New Real Housewives of New York star Leah McSweeney wasted zero time. The New York native opened up right away about her sex life during that boxing workout with Tinsley Mortimer. She came out swinging (figuratively) at the first all-cast event when Dorinda Medley came for Tinsley. Beyond holding her own with her seasoned co-stars, Leah immediately made herself vulnerable with her unabashed honesty about her past.
During the second episode of season 12, Leah told her fellow Housewives, “Right after high school, I went to rehab for three months.” After rehab, Leah’s parents told her not to come home. Instead, they sent her to a halfway house. In one of her confessional interviews, Leah recalled that her mom told her “we can’t have you in the house anymore because you’re disrupting your brother and sister’s life.” Years later, she gives her mother credit for saving her life. Even so, the two of them are still navigating their relationship. Leah’s mom, Bunny McSweeney, was very upset when Leah informed her that she had a drink for the first time in nine years. While many viewers enjoyed Leah’s topless tiki torch throwing at Ramona Singer’s Hampton’s house, Bunny was upset without even seeing the footage. When Leah admitted to drinking again, her mom ignored Leah’s texts, leaving Leah’s father to confirm that she didn’t want to talk to Leah. Leah’s complex relationship with her mom is going to be a major part of her story line this season. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Leah discussed her expulsion from an all-girls New York City high school in an April interview with The Cut. The new Housewife described the incident as “total bullsh*t.” she also alluded to a “traumatic” incident that happened when she moved to Connecticut, which leads to a “come to Jesus moment” with her mom at some point this season. Leah reflected on their struggles in a 2018 Instagram caption, writing “Sorry for the teen years. Thanks for never giving up.“
In a March 2020 interview with New York Post, Leah shared that her mom works as a social worker and a therapist. In an April Instagram post, Leah announced that she and her sister, Sarah McSweeney, have organized weekly support groups led by Bunny that people can attend via zoom during the coronavirus pandemic.
Leah discussed her struggles following her Bipolar II diagnosis in a piece that she wrote for HYPEBAE in 2016. She revealed, “My doctor kept upping my dosage thinking it would help. At that point, I seriously started to feel like I losing my mind. I told my mom I needed to go to Bellevue Hospital, but instead she had me throw out the bottle of medication. She watched me fall apart and literally lose my life over seven months on it.” She followed her mom’s advice and eventually she found the medication that was best for her.
Recently, Complex published a profile on Leah’s clothing line Married to the Mob and her decision to join RHONY. She mentioned that there was an issue with her mom that she didn’t want to film, which she did end up filming. She didn’t touch on the specifics, but she doesn’t have any concerns about it impacting her line anyway. More likely than not, Leah’s candor will resonate with the viewers, which would probably help the brand.
In an interview with Bravo’s The Daily Dish before the season, Leah admitted, “My most difficult moment to film was surprisingly with my very own family my mom and dad. I met up with them for lunch. I had butterflies in my stomach. I think just because I can’t hide at all. They can tell what’s going on with me, so I felt very vulnerable.” Plus, the already-personal moment was filmed for Real Housewives of New York, putting Leah in an even more vulnerable position.
During her recent New York Post interview, Leah explained how her dynamic with Ramona related to her problems with Bunny. She began, “You have to understand, my mother is only a couple years older than her.” The ageless Housewife is 63 years old while Leah is 37. She reflected, “I was going through some issues with my mom during the show, which everybody will see, and I think that my emotional outburst with Ramona had to do with a lot of my own issues with my mom.” Leah also mentioned “Ramona took me under her wing. She took a liking to me right away, but she also, I felt, was hard on me and holds me to a different expectation.“
Ramona seemingly has a similar take on their dynamic. In March, Ramona told toofab, “With Leah, she gets a little out of control … and I end up being like her mother. I basically adopted her as my surrogate daughter and because of that I hold her to another standard, which is very high.“
While Leah and Bunny’s relationship hasn’t been easy, they are very close when it comes down to it. In honor of Mother’s Day 2019, Leah wrote on Instagram, “Thank you for helping me raise my daughter. Love you Mom.” In another Instagram post from 2016, Leah praised Bunny, writing “Strength, stubbornness, perseverance, perfectionist, independent, obsessive, forgiving, adventurous, beautiful…My mom Bunny.“
Real Housewives of New York fans have almost-instantly embraced Leah for being so open about her life. While it was tough for Leah to share so much about her background, particularly her relationship with her mom, there are probably a lot of viewers who can relate to their dynamic.
Next: Bethenny Frankel Believes RHONY Has Become ‘Uninspiring’ after Her Departure
Sources: The Daily Dish, The Cut, New York Post, HYPEBAE, Complex, toofab