Despite the RHONY casting shakeup that gave us an excellent fourteenth season, we had not seen the last of Leah McSweeney.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the ups and downs of her popularity, Bravo invited her back for Ultimate Girls Trip.
But Leah did not have a good time. And she says that it went beyond the scope of normal reality TV drama.
She has filed a legal complaint, citing discrimination. And she’s not the only Housewife who’s speaking out.
This month, Vanity Fair did a deep dive into what former Housewives are saying about Bravo. A lot of it is not flattering.
One example is that RHONY alum Leah McSweeney filed a discrimination complaint against Bravo with the EEOC.
This was not about The Real Housewives of New York City. The March 10 filing was about Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trim, and accused the network of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Leah opened up in the investigative piece by detailing the epic highs and lows of her time as a Bravolebrity.
For example, she relapsed during Season 12. And, just one year later, her trip to the Hamptons with the other ladies meant that she missed her grandmother’s death.
To be clear, a production source says that the show offered Leah any kind of help that she needed … Leah got the impression that her job could be on the line if she accepted it.
“It hurt so bad that I was not able to grieve,” Leah expressed.
She continued: “That I had people not showing me any kind of compassion or humanity regarding it.”
Leah’s suffering had real consequences. Following a major depressive episode, she ended up spending eight days in a psychiatric hospital.
Additionally, Leah says that Lisa Shannon, production company Shed’s senior vice president of programming and development, gave her a troubling message.
According to Leah, the SVP told her that viewers “kind of didn’t like” Leah anymore. That’s true!
Leah says that Lisa Shannon then suggested that “there was such a stark difference between me when I was drinking versus this season.” Some might interpret that as a thinly veiled suggestion to become a sloppy drunk again, for ratings.
Leah ended up quitting RHONY over the phone.
However, she did sign on for Ultimate Girls Trip — and the $250,000 payday that came with it. Unfortunately, another aspect of that trip were constant reminders that she could, or even “should,” be drinking.
Marysol Patton acknowledged that she texted Leah before the Thailand trip, writing: “I wish you were still drinking. That’s all.”
Heather Gay openly expressed her desire to “get Leah drunk” during that time.
Gizelle Bryant insensitively asked Leah: “Like, if you drank this week, would that be a big deal?” Yes. For Leah, it absolutely would.
Unaired footage showed Leah expressing how she felt that she hadn’t been able to safely leave the Hamptons. It’s clear why UGT didn’t include that video.
In a confessional recording, Heather said that she understood Leah’s point of view.
“They wouldn’t even have to say a word,” Heather explained. “I would be afraid to leave and go to my grandmother’s funeral. I would not do it.”
Just for the record, Bravo, Shed Media, and Warner Bros. Discovery (the parent company of Shed Media) have all denied the discrimination claim.
They emphasize that they made efforts to accommodate her for what they call her “alleged disabilities.” (I know that legalize is obligatory, but what exactly is “alleged” about Leah’s addiction struggles?)
Bravo then shaded that Leah had “spent much of RHONY Season 12 discussing (and sometimes even mocking)” the topic of addiction.
Wait, are they talking about when she relapsed? Anyway, they say that they offered her support in multiple ways. Leah says that she feels that they “reneged on” the offers, or that some were not “offered in good faith.”