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I love reality TV. I find it so amusing, and it’s nice to just have something thoughtless to do at the end of a long day of STEM classes and homework. Hands down, Bravo is my favorite network. I’ve been watching that channel every day for many, many years now. At this point, I watch every franchise that’s running! But the shows Bravo is best known for, by far, are the Real Housewives. I hold these shows very dear to my heart and could never pick an absolute favorite, but admittedly there are certain ones I’m considerably more excited about than others. So, in my knowledgeable and ever so humble opinion, here is my personal ranking of the Real Housewives franchises.

Real Housewives of New Jersey

Starting out strong with my personal favorite: New Jersey. I think one of the most special things about this franchise is that season 1 is probably the most iconic season. It’s often a little difficult for people to get into watching Real Housewives if they haven’t before, because they have to start from the beginning to understand most of the dynamic and the history between the women. The first season of most older franchises, like Orange County, New York City, and Atlanta are pretty dry and are meant more to introduce the women and their lifestyles rather than present drama (because they weren’t originally meant to be the same kind of reality shows they are today). But who could possibly be bored watching season 1 of New Jersey? Danielle trying to turn Jacqueline against her family, Cop Without a Badge, Ashley Laurita being bratty, and of course, the table flip! I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen the season 1 finale. Thinking about all the drama from the first season, it’s hard to believe it was only six episodes with a two-part reunion. Plus, season 2 only gets better. I love the family drama, the constant defense of actions by reminding us that they’re Italian, and all their crazy kids. New Jersey really has the most of everything I look for in a franchise, and with the amazing recent premiere of season 11, I don’t expect that to be changing any time soon.

Real Housewives of New York City

New York City is arguably the most classic, quotable, and iconic franchise. Most of my favorite moments were on New York City, including, but not limited to: Clip! … Be cool, don’t be all, like, uncool! … Mention it all! … Life is not a cabaret! … Turtle time! … Don’t touch the Morgan letters! … I made it nice! … I really think I could watch New York City all day without getting bored. More than any other franchise, this one makes me laugh harder than I ever knew I could. I love that the women on New York City aren’t afraid to be extremely open about their lives, because it makes the drama much more meaningful and also shows us that there are genuine friendships between them. I don’t even have any critiques, other than wanting Bethenny, Jill, and Tinsley back. I love Bethenny and was so sad to see her go, but I don’t think this most recent season suffered without her. Speaking of, I loved the addition of Leah and I definitely hope she’ll be staying on for the long run.

Real Housewives of Potomac

In my opinion, Potomac is the most underrated Real Housewives franchise. I never miss an episode, and if I do it’s just so I can watch the recording without commercials! I am on the edge of my seat for the entire episode, and they never disappoint. Especially for such a newer franchise, Potomac already feels like a classic. They’re currently at such a sweet spot, where the show is new enough where the women still feel comfortable being open about their lives and aren’t afraid to let their hair down, while also being established enough where they’re no longer trying to find their footing and are able to constantly deliver. I also think the casting is great, and there isn’t one of them who doesn’t contribute. Even Robyn has come out of her shell and put herself in the mix. I’ll be sad to see Monique go and to see how this affects the show, but I know the rest of the cast will be able to carry it without her.

Real Housewives of Atlanta

For me, Atlanta has always delivered. There is always more than enough drama, I can’t recall a dry season. I think what’s really great about Atlanta is each woman is so unique and contributes in their own way. Plus, friendships are changing around constantly. Other than some iconic duos like Nene and Cynthia or Porsha and Phaedra, I never know what to expect about how the alliances will shake up between seasons. Atlanta really has a great balance of fun moments and intense drama. I also love that the arguments are never just boring, sitting-at-the-dinner-table heated discussions. They are ALWAYS explosive, and they never go exactly how you’d expect them to. I do think the dynamics have changed a bit with Nene leaving, but I think it was for the best. She was bringing so much negativity with her and constantly refused to engage with the other women. I was worried about how this may affect the cast, but this current season is showing me that Atlanta is doing just fine.

Real Housewives of Orange County

Ah, the first franchise of them all. Similarly to Beverly Hills, Orange County is stuck in a MAJOR rut. I could hardly even sit through this season, it just felt like everyone was forced to be there and there are no genuine friendships anymore among the castmates. Orange county definitely needs a major casting change to bring it back where it was, and I think that is going to take a combination of previous cast members like Tamra and Heather, in addition to new women, who will be able to bring back the energy this show used to have. I think the loss of Vicky and Tamra contributed a lot to this downfall. It seemed necessary because Vicky was starting to see herself as bigger than the show, and Tamra wasn’t a great fit with this group of girls. But frankly, Tamra is better TV than the rest of them and I think we need her back. This franchise was at a major peak between seasons 7-11 and was actually one of my all-time favorites during that time, so I’d love to see it get back to where it once was.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

I feel like Beverly Hills is a bit stuck in a rut. I loved the first seasons, and they are absolute classics that I love watching. Unfortunately, I just don’t think the drama in the recent seasons has been up to par with what it used to be. The issue is it’s getting rather repetitive; every season the drama starts with Kyle overreacting to something, and then when someone (Denise, Dorit, Camille, anyone but Teddi) comes back at her, she turns her half of the cast against them and says she doesn’t think they’re “genuine”. There’s not much complexity with the drama on Beverly Hills anymore, and I miss how carefree they used to be. Also, unpopular opinion, I miss Lisa Vanderpump. The good news is I have high expectations for this upcoming season, with Teddi leaving and Kathy Hilton joining.

Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Okay, I loved the first season of Salt Lake City. The only reason it is so low on the list is that we’ve only gotten to see one season so far. The cast was great, I think everyone, even Mary and her closet,  brought a lot to the table in terms of drama and family life. It definitely brought more entertaining and legitimate drama than the most recent seasons of Beverly Hills and Orange County, but I don’t think I can put something so new above such classic franchises just yet. I do have confidence that in the next couple of years, Salt Lake City will be quickly climbing this list.

Real Housewives of Dallas

Dallas is such a fun franchise, and I almost feel a little sad putting it at the end of my list. One thing I really like about it is it’s usually pretty lighthearted, especially since it’s a newer franchise. But because of this, I don’t feel like Dallas always brings the same level of drama the more seasoned cities can. But I am loving the changes that have been made in the cast in the past couple of seasons, especially adding Tiffany Moon this season, so there’s potential for growth over time.

Making this list was really a Sophie’s Choice moment for me! I love all of these shows so much, and if I had been making the same list five years ago, it most certainly would look pretty different. Every season brings a new image to a franchise, whether it be through new cast members or an iconic storyline. But no matter what the franchise, I know that when I need a good laugh at the end of the day, I can always count on my Real Housewives.

Alessandra Amore

U Mass Amherst '23

Alessandra is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is majoring in Public Health and is on the Pre-Med track, and is in the accelerated MPH program in epidemiology. She also plays trumpet in the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. She loves baking, her cat, and a good episode of Gilmore Girls.
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