Luann De Lesseps & Sonja Morgan Are Back In Their Sweet Spot

The reality TV duo talk Welcome to Crappie Lake, the RHONY reboot, and the appeal of low-stakes drama.

'Welcome to Crappie Lake' stars Luann de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan.

Fifteen years after The Real Housewives of New York City debuted on Bravo, two of the show’s most eccentric former stars, Sonja Morgan and Luann de Lesseps, haven’t changed a bit. “My apologies! I’m in the middle of a doctor’s appointment,” Morgan confesses over Zoom from her gynecologist’s office in the Big Apple, while de Lesseps grapples with a mini work-related crisis. Together, they emit the endearing chaotic energy fans have come to expect from the reality TV duo.

Since 2008, de Lesseps, 58, and Morgan, 59, have not only delighted Bravo viewers with their one-liners, drama-filled personal lives, and comedic antics — the co-stars have also been busy enjoying success outside of The Real Housewives. De Lesseps, aka “The Countess,” has released a string of original songs, including “Money Can't Buy You Class” and “Feelin’ Jovani,” while her Countess Cabaret live show continues to thrive with additional dates scheduled across the U.S. later this year. Morgan is also no stranger to the stage, having recently embarked on her improv comedy tour Sonja in Your City, with more shows to come.

In their new series, Luann & Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake, the former RHONY staples swap New York City’s Upper East Side for Benton, Illinois, where they are tasked with sprucing up the town of 7,000 that has been hit hard by the impacts of the pandemic. In the first four episodes, the two went catfishing, helped build a children’s playground, and proved to Benton locals that they’re more than just a couple of “fancy New York gals.” But the pair’s visit was not without its challenges. “I never leave the house without a bunch of panties in my bag. You know, just in case,” Morgan says. “With that intense Illinois heat during filming, I was up to panty number three by 11 a.m.”

In spite of the town’s “sticky humidity” and their “dingy looking” accommodation, the duo were more than willing to get their hands dirty in the name of reality television. “We're entertainers,” de Lesseps says of their undeniable onscreen chemistry. Morgan adds: “Now to be able to do Crappie Lake together... it just feels like we’re back in our sweet spot.”

Since its premiere on July 9, fans have welcomed the fish-out-of-water series, citing the show’s comic relief as its main source of appeal in a post-Scandoval Bravo world. Crappie Lake is a very fun and heartfelt show,” de Lesseps says. “People need that right now.”

Below, Morgan and de Lesseps reflect on filming Crappie Lake, unpack the appeal of low-stakes reality TV, and share their thoughts on the recently rebooted Real Housewives of New York City.

Why do you think fans are embracing the fun, low-stakes drama of Crappie Lake?

Luann: Audiences just need a good laugh sometimes rather than intense drama all the time. Even on Housewives, some of the best moments came from the silliest drama.

Sonja: Like when we put the vibrator in the chicken, and Ramona got mad at us.

Luann: And in Miami, when everyone hated me because I went to go see my cabaret poster and didn’t bring back any truffle fries.

Would you return to Crappie Lake for Season 2? Where would you like to film it?

Luann: Yeah, I'm hoping we get a second season, and I think they're already kind of looking. [I would like to go] somewhere colder, like Alaska.

Sonja: I wouldn’t mind Minnesota, but I like the idea of Texas. Luann looks so good in a cowboy hat with her checkered Western shirt and cut-off shorts.

Which of your former RHONY cast mates would you have join you for Season 2?

Sonja: I don’t think any of our ex-cast mates could deal with the heat and getting their hands dirty. There’s just no way.

Luann: They definitely picked the right RHONY girls for this show. People love us together — fans are even comparing us to Laverne and Shirley.

Is there anyone you wouldn’t like to join?

Luann: Ramona Singer! Can you imagine? She’d be a nightmare asking people to carry her bags and complaining about the closet space. No way.

Sonja: Ramona would turn around and get back on the plane.

What are your favorite memories from the original RHONY?

Sonja: I loved when Luann fell in the bushes in Mexico in Season 9. That entire trip was hilarious. One day I woke up in somebody else’s bathing suit wondering why it was so small.

Luann: That trip was a highlight for me, too. I remember grabbing the margarita pitcher away from Sonja. It was hysterical.

What do you make of the RHONY reboot?

Luann: I was pleasantly surprised. They’re all beautiful and seem like they’re having fun. No crazy fights... yet [Laughs].

Sonja: I didn't get a chance to see it yet. A lot of fans are saying they’re not going to watch it, and others are saying the new girls are not the OGs.

Any advice for the new RHONY cast?

Sonja: Just keep it real. That's the best advice because you cannot fool the viewers. They know when you're not real friends. They know when you're bullsh*tters.

You both recently filmed Ultimate Girls Trip Season 5 — what can you tell us about it?

Sonja: We can’t give anything away, but all I’ll say is you can’t go wrong with the OG RHONY girls. There’s actually a science to it. If you put us girls in a luxury resort and give us a few drinks, we start behaving badly. But also grow together, like a family.

Which former RHONY ladies would you invite on any future Girls Trips?

Luann: Tinsley Mortimer and Aviva Drescher could be good. I think fans would want to see more of those OGs.

Sonja: Tinsley and Aviva would be great, and maybe Jules Wainstein.

Anyone you wouldn’t like to see join?

Luann: We could leave Carole Radziwill and Bethenny Frankel at home. All they do is talk negatively about Housewives. They don’t respect the hand that feeds them.

Sonja: That’s exactly how I feel.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.