Bravo’s Real Housewives has entered its Real World era. After seasons were set in most major cities, the series has made a name for itself again with the franchise’s first reboot, reimagining The Real Housewives of New York City with a younger and far more diverse cast of apple owners a little bit different from before established format. But for a season 14 newcomer — former J.Crew wig and current LoveSeen businesswoman Jenna Lyons — the experience has proven less than pleasant compared to that of her five co-stars, in large part due to fact That She’s Not Only “RHONY” is the first lesbian, but the first introvert, to face the ratings-dictated demand to step into the mix and solidify her position in it through stirring and chitchat. So much gossip. As any introvert knows, this leads to an urgent need for alone time to recharge the internal battery that reality TV is designed to ignore.
She has never been shown how to be an outspoken or sociable person, so she tends to keep a low profile to avoid awkward situations.
As she herself said in both the first few episodes of the season and relevant press, it’s somehow easier to balance a high-profile career and a low-key personality when she’s working on her own schedule and terms. Having a contract to socialize on-demand while the cameras are rolling is something else entirely. The twist is that while she appears to be visibly in pain in many scenes, she not only represents the queer community — a well-known benefit of taking on the act at all — but other introverts around the world who watch her and thought, “I see you, Lyons. I feel your pain.”
As an introvert, I can easily put myself in Jenna’s shoes, even though I could never afford her. Having lived and worked in half a dozen cities, New York is still my favorite because it offers a unique opportunity to blend in with the crowd. Compared to other places I’ve invested time — Olympia, Washington, for example — the benefits, like more affordable housing and less crowded sidewalks, don’t outweigh the disincentives to introverts like tight-knit communities *shudder* and dealing with a smaller population, which often results in a greater chance that more people will engage with your business. In New York, you can recharge your social battery simply by taking the subway and then retiring to your apartment building, which is home to neighbors you—by mutual, peaceful agreement—you’ve never met.
Over the course of her career and what she has publicly shared about her social life, Jenna seems to have learned to take advantage of such an introverted city, but being part of “RHONY” makes it abundantly clear that “everyone has their own island.” “has a different meaning than the extroverted ladies she shares screen time with. For them, NYC is a place to be seen. For Jenna, it’s a place to hide in plain sight. As the season progresses, we see her struggle to maintain the walls that Bravo’s formatting is meant to tear down while struggling to navigate a part of town she can’t escape from, lest she become a… “different” is exposed and more gets attention to that fact when she is already uncomfortable with the amount she is receiving.
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Appears in a segment of “The view“In July, Jenna spoke about growing up with a mother who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome late in life, and described her often cold demeanor as a factor in her own difficulty making friends. To hear her description she was never given an answer. She is an example of how to be an open and sociable person and therefore tends to keep to herself to avoid awkward situations. When asked by a host if the experience on “RHONY” helped her learn how to make friends, she replied, “Not at all.”
“I thought I’d do better,” she continued. “I was at the helm of this very large company. I’ve worked with many people. But I realized that I paid all these people. It’s really different. Everyone listens and likes what you say when you speak.” I pay them. That was a completely different experience for me. I’m not good in groups.”
Jenna Lyons and Sai De Silva in The Real Housewives Of New York City (Charles Sykes/Bravo)In an essay for Oprah DailyShe mentions being diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called incontinentia pigmenti at the age of seven months is another contributing factor to her feeling the need to isolate, having spent much of her life being bullied for it become. She writes: “Some people have neurological damage. I have bald patches, scarred and hyperpigmented skin (especially behind my knees and under my arms), and almost no eyebrows or eyelashes. My teeth are perhaps the worst. By 10th grade I had veneers glued on, I only had about 13 very small, cone-shaped teeth and large gaps in the rest of my mouth.” which the actress should be modeled on Julianne Moore.
Just as the experience of living in New York is different for introverts than extroverts, so is the experience of seeing Jenna in season 14. I identify very much with her personality and her origins and can see her introverted “tells” like one would a poker player. Diverting attention by asking someone else questions, thereby directing the conversation elsewhere. Going to the toilet alone during a restaurant visit to quickly recharge your batteries. She often touches her face because she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. You would have to know it to recognize it. Watching Jenna suffer from a girl trip is like watching someone change a tire for the first time without guidance. Her castmates can’t relate to it, and the tension that this creates is one of the most compelling aspects of the season. It also lets introverts like me know that when she can obviously hate it all so much, she can still do it. We can too. Maybe not with such a large audience, but by and large.
is it weird Or is it charming?
In the first episode of the season, “New Era, New York,” Jenna visits fellow actress Jessel Taank at her house and, judging from my own experience of something like this—which an extrovert wouldn’t particularly think about as a commonplace, non-stressful event— she probably had to go home and take a long nap afterwards. While she’s there, she flips the switch that most introverts can flip for a certain amount of time to be social, because that’s what was required of her to get through smoothly. She meets Jessel’s husband. She jokes to give the impression that she is comfortable. And eventually she gets an Oreo out of a jar in the kitchen and chews on it while she talks. Like a crack in the matrix, that last part could have gone either way. is it weird Or is it charming? You see Jessel and her husband exchange looks about it and there is a moment of tension before they decide to laugh. Charming. It’s adorable. Oh good. Jenna is safe. But based on my experience, I can almost guarantee that she would later reflect on that moment and wonder if she had made a mistake. I’m worried about this. When she meets Jessel’s mother, she loses her footing again, feels a little too comforted in her warm embrace and visibly gets tears in her eyes when she leaves. “Your mother is great,” she says. She later admits that she wished she had had one like her.
Jessel Taank, Brynn Whitfield, Jenna Lyons and Sai De Silva in The Real Housewives Of New York City (Noam Galai/Bravo)“Most of the girls in this group think that Jenna Lyons is an absolute mystery,” says Erin Lichy, this season’s Jill Zarin-esque member, in a confessional related to Jenna hosting a meetup at her own apartment. “She does weird, quirky things. She doesn’t like dill, but she loves parsley. She loves olives, but not the black ones…she’s a bit odd.” All examples of being “quirky” in a way only a normal person above average can do. Someone who has never experienced anything really strange in their life.
Jenna’s struggles appear in every subsequent episode. In Episode 2, “Oh Christmas Tree”, she is heartbroken for escaping Erin’s vacation home in the Hamptons in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. The next morning she came back with coffee and the excuse that she had to get up early to make a call. I bet that night alone felt great. It also reminded me of a camping trip I took with friends about 10 years ago where I left our shared tent in the middle of the night to sleep in the car just to be alone. Again I get it. Other times, she’ll fiddle with her phone while others chatter, always being a little on the sidelines. Currently. But so far away.
As the season progresses it will be interesting to see what divisions are caused by themselves alone. Surely it’s difficult for them to get through this. But refreshing for introverts, or anyone really, in a vulnerable way we haven’t seen since the days of Carole Radziwill on the original RHONY. Given the close family ties to the Beales of Gray Gardens (she was once married to the son of Lee Radziwill, sister of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Jackie was a cousin of Edith Beale), one might have thought that “Housewives” would be his reached an eccentric climax with her. But after peeling the apple even further, we now have Jenna, our introverted queen. Let’s hope she sticks around for Season 15. And if she can’t bear to keep going, at least we have that one extreme crash course of just pretending to make it, not when it comes to business, but to measure ourselves professionally at eye level with sociable people and jaded get away but still chargeable. The definition of resilience for introverts.
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