women on the show, she helped rejuvenate the long-running series and spark renewed interest among fans. And in the last few years, Bethenny’s deteriorating relationships with Carole and Luann, in particular, dominated the seasons. So it came as a surprise in August 2019 that she was not returning for season 12.
After months of speculation, Bethenny finally revealed in an interview with Variety that she left after “it no longer became this platform to promote my business, because I had done that,” and came to the conclusion that she was “out.” “I didn’t want to be there anymore. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I mean, honestly -- I just didn’t,” she continued, adding that the Housewives experience was “exhausting and emotional.”
While the other Housewives were initially stunned, they also were relieved by her departure. “Even though Bethenny is a very strong character, she’s well received by the viewers, by us, she is basically -- we all walk on eggshells around her,” Ramona admitted to ET. “We couldn’t really be ourselves. She’s such a big personality, she kind of took over the room.”
Luann echoed her sentiments, saying that she’s excited for viewers to see them all take up a little more space on the show with Bethenny out of the way. “Bethenny took a lot of the air in the room,” she said. “[Now], there's more room for them to express themselves.”
Leah’s “Rough” Arrival
When one Housewife leaves, she opens the door for another to enter. And that is Leah, a New York-born mother of 12-year-old Keir and creator of the streetwear brand Married to the Mob.
“You know, Bethenny has been replaced," Luann recently told ET, adding that she’s taken a “liking to” the newbie. “What's great about Leah is, it's not an easy group of women to walk into, and I think that she can hold her own. I think that people will like her, she's different. She's downtown, she's younger. She's a young mom.”
Luann added that Leah is “also vulnerable, and I think that’s very important because you feel like you get to know her, and we can all relate to her, which is really important for being a Housewife.”
While Luann is fond of Leah, she may not have the biggest fans in Ramona and Sonja, who says in season 12 that she is “rough on the edges.” Leah’s outspoken personality will certainly cause friction with the two longtime friends.
Another Housewife also means another mugshot for the ladies of NYC. In addition to Luann and Tinsley’s past arrests, Leah was arrested in 2002 after throwing an empty water bottle at a policeman.
The incident resulted in her suffering several injuries for which she sued and received a $75,000 settlement. Leah then used that money to found her streetwear brand and rebrand herself as a designer and entrepreneur.
Ramona’s Lyme Disease Revelation
In March, Ramona revealed that she has Lyme disease. When ET spoke to her about that diagnosis, she shared that back in mid-February, she thought she had come down with a sinus infection or the flu. In preparation for filming the new season of RHONY, she went to see a preventative internist who was recommended by one of her friends. At the time, she was diagnosed with a sinus infection and she says that although the antibiotics worked immediately to clear up the infection, a few days later, she started feeling run down again.
She went back to the doctor, who decided to run her blood work and finally learned in March that she had tested positive for Lyme disease. “I wanted to burst out crying but thankfully we caught it early enough,” said Ramona, who has since retreated to Boca Raton, Florida since the outbreak of the coronavirus. “My doctor thought... it would be very good for my health -- because I have a very low immune system -- to be right on the ocean.”
For a full recap of what happened last season and where the rest of the women’s lives have left off, check out ET’s exclusive first look at season 12.
The Real Housewives of New York City returns on Thursday, Apr. 2 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.