It’s New Year’s Eve, and you’re prettying up for a night on the town (unless you’re checking into rehab — stay strong, Countess!). But before you head out, put down that lip gloss and unplug your straightener, and focus on what’s really important: which of the 2017 iterations of The Real Housewives of Wherever the Fuck was the best. In fact, cancel your plans. This could take all night.
This countdown will include only those seasons that finished in 2017. Anything currently airing (RHOA season 10, RHONJ season 8, RHOMelbourne season 4, RHOBH season 8) is off the table. Similarly, although RHOAKL reached American shores in 2017, it originally aired in 2016; that one’s out, too. That still leaves 9 franchises and 10 seasons to fight for the crown. Which city was queen of 2017?
10. Orange County (Season 12)
Is there a more infamous flop in the canon than RHOC12? (Okay, some philistines would argue that NYC4 was “too dark-sided” or whatever but as we’ll see later in this ranking, the world is full of babies with bad taste.) OC12 is what happens when your cast hates each other too much to film, and you’re stuck cobbling together a season out of Peggy Sulahian malapropisms. Thankfully, Shannon, Tamra and Vicki spontaneously patched up their feud for no discernible reason, so we can look forward to them whooping it up through tense, strained smiles in 2018.
9. Potomac (Season 2)
First of all, congratulations to Potomac for its first official mention on this blog! A milestone. It’s a testament to the quality of the 2017 Housewives cycle that Potomac is this low, because it wasn’t really bad, and was in fact a marked improvement on its debut year. Monique livened the show up, Ashley was admirably thirsty, and Karen Huger is learning how to finesse her insanity to best televisual effect. But Potomac has yet to catch fire (unlike another sophomore franchise), and even the cast’s best efforts felt like wheel-spinning. Here’s hoping for a breakout season three, and here’s hoping Robyn leaves Juan forever because oh my God I can’t anymore with that.
8. Beverly Hills (Season 7)
I’ll take any excuse to use that Rinna screencap. Indeed, it was Lisa Rinna who carried BH7 with her coke innuendos, wild-eyed accusations, and imprudent table dancing, along with newbies Dorit and PK, whose petty feuds seemed handpicked to make them look as awful as possible. The trip to Hong Kong was transcendent and the Punta Mita pile-on of Rinna inspired. But however high the highs, they weren’t enough to save yet another season plagued by off-camera whispering and agonizingly slow pacing as the women rehashed everything over and over ad nauseam. Wrap this one in cellophane and return to sender.
7. Toronto (Season 1)
You forgot about Toronto! Alas, so did the world. The show limped along with barely enough conflict to sustain itself before Slice quietly pulled the plug, the Great Canadian Housewives Experiment failed once again. But attention must be paid to Kara Alloway, one of the great delusional Housewives villains of all time. Kara did her best to fuck with a cast absolutely unworthy of her madness. Farewell, my awkward born-again angel. We’ll always have the Ambi Gala.
6. Cheshire (Season 6)
Cheshire 6 is a serviceable season that nonetheless pales in comparison to the shitshow that preceded it. Most notable for boasting the first ever nine-Housewife cast, the show really only needed four: Ester, Dawn, Tanya and Lauren carried this one, with occasional assists from Rachel Lugo and her twin sister Katie (little bit of last minute SEO for 2017). Ester fans must treat themselves to episode nine, which features our girl taking on all the other Housewives consecutively, Royal Rumble style.
5. Atlanta (Season 9)
A quiet season that takes a sudden, hard left into insanity. Yeah, there’s the drugging shit, and the sex dungeon shit, and the Marvin shit. But really, at its core, ATL9 is the story of Phaedra Parks burning herself to the ground in a reverie of obsession. Whatever grudge she had on Kandi can’t have been worth ruining her own livelihood, but it was gripping to watch her do it anyway. Occasionally, we get these Jill Zarin moments of someone getting consumed with vengeance and cutting off their nose to spite their face, and they’re always fascinating — a glimpse into the psychological reality of these women that’s exceptionally dark, even for this show.
4. New York City (Season 9)
I remember when this one started off, people accused it of being boring. And then somewhere along the way, whether it was CLIP!, or Bethenny having sex on a waterbed, or the Mexico trip, or the pyrotechnics of LuAnn’s shockingly prompt fall from grace (part one, as we’d later find out…), we all just got with the program. Everyone is back for season 10, even Tinsley, which feels right; I haven’t gotten my full Dale Mercer fix just yet.
3. Sydney (Season 1)
Where were you when you experienced the madness of Athena X Levendi for the first time? For some American viewers, the answer is, “Who? That can’t possibly be a real name. Are you on glue?”, because the chicken-livered, gang-handed cowards of Bravo USA deemed this exceptional franchise “too dark” for American audiences. Remember what I said earlier about babies with bad taste? Sydney is the Real Housewives on PCP, worth watching for anyone who likes playing the knife game or getting choked while fucking. I suggest, however, that you watch the Lisa Oldfield sections through a shoebox with a pinhole. Even I’m not that masochistic.
2. Cheshire (Season 5)
The big surprise of the 2017 cycle, Cheshire 5 came on the heels of Cheshire 4, one of the great nothing seasons in Housewives history. Cheshire as a franchise has always ranged from “boring as sin” to “good, I guess,” so imagine my delight when I was introduced to Ester Dee, the Czech temptress who would rocket this show into the stratosphere. Ester dropped adultery/secret marriage/lovechild intrigue so convoluted and absurd that even the producers couldn’t keep up, while Leanne barely restrained herself from murdering Dawn Ward in the background. A fantastic, essential season.
1. Dallas (Season 2)
But as good as Cheshire was, no one could match RHOD’s 2017 glow-up. Dallas went from an also-ran non-franchise to one of the best shows on television. Whether you’re in it for Brandi and LeeAnne’s bad romance, Kameron taking the first bold steps toward her pink dog food empire, the centuries-old saga of D’Andra and Mama Dee, or the harrowing footage of the Deuber marriage (or, as it will be known at trial, “exhibit A”), Dallas gave us unmissable TV week after week. If you need something to binge for that January 1 hangover, let it be this.