The Real Housewives is pretty much the MCU of reality television, with much better outfits. And finally, the “Avengers, assemble!” moment is here: This week, fans get to watch some of the longest-serving Housewives from across the franchise — Kyle Richards, Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, Kenya Moore, Cynthia Bailey, Teresa Giudice, and Melissa Gorga — on a cocktail-fueled trip to Turks and Caicos on the new Peacock series Ultimate Girls Trip. And it doesn’t stop there: Bravo is keeping fans fed with another mini-season premiering next year, in which we’ll get to watch Dorinda Medley attempt to “make it nice” for a set of former Housewives, including Jill Zarin, Tamra Judge, and Brandi Glanville, on a “girls’ trip” to her Berkshires mansion.
As fans fantasize (and argue) about future “all stars” lineups, one question looms large: Who is the “ultimate” Real Housewife? In Bravo’s huge web of main characters, villains, hilarious memes, shocking legal scandals, witty taglines, and age-old rivalries, which Housewife rises above the rest? To answer reality TV’s most pressing question, Vulture turned to some of the longest-serving cast members from across the franchise — because when it comes to iconic Housewives, it takes one to know one.
Shannon Storms Beador (The Real Housewives of Orange County)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Dorit Kemsley
Beverly Hills is definitely one of my favorite franchises, because I grew up in Bel Air and it’s just so much fun to watch. Dorit possesses all of the qualities of an ultimate Real Housewife: She brings style and elegance to the show, she is strong and not afraid to state her opinion — even if they may be taken the wrong way. She can also let loose, be silly, and have a lot of fun. Dorit clearly puts her family first and is an amazing wife and mother. I wish that I had that patience with my teenage daughters!
I loved when Dorit told Teddi that she would not drink her wine out of a Champagne glass because it was not proper etiquette. My mouth was wide open in horror, yet I thought it was amazing at the same time! I also love when Dorit arrives exponentially later than her castmates to events or all-cast events on trips. She’s always getting the glam perfect!
Luann de Lesseps (The Real Housewives of New York City)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Lisa Rinna
When you’re a Real Housewife, one season you could have a great season, and the next season somehow everyone hates you. The “ultimate” Housewife can endure whatever comes her way, dust off her knees, stand up, and keep on moving. I have admiration for that. Lisa Rinna passes all of these tests. What you see is what you get with her. She is who she is, love it or not love it. She doesn’t make excuses for it. She owns everything. In fact, the first thing that springs to mind when I think of her is, “Own it, baby!”
Lisa was in my video for “Feelin’ Jovani” and I’ve known her for years. If there’s one thing I’d want fans to know, it’s that she is a great mother and devoted to her family. I really admire couples like Lisa and Harry, who can make it through Housewives and still be going strong!
Kenya Moore (The Real Housewives of Atlanta)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Lisa Vanderpump
Beverly Hills is one of my favorite Housewives franchises: the lifestyle, the women, the beauty, and the opulence. When you think of the Real Housewives lifestyle, you think of Beverly Hills. To be an iconic Real Housewife, you have to be unique, unapologetic, funny, sassy, irreverent, bold, and rich. Lisa Vanderpump has all of the above. She has a really unique sense of humor, and honestly, she has a lot of class! One of my favorite LVP moments is when she kicked Kyle out — every time I see Kyle, I think: “Good-bye Kyle!” It’s so funny. And I love her tagline: “Throw me to the wolves and I shall return leading the pack.” I die!
Teresa Giudice (The Real Housewives of New Jersey)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Cynthia Bailey
Cynthia just has such good vibes. The best Real Housewives are authentic, real, and see people for who they are. That’s what Cynthia is — with her, what you see is what you get. If she has something to say, she’ll tell you. One moment of Cynthia’s that I loved was her “friendship contract.” She’s all about not stabbing her friends in the back and she’s big on loyalty — just like me. My favorite tagline of Cynthia’s is: “The only time that I look back is to see how far I’ve come.”
Kyle Richards (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Nene Leakes
An iconic Real Housewife is someone who is unfiltered, open, outspoken, opinionated, and honest. Nene Leakes is all of those things: She’s just so funny, quick, and never holds back! Atlanta is one of my favorite franchises and, over the years, Nene and I have become friends. She makes me laugh in person just as much as on the show. It’s always a good time with Nene!
Gizelle Bryant (The Real Housewives of Potomac)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Kyle Richards
Kyle brings so much to Housewives. In Beverly Hills, I feel like she is the central Housewife and has connections with everyone. She’s a little shady — not super-shady — but I feel like everyone feels like they can talk to her and they can confide in her. She may share their business, she may not. She may be a little messy and it’s fine — I like a little mess and I like a little shade! But in the end, she’s always able to try to maintain a friendship with everyone, and if not, she’s trying to fix it.
I have met Kyle in person. She is everything that I thought she would be, which is good, because you never want to meet somebody and they’re totally different after having watched them on TV. The last time I saw her it was at Watch What Happens Live! and she gave me such a big hug, and I got to meet Kathy Hilton! I love me some Kathy Hilton. Beverly Hills is one of my favorite franchises and they’ve stepped up their game lately. My favorite scenes with Kyle are when she’s with her daughters, when we can see her being a mom. And — I’m gonna say this — when we see her with Mauricio. I mean, come on … We love watching that!
Heather Gay (The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City)
Ultimate Real Housewife: Sonja Morgan
Sonja is my ultimate Real Housewife because she’s gone through a lot of personal crises on camera and she’s never hidden it, or not been willing to talk about it at a reunion or with the cast. She is willing to be vulnerable and be a good friend, be funny, laugh at herself, and stick up for herself if she needs to. I think what Sonia brings to the show is that she has the ability to swim in all circles, as she would say. She also manages to bring people together and be a part of the action, without getting into hurtful drama. I love that she’s been a good friend to Ramona, despite Ramona’s bad behavior!
One of my favorite Sonja moments was when they were out at a club and Dorinda Medley’s then-boyfriend John Mahdessian walked in. Sonja went straight up to him and said: “What are you doing here without Dorinda?!” That’s the type of friend I want to be: always looking out for my girlfriends and always making sure that I have their back. I also loved when Sonja stomped on the glass mirror when she was dancing at Ramona’s birthday party. You’d be surprised at how much people try to present this “perfect image” on camera, and I like someone that’s not afraid to get a little messy, because that’s how we all really are!
Sonja puts it all out there: walks of shame, hooking up, flirting, and being funny. She can call people out, but it’s never with a spirit of trying to go below the belt. I don’t know Sonja, but I would love to meet her one day!