There were no easy victories to be found in Round 1 of Primetimer's Ultimate Reality TV Villains bracket. On Monday, half the field "sashayed away" as Survivor's Russell Hantz bested drag queen Phi Phi O'Hara, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino GTL-ost to David "Puck" Rainey in a clash of the nicknamed MTV personalities, and Tyra Banks defeated Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger. Not even widely respected villains were safe from elimination, as Vanderpump Rules' Jax Taylor fell to Housewife Ramona Singer and her gross pattern of microaggressions.
In Round 2, reality TV aficionados Claire Spellberg Lustig, Joe Reid, and Brianna Wellen discuss which of the remaining 16 villains deserve a spot in the Elite Eight, but the competition is only getting stiffer. The mid-to-late-2000s take center stage as Spencer and Heidi Pratt battle Omarosa Manigault Newman, and Teresa Giudice encounters Kate Gosselin; elsewhere, streaming stars face off as Selling Sunset's Christine Quinn meets The Kardashians appendage Scott Disick. Who will come out on top as gaslighters, girlbosses, gatekeepers, and "garbage trash wh*res" — to quote The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City's Lisa Barlow, who's not in this bracket, but whose spirit lives on in the Garbage region — collide in epic fashion? Read on to find out.
Graphic: Amanda Cazel
This battle of the Bravo stars is a close one because Tom Sandoval and Danielle Staub operate in similar ways. Put photos of the two next to each other and there's even a physical resemblance — their eyebrows arch and mouths smirk like Disney villains. Both are frequent instigators, but it's the target of their rage that sets them apart. Sandoval's aggression, even pre-Scandoval, was always misplaced. He would get into a screaming match with Katie Maloney or Stassi Schroeder over an already resolved issue just to assert his dominance. This was amped up to the nth degree during Vanderpump Rules Season 10 when it became obvious that he'd rather degrade everyone around him than deal with the problems in his relationship with Ariana Madix.
On The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Danielle Staub constantly went up against similarly aggro opponents with bones to pick of their own. (Her main sparring partner, Teresa Giudice, rightfully earned a spot in this very bracket.) Looking at the big picture, Staub's most dramatic outbursts are part of what made RHONJ what it is today — a series known for its knock-down, drag-out altercations — but she's managed to stay close enough with the cast to continue as a "friend of" in recent seasons. Meanwhile, Sandoval's most egregious indiscretions, the lying and cheating that were involved in his affair with Raquel Leviss, tore the core cast apart, changing the series forever. — Brianna Wellen
Winner: Tom Sandoval
Photos: Everett Collection
Over the past two decades, Omarosa Manigault Newman has proven to be the ultimate opportunist. She fudged her work experience to land a role on the first season of The Apprentice, then spent her time there sabotaging her teammates in hopes of impressing Donald Trump. Years later, she landed a job within the Trump administration, only to profit off her experience by releasing a tell-all memoir criticizing her former boss.
But as Trump himself said after Omarosa was fired and began speaking out about her time in the White House, "She never made it, never will." For all the chaos Omarosa caused during her time on Celebrity Apprentice and The Surreal Life (viewers will remember that she famously called Janice Dickinson a "crackhead"), she always failed to come out on top — certainly not in the way Spencer and Heidi Pratt did during their time on The Hills. Speidi may have lost the world's support when they spread a false rumor about a sex tape between Lauren Conrad and Jason Wahler, but they solidified their place on the show, and from that point forth, their storyline became just as important as Lauren's, if not more. Like it or not, The Hills was nothing without Spencer and Heidi, which definitely can't be said about three-time Apprentice loser Omarosa. — Claire Spellberg Lustig
Winner: Spencer and Heidi Pratt
Photos: Netflix/Everett Collection
What makes this matchup so interesting is that Christine Quinn and Scott Disick offer different models of reality TV villainy. In the early seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and its various spin-offs, Scott was a textbook example of a man out of control: He repeatedly cheated on Kourtney Kardashian, punched a mirror after he was confronted about his drug use, and got belligerently drunk when left to his own devices. To be sure, Scott was odious in those days, and it was difficult to watch him lash out at Kourtney, but his behavior was also a reflection of his unresolved emotional issues and his addiction to drugs and alcohol. And though he certainly leaned into his fame, Scott didn't set out to be a villain in the way Christine did. She established herself as Selling Sunset's main antagonist right out of the gate, starting a rivalry with girl-next-door Chrishell Stause that carried the show through multiple seasons. Until she was fired in Season 5, every choice Christine made, from her gothic Barbie look to her cutting insults, served to reinforce her role as the show's ice queen, reflecting a command over her image that Scott could only dream of. — CSL
Winner: Christine Quinn
Photos: Everett Collection
The clash of egos that would result in Tyra and Richard going head-to-head would be so massive that we should probably make sure it happens out in the New Mexico desert, just to be safe. Rather than pick one self-obsessed, delusional model from the run of America's Next Top Model, we went with Tyra herself. She was the one tormenting these wannabe models with horrid makeovers, pretending to pass out in order to sell a point about acting, and throwing make-believe words like "tooch" and "smize" at them. Go back and watch any random ANTM judging panel and it's a minefield of body-image negging and problematic ideas about everything from sex-negativity to race.
Up against all that, Richard Hatch became a Survivor villain for… building an alliance, something everyone on every subsequent season has tried to do out of a sense of good game play. Yes, Richard then came back for All-Stars and made inappropriate contact with Sue Hawk while naked, which was gross and awful. But particularly in the Girlboss region, it's tough to deny Tyra's reign of terror. Her most memorable moment from the show is a clip of her angrily ranting at a girl she'd just eliminated for not crying more. Case closed. — Joe Reid
Winner: Tyra Banks
Photos: Bravo/Everett Collection
In the late 2000s, reality television was dominated by two names: Teresa Giudice and Kate Gosselin. Following the release of Jon & Kate Plus 8, Kate became one of the most hated women in the world for her frequent criticism of then-husband Jon Gosselin, who was often portrayed as the "good cop" parent to Kate's "bad cop." Much of the backlash was deserved: Kate berated Jon on-camera and frequently put an end to her kids' fun, yelling at them about grass stains or the gum stuck to their toys. Even more troubling, son Collin Gosselin recently accused Kate of sending him to a mental health facility after he attempted to speak out about her abuse, an allegation Kate and her daughter Mady Gosselin have denied.
The family's many controversies suggest a toxic environment inside the Gosselin household, but in terms of what actually played out on-screen, Teresa Giudice wins this race to the bottom. The Real Housewives of New Jersey OG forever left her mark on the genre when she flipped that table in Season 1, and while her tough Jersey girl mentality has become a cornerstone of her identity, it's also led to some of the show's most violent moments. As Teresa's feud with ex-sister-in-law Melissa Gorga enters its second decade, fans shouldn't expect that to change anytime soon. — CSL
Winner: Teresa Giudice
Photos: Everett Collection
As bad as Abby Lee Miller was — and she was definitely bad, verbally abusive, and fraudulent in business — there's something about the fact that Dance Moms was created explicitly to set up fights between Abby and the Dance Moms that makes her villainy feel slightly less earned, particularly when stacked up against Russell, whose villainy was more of a grassroots effort. Plenty of Survivor contestants played the villain role before Russell, but he did so with a combination of crudeness, ego, and a mean streak that really set him apart. He burned his tribemates' socks and secretly emptied their water supply in order to destabilize them and give them an advantage. He lied about being a firefighter in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. An admirer might pull the "he didn't need to go that hard" card about Russell's aggressive game play, but also… he actually didn't need to go that hard. (And if he hadn't, he might have actually won one of the two times he made the finals.) Additionally, the way he called his own allies a "Dumbass Girls Alliance" or acted resentful when Parvati Shallow revealed a hidden immunity idol that helped him out added a sprinkle of misogyny to the whole Russell cocktail, quite noxious brew. — JR
Winner: Russell Hantz
Photos: Everett Collection
The extent to which Sherry Pie was a villain in front of the RuPaul's Drag Race cameras in Season 12 may never be known. That's because the show was re-edited to de-emphasize Sherry shortly after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced and she was disqualified from the season. It takes quite a bad apple to get an entire season of TV re-edited on the fly just to remove one person from the spotlight. Puck, however, has been a bad dude both on TV and off of it. His lack of sympathy toward his Real World castmate Pedro Zamora, both before and after Pedro died of AIDS, exposed him as not only a nightmare roommate, but a rotten person. That he's been subsequently arrested multiple times for domestic abuse and drunk driving, including pleading no contest in 2012 to stalking, just enhances the version of him we saw on screen. — JR
Winner: David "Puck" Rainey
Photos: Everett Collection
Juan Pablo Galavis was a sleeper villain. People weren't expecting him to be quite so awful as The Bachelor because he barely opened his mouth on The Bachelorette, instead letting his good looks do the talking throughout the competition. Once he was given a platform to speak as the lead, however, he flapped his gums, and what spewed out were homophobic, ableist, sexist, slut-shaming comments. At least this was short-lived, as he quickly faded away into obscurity.
Ramona Singer suffers from a similar diarrhea of the mouth, offending nearly everyone in her path without fail. Unlike Juan Pablo, Ramona feels entitled to continue sharing her most uninformed, hurtful, completely out-of-touch takes. Even after being put on "pause" by Bravo (the unofficial term for when a Housewife has been deemed unworthy of a spot on the series), she popped up on Peacock's The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip and showed she hadn't changed: She continually confused one Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member (Kenya Moore) with another (Porsha Williams, who was not on the trip). Between Ramona and Juan Pablo, the Housewife takes the prize because she just doesn't know when to shut up. — BW
Winner: Ramona Singer
Coming up in Primetimer's Ultimate Reality TV Villains Bracket: The Elite Eight go head-to-head in Round 3 on Wednesday. Who will emerge victorious in each region?
TOPICS: Reality TV, Abby Lee Miller, Christine Quinn, Danielle Staub, David "Puck" Rainey, Heidi Pratt, Juan Pablo Galavis, Kate Gosselin, Omarosa Manigault, Ramona Singer, Richard Hatch, Russell Hantz, Scott Disick, Sherry Pie, Spencer Pratt, Teresa Giudice, Tom Sandoval, Tyra Banks