The Real Housewives of New York City returns to Bravo on Tuesday night, bringing with it the latest episode in the sprawling saga of rich ladies (and their awful husbands and generally harmless children) who like to blow out their petty squabbles to epic proportions. And thank God they do it.
Across multiple seasons and six iterations, sixty-two women have introduced themselves to us with a pithy, incomprehensible introductory line. Naturally, we decided to rank them, according to our proprietary and secret formula that prizes bearability, watchability, and how well they've come to define our concept of Real Housewife.
NOTE: We don't count The Real Housewives of D.C for the purposes of this list, because it's an embarrassment that should've never happened.
62. Kimberly Bryant (OC, Season 1): Kimberly was an original housewife, and actually had a cancer scare during her season. Last we heard was that she and her family have moved to Chicago, a city where Andy Cohen has yet to set up shop.
61. Ana Quincoces (MIA, Season 2, mildly recurring): Ana (right) is an angry lawyer. She reminded us of this a lot. This is probably the only interesting facet about her.
60. Lydia McLaughlin (OC, Season 8): There was something deeply satisfying in the way that she went toe-to-toe with Slade (and Gretchen), and watching him try and explain that "eat a cheeseburger" was actually a compliment. Lydia, we will miss you.
59. DeShawn Snow (ATL, Season 1): It's almost certain that DeShawn did something on the first season of Real Housewives of Atlanta, it's just that no one alive can say what that was. She was maybe married to a football player? Maybe?
58. Peggy Tanous (OC, Season 6): For some reason, Bravo decided they wanted to find other women that Jim Bellino (husband of Alexis) dated. Little did they know they'd have to go spelunking with a lantern and a canary to find her. Peggy (right) was a waste of a perfectly good canary.
57. Quinn Fry (OC, Season 3): Real Housewives of Orange County must be the franchise with the most one-season flings. Quinn, who loved young men from the Inland Empire, was maybe the least memorable.
56/55. Cristy Rice/Larsa Pippen (MIA, Season 1): We're merging these two together because they just blur into one person—a person who is married to Scottie Pippen, crashes Lea Black's gala, is kinda mean to Marysol and is maybe brunette?
54. Cindy Barshop (NY, Season 4): The Empress of Quogue. Cindy's (right) claims to fame were that she was a vagina bedazzler by trade and that she kept inviting the girls out to her house on Long Island where nobody ever wanted to go.
53. Karent Sierra (MIA, Season 2): The fact that we are honoring Karent's name by spelling it the way she insists should be a small victory for the only dentist in America with a publicist.
52. Lisa Wu-Hartwell (ATL, Seasons 1-2): Lisa was easily the most likable of the Atlanta housewives in the first season. That didn't do much to make her interesting, but there's something to be said for making it out of the better part of two seasons of these shows with your reputation intact.
51. Joyce Giraud de Ohoven (BH, Season 4 - present): Former pageant queen Joyce (right) tried so hard to make a compelling storyline for herself this season, but the best she could do was tell the other ladies over lunch that her husband has a big penis.
50. Marysol Patton (MIA Season 1- present, recurring): Marysol's only contribution to the Housewives franchise is getting Mama Elsa on our television screens. For that we are grateful, but not grateful enough to take her out of the boring group.
49. Lea Black (MIA, Season 1-present): Gala-organizer Lea likes to think she's the queen bee of Miami. Say that again slowly, "queen bee of Miami." Now laugh to yourself.
48. Tammy Knickerbocker (OC, Season 2-3): Tammy was the Eeyore of the OC Housewives. It just seemed like she was sad (a lot of her story lines revolved around her trying to be a good mom) and didn't want to be there ... we think? It's hard to remember Tammy's legacy, which might good for her.
47. Jacqueline Laurita (NJ, Seasons 1-5): Every drop of drama in Jacqueline's (right) life (which did not include a stint as a Vegas stripper, contrary to rumor) was transferred at birth to her daughter Ashlee. Jacqueline even managed to find a boring Manzo to marry, which is impressive.
46. Porsha Williams (ATL, Seasons 5-present): You have to feel bad for Porsha, since she was most likely cast purely so that we at home could watch what was certainly going to be the dissolution of her marriage to Kordell Stewart. Along the way, she had a feud with Kenya that had some moments ("Bye, ashy!" was a highlight), but once she got divorced, she lost a lot of her value.
45. Jo de la Rosa (OC Season 1-2): Jo was one of the first housewives, supposedly the hot, young, sexy housewife who partied. That never really came to fruition because she was dating the very-controlling and un-sexy Slade. Trying to cultivate something sexy while attached to Slade and not grossing out the audience is impossible. Sorry Jo, it wasn't all your fault (but a lot of it was).
44. Cynthia Bailey (ATL, Season 3-present): Give Cynthia (right) some credit. She recognized that she was on the chopping block (especially after Sheree was axed) and started beefing with the likes of Kenya, but she always seems to revert to dullness. Also, her attempts to be "funny" and have "attitude" in interviews are physically painful to watch.
43. Heather Thomson (NY, Seasons 5-present): The most interesting thing about Heather is 100% her decision to make "Holla!" her trademark in her intro blurbs. From the looks of season six, Heather is maybe determined to mix it up as much as possible. She's the most likely to jump categories if we re-rank in a year.
42. Taylor Armstrong (BH, Seasons 1-3): Taylor (right) is without question the most tragic Housewife story, and you probably saw it all play out in the tabloids. Her husband abused her for years and then committed suicide. She is now starring on Couples Therapy with her new fiancé.
41. Danielle Staub (NJ, Seasons 1-2): Danielle was the target of perhaps the most famous moment in Housewives history, when a book about her stripper/drug-crime (A Cop Without a Badge )past prompted Teresa Giudice to completely lose her mind. Danielle was not, however, a prostitution whore, according to Danielle.
40. Kim Richards (BH, Seasons 1-present): Kim (right), a former child star like her sister Kyle, is a self-professed alcoholic. She’s sober now, but watching her miss whole cast vacations puttering around with her fame-whoring, enabling boyfriend on Season 2 was sad and alarming. She fell off her chair while filming her commentary more than once. You can't keep Kim down, however — this season, she planned a “Coachella-themed” graduation party for her daughter, Kimberley, and it was perfect.
39. Lynne Curtin (OC Seasons 4-5): Lynne has the distinction of having a few of the realest storylines in the Housewives universe. Her daughters were terrible monsters who thought they were on The Hills and drank whenever they had a camera on them. Lynne and her husband Frank had real estate problems. And neither of them ever seemed to take responsibility for their many problems, which made for wince-inducing television.
Genuinely Terrible People
38. Teresa Giudice (NJ, Seasons 1-Sing Sing): Teresa Giudice (right) 1) doesn't get along with her brother, 2) spoils her several legitimately unpleasant young children, 3) makes food in her driveway, 4) reinforces all of the worst stereotypes of every subcategory to which she belongs. Oh, also she just copped to several counts of fraud and other crimes and will probably actually go to prison.
37. Alexis Bellino (OC, Seasons 5-8): What really makes Alexis a genuinely terrible person is that she has a habit of bending her religion to her advantage. When she's a crappy person and getting thrown out of Tamra's events, it's because she's imperfect and Jesus understands that people need Louis Vuitton and nose jobs. When other people are mean to her, they deserve the full wrath of mean Jesus. And Jim. Oh man. Jim.
36. Kenya Moore (ATL, Seasons 5-present): At least we can say Kenya (right) came to play. She began her first season on the show dragging along a trumped-up "boyfriend" in Walter, whom she tried to strong-arm into proposing to her, or so the legend goes. She them proceeded to manufacture drama with Cynthia, Porsha, and eventually Nene. She created a Hollywood Icons costume party for the sole purpose of making Porsha dress up as B.A.P.S. She tried to make "Gone with the Wind Fabulous" a thing. Unforgivable.
35. Lauri Peterson (OC Season 1-4, recurring): It's said that the being we know as Lauri came from the depraved will of men and their wretched potions: botox, peroxide, and silicon. While her history and origin is a dark mystery, we know from her seasons on the show that Lauri is a vindictive creature showing no loyalty to her spawn (Josh) or her previous allies (Vicki). She apparently witnessed Vicki in a semi-threesome and lived to tell the tale (over and over), a testament perhaps to her sturdiness and unnatural immortality.
34. Carlton Gebbia (BH, Season 4 - present): Carlton is the Housewives franchise one and only witch (that we know of). She named her children Destiny, Mysteri, and Cross, and if you so much as blink at that — as poor shiny-haired Joyce did — prepare to be cursed. This is a woman who believes she has the power to harness evil in the world and direct it at her enemies.
33. Alex McCord (NY, Seasons 1-4): In many ways, Alex (right) was the best, if what you're looking for in a Housewife is complete cluelessness and utter quotability. For four seasons, Alex operated out of her Brooklyn tenement, railing against class-based offenses, battling hives, calling LuAnn a "thug in a cocktail dress," and, in her best moment ever on the show, snapping at Jill, "You are in high school! And while you are in high school, I am in Brooklyn!"
32. Heather Dubrow (OC, Seasons 7-present): Heather was actually pretty wonderful in her first season when she would battle with Alexis and her sloppy friends. Since then, she's landed a few acting jobs and suddenly believes she's a big-time actress and acted the way she believes big-time actresses do (i.e. talking down to her fellow castmates, using fancy jargon, making sure we know she's above her fellow housewives, etc.). There's still hope first-season Heather will return.
31. Adriana de Moura (MIA, Seasons 1- present) Adriana is part chupacabra and cannot control the volume of her voice. She has adjusted to life in Miami wonderfully, even though she doesn't really seem to have quite grasped the idea that when you go to court and get a marriage license, you are married (regardless of whether or not you have a ceremony). She gets a pass, though, if only for her cognizance that both her and Joanna's husbands might be a tiny bit gay.
30. Sheree Whitfield (ATL, Seasons 1-4): Sheree (right) came out swinging when Atlanta first debuted, feuding with Nene and gifting the universe with "Who's gon' check me, boo?" in that fight with the party planner. But things slowly wound down for Sheree, as she became little more than a Nene punching bag, despite further attempted beefs with Kim and (ugh) Marlo. We'll always have "She by Sheree."
29. Joanna Krupa (MIA, Season 2-present): Joanna is perhaps the most beautiful housewife in all of the franchises. Like some Greek tragedy, Joanna's beauty is also a curse because her husband Roman doesn't seem to want to have sexual relations with her. There hasn't been an episode of Miami that Krupa hasn't reminded the audience of how much her husband doesn't want to have sex with her.
28. Aviva Drescher (NY, Seasons 5-present): Give Aviva some time, and she might become one of the elites, but only through sheer insanity. We only have her first season to go on, and while she started slowly, things really came together by the time the ladies traveled to St. Bart's. Aviva's expectation of a hero's welcome for flying to the island paradise led to the best fight of the season.
27. Kim Zolciak (ATL, Seasons 1-5): Kim teeters on the precipice of Genuinely Terrible People, but ultimately she's just a trashy, crude nightmare. She's a pile of wigs with a vanity single. She's a walking bankruptcy proceeding waiting to happen. She's mostly saved by the fact that Nene was often worse than she was, during their five-season feud.
26. Kyle Richards (BH, Seasons 1 - present): Kyle (right) has gorgeous hair and a hot husband (though he maybe cheated on her with a “YOUNGER WOMAN.”) She also outed her sister, Kim, as an alcoholic on TV. She is the definition of a beautiful nightmare.
25. Kelly Killoren Bensimon (NY, Seasons 2-4): Honestly, how did Kelly pack so much nuttery into three short seasons? It's tempting to just say "Scary Island" and leave it at that, but while Scary Island was the pinnacle of the televisual medium, there was much more to Kelly. Like her subsequent freakout the next year in Morocco. Or her summit with Bethenny at Brass Monkey. Her utter weirdness/imbalance flirted with Too Real status at times, and she probably got out (i.e. got fired) at the right time.
Fell from Grace
24. Adrienne Maloof (BH, Seasons 1- 3): The Maloof Hoof made the ultimate unforced error when she mandated in her contract that nobody talk about her having used a surrogate on the show. Brandi told everyone anyway (of course), and the drama resulted in an entire episode where everyone was yelling at each other but Bravo couldn't air what they were yelling about. After that, she was done.
23. Jeana Keough (OC, Seasons 1-5): Part of the beauty of having someone like Vicki Gunvalson on your show is that your warts are covered up by Vicki's woo-hooing and all-around awfulness. In the latter seasons, when Jeana went from cool mom to a shit-stirring doormat, not even Vicki could save her edit.
22. Jill Zarin (NY, Seasons 1-4): It's not that Jill was especially great in the first two seasons of the show. But she was an enjoyably clueless rich lady with no taste and a fabric store. Plus, it was kind of easy to root for her against Ramona because Ramona was a lunatic. But it was her friendship with Bethenny that most humanized Jill, and that's why throwing that friendship away in a fit of pique after Bethenny got a spinoff was the worst miscalculation in Housewives history. Jill never recovered.
21. Melissa Gorga (NJ, Seasons 3-present): There are few ways to endear yourself to an audience more effective than getting into a blistering fight with Teresa Giudice within your first ten minutes on-screen. And few ways better to squander that goodwill more effectively than to try and parlay it into a singing career, especially when your singing talent is mostly based on your great butt.
20. Caroline Manzo (NJ, Seasons 1-5): For at least three years, Caroline was the voice of reason on this show. Not in the "oh, here is this reality show's voice of reason" sense, but actually offering reasonable solutions to the ridiculous nonsense she was observing. But then something cracked, some last little porcelain statue on some last little shelf of Caroline Manzo's soul, and she couldn't deal any more. Or maybe it's that she got so empty-nesty that she moved to Hoboken to live near her ne'er-do-well sons. Either way, the magic was gone.
19. Brandi Glanville (BH, Seasons 3 - present): There was every reason to root for Brandi when she came on the show fresh from divorcing perfect-faced idiot Eddie Cibrian. But in recent months it seems she's maybe developed an alcohol problem? Somewhere in between her drunkenly searching for her lost dog ("CHIICAAAA") and making jokes about black people in swimming pools, we gave up on her.
18. Camille Grammer (BH, Seasons 1 - 3): Frasier's now ex-wife Camille (right) went from villain to cool girl to fired, leaving the series with approximately zero friends. She told it like it is during Season 2 and should have stopped there. Instead, she ended up doing dumb guest spots on Season 3 until everyone got sick of her. Get this woman a better agent!
17. Gretchen Rossi (OC, Seasons 4-8): We were rooting for Gretchen. We were all rooting for Gretchen. For a season there we kinda believed she sorta loved her old fiance Jeff. If she didn't it, we didn't really care because her rival housewives weren't exactly in positions to throw stones. And then the wheels came off. She started dating Slade, started doling out parenting advice, started handbag and "beyootay" businesses. Now that she's off the show, you wonder if Gretchen and Slade are sitting in a rented townhouse in Coto, watching that fourth season on loop, and plotting their next move.
Seemingly Actual Good People
16. Alexia Echevarria (MIA, Season 1- Present): Alexia is considered by some women on the Miami cast to be playing both sides. This, despite what Housewives will tell you, is actually a good thing. She seems fair, is a good mom to her son Frankie (who was in a terrible car accident), and is trying to be a better mom to her other son Peter. Alexia is fine, even though it she might not make for the most riveting television.
15. Lisa Hochstein (MIA, Season 2- Present): It stinks to be the "other" Lisa of the Housewives. From having a fancy (bordering on garish) mansion to staggering plastic surgery, everything Lisa H. does, Lisa Vanderpump does better. If Lisa H. were on a different show, maybe Atlanta or Orange County or even Vanderpump Rules, she could flourish. But there's nothing wrong with being tied for the least-reprehensible Miami housewife.
14. Carole Radziwill (NY, Seasons 5-present): In the wake of Bethenny Frankel's departure from the show, New York was sorely lacking a vox populi, and they found that in Carole (right). Of course, Carole lacks Bethenny's willingness to mix it up in a fight (at least so far), but she absolutely seems like someone you would die to watch the show with, from the couch at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport.
13. Dina Manzo (NJ, Seasons 1-2, 6-present): Dina is the pretty Manzo sister, which is not the most vibrant praise, but nonetheless true. She'll be returning to the show from an extended hiatus which she indicated was because she hoped to protect her young daughter's privacy. (But who ever knows!) Dina is one of those housewives that just obviously has it together, which makes her on-going friendship with Teresa Guidice completely baffling. It's like learning that your favorite aunt is a murderer.
12. Kandi Burruss (ATL, Seasons 2-present): The current season of Real Housewives of Atlanta is proof that being an actual good person doesn't prevent you from making for good Housewives TV. It really helps if you have a belligerent mother who decides she wants to All About Eve your reality career and a diminutive fiancé who nobody believes isn't in it for your money.
11. Kathy Wakile (NJ, Seasons 3-5): Kathy Wakile (right) should be on billboards promoting the state of New Jersey. Her husband is a jackass and her son is a dope, but she holds it together, despite sharing DNA with the Giudice clan. She wants to have a little dessert business, so she creates a little dessert business. She stands up for her openly gay sister Rosie. Kathy Wakile strode through the rubble of both New Jersey and New Jersey, and so she's not really on the show any more.
10. Yolanda Foster (BH, Season 3 - present): Sweet Yolanda has seemingly endless patience — for her kids, for her constantly-performing composer husband, and for Brandi. She teeters towards boring, but she's not afraid to stand up for herself. In her serene, Dutch model way, she makes Kyle look like an idiot without being mean about it.
9. Phaedra Parks (ATL, Seasons 3-present): "Is Phaedra for real?" might be one of the most important (and equally unknowable) questions in the Housewives universe. After all, she is a lawyer. Just because she was Bobby Brown's lawyer doesn't change the fact that she went to law school and passed the bar and all that. At the same time, she exists on a different planet than the rest of us, from her odd side-ventures (the mortuary biz!) to her faux-pious interviews. Just how in on the joke that is Phaedra Parks is Phaedra Parks?
8. Sonja Morgan (NY, Seasons 3-present): Well, we're entering year three of Sonja's nervous breakdown, and we somehow have still not entered Too Real territory. Mostly because of her unflappable attitude. Even when she goes super crazy, she generally ends up on the "boozy, lusty, loopy broad" side of the line, which is a good one. Just don't call her a double dealer or you'll see YOUR ASS where it ends up.
7. Ramona Singer (NY, Season 1-present): She's probably a good nudge away from officially burning out, but every time it looks like we've gotten to the bottom of Ramona's (right) well of bug-eyed crazy, she pulls out some more. Also worth noting, Ramona is equally adept at playing the villain as she is playing the hero, making her the Gene Hackman of Real Housewives.
6. Nene Leakes (ATL, Seasons 1-present): She's a crazy person, a disingenuous shit-stirrer, and she's mean. She probably fits into every category in this piece, except for "One-Season Wonder" and "Deathly Boring." But she has come to define the Housewives in a very real way, and honestly, watching her leap out of the reality sphere into The New Normal and subsequently come crashing back down has been pretty compelling.
5. LuAnn DeLesseps (NY, Seasons 1-5 + recurring): The best part of watching The Countess operate is knowing that she just can't help herself. She's one of the more image-aware Housewives of them all, and she really wants other people to like her. Which means that she must truly believe in all her etiquette nonsense, because she keeps harping on it even though she knows it makes her look bad. See also: speaking easily decipherable French when trying to cover up her tryst with the Johnny Depp pirate in St. Bart's.
4. Vicki Gunvalson (OC, Season 1-present): Vicki Gunvalson is the original housewife, and narrowly avoided the Terrible People tier only because of her endurance on the show. She also might be one of the few housewives that sees the show as an achievement. It says a lot about a person, a grandma no less, when they have the ability to irritate you into rooting for Slade and Gretchen.
3. Tamra Barney (OC, Seasons 3- present): Tamra has had some of the best one-liners out of the whole Housewives franchise (Jesus Jugs™), and she has a keen sense of which housewife to turn on each season. Watching her flip the script on Vicki after their ya-ya sisterhood season was particularly delicious. Tamra might win best supporting housewife because she seems to need drama and silliness from the other women to thrive (not something Tamra would want to admit). Her solo, mini-spinoff was kinda boring — again, being called boring isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world, but it might offend Tamra.
2. Bethenny Frankel (NY, Seasons 1-3): Even if The New Normal had run for six seasons on NBC, Bethenny would be the top success story of the Real Housewives franchise. As the most financially dubious of the fabulous circle of people cast for the New York show (well, maybe not more dubious than Alex), Bethenny leveraged her fame exactly right and ended up making an insane fortune for herself off of the Skinny Girl brand. She also managed to weather the traditional spinoff-backlash from the other women, coming out as the unquestioned winner in her feud with Jill. And she got out of the game in three seasons, the exact right number of seasons anyone should spend on these shows. Bethenny WON Housewives.
1. Lisa Vanderpump (BH, Seasons 1 - present): While things are going south for ol' Vanderpump in the current season — Pump Puppet Brandi finally turned on her — she's without a doubt one of the most successful housewives of all time. With her cheeky British accent and goofy little dog, she's managed to parlay Housewives into a Bravo spinoff about the sexy young people who work at her restaurant (Vanderpump Rules), a stint on Dancing with the Stars, and a wedding special for her spectacularly boring daughter.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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