“Seinfeld” never did it. “Friends” never did. But thirteen seasons in and finally — The Real Housewives of New York has a black cast member.
And, I would argue, she’s a gem.
Consider the opening shots of last night’s premiere, which depicts COVID-era New York City, our countess-cum-cabaret-star Luann de Lesseps unimpressed. “I used to love to go to the supermarket,” she says, “but now that it’s a masked affair, I’m not into it.”
Contrast this with our introduction to new Housewife Eboni K. Williams, arriving in Central Park in a hoodie emblazoned with the names of the Central Park Five.
“It was very important upon introducing myself to this platform . . . that people know where I stand on the liberation of my people,” Williams told the Post recently. “Production tells me we’re shooting a scene in Central Park? I’m bringing the Central Park Five with me.”
That said, Williams knows her reality-TV terrain well, and she came to play. Here she is in the back of a chauffeured SUV, en route with castmate Leah to brunch at an Upper East Side townhouse, wondering how the dowager empresses of RHONY will respond to her.
Eboni: “Do you think they’ve met anyone like me before?”
Leah: “Like a black person?”
Eboni: “No — ”
Leah: “’Cause actually no, I don’t think they have.”
Now that is an honest conversation about race. Believe me, it gets better.
Hostess Sonja Morgan — who often and rightly compares herself to Edie Beale of “Grey Gardens” — goes out of her way to tell Eboni she is not a racist. She uses her small, somewhat dirty backyard pond as metaphor.
Sonja: “I’ll just try to be P.C. — if you notice, my fish are every color. I have black, white, yellow, black and orange . . .”
Eboni: “I see biracial fish, yeah . . . body positivity, you have larger fish — you have fish diversity, bitch.”
Eboni can hang, no easy feat. (Ask any number of one-and-done RHONY flameouts.)
Watching these women navigate how to behave with a Housewife who has looks, style, grit, verbosity, wit, at least one ex-husband — everything else these women have, except the same skin color — is going to be uncomfortable and hilarious.
It’s the kind of tension that exists in every sphere of life from corporations to the campus, everyone worried about using the right nomenclature or knowing the latest acronym or hiring diversity coaches while the threat of getting cancelled looms forever overhead.
Yet for our brave, clueless veterans of RHONY, the only cancellation these women have ever worried about is their yearly contract. Their obliviousness has always been the show’s comedic backbone. Now it might actually serve a purpose.
RHONY, set in the most diverse city in the world, has until now been thoroughly white in complexion and culture. Who can forget the moment Upper East Side diva Dorinda Medley — an avowed liberal and Hillary donor — tried to give her coat to a black man in a posh restaurant, a man who was actually a fellow diner?
Welcome back, RHONY. The revolution will be televised.