Jenna Lyons Kicks Off Real Housewives of NYC Strong by Extolling Virtues of Gay Sex

Real Housewives of New York has returned after its long hiatus in its new form. Season 14 introduces us to six brand new Housewives who have never been a part of the franchise before, effectively rebooting the series and bringing a lot of its drama downtown and even into Brooklyn (not since the days of Alex “While You Are In High School, I Am In Brooklyn” McCord has a New York Housewife lived in Brooklyn). And the very first episode of this new endeavor has it all: chaotic talking heads, a gargantuan shoe closet, cheese-based drama, a sex game, and a brief celebration of gay sex.

As I’ve already reported on as the resident Bravo Dyke, queer fashion mogul Jenna Lyons is part of the cast this year. And while we don’t quite get any explicit Gay Drama yet, much of the second half of the episode takes place at her very fancy, fashion-filled apartment where we get a quick hit of what I’d call gay mischief. But before that, I simply have to comment on the fact that so far all of the drama in this franchise is food-based???? There are two fights in the premiere: one about a restaurant and one about cheese. The restaurant fight concerns an evening where one new Housewife, Erin Lichy, invites the other girls to a night at [REDACTED]. Two of the girls lie and say they’re busy and instead go to the restaurant Cipriani, which is eventually discovered by the Housewife they dipped out on (yes, “dip out” is now part of the Bravo lexicon, iykyk). Why am I redacting the name of the restaurant? BECAUSE BRAVO BLEEPED IT OUT EVERY TIME!!!! The women who lied to get out of the dinner read this restaurant for absolute filth, claiming at one point that it’s not 2004 and at another point it’s not 2012, suggesting this restaurant is out of style but out of style from WHICH DECADE we cannot be sure! I’m siding with Dame Brian Moylan, who theorizes they’re talking about Catch NYC, which would add a certain artistry to Brynn Whitfield’s line: “I wouldn’t be caught dead at [REDACTED].”

The other point of contention in the episode? That one Housewife was talking shit about another Housewife’s cheese plate, drama complicated by the fact that the shit-talking Housewife claims to have never even said this in the first place. Whether people are hating over cheese or lying over cheese, I actually fully embrace the mundanity of this argument! Cheese plate-based drama is, for once, relatable conflict to transpire on this show as it is not about, you know, private jets or Valentino blouses.

Jenna Lyons, in her gay mischief, hosts a party at her place where the theme is basically Cheese. She serves cheese fondue, and she serves a massive cheese plate — one that, ironically, I talked shit about! There were just so many uncut, unsliced HUNKS of cheese thrown upon that platter! Where is the effort! Where is the design? This is not the J.Crew of cheese plates I expected and craved! I do, however, covet her massively tall taper candles.

I also appreciate her commitment to gay mischief, quite literally embedding the source of tension in the group of women (which, again, is cheese) into the fabric of this girls night. She takes the mischief one step further by introducing a game, and there are only really two types of games played by Real Housewives: ones that are inherently geared toward stirring the pot or ones that are inherently geared toward sex. Real Housewives simply love to ask each other sexual questions! I think it’s devilishly chaotic (complimentary) of Jenna Lyons, a queer woman, to have a group of ostensibly straight women (crossing my fingers that at least one of them comes out as bisexual over the course of the season, because they all already seem quite drawn to Jenna, but they might just be turned on by her wealth) share their sexual preferences and desires. One of the questions on the conversation cards she distributes to each of them asks whether each of them identifies as more dominant or submissive in bed, and I wish she had just gone all out and asked ARE YOU A TOP OR A BOTTOM just to see how these women would malfunction in the face of the question.

Jenna bizarrely skirts around the question herself, saying something about how one does not necessarily need to choose when it comes to sex between women, which I guess can be true for some switches and more fluid folks but is not really true, Jenna! Just tell me if you’re a top, bottom, or switch, Jenna!!!!! My guess is top, though, based on what she says next which is that when it comes to lesbian sex, all parties finish every time. If she believes this to be true in her heart, she is a top, right? That is the delusional confidence of a top, right? It is true that queer sex is often less focused on who is getting off when and also does center the pleasure of both partners in a way that’s not intrinsic to heteronormative sex, but that also means that the orgasm does not have to be the be-all, end-all marker of good sex when it comes to queerness, and Jenna is sorta missing the point there. I agree with her; gay sex is great! Love it! I’m sure she has indeed had a more satisfying sex life than her fellow Housewives, which she again seems to believe with toply confidence. But is she saying EVERY time she has sex, BOTH partners come? EVERY time? EVERY TIME? I mean, good for her and for her lovers. But it just seems statistically unlikely.

Then again, I would not admit that to her fellow straight Housewives, so perhaps this is an issue of audience. She wants these straight women to believe queer sex is god-tier all the time always, and I support that platform. I just cannot figure out if she legitimately thinks lesbians never fake orgasms, because they do! Or maybe she just thinks they don’t with her.

So yeah, again, I don’t think she needs to come out and tell us she’s a top. It’s all right there in the text.


Programming Note: I won’t be covering every single episode of New RHONY, just the moments I’m compelled to write about because they feel sufficiently gay and/or sufficiently messy. Thanks for joining me on what is sure to be a wild ride!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 847 articles for us.

4 Comments

  1. I actually feel that the submissive/dominant info is more meaningful than top/bottom/switch, especially for straight women, but also for many queers who seem to conflate the two ideas!

  2. I hope there are more sufficiently gay or messy episodes, so I may read more of your recaps.

    I appreciate the cheese fight as a foodie and someone who occasionally wants normalcy.

    I do want to see aspirational stuff even if it doesn’t always make sense like Carrie living in a NYC apt AND affording great fashion on a writer’s salary. I guess what I’m really hoping for was an all queer, sophisticated Sex and the City vibe.

    P.S.
    I disagree on the cheese platter needing to be designer sliced. I prefer to personally cut my own cheese.

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