Ranking the ten worst Real Housewives was surprisingly difficult for me as I discovered that many of the people I deemed “the worst” were actually cast members who I loved. After all, where would we be without these women? We’d be stuck with the bland Kandi Burresses and Jacqueline Lauritas of the world. Such is the paradox of the Housewives franchise. Sometimes the best people are truly the worst, and most certainly vice versa. So take this list for what it is: a jumping off-point for debate and discussion, or as it’s formally known in the Hartwell household: Drinks & Dialogue.
10. Lynne Curtin, Orange County
In many ways, I really like Lynne a lot. She seems sweet, she means well, and a lot of time she seems to be totally misunderstood. But then there are all the bad things: buying a $1,000 jacket after having been evicted from her home; refusing to discipline her teenage daughters despite them all but begging for it; encouraging insane plastic surgery and passing on body image issues to her kids, etc. etc. etc. There are times when I just want to shake this woman, but Lynne never seems to get it. She’s certainly not the worst of the worst, but she definitely can cause aggravation.
9. Vicki Gunvalson, Orange County
By the end of season four, crazy Vicki Gunvalson was truly out of control. She and Tamra had joined forces to become a two-headed demon monster of awfulness. Somewhere along the way, Vicki seemed to realize the errors of her ways, and in season five, she made an effort to be a better person. Thank goodness for that because had she stayed on her vile path, she would have been ranked much higher on this list. Nevertheless, Vicki certainly improved her image greatly, but she still has a long way to go. She still is incredibly judgmental, abrasive, hypocritical, and nasty. Oh, and CRAZY too. Of course, compared to most of her other cast-mates, she’s positively benign. Despite all this, there is something likable about Vicki, and in many ways, she has remained the star of the series year in and year out. That’s what’s difficult about her. Do we love her or hate her? Heck, I almost put her on the “Best” list. But ultimately she’s been too much of a Mean Girl to be with the Best.
8. LuAnn De Lesseps, New York City
This may sound strange, but I adore The Countess. I’ve always thought she was one of the best to watch, but my love, she is truly terrible this season. LuAnn has gone off her rocker, and whereas she once had this wonderful blueblood haughtiness about her, now she just seems ornery. I don’t care that she’s judgmental — that might be my favorite quality about her. It’s just that she’s become highfalutin and sanctimonious. Don’t get me wrong — every scene with her is priceless. But let’s be honest, can we really put her on a Best list when she romances a goblin and releases an utterly embarrassing song? She kind of is the worst — in the best possible way. Hmmm… maybe she deserves an honorary mention on the other list too. I’M TORN.
7. Jill Zarin, New York City
It sort of breaks my heart to include Jill Zarin on this list. For two seasons, I thought she was one of the best. True, she was overbearing, but she was smart, capable, empathetic, and ultimately a good person. Unfortunately, she went off the rails this season, and while at first I was sort of on her side with the whole Bethenny situation, Jill did one too many things that just felt deplorable. There was the nasty email to Kelly about Bethenny. There was her immature reaction to Bethenny’s engagement (and her father’s death). There was the way she wickedly lapped up gossip as if it were her lifeblood. Jill stopped becoming the Jill we love and instead turned into a monster. I do think there can be redemption for her though. She’s too smart to go down this path. And truth be told, she still has some of that charm we all loved in seasons past. Like the Countess, I do still love Jill, but for now though, she’s kind of a disaster.
6. Teresa Giudice, New Jersey
This one. Ugh. Okay, so far on this list, I’ve included women who are kind of awful but I secretly love. Teresa I don’t love. She’s pretty awful in and of herself. The word “tacky” doesn’t even do her justice. I have no doubt that she’s very sweet and nice and kind, and all evidence points to her being a loving mother and wife and friend. But my goodness. What she does to her children! The pageants, the clothes, the lavish birthdays… It’s no wonder they’re totally out of control. And let’s not overlook her frequently idiotic comments. Nor should we overlook the way she let her husband off the hook for calling their daughter UGLY. Plus, I don’t know if this is just me, but I was a bit perturbed by the way she immediately turned on Danielle in season one when The Book came out. I can understand the Manzos; they never liked her. But Teresa was supposed to be her friend. What the hey?
5. Tamra Barney, Orange County
Housewives come younger, but they don’t come much bitchier. The self-proclaimed HOT housewife, Tamra is one of the more awful people on reality TV. She’s increasingly catty, generally inane, and totally materialistic. As much as she states that she hates drama, she’s frequently at the heart of it, and like Vicki, she was absolutely intolerable at the end of season four. The fifth season, however, brought not necessarily redemption for Tamra but instead some sympathy. With her marriage and financial situation crumbling before our eyes, we saw a more vulnerable side to her, and while she was still fairly terrible, at least she was interesting. Thanks to her wretched husband Simon, we actually felt bad for Tamra. She has a ways to go before she can ever be lovable, but hey, at least she’ll always be fascinating. And major bonus points for the way she stuck it to Simon in the end.
4. Alexis Bellino, Orange County
And then we have Alexis. The First Lady of vapid small talk, Alexis is just insufferable. She’s not really mean, per se. She’s just prickly and without substance. She makes my skin crawl in the worst possible way. I don’t know if its her convenient religiousness, her devotion to her boor husband, or the nagging sense that she never really thinks for herself, but everything about her seems to be wrong. I’m willing to overlook the fact that she has two nannies for three kids, but I’m not sure I can be so lenient about her penchant for starting up with random women she perceives to be hitting on her husband (as if that would happen). Plus, let’s not overlook her philosophy that she must look as good as possible or risk losing her man. Not the healthiest outlook there is. And, as long as I’m harping, I hate her fashion sense. There. I said it.
3. Kim Zolciak, Atlanta
Kim Zolciak is a true piece of work. She is awful in so many ways, and that’s kind of what makes her great. She’s just this grotesque vision of what is wrong with America. When she’s not smoking ten packs an hour or swilling chardonnay in her car, she’s stuffing her kids with fast food and falling back in love with a married man, all because he buys her fancy gifts, which she justifies as tokens of love. In the midst of it all, she’s misspelling the word “cat” (“K-A-T”), enduring fake cancer scares, cringing at the sight of a mortar and pestle, and stuffing herself into clothes so tight, it makes me wonder if she really did get implants or if perhaps all the blood in her body has merely been forced into her heaving bosom. Let’s not forget the makeup Spackled on her face, her ridiculous (yet wonderful) dance single, and the fact that she apparently is a pathological liar. I mean, have we ever seen a greater mess? She’s a trainwreck, and in many ways, that makes her one of the best Housewives ever. But only because she’s one of the worst.
2. Danielle Staub, New Jersey
There are some awful Housewives, but none are perhaps as deranged and psychotic as Danielle. Who knows about her checkered past. I almost don’t care about that. What’s really at issue here is that this woman is obsessed with both being accepted by the Manzos and the world at large. True, she might say she doesn’t care, but she most certainly does. Why else would she go out of the way to drive all around NJ to potentially crash their party? Why else would she happily invite them to her daughter’s celebration luncheon? And why else would she bring an entourage to the Brownstone? She’s got a major chip on her shoulder, and while yes, I do believe she’s faced an uphill battle most of her life, it’s hard to imagine that she didn’t bring most of it about herself. Danielle is abrasive and overbearing, and if anyone’s read her blogs on Bravo, she’s totally vicious, happy to hit below the belt if she needs to. The sad thing is that without her, The Real Housewives of New Jersey would be unwatchable. Go figure.
1. Kelly Killoren Bensimon, New York City
For the first half of season two, Kelly Bensimon just sort of ambled about with no personality. She barely seemed to say anything, and quite frankly, it looked like Bravo had struck out with their latest bit of casting. And then Kelly fought with Bethenny, and we saw a whole new side of her. The woman was delusional, crazy, narcissistic, and totally awful. More awful than we could ever imagine. Over the next few episodes and through the reunion, she just got worse and worse, making less sense as she went along. Strangely enough, she seemed to be rather well-adjusted in season three, and at times, she was even likable, but again, we saw the brewing storm down in the Caribbean when an entire episode and a half was dedicated to her craziness. Never before has so much psychosis been on display with the Housewives, and in some ways it feels cruel to label Kelly as the #1 worst housewife when she perhaps suffers from serious mental problems. But let’s be honest. She really is the worst. Isn’t she?
What do you think? And be sure to check out the Ten Best Real Housewives here.