Ranked: Every Season of The Real Housewives of New York City

It’s stated Bitchy Witches policy that No RHONY Seasons Suck, but which are orgasmically wonderful and which merely good? As tantalizing details about S11 emerge, let’s take a journey back through a decade of statement necklaces and cremated dogs.

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10. Season Seven
An unwieldy mess. There are highlights, of course, such as meeting Dorinda, Sonja’s demented descent into…uh, more alcoholism, and Heather being all, like, uncool. But the return of the newly homeless (slap an asterisk on that one) Bethenny means roughly 40% of the overall footage is devoted to her sobbing therapy sessions, her dishwater-dull real estate moves, her sprinting away from the tiniest conflict, etc., etc., rinse and repeat. This airtime suck is bad enough even before you factor in that the rest of the season has to be portioned out among seven other people, making for some wildly uneven editing. Kristen, if you’re out there, let us know you’re still alive.

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9. Season One
The second Housewives franchise gets off to a brisker start than its OC predecessor. Sure, there’s still a good amount of How Rich Ladies Live, but it’s leavened with such enticing features as the weirdness of Silex and the origins of the Countess mythos. Ramona also serves us up some nice late-season interpersonal conflict by being overwhelmingly rude at a string of events for reasons varying from her distaste for Simon van Kempen to, well, her natural assholery.

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8. Season Two
In which Kelly Killoren Bensimon emerges from a steaming meteorite crater to terrorize Bethenny Frankel. It’s this headline feud that really elevates the show in its sophomore incarnation, but there’s also some other light fun courtesy of the Singer/Zarin tennis rivalry, Jill’s constant leaking to the press, and Silex’s struggle to convert the torture chamber from Saw into their Hot Topic-inspired dream home.

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7. Season Nine
A generally fun, light season that is overshadowed slightly by the epic shitshows immediately preceding and following it. Come for the marquee matchup of Ramona vs. Bethenny (and, secondarily, Dorinda’s guest room wallpaper), stay for Dorinda’s eviscerations of Sonja and accidental self-stabbings. And, of course, let’s not forget about the debut of the charming Tinsley—or, rather, her escape from Oughts Gawker Purgatory—which had us all craving a Tito’s and soda (or twelve).

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6. Season Four
The question of whether RHONY can survive without Bethenny is answered by the superstar debut of one Cindy Bars—haaahaha, sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. Anyway, although this season has developed a reputation for darkness, fluffy diversions like Simon cyberbullying Jill and 54-year-old Ramona’s pregnancy scare make it more a delightful madcap romp. And of course its Morocco trip is an all-time great: the Bethenny and Jill tragedy is repeated as farce by Ramona and Jill, while Luann and Kelly take turns trolling a frantic-even-by-her-standards Alex.

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5. Season Six
This is perhaps my most idiosyncratic Housewives opinion, given the relatively low esteem this season is held in by many (including my fellow Witches!), but I’m here to tell you all that S6 was fab. Aviva’s deranged kamikaze run at Carole and Heather leaves corpses littered from Manhattan to the Hamptons and back, including that of the iconically grimy Amanda Sanders, Image Consultant. Not to be outdone, Ramona nearly gouges newbie Kristen’s eye out in the Berkshires, then fakes a psychotic break so she can zoom off via private jet to a party. But it’s Aviva who gets the last word in absurdity with The Leg Toss, a prime candidate for time capsule inclusion should we ever send a Voyager 3 out into the cosmos.

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4. Season Five
The great RHONY reboot introduces us to the charming Carole, the spirited Heather, and Aviva Drescher, the monster you see during sleep paralysis. Our surviving vets still run the show, though: Ramona and Sonja take turns terrorizing Heather in this, the age of the toaster oven, before doing battle with Aviva and her horrifying pervert dad. Meanwhile, Luann fucks a pirate. It’s a highly underrated installment that demonstrates both the truly ensemble nature of this show and its ability to evolve and adapt.

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3. Season Ten
Packed chock-full of buzzy stories like the Bethenny/Carole Cold War, the Boat Ride from Hell, and, of course, the Fall of the Countess, RHONY 10 was one of the most anticipated seasons ever. And honestly? It fully lived up to expectations, as the two most stable friendships on the show spectacularly disintegrated before our eyes (oh, and Ramonja too, for the sixth or seventh time). Some found the realness of this season’s conflicts a little too much to take, but to them we say: it’s not that deep.

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2. Season Eight
Sure, we could talk about the strange tale of Jules Wainstein and her utensil calzones, or dissect “December: Berkshires County,” one of the finest hours of television ever produced, but we all know why we’re really here. This season is the Tale of Tom, from its cokey beginnings at the Regency bar to its cokey conclusion at also the Regency bar. Through it all, our plucky heroine the Countess refused to let anyone get in the way of her true romance, no matter how much anecdotal or photographic evidence of infidelity they produced. Exclamation mark.

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1. Season Three
A tale of jealousy, resentment, trauma, and (we stand behind this!) deeply submerged sexual tension, the downfall of the Frankel-Zarin BFF-mance was nothing less than a landmark event in reality television history—the moment the Real Housewives earned the word “real,” their meta stories collapsing in on their televised ones. Meanwhile, as Jill and Bethenny decompensated, the supporting cast was also giving us absolute gold, including independently iconic moments like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Ramona Runway Walk, and Scary Island. Shakespeare is shook.

13 thoughts on “Ranked: Every Season of The Real Housewives of New York City

  1. At the time of airing I remember really enjoying Season 7 but yeah… it’s not aged well as a veritable complete story due to Bethenny’s sobbing and lack of participation, on top of having 8 wives.

    Very happy to see some S5/6 love. In my opinion those seasons were critical for NYC to re-structure and eventually emerge better than ever. They’re also just really fun campy romps (Sonja’s dog’s funeral in S6 in particular is ART).

    I can’t recall who did the ranking of the OC wives, but I hope someday we get a NYC wives ranking. Outside of Cindy, NYC has had a stellar line up over the years. Even Kristen outranks about 40+ housewives in my book.

    1. I’ve considered doing an NYC Housewives ranking, but it would be reeeeally hard. I mean, there’s what…at least six or seven of them that could be the top-ranking Housewife on most other franchises lol.

      1. When I try to rank them myself, even my head hurts. Bethenny is my least favourite OG though. I think Alex is above Jill but when it comes to Ramona and Luann… they’re too amazing too outweigh eachother.

        Loosely I think my ranking would go:
        #10 – Cindy
        #9 – Jules
        #8 – Kristen
        #7 – Tinsley (I can easily see her rising with S11)
        #6 – Bethenny/Aviva (LMAO @ this toxic af pairing)
        #5 – Jill
        #4 – Alex
        #3 – Carole
        #2 – Sonja/Dorinda (<3)
        #1 – Ramona/Luann

        Had to cheat with a lot of ties but I do think it's ironic how Sonja & Dorinda share a spot.

        1. I’m going to piggy back off your ranking to give mine, since I mostly agree with it. But I would say:

          #10 – Cindy
          #9 – KKB
          #8 – Jules/Alex
          #7 – Tinsley
          #6 – Bethenny/Aviva
          #5 – Jill
          #4 – Carole/Kristen
          #3 – Heather
          #2 – Sonja/Dorinda
          #1 – Ramona/Luann

        2. I’m going to piggyback off your ranking, because I mostly agree. But here’s what I would say:

          #10 – Cindy
          #9 – KKB
          #8 – Alex/Jules
          #7 – Tinsley
          #6 – Bethenny/Aviva
          #5 – Jill
          #4 – Carole/Kristen
          #3 – Heather
          #2 – Sonja/Dorinda
          #1 – Ramona/Luann

  2. I’m not there yet with Season 10 because I still get anxiety when I think about the endgame, but after I rewatch it I probably will be. Otherwise it’s hard to argue with any of these placements, even if my own ranking would be fairly different cos they’re almost all in the same tier. Love the S6 appreciation too <3

    1. Yeah, it feels like we are still too close to S10, and that I somehow have not fully absorbed the full epic fallout. I probably need to rewatch a second time, too. Or maybe only S11 will give us the tools to understand where S10 lies in the rankings. Bring it on, Bravo!

  3. I have re-watched Seasons 4, 5 and 6 out of pure pleasure a couple of times now, and they are still so stellar after a few watches. Thank you for giving them the ranking they deserve.

    S3 is of course the GOLD STANDARD by which all drama should be measured. It is so good that it almost gives me anxiety to rewatch? I don’t know how to explain it — it is heart-pounding TV. And hilarious (Ramona to Luann about Mario’s Countless insult: “you’re making a mountain out of a holemill”).

    When S7 first aired, it was crazy how we were swept up in Bethenny’s return, confrontation with Heather in the Berkshires, and don’t be all like uncool. But on rewatch there were so many filler episodes that season. Also, I don’t like S8 and S9 all that much — aka The Bethenny Show, with a supporting cast of other, much more charismatic women. Bethenny bleeding all over her pillow and shoving it at her driver; Bethenny and Carole goading the fabulous Jules into a relapse; Bethenny taking three fucking episodes to tell Luann about Tom. I feel like the show was holding a gun to my head and screaming hysterically ISN’T BETHENNY GREAT? lol

    1. I’m very much on the record as a Bethenny hater, but I at least appreciated what the conflict she brought to the last three seasons (while never ever enjoying her bullshit solo footage ofc). But I also really wish she and not Carole had left after s10 so we’ll see if I can continue to grit my way through her presence.

      1. For sure, Bethenny is a lightening rod and drives so much of the conflict in an organic way. I appreciate her integral part in the RHONY ecosystem. Better than any other franchise maybe, RHONY’s HWs are uniquely complementary to each other, a mark of the longtime relationships on this show. It is a true ensemble, which is why I had difficulty with S8-9. Because it felt unbalanced and weighted heavily towards Bethenny and her opinions. And if Ramona’s outbursts in S9 and S10 were anything to go by, the other HWs were not thrilled about her dominating proceedings either.

        S11 will definitely be interesting, especially after Bethenny ‘won’ reunion.

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