Erin Lichy’s 6,500 square foot Sag Harbor house, where the other women visit and exhibit terribly ungracious manners, is all white and cream, but she refers to it during a tour as a “great place to trip in.” It is clearly not. The first place I ever tripped was a ramshackle Victorian house in upstate New York covered in clashing floral wallpapers, the plants and bugs fluttering and breathing all night. That was a good place to trip. What would one even see in Erin’s white mansion, or Jessel Taank’s canvas couch-filled Chelsea pad, or Sai de Silva’s minimal Brooklyn brownstone? Don’t get me wrong: These are all well-appointed, expensive, comfortable, clean homes. But I think if I was to consume psychedelic drugs in a single one of them, the lack of color, brightness, and life would make me pluck my eyes straight from my skull, staining the taupe Parachute linen bedding.
Previous editions of RHONY featured messier people with messier places. Their houses told viewers about their personalities and histories: the dilapidated 63rd Street townhouse that Sonja Morgan spent nearly a decade trying to sell; Dorinda Medley’s 100-year-old Blue Stone Manor in the Berkshires, where Luann smoked, Ramona clogged a toilet, and everyone had numerous indefensible drunken breakdowns; Carole Radziwill’s death trap of a staircase; Leah McSweeney’s more realistic downtown digs. Say what you will about previous casts, but their homes felt like real places, as opposed to apartments staged for potential buyers (which, to be fair, is Lichy’s actual job).
But besides the feast that is the Jenna Lyons palace, the show is otherwise suffering from a famine of beauty. Sure, Ubah Hassan’s home features charming objects she’s collected while working around the world as a model, and Brynn Whitfield’s (tagline: “I love to laugh, but make me mad, and I’ll date your dad”) West Village apartment, unseen on TV but photographed for Domino, has a slightly more human touch, as in it looks like a room at Soho House rather than a bland vacation rental. But otherwise, the places are entirely devoid of personality, all seas of taupe, cream, brown, white, and gray. The aesthetic is proudly Airbnb-core—it is difficult to imagine any people, let alone the cast members’ rambunctious small children, inhabiting these spaces. The only color comes from giant abstract paintings that look like they were purchased at those random galleries on West Broadway that seem like money laundering operations; one of my notes says “garish stripey painting, vaginal.”