All of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ Seasons, Ranked
There was a time, not too long ago, when Real Housewives of Atlanta was a No. 1 pick among Bravo shows, if not the best reality program airing on television. You can see its influence all over Bravo currently, as new Housewives are expected to “throw shade” and “read” (although, they’re never as good as their foremothers). Nowadays, everyone seems to crave their own library of GIFs and memes a la Nene Leakes. If not, they’re striving for a so-bad-it’s-good pop single like Kim Zolciak’s “Tardy For The Party.”
It’s disappointing then that RHOA has been floundering—both in quality and ratings—for at least three seasons now, despite its massive impact. It seems like the producers are scared to move on from the show’s iconic but currently exhausting staples and embrace a new era that doesn’t include Kandi Burruss, Kenya Moore, Sheree Whitfield, and Marlo Hampton. (Although the success of the rebooted Real Housewives of New York could possibly change things.)
Anyway! With Season 15 giving us absolutely nothing, it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane when Marlo and Kandi’s shouting matches were actually funny, and viewers were genuinely invested in She By Sheree. Here’s The Daily Beast’s Obsessed ranking of all 15 seasons from best to worst.
The three-part reunion alone makes Season 6 a Hall-of-Famer. We got Kenya pulling out a hilarious, clown-like set of props, Porsha Williams subsequently dragging her to the floor, and Nene’s iconic “I said what I said!” quote. We also witnessed Phaedra Parks’ viral read where she accuses Kenya of “pedaling through sperm banks” and manages to invoke a medium-size pizza.
The season itself is difficult to summarize because it’s jam-packed with so many shocking and side-splitting moments—from the Pillow Talk party-turned-brawl to Nene calling Peter Thomas a “bitch” and souring her and Cynthia Bailey’s friendship forever. At the same time, Porsha was reeling from her divorce from Kordell Stewart and trying to be an actress/singer—an important piece of “Legs, Hips, and Bodies” lore. This year also saw Kandi’s mother Mama Joyce at the height of her anti-Todd Tucker agenda.
It’s rare that two new castmates join a Real Housewives show and turn out to be perfect fits for the job while also making great mortal enemies. Kenya arrived on the show as an absolute menace, openly flirted with Phaedra’s husband Apollo Nida, and made a rival workout video as soon as they fell out. Fellow newbie Porsha was a bubbly, naive newlywed who thought that a year was 100 days less than it actually is.
Funnily enough, as much as they despised each other, they each presented bogus versions of their personal lives for the cameras that were equally compelling to watch crumble in real time. It turns out Porsha was not happy being a stay-at-home wife, and that guy named Walter had no desire to put a ring on Kenya’s finger or impregnate her. We love two delusional queens!
Season 3 saw the arrival of two other Housewives who turned out to be integral parts of the franchise, Phaedra and Cynthia. However, Phaedra was more of an immediate star with her ties to Bobby Brown—not to mention her heavily debated ties to Nene—her eccentricity and penchant for shade.
This was also a big year for Kim, as she began dating DJ Tracy and spread the joy of “Don’t Be Tardy For The Party” throughout the East Coast. She and Nene screaming at each other on a tour bus over their D-list entertainment careers is probably the biggest highlight. At any given moment during the day, I’ll hear Kim telling Nene, “You’re an intern at 11 Alive!”
As the women of RHOA have grown into nationally known stars and Instagram influencers, the amount of flexing on the show has noticeably decreased. However, watching these women prove to each other (and viewers) that they were the wealthiest and most well-known people living in Atlanta at the height of the recession in Season 1 was an absolute hoot. I miss seeing these delusions of grandeur, including DeShawn Snow thinking she could raise a million dollars in one night at a tiny fundraiser in her home.
I know Sex Dungeon-Gate seems like an automatic Top 3. But it’s one of those seasons that you only really get a kick out of experiencing the first time. I’d argue that most of this season is very annoying to consume again and kind of a bummer. Aside from all the homophobia and carelessness around the topic of alleged rape, we also learn about Sheree’s abuse from her ex-husband Bob Whitfield, which is obviously not fun. I also blame the popularity of Season 9 for certain Housewives thinking they can just bring unsubstantiated rumors onto a show in lieu of an actual storyline (i.e. Gizelle Bryant!).
Season 4 might as well have been titled “Women Making (Delusional) Moves.” Kim moves her family into her “dream mansion” that they’re almost immediately kicked out of next season. Sheree buys some land for Chateau Sheree. Nene thinks she’s going to be a Hollywood actress because she got a recurring role on Glee. Cynthia starts her now-defunct modeling agency. Overall, the season was very busy with individual storylines, none of which were exactly headline-worthy but delivered a lot of laughs.
I don’t automatically think of Season 2 when I start a RHOA rewatch. But the “Tardy For The Party” of it all and Kim’s country-turned-club singer dreams were truly something to behold. The season also features the iconic fight between Kim, Sheree, Nene, and Lisa Wu outside of a restaurant where Sheree’s “shifts” Kim’s wig. (Michael Lohan is famously lurking in the background.) And who can forget “Who ‘Gon Check Me, Boo?”
This is one of those typical Real Housewives seasons that was frustrating to watch in the moment but extremely enjoyable looking back. This show tends to dip in quality, depending on Nene’s attitude towards the rest of the cast. And this woman was truly never more miserable than in Season 7, following the cancellation of The New Normal and her ongoing beef with Cynthia. Still, we got some hilarious moments, including the ultimate reading session between Nene and one-season wonder Claudia Jordan. “What’s wrong with a bob?” “Nothiiiing….” hasn’t lost its replay value.
I will go to my deathbed defending Kim Fields’ one-season tenure on
RHOA. Obviously, the Living Single actress wasn’t a good fit the long-term, given that she seemed to look down on the entire show. But watching her try to swim in a pool of sharks—the main one being Kenya—was a surreal experience I’ll never forget. The season also proved that the show does not live and die by Nene, as much as we love her.
I would argue that the next four years after Season 9 are pretty similar in quality, which is why they blur together in my mind. Season 11 stands out the most because we watched another devastating rift in Nene and Cynthia’s friendship—which, again, was primarily Nene’s fault. Aside from that, we do have some pretty notable episodes, including a surprisingly fun trip to Destin that results in a singing competition where Kandi’s famously shaky vocals are once again on display. There’s also the infamous “Bye Wig” party, where Nene calls Marlo “Purple Rain” and rips a cameraman’s shirt off his back. Fun but not super memorable!
This is another mostly breezy season where the biggest plotline is the fight between Kim and Nene over a roach. It’s a genuine delight watching Nene return after taking a much-needed tw0-year break and genuinely have fun with the women. On the other hand, it was equally compelling watching Kim come back and tell a series of lies that she would then deny at the reunion, despite tons of footage. I would say the reunion is the most eventful part. This is where Nene asks Kim “WHERE IS YOUR SCOOTER?” and Kim’s controversial off-mic moment where she complains about coming off racist happens.
The first half of this season is wasted on a silly investigation after Nene implies that friend-of Yovonna Momplasir recorded Cynthia disparaging her. It really didn’t matter considering Cynthia and Nene had a huge falling-out, so, of course, Cynthia was going to trash-talk her. However, this fiasco did result in a near melee in a hotel room in Toronto where Nene charged down a hallway after Kenya.
This season, we also got a terrifying look at Kenya’s relationship with her estranged husband Marc Daly. Episode 16, where she plans a lavish event for his charity by herself and he basically talks to her like a dog the whole time, still haunts me. Sometimes, watching a marriage crumble on Bravo can be really enthralling, like a good soap opera. Other times, like Kenya’s and Marc’s situation, it’s just depressing.
I would say this is when RHOA became unforgivably bad, even with the COVID-19 pandemic in the mix. As much as Bolo-gate was a funny headline to read before the season aired, watching this “controversy” play out on the show made me regret Kenya and Porsha’s employment entirely.
As I originally wrote about the premiere, Season 14 was promising at the start. With a new production company, you could tell that everyone wanted to make the season great. And Marlo joining the cast seemed like a safe bet, given all the memorable moments and petty fights she provided as a friend-of. However, everything went downhill pretty quickly, thanks to how Marlo-centric the season became. As much as I appreciate Marlo for her willingness to engage in confrontations, you can’t center an entire season around someone whose grievances with the other cast members never make any sense!
This current season is just a doubling-down on everything that was wrong with Season 14, including bringing almost the exact same cast back. Marlo, Sheree, and Sonya Richards-Ross joining forces as truly the most dense clique on TV has made the show unwatchable. There’s a lot of discord, but all of it is inconsequential and hard to get invested in. Does anyone really care whether Marlo and Kandi ever become friends or are even cordial? And if it wasn’t already evident that this show has run out of ideas, there’s another lesbian investigation involving Drew Sidora. I’ve seen enough!
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