The reALItys: Top three ‘Real Housewives’

Allison Lasher, Blogger

“The Real Housewives” have taken America by storm, bringing reality TV fame to women from Beverly Hills to Atlanta and everywhere in between. The Bravo series has featured scandals that made national news and spotlighted women who are more entertaining than many fictional characters currently on TV. In honor of the second installment of The reALIty Awards, here are the top personalities from “The Real Housewives” (good thing this isn’t actually an award show or it could get ugly).

3. Jill Zarin

We’re kicking off the list with a throwback. “The Real Housewives of New York City” original cast member Jill Zarin won over women everywhere during her time on the show. Her eye-rolls and back-handed comments became staples of every episode. Zarin behaved like a high school mean girl, talking a big game until someone called her out. After a confrontation, she would shed the biggest crocodile tears, play the victim and then start all over again. As a person, I could never be friends with her, but I am a huge fan of watching her on TV. Her ridiculous dramatics on her seasons land her the number three spot on the list.

She’s spent her time since the show working on shapewear, bedding and writing. According to her website, “Jill Zarin is one of the most successful and requested reality television stars in the entertainment business.” Whether or not that’s true, she’s proved reality TV can be a jumping-off point to becoming a mildly famous ex-reality TV star.

2. Vicki Gunvalson

Vicki Gunvalson starred on “The Real Housewives of Orange County” for all seven seasons. Being the longest-running Housewife earn her a spot on the list, but in addition to that, each and every season, Vicki made us laugh, cry and “woo hoo.” The self-proclaimed workaholic was brutally honest about her cast mates, causing some of the funniest confrontations in “Housewives” history. Recently, the show chronicled her divorce from second husband Donn Gunvalson. This sensitive, vulnerable side of Vicki showed she is not only hardworking and hilarious, but also emotionally unstable.

The cast of season eight has not been confirmed yet, but in the meantime, Vicki’s kept plenty busy. She is still selling insurance, but has added writing, selling wine and making appearances to her schedule. Hopefully we’ll get another dose of Vicki when the new season airs next year.

1. Caroline Manzo

Now, I may be biased, but as a Jersey girl myself, I know a tough woman when I see one — and housewives don’t get much tougher than Caroline Manzo. The mother of three and devoted wife is all about her family. Her famous line featured in the previews for the first season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” still haunts me and is one of the most quotable lines from the Bravo franchise: “Let me tell you something about my family …” Caroline never hesitates to stick her finger in anyone’s face and tell them what she really thinks. She’s made putting other cast members in their place an art form. Manzo insults people logically and with such finesse it’s hard to argue with her. When all else fails, she goes for the jugular. It’s hard to earn so much respect on a reality TV show, especially one spotlighting drama in New Jersey. Caroline has been able to make herself and her family look respectable and true to themselves, and that puts her at the top of this list.

When she’s not on screen, Caroline is involved in a handbag and accessory line as well as several charities. Caroline is rumored to be returning for season five and I can’t wait to see her in action once again.

Honorable Mention: NeNe Leakes

The diss heard ’round the world lands NeNe an honorable mention. Arguably the most entertaining Housewife to come out of the Atlanta season, NeNe fluctuated between being above the drama and being knee-deep in it. NeNe would have been at the top of this list had she not appeared on “Glee.” Sorry NeNe, nothing personal.

Honorable Mention: Bethenny Frankel

A “Real Housewife” before she was really a housewife, single, hard-working Bethenny fell in love and built an empire in front of our eyes. The skinnygirl is receiving only an honorable mention because she’s transcended “Real Housewives” fame and become a star. Only celebrities wind up on “Skating with the Stars,” right?

— Allison Lasher