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Dive Into Round 1 of Primetimer's Ultimate Reality TV Villains Bracket

32 stars from across the reality TV landscape face off as they begin their quest to be named the worst of the worst.
  • Omarosa Manigault Newman, Tom Sandoval, David "Puck" Rainey, and Teresa Giudice. (Photos: NBC/Everett Collection/Bravo; Primetimer graphic)
    Omarosa Manigault Newman, Tom Sandoval, David "Puck" Rainey, and Teresa Giudice. (Photos: NBC/Everett Collection/Bravo; Primetimer graphic)

    Reality television is nothing without its villains. Since The Real World first began documenting "what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real" in the early 1990s, there have been big personalities who took the first part of that tagline to heart, creating tension within their casts and breeding resentment among passionate fans.

    Over time, it's become clear that there's no one way to be a villain, as bad behavior tends to reflect the subgenre and time period. Survivor's most infamous castaways backstab their allies to get a leg up in the competition. Docusoap stars manufacture their own storylines, turning their respective shows into circuses. Dating show leads liberally dole out "I love you"s, only to turn around and toy with their lovers' feelings. Bravo celebrities have turned their personal exploits into must-see TV, while others use their screen time to hit back at allegations made off-camera, an effort that rarely succeeds.

    But despite the relative diversity among this group, they're united by their outsized egos. Sometimes this leads to deliberate villainy (just look at Spencer and Heidi Pratt), and sometimes it's a byproduct of self-confidence that manifests in unfortunate, but very human, ways (see: Top Chef's Tiffani Faison), but no matter the situation, each of these stars believes they deserve to be the center of attention. It's something they share with nearly everyone in the reality genre, good or bad, but the real villains are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal — and the worst of the worst luxuriate in the process of tearing others down to build themselves up.

    With this in mind, who's the greatest reality TV villain of all time — in this case, not the GOAT, but the WOAT? That's what we set out to determine with our 32-villain, single-elimination bracket. Over the next four days, these reality TV stars will face off, their most despicable acts held up side-by-side as they fight to advance to the next round. The villains have been sorted into four regions that reflect their unique brand of wickedness: Gaslight (The Liars), Girlboss (The Arrogant Ones), Gatekeep (The Bullies), and Garbage (The Worst). And to be clear, "Girlboss" is a state of mind, not a reflection of one's gender, so we've included both men and women in this region.

    Graphic: Amanda CazelGraphic: Amanda Cazel

    When it comes to the actual matchups, Primetimer's resident reality TV experts — Claire Spellberg Lustig, Joe Reid, and Brianna Wellen — have made an effort to prioritize these stars' on-screen behavior, though we did take allegations of fraud, abuse, and/or misconduct into consideration when determining which villain advances to the next round. We're also conscious of the cyclical nature of reality TV: Stars who stick around long enough are bound to lose their hero status, or on the flip side, to redeem themselves in the eyes of viewers. That's why you won't see Flavor of Love's Tiffany "New York" Pollard, who evolved into a fan favorite, in the bracket, as well as a few others who are typically included in discussions about the genre's most malicious players. The same goes for legitimately terrible people like Donald Trump and Joe Rogan, who are in a category all their own and, frankly, don't deserve any additional media attention.

    The stage is set for an epic battle of evil versus evil. Which reality TV villain will reign supreme? Follow along throughout the week as we whittle down the competition, one round at a time.

    Gaslight: The Liars

    Tom Sandoval vs. Dr. Will Kirby

    Photos: Bravo/Everett CollectionPhotos: Bravo/Everett Collection

    In a battle of the SoCal pretty boys, it comes down to who's too good at being bad. Adonis-bodied Los Angeles dermatologist Will Kirby is as responsible as anyone for Big Brother existing in its current American form today. He established the show's first named alliance (the odious "Chilltown"), unrepentantly lied to everyone, acted like a cocky jerk, and ultimately won the season by waiting for the "good" people to implode upon each other. But as is Will's custom, his case for ultimate villainy is so good that it makes it impossible to hate him. He's the ultimate Big Big Brother bad guy, but he's so damn charming. It's a quality that low-level mixologist, wannabe rock star, and mustachioed Vanderpump Rules cheater Tom Sandoval could only ever hope to possess. Ultimately, Will is too likable to advance here. — Joe Reid

    Winner: Tom Sandoval

    Arie Luyendyk Jr. vs. Danielle Staub

    Photos: Everett Collection/BravoPhotos: Everett Collection/Bravo

    Arie Luyenduyk Jr. very publicly broke up with Becca Kufrin just after proposing to her on The Bachelor Season 17. Showing up at your fiancé's house with a camera crew to call off your engagement is a pretty big d*ck move, to be sure, but ultimately it was just a reflection of an indecisive, wet blanket of a man. Meanwhile, Danielle Staub was a mastermind on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. She knew exactly how to stir the pot and push buttons, Teresa Guidice's in particular. And Danielle ignored the unspoken rule in most Real Housewives franchises to leave the kids out of it when, in Season 2, she accused Jacqueline Laurita's daughter Ashley, who was 19 at the time, of assault and went after her with a lawsuit. Messing with a New Jersey housewife's family is a big no-no. — Brianna Wellen

    Winner: Danielle Staub

    Wendy Pepper vs. Spencer and Heidi Pratt

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection/Bravo

    Wendy Pepper and Speidi (the portmanteau for Spencer and Heidi Pratt) were each groundbreaking villains in their own way. Wendy was among the first to be vilified in a reality competition series, and on Season 1 of Project Runway she mapped out her plan from the start. She readily admitted in confessionals that her plan was to manipulate other contestants and use their weakness against them. Spencer and Heidi were one of the first (if not only) villainous power couples after Heidi turned into Lauren Conrad's best frenemy on The Hills. Together they proved that two egomaniacal reality stars are more powerful (or at least, more annoying) than one, and were able to manipulate the series to be just as much about them as Lauren, even after she and Heidi ended their friendship. Wendy and Speidi all relished the role of a villain, but Wendy only did so in the game while Speidi ruined people's lives on and off camera. The power couple takes this one. — BW

    Winner: Spencer and Heidi Pratt

    Omarosa Manigault Newman vs. Jonny Fairplay

    Photos: Everett Collection/CBSPhotos: Everett Collection/CBS

    We couldn't have a region of the bracket dedicated to the gaslighting liars of reality television without shining the spotlight on Omarosa and Jonny Fairplay. Omarosa was detached from reality on her introductory season of The Apprentice, exaggerating the effects of falling drywall and calling the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black" a racist term. Jonny Fairplay, meanwhile, told the biggest lie in Survivor history when he engineered his loved-one visit so that his friend would bring him fraudulent news that his grandmother had died. (She was just fine, at home watching Jerry Springer). Jonny's lying and general scumbaggery ultimately doesn't measure up to Omarosa's, considering his grandma lie got him some temporary sympathy while Omarosa's lies helped Trump get elected. — JR

    Winner: Omarosa Manigault Newman

    Girlboss: The Arrogant Ones

    Christine Quinn vs. Captain Sandy Yawn

    Photos: Netflix/BravoPhotos: Netflix/Bravo

    Both Christine Quinn and Captain Sandy Yawn would probably happily call themselves "girlbosses," but when it comes to reality TV villainy, this one's an easy matchup. While Captain Sandy is by far the least popular captain in the Below Deck franchise, she developed that reputation via her poor management skills and tendency to play favorites with her crew members. And as frustrating as it was to watch Sandy dismiss Hannah Ferrier for having unreported Valium on board (it was prescribed!) her behavior doesn't hold a candle to the chaos created by Christine in her five seasons on Selling Sunset. How do you compete with the woman who wore all black to her wedding, just to stay on brand? Sorry, Sandy, but Christine is the captain now. — Claire Spellberg Lustig

    Winner: Christine Quinn

    Scott Disick vs. Tiffani Faison

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection

    It's a battle of (somewhat) reformed villains as Keeping Up With the Karadashians star Scott Disick and Top Chef runner-up Tiffani Faison face off. There's no disputing that Tiffani was entitled and bossy throughout the competition: She thought she was better than the other chefs and acted the part, resulting in a frustrated Dave Martin famously telling her, "I'm not your bitch, bitch!" But when she returned for Season 8's All-Stars contest, Tiffani had clearly learned her lesson, and she seemed legitimately apologetic about her overbearing attitude in the kitchen. Elsewhere on TV, Scott Disick made a name for himself as Kourtney Kardashian's unpredictable boyfriend (and later, the father of her children) who would go on benders and shove $100 bills down waiters' throats. He's since taken steps to address his substance abuse issues and has a better relationship with the family — even if he's spent much of The Kardashians pouting over being excluded from big events — but his ongoing Lord Disick schtick is enough to give him the edge over Tiffani. — CSL

    Winner: Scott Disick

    Tyra Banks vs. Patti Stanger

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection

    These two are the ultimate girlbosses — neither America's Next Top Model host Tyra Banks nor Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger could stop talking about all that they did to get to the positions they're in today. They made sacrifices and went through hardships to get here, dammit, and anyone who wants what they have should have to do the same! Both relished in making women change their appearances for a job or for a man, tearing down their confidence one by one. Patti's delivery may have been decidedly more harsh than Tyra's overall — berating women who "acted like men" and telling redheads they were unlovable wasn't great — but Tyra had her moments of aggression, too. On more than one occasion she screamed at a group of teen and early twentysomething women and would frequently break out psychological mind games. If it's a matter of whose name likely gets brought up in more therapy sessions, it's Tyra by a landslide. — BW

    Winner: Tyra Banks

    Kenley Collins vs. Richard Hatch

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection

    Here's a matchup of reality contestants who were villains on and off TV. Richard Hatch was the notorious corporate strategist and alliance ringleader who won the first season of Survivor. But he failed to pay taxes on his winnings and served 51 months in federal prison for it. Meanwhile, after her stint on Project Runway, where she never met a negative critique she wouldn't eye-roll her way through, Kenley Collins was arrested and served jail time for assaulting her ex-fiancé with a laptop, apples, and her cat. Constantly interrupting Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn with bratty defensiveness is one thing; throwing a cat at an ex is quite another. But Kenley can't truly compete with Richard, whose island villainy essentially helped create the Survivor phenomenon. — JR

    Winner: Richard Hatch

    Gatekeep: The Bullies

    Teresa Giudice vs. Kristin Cavallari

    Photos: Bravo/Everett CollectionPhotos: Bravo/Everett Collection

    Kristin Cavallari was positioned as Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County's villain from the outset, but looking back, it's clear she didn't deserve that label. Her biggest sin was... liking the same guy (Stephen Colletti) as the show's narrator, Lauren Conrad? And if we're really getting into it, Stephen is the one who behaved badly when he repeatedly called Kristin a "slut" during their explosive Cabo fight. (In a positive update, both Stephen and Lauren recently apologized to Kristin on the Back to the Beach podcast.) That gives Teresa Giudice a near-automatic victory in Round 1, though considering her table-flipping antics on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it would take a real heavyweight to even come close to matching her. — CSL

    Winner: Teresa Giudice

    Kate Gosselin vs. Irina Solomonova

    Photos: Everett Collection/NetflixPhotos: Everett Collection/Netflix

    It seems unfair to compare someone who spent 10 years in the public eye with a woman who will be, at most, a footnote in the annals of Netflix dating show history, but Irina Solomonova made a strong case for herself in just a few episodes of Love Is Blind. Irina was largely to blame for the mean girl energy that characterized Season 4: She mocked the other ladies for eagerly participating in the process, and she openly laughed while eavesdropping on a woman tearfully recalling her fraught romantic history. That said, it's impossible to overlook Kate Gosselin's seeming desperation to remain in the spotlight, and the way in which she expected her children to publicly defend her as allegations of mistreatment piled up, which prove far more concerning than Irina's bullying. — CSL

    Winner: Kate Gosselin

    Abby Lee Miller vs. Johnny Bananas

    Photos: Everett Collection/Paramount+Photos: Everett Collection/Paramount+

    In the aggression-fueled, winner-take-all universe of The Challenge, Johnny Bananas has come to earn a degree of respect for how often he wins. But deep down, even he knows he's a villain. Only someone who owns his villainy could have done what Johnny did at the end of The Challenge: Rivals III, when he made the decision to ice out his teammate, Sarah Rice, from her share of their winnings, moments after they'd won the season. How could a simple dance instructor like Abby Lee Miller compete with that? Regularly directing rageful outbursts at children is a pretty good start. Dance Moms may be built for Abby to fight with the titular parents, but she was such a terror to the kids that one of them sued her for assault. Johnny Bananas made Sarah cry, but Sarah is at least an adult. — JR

    Winner: Abby Lee Miller

    Russell Hantz vs. Phi Phi O'Hara

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection

    In his three seasons on Survivor, Russell Hantz proved there's nothing he wouldn't do to bully, intimidate, or belittle his fellow players — both opponents and allies. And his ego was even bigger than his game was. On RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4, Phi Phi O'Hara couldn't stand it when queens she didn't respect like Sharon Needles or Willam got good critiques, leading to one of the biggest blow-up fights in show history when she told Sharon to "go back to Party City where you belong." When Phi Phi returned for All-Stars, she was upfront about wanting to rehabilitate her image. But she behaved like the same old Phi Phi. Still, she never relished the role of villain the way Russell did, which is part of the reason Russell advances. — JR

    Winner: Russell Hantz

    Garbage: The Worst

    David "Puck" Rainey vs. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino

    Photos: Everett CollectionPhotos: Everett Collection

    Even at his worst, when he was headbutting concrete walls or making mean comments about his co-stars' weight, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino remained an entertaining presence on Jersey Shore. He's since undergone a surprising transformation: In 2018, The Situation — who was once considered so horrible that Abercrombie & Fitch offered him money not to wear their clothes — pleaded guilty to tax evasion, and he emerged from his eight-month prison sentence as Big Daddy Sitch, a lovable, less-chiseled version of the meathead who first GTL-ed onto MTV in 2009. Contrast that with The Real World: San Francisco's Puck, who was evicted for his outright homophobic, vile behavior and still doesn't seem to have any regrets. Talk about someone who's every bit deserving of his place in the Garbage region. — CSL

    Winner: David "Puck" Rainey

    Sherry Pie vs. Shake Chatterjee

    Photos: Everett Collection/NetflixPhotos: Everett Collection/Netflix

    From day one, Love Is Blind's Shake Chatterjee completely ignored the entire point of the show he was on — instead of taking the time to really get to know the women he was dating without seeing them, he would ask questions like, "Could I carry you on my shoulders?" to suss out the size and shape of whoever was on the other side of the pod wall. He spent his engagement to Deepti Vempati taking negging to the next level, body-shaming her in front of and behind her back. As despicable as that man was on (and apparently off) screen, however, RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 contestant Sherry Pie (a.k.a. Joey Gugliemelli) admitted to sexual misconduct and harassment. Before the season aired, it was revealed that Sherry Pie coerced multiple men into sending them sexually explicit videos using a catfish scheme. Shake is bad, but Sherry Pie is much worse. — BW

    Winner: Sherry Pie

    Juan Pablo Galavis vs. Ed "Big Ed" Brown

    Photos: Everett Collection/TLCPhotos: Everett Collection/TLC

    Typically The Bachelor is someone who finished in the top four on the previous season of The Bachelorette. But Juan Pablo Galavis finished seventh and was seemingly cast as the lead in an attempt to address criticisms about diversity in the franchise (he was the first non-white lead in Bachelor Nation) and because the public consensus was that he was really, really hot. It was a huge letdown when he turned out to be very disrespectful to women and didn't seem to subscribe to the rules of the series at all. He's been disowned by Bachelor Nation as one of the few leads who never popped up again in a future season. 90 Day Fiance's Ed Brown is brash, rude, and hypocritical, but he's also reliably memeable and has remained a staple of the franchise's many spin-offs. But Big Ed at least has some fans, while Juan Pablo remains one of the most hated men in Bachelor history. — BW

    Winner: Juan Pablo Galavis

    Ramona Singer vs. Jax Taylor

    Photos: Bravo/Everett CollectionPhotos: Bravo/Everett Collection

    The Real Housewives of New York's Ramona Singer and Vanderpump Rules' Jax Taylor are cut from the same cloth. Both Bravo stars are blissfully unaware of just how ignorant and insulting they can be; both lie and manipulate their closest friends to make sure they remain the number one person in the group; and both have hooked up with someone their best friend dated. Jax did do the latter with Kristen Doute while she was still in a relationship with Tom Sandoval, and his track record of infidelity and aggression makes him a big contender for one of the worst out there. But while Ramona at least waited until after the fact with Sonja Morgan's ex, Harry Dubin, her reported racist behavior, visible microaggressions, support of Donald Trump, constant cruelty to everyone around her, and horrid pronunciation of the word "reggae" give her the slight edge here. — BW

    Winner: Ramona Singer

    The remaining 16 villains face off in Round 2 on Tuesday— and with some major upsets looming, you won't want to miss it.