‘RHONY’: Bethenny Frankel’s ‘Final Act as a Housewife’ Was Helping Cast Leah McSweeney

Leah McSweeney is the new housewife on season 12 of The Real Housewives of New York. Viewers were able to get a peek at the new cast addition after the trailer was released. In the preview, McSweeney is seen saying that the ladies are “hot messes.” The Married to the Mob fashion line founder was cast on the reality series thanks to her connection with Bethenny Frankel.

Bethenny Frankel and Leah McSweeney
Bethenny Frankel and Leah McSweeney | John Lamparski/Getty Images / Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Frankel’s “final act as a Housewife” (as Andy Cohen said when Adrienne Maloof skipped the RHOBH reunion) was linking McSweeney to Bravo producers who ultimately cast her.

“Leah was in talks to join the show before anyone knew that Bethenny was leaving. Bethenny was the one who made the introduction to casting. She is by no means is a ‘replacement’ for Bethenny like everyone is saying she is because she was never meant to be on the show without Bethenny,” a source told People.

This tidbit implies that Frankel was being considered for season 12 of RHONY, but ultimately decided to leave to focus on her producing deal. Another source told the publication that McSweeney was supposed to come in as a friend of Frankel’s.

“The plan was to bring Leah on with Bethenny and introduce her to the group as Bethenny’s friend,” another insider revealed. “But with Bethenny out and Leah already cast, they were stuck and needed to find a reason for Leah to make sense on the show.”

The storyline for season 12 is that McSweeney is Tinsley Mortimer’s friend because the former didn’t really know anyone on the cast.

“Leah is a great addition to the group, and really holds her own. But she didn’t know anyone before she started because Bethenny was supposed to be there with her, guiding her through,” the source added.

Why did Bethenny Frankel quit ‘RHONY’?

Just ahead of the beginning of filming for RHONY season 12, Frankel dropped the bombshell that she was leaving the series.

“I have decided to leave the ‘Housewives’ franchise to explore my next chapter,” Frankel said in a statement to Variety back in August 2019. “It’s time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women. With the changes in modern culture, I want to highlight the strength, confidence and unstoppable power that women have.”

With Frankel moving on from RHONY, the cast of the NYC-based show is going to most definitely change its dynamic. Luann de Lesseps said that the ensemble was relieved when the Skinny Girl founder decided to leave.

“I think the whole cast is relieved, in a way, and it also leaves breathing room for other women to shine and show their personalities because a lot was Bethenny coming in and kind of stealing the show,” De Lesseps said in an interview on SiriusXM. “But guess what, she can’t steal our show. This season is amazing and I can’t wait for everyone to see the new season.”

RHONY Season 12 premieres on April 2 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.