I thought this was going to be a fun little weekend post. I completely forgot about how when you ask writers for a fun little weekend list, they are all going to write novellas. So to break this down a bit I am going to make a guys post and a gals post. Next up The Lady Cocotte’s list, and mine. You might need to make yourself a snack and an adult beverage for this.
When TT asked me to list my favorite Housewives, I had to think about it – what makes a HW a favorite to me? I realized that all of the ones that came to mind had several attributes: they were strong women who didn’t depend on someone else either financially or emotionally; they were self assured while being self deprecating; they took certain matters very seriously (like their business or their family) but didn’t define themselves by their TV show gig; they were biting without being malicious (this eliminated almost all of Atlanta, BTW); they were interesting without being needy about it; and, most of all, they were people I actually enjoy watching each week – not necessarily people I would want to be friends with or meet in real life (in fact, most of them I DON’T want to meet in real life, as I prefer the illusion of the personas on TV) but characters I enjoy investing time watching and talking about. Also, I’m taking this as the totality of their work, some women who started as a favorite and took a bitch turn have had their rankings decreased have fallen off the list, while others who may not have started strong but are generally interesting are included. Turn offs for me include smart women who play dumb (dumb women who play dumb are just sad, but smart women who play dumb are infuriating), not appreciating the audience or thinking we are not intelligent (Tre), and women who are deliberately malicious, spiteful, and/or just plain mean. Not on the list? RHODs, because they are too new.
Carole Radziwill. (RHONY) Respected journalist who knows how to have fun, and dammit, has EARNED the right to have fun. She doesn’t need the show and that comes across in almost every scene – of all of the Housewives, she seems to me to be the one that is doing this as a lark, or for the stories she will be able to tell about them later, and, therefore, comes across as genuine. She also is a great foil for the craziness of her cast mates and is able to deflate the insanity around her by just letting it go on while deadpanning to the camera. It almost makes me wish for scene between her and Jill Zarin, because Jill’s endless need for attention would be such a great contrast to Carole’s nonplussedness. Almost. I don’t in any way wish to see more Jill Zarin on my screen.
Cat Ommanney. (RHODC) She was SO much more interesting that the rest of the cast, who seemed either vapid (hehehehe My daughter got into my closet with the thumb print lock to steal my clothes hehehehe) or evil (Salahis). She deserved better and I’d love to see more of her post-married life with her children.
LuAnn De Lesseps (RHONY) Remember when I said the totality of their appearances caused some to fall? LuAnn. Funny and entertaining in small doses, but lost points because she can’t play the game like LVP without being obvious. Pretension in small doses is entertaining (eggs a la francaise!), but hypocrisy isn’t (did you really think you could fool people about the pirate by speaking French?). Her attacks on Carole over Adam and calling him The Help almost made her fall off the list completely, but then I remembered the good times, so here she is.
Heather Thompson. (RHONY) She called Ramona out on her bullshit, which no one really ever did for a prolonged period . Bethenny seemed to realize she needed Ramona as a foil on the show while Heather, having no ties to the old cast, couldn’t care less. She had her business, her family (including her son’s struggles), and her own friends. Frankly, watching her NOT play THEIR game while, of course, always playing HER game (she learned from Sean Combs how to do that) was enjoyable.
Heather Dubrow. (RHOOC) Again, someone TT and I disagree on. I think she has the absolute right to be proud of her and her family’s accomplishments, even if she does sometimes wander into the pretentious zone now and again. She gets points for putting up with the rest of the RHOC I don’t get that bunch, especially Vicki (remember when I said I don’t like smart women who play dumb or women who obviously try to pull something off on the audience? Vicki and Ramona are prime offenders in this area). I’ve actually stopped myself once when I was doing a pretentious Heather thing (Literally, I said to someone “Sorry, honey, but this is not the kind of place they serve chips before a meal.” And then I laughed at this incredible stupid private joke I just had with myself and my dining companions thought I was pretentious AND crazy. But then I bought a round and tried my best to explain and all was forgiven.)
Kandi Burruss (RHOA) The woman has talent and isn’t afraid to work. Her country album didn’t work as well as she wanted? On to the next project. She’s sex positive in a way that isn’t skeevy and obviously works her ass off on any given project.
Sonja Morgan (RHONY) A “broad” in the best sense of the word. Literally plotted to make herself someone, did, lost it, but has great stories to tell while still trying to reclaim her glory days – all the while looking like she’s having a blast and not caring about anything, even when reality intervenes. So what if she has multiple theoretical businesses and dubious hangers-on, she’s compelling and, frankly, isn’t hurting anyone. Of all the HWs, she’s the one I would love to party with for one night.
Bethenny Frankel (RHONY) Driven and intelligent, we saw her rise and fall and rise again, all while modeling great business acumen and displaying a somewhat chaotic personal life that humanized her.
Caroline Manzo (RHONJ) The Jersey version of LVP who, again, is smart enough to know that proximity to ignunce will damage your image, and to get out when the opportunity presents itself. Plus, Ham!
Lisa Vanderpump. (RHOBH) Yep. I’m THAT guy. She’s smart, witty, and knows how to play the game. So she always makes sure that she looks well on screen – some call it manipulative, I say it’s strategic and a brilliant way to protect your assets. You say you were manipulated? I say you need to step back and see if you are gullible or were just trying to play the game and got played by a better player and are bitter. She IS an alligator, and I don’t think that’s bad at all.
Honorable Mention: Gina Liano from Melbourne. If we were allowed to go international, she would have edged out Carole and Cat, I think. An accomplished woman who wasn’t above poking fun at herself and her image, yet distinctly above the nonsense (psychic groupie chick and Pettilfeur) going on around her. She was pilloried by the other ladies for not buying their BS yet remained unbowed.
Jacques Peterson. Journalist and Blogger @arcadeyblog His list
I can never turn down an opportunity to obnoxiously voice my opinion on anything Housewives related, so when I saw that Tamara was doing a top ten Housewives of all time feature I just knew that I had to ride her coattails and get in on the action.
Before I get started, I’m going to be honest: I haven’t seen every single episode of every single Housewives city. I intend to get there one day and become a certified Housewives anthropologist, but until then I’m going to be fair and rank this list based solely on the seasons and cities I’ve seen. I’m also leaving out Housewives or cities that have only had one season, regardless of how flawless they may be (sorry Claudia Jordan and Erika Jayne, you divine perfect queens).
And one last thing. Kim richards would’ve easily made this top ten a year ago, but I had to let her go after the Target debacle. I could only blame her wrongdoings on Kyle for so long until I finally had to make like Taylor Armstrong and scream “ENOUGH!”
Phaedra Parks (RHOA) I believe that Phaedra is just as phony as Kenya claims and that she probably rehearses her reads before filming, but she’s still a master at throwing shade and the mother of the two cutest Housekids in history. Her charming eccentricity trumps her annoying habit of trying to hide her dirty laundry, and watching her remain calm in the face of a power drill-wielding Apollo is one of the greatest scenes in Housewives history. I’ll also never forget her legendary Kenya reads, like saying her dead dog Velvet was her “only friend,’ that she’s “nobody’s mama,” and of course the sperm donor diss.
Lydia Schiavello (RHOMel) After a public backlash for flirting with her stepson and rolling her eyes at Gina Liano’s cancer on season one, Lydia went full ‘Season two Camille’ for her sophomore stint on Melbourne. I was on the brink of replacing her with the loose-lipped Janet as my favourite Aussie Housewife until her incredible transformation into glamorous supervillain for season three. This impeccably dressed bimbo’s lack of self-awareness is reality TV gold. From hiding her Filipino maid’s passport to possibly sleeping with Shane Warne and attempting to out Chyka’s gay husband (an assassination attempt tragically blocked by legal), Lydia has everything it takes to become one of the franchise’s greatest villains.
Kandi Burruss (RHOA) What I love about Kandi is that she’s one of the closest things Housewives has to a genuinely good person. I admit that it was hard for me to accept that she wasn’t the perfect deity I believed her to be once I saw her stubborn and bossy side and her inability to tell the satanic Momma Joyce to go fuck herself, but at the end of the day I respect and admire her too much as a mother, businesswoman, artist, and human being to let a few flaws tarnish that.
Tamra Judge Barney (RHOOC) I’ve only seen the first four seasons of OC which is why I’ve left Vicki and the gang off this list, but I had to make an exception for Tamra for her sheer innovation. Having only just started OC this year, I’ve been stunned at how many Housewives tropes Tamra seems to be responsible for. She caught on to the game the second she rode into Orange County on that hideous Harley, figuring out that bitchiness and drama are a recipe for success before any other Housewife did. This calculating queen introduced Survivor-style tactics to the show like forming alliances and starting feuds to stay relevant, and she was the first Housewife to scheme a major on-camera take down of a co-star (naked wasted!!!), paving the way for master manipulators like Kenya Moore and Lisa Vanderpump. She’s the Richard Hatch of Housewives.
Luann de Lesseps (RHONY) I’m living for Luann’s never-ending descent from etiquette-obsessed Countess to the promiscuous free-spirited party animal she was born to be, but even in the early days when she was a pretentious uptight cunt I still had a soft spot for Luann. I mean, who am I to judge? I, too, can see myself living a life of elegance and flair if I’m ever lucky enough to marry a Count. Model, author, fashion designer, chart-topping singer – The Countess is everything and New York would not be the same without her. Remember the time she tried to get Ramona to diss her own wine on camera? ICONIC. I’m also continually impressed by the ridiculous storylines she fabricates to try and stay on the show, which have included pretending that she wanted to have another baby to moving in with Sonja for wacky adventures to now getting engaged to Ramona’s ex. How low can The Countess go? Only time will tell!
Kenya Moore (RHOA) Psychopathic sociopath or reality TV genius? Maybe both? Whatever Kenya is, she knows how to play the game and she plays it well. She joined the franchise late in the game and quickly clawed her way to the upper echelon of the Housewives. Nothing is off-limits if it means making good TV at somebody else’s expense, with Kenya having an almost uncanny ability to bring out the absolute worst in people. She gets her foes to lose control, then kicks back and enjoys the show (see Phaedra, Porscha, Vivica Fox…).. Her shade and insults are at times unrivaled, she’s ridiculously beautiful, and she can be so damn cute and fun when she isn’t decimating her castmates. She’s gone with the wind fabulous, and deliciously evil to boot.
Eileen Davidson (RHOBH) My childhood memories of seeing Eileen as Kristen on Days of Our Lives made me an instant fan, but a boring edit by Bravo and her decision to side with Kyle and Lisa Vanderpump (my two most detested Housewives) over Brandi and Kim made me an Eileen hater. Then came season six, and Eileen was suddenly the greatest addition to the franchise in years. Her class, her kindness, her terrible fashion, her constant need for resolution. Eileen puts the REAL in Real Housewives. She’s like a viewer, one of us, who was suddenly dropped into this bizarre world of the Housewives and confused by what she sees. Why are these women always fighting? Why do they waste so much money? Why is LVP such a cunt? She reached maximum perfection by refusing to let Vanderpump get away with her mean-spirited manipulations despite knowing that it’s career suicide for any Beverly Hills Housewife to do so. Now, and forever, I am #TeamBeast.
Danielle Staub (RHONJ) I don’t like Danielle Staub as a person. She’s awful and so deranged that I’m not sure if she should’ve ever been on TV in the first place. But she’s also the best (and the first) Housewives supervillain. I could not take my eyes off her during her two short but legendary seasons of New Jersey. She literally carried the entire show on her own, she was so evil that she got a castmate to quit mid-season, and she’s inadvertently responsible for the most famous Housewives moment of all-time (the table flip, which in itself launched Teresa’s entire career). In all the years since her departure nobody has come close to matching her. And in retrospect, what makes her more compelling is that she wasn’t entirely in the wrong at all times. She was right about Caroline being a judgemental cow and Teresa’s legal woes, and she was unfairly attacked by the other Housewives and their family members (there was no excuse for chasing her through that country club and snatching her weave!). She wasn’t with us with us for long, but as they say, the light that burns twice as bright lasts half as long.
Brandi Glanville (RHOBH) When I picture myself starring on a reality TV show, I like to envision myself as a Kenya; cunning, calculated, fabulous and completely in control. But the truth is I’d be a Brandi – a blunt realist who quickly descends into a slurring, unfiltered, emotionally unstable insult cannon. I know that I’m one of the few people still hitched to the Brandi bandwagon, but I can’t get off because I get it. Yes I would like ‘the old Brandi’ back, and yes she was a mess on season five, but I’d be fucking over it too if for four years my co-workers were pill-popping nutjobs (Taylor), vicious lackeys coming for my diamond (Faye, Dana Wilkey) image-obsessed famewhoring liars (Adrienne, LVP, Kyle), newbies too green to see the truth about the aforementioned image-obsessed famewhoring liars (Eileen and Lisa Rinna), and the most annoying woman on the planet (Joyce Giraud). Who wouldn’t be pissed being left with a klepto alcoholic and a bedridden Lyme disease sufferer as your only on-camera friends? Still, even at her worst, Brandi is better than most. Proof? They fired her and RHOBH aired its shittiest season ever!
Ramona Singer (RHONY) I honestly don’t know how Ramona became my favourite Housewife. It didn’t start that way, but at some point it just happened. I can’t explain it. She’s just… so amazing.