The Shadiest Real Housewives Ever

Fans of the "Real Housewives" franchise know that there are many draws to each show, but one of the biggest is the feuding that takes place and, in particular, the way the women take each other down. Our favorite Housewives often get to do and say things that most humans would never dare say to a frenemy (or straight up enemy), and there is something very fun about watching them cross those line. For our list of the shadiest Real Housewives, we considered two different ways of insulting someone: reading and throwing shade.

Dictionary.com defines throwing shade as "a subtle way of disrespecting or ridiculing someone verbally or nonverbally," whereas a read is "a no-holds-barred approach to insulting and judging someone" (per Marie Claire). If someone has been read well, they have been "read for filth." These terms have roots in LGBTQ communities of color and are often traced back to the 1990 documentary "Paris Is Burning," (per Business Insider) but received new life with the popularity of "RuPaul's Drag Race" and the mainstreaming of queer culture.

Different Housewives have different strategies for how to insult someone, so this is a mix of women who know how to read someone for filth and those who can launch more subtle grenades. We also considered how clever and funny the person is with their insults -– after all, anyone can tell someone off, but not everyone can produce moments that make viewers cackle. Here are 14 of the shadiest "Real Housewives" cast members in history, in no particular order.

Phaedra Parks

This list is not ordered, but if it were, Phaedra Parks would likely be at the top. "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast is by far the best at reading and throwing shade, and Parks excels at both. Her Season 6 reunion takedown of Kenya Moore -– seen here -– remains the gold standard of "Real Housewives" reads. The reunion aired in May 2014, and our jaws are still agape. Moore was often the target of Parks' most brutal lines, which have included "She's a beauty queen on bath salts," "I called you Satan, but I didn't call you a wh**e," and "Her booty is more lumpy than a bad batch of gravy."

Parks is equally as good with a more subtle jab, such as, "If you're watering your own grass, you won't know what my lawn looks like," a dig at Moore's lack of a relationship. This was not the only relationship dig Parks has taken at Moore's expense, saying directly to Moore, "You can't be a Housewife because you can't get a husband." But Parks has no trouble picking other targets, going after co-star Porsha Williams, who famously thought the underground railroad was an actual railroad. "When it comes to traveling to Mexico on a trip that Kenya organized, honey, I'd rather have Porsha take my Black History Month final exams," Parks said in Season 6, Episode 17. She also took on Kim Zolciak-Biermann with, "A wig does not count as a hat." Bustle once anointed Parks as "The Queen of Throwing Shade," and we can't really disagree.

Kenya Moore

Kenya Moore has frequently been the focus of attacks, both from Phaedra Parks, as previously discussed, as well as from the other women on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." But Moore is not a victim, and much of the shade she receives is warranted. She is herself a master of the tongue lashing, never afraid to take a jab no matter the target. While she does not excel at shade –- subtlety is not Moore's brand –- she is a master of cutthroat reads. As she did once say in Season 6, Episode 17, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall. I am the shadiest one of them all."

Moore has a number of memorable reads that are worth revisiting, like when she said in Episode 8 of Season 8, "Kim looks like a confused prostitute at Disney World," about Kim Fields, or when she came back at Porsha Williams with the zinger, "No, I don't shop at ThreeDollarBundleHair.com," in response to the assertion that she was wearing Williams' hair line. One of her most iconic feuds was with Sheree Whitfield, as the two competed for years as they each built their dream homes. Moore's home-related reads included, "Sheree is screaming at me and acting crazy as if I sliced the air mattress she's been sleeping on for the last four years," and "The neighbors have a lot to say about Chateau She-Can't-Pay." Bonus points also go to Moore for one of the most savage greetings ever, when she approached adversary Williams with, "Hi, I didn't invite you" at a party.

Shereé Whitfield

Shereé Whitfield is so good at throwing shade that even her laughs are devious (see: this GIF from when Porsha Williams showed up uninvited at Kenya Moore's party). No one should be surprised by anything Whitfield does, given that she has been brought back to "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" twice now after short absences. Producers and audiences can't get enough of the self-proclaimed "bone collector," and a big reason why is her ability to go toe-to-toe with just about anyone. Her shadiness is not confined to TV either, as she entered into a savage Twitter war with fellow cast member Drew Sidora.

Whitfield has taken on most of the memorable "RHOA" cast members at some point, but she has a few targets who have earned more than a few jabs. The first is Nene Leakes, who Whitfield shaded in Season 1 when she said, "What are the odds of all people, it's Nene who's not on the list?," leading viewers to believe that Leakes was purposefully snubbed from a party. She also famously fought with Leakes at a restaurant, yelling, "Wasn't your first car repo'd out of the parking lot of Home Depot?" as Leakes bolted down the street. Her other big foe in earlier seasons was Kenya Moore, who she once told to "get a roof on before you start throwing shade," amongst other insults about her home. And, finally, who could forget one of the best lines ever to grace "RHOA" –- the iconic "Who gon' check me, boo?" in a scene between Whitfield and a party planner who never stood a shot.

LuAnn de Lesseps

For someone who talks about class so often, LuAnn de Lesseps sure does know her way around an insult. An original cast member on "The Real Housewives of New York," de Lesseps has provided us with countless quotable reads over the years. In early seasons, the vast majority of her jabs were aligned with her holier-than-thou persona, such as when she told Alex McCord, "You came after me, in your Herman Munster Shoes," before stating that "Even Louis Vuitton makes mistakes." Other gems include "It's really hard for me to say that I'll miss her all that much, but as they say on Broadway, the show must go on without you," which was said about Bethenny Frankel, and when she asked Ramona Singer, "What other dirty tricks do you have to pull out of your pinot-filled hat?"

While we enjoy de Lesseps' direct insults, it is her cool shade that really makes us gas. When she was given a room in the basement during a cast trip, she sent host Ramona Singer a wonderful text that read, "Goodnight from the lower level." Another classic scene saw de Lesseps take a jab at onetime friend Carole Radziwill after Radziwill proclaimed, "We've all had 20-something year-olds," in defense of her younger boyfriend. "I know, but not to introduce to the children," de Lesseps said, before Radziwill responded with "I'm not introducing him to the children." And then, de Lesseps went for the jugular when she scoffed, "I know, because you have none." She later claimed to regret the shade, per the Daily Mail, but we have a feeling the only thing she regretted was that it was on camera.

Lisa Vanderpump

Before we even get to Lisa Vanderpump's reads, we have to mention her taglines, which were always some of the cleverest across any city. Our favorite was "Throw me to the wolves and I shall return, leading the pack," but the shadiest one was definitely her final season tagline, "I'm passionate about dogs, just not crazy about b***hes." That season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" was, of course, centered on a scandal about a dog ("Puppygate"), which makes the tagline even more fitting.

Vanderpump was also quite shady in her confessionals, like when she said, "It's nice to know she's been eating -– even if it's only diet pills," about castmate Taylor Armstrong. She also once proclaimed, "I don't mean to make her nervous ... that much," which she said to the camera about frenemy Adrienne Maloof. She also once said that her dog's bathroom was bigger than a hotel room (during a trip to Puerto Rico), which is hilarious and ridiculous in all the right LVP ways. Not only has Vanderpump taken jabs on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," but she has also exercised her shady side on her spin-off, "Vanderpump Rules." Her most savage line was when she told employee Stassi Schroeder, "You're not important enough to hate. Sit down." Somehow, Schroeder was able to avoid crying -– not sure that we could.

Tamra Judge

Like many "Real Housewives," "The Real Housewives of Orange County" alum Tamra Judge does not do subtlety. In fact, she is probably the opposite of subtle -– the woman will scream in your face without batting a perfectly manicured eyelash. She is also brutal with her reads and somewhat terrifying with how she executes them. She once asked Vicki Gunvalson's cancer-faking boyfriend Brooks Ayers, "Is your a** jealous of the sh** that comes out of your mouth?" and another time said, "Jeana looks great. She just has a nasty soul." She did not just take her digs in confessional either, as she told the same woman, Jeana Keough, "I'm disgusted by the human being that you've turned into." Yikes.

Judge has a humorous but curious fixation on breasts, which is fitting for the woman whose old implant lives in the "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" clubhouse. Her Season 7 insult to religious cast mate Alexis Bellino, "You are psychotic, Jesus Jugs," is one of her signature lines. She also once asked in a confessional, "Why would you trust a girl with bigger t**s than her head?," and made a point of calling one-season "Housewife" Lizzie Rovsek "Kentucky Fried T***ies." Our favorite underrated Judge read is probably when she said, "I mean, the only thing I can think is the guy was conceived anally because he's the biggest a**hole I know," though if we could go with more of a threat than a read, "I will cut you like bag bangs, b***h" is also stellar.

Bethenny Frankel

If Tamra Judge is an in-your-face, go-for-the-jugular insult queen, then Bethenny Frankel is a straight-up verbal assassin. "The Real Housewives of New York" originating cast member has achieved post-show success like no other, and a big part of that success has been her unfiltered mouth. She even had a talk show –- "Bethenny" –- at one point, though she was a lot nicer there than she ever was on "RHONY." Frankel's method is to be as direct as possible, often with a hint of sarcasm but not always. For instance, there was nothing sarcastic about her "I don't like you, I don't trust you, and I think you're a snake," directed at LuAnn de Lesseps. In 2017, Us Weekly called it one of the franchise's "nastiest insults."

A lot of Frankel's assaults are humorous, like when she not-so-subtly tells someone she is over listening to them. "I just fell asleep. Hold on. Wake me up when this is over," she said to Heather Thomson in one episode. "I'd rather eat glass than talk about this," is another one of her killer lines. Frankel once told de Lesseps, "You wanna take any man. You make them your prey, and it's like a Venus flytrap," which is hilarious but incredibly mean in typical Frankel fashion. Not all of her reads land well, and Frankel has been known to trot out amateurish lines like "you dumb drag queen" and "she's coocoo for Cocoa Puffs" alongside her gems, such as "Trying to get her laid is like Saving Private Ryan. We're all gonna die trying."

Nene Leakes

"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" icon Nene Leakes is not only good at telling people what she thinks of them, but she is also one of the funniest women ever to appear on any city within the franchise. There is a reason she ended up on Broadway and in shows like "Glee" and "The New Normal." Leakes' faces alone can send us into fits of laughter, but it's her words that really delight viewers. Her co-stars are likely less happy about the jabs. We could not possibly cover all of Leakes' incredible reads over the years, but some of our favorites include "You wouldn't know what comes down the runway considering what you've got on, spaghetti straps," aimed at Claudia Jordan (who had a great retort, for the record!) and when she reacted to Kenya Moore's temporary accommodations with, "Ooh, not a white refrigerator."

Leakes has fought with basically everyone, but her signature relationship is probably the on-again, off-again friendship she has had with Kim Zolciak-Biermann. Zolciak-Biermann has never been able to compete in the war of words, which would make us feel really bad for her if Leakes were not so damn funny. Amongst her many insults, she has told the woman to "close your legs to married men," and called her a "dirty low-down monkey with a wig on." The wig has been a big topic of discussion, and Leakes' "Bye, wig" has become a signature dust-off. Bonus points for when she told Kenya Moore, "You are the lowest paid, sitting around here acting a fool for two dollars and fifty cents."

Ramona Singer

Ramona Singer has been a staple of "The Real Housewives of New York" since its inception, for better or for worse. And while the controversial cast member is not always likeable, few can argue that she is not entertaining. In between pooping on the floor and planning parties for her 50 closest girlfriends, Singer has been known to throw verbal punches. Her longtime friend and co-star Sonja Morgan refers to these as "The Singer Stinger," which seems like an apt description. "At least I have friends, you have no friends," she told Bethenny Frankel back in 2010. "Take a Xanax. Calm down," is another of her classic lines (which she aimed at underrated Housewife villain Aviva Drescher).

Frankel has often been the target of Singer's zings -– who can forget when she distinctively told her she doesn't "support other women" –- but not all of these have been outright reads. When she said, "I'm proud of her success. I was self-made by the time I was 30. She was self-made by the time she was 37," Singer almost appeared to lack awareness of her shade. That backhanded way of complimenting or congratulating someone is a Singer signature, like when she told LuAnn de Lesseps, "Let's toast to your marriage. I hope you don't fall on your face with him. I only want the best for you." In other instances, her shade has been almost accidental, like when she arrived at Heather Thomson's vacation home and asked, "Is this the house or the garage?"

Karen Huger

"The Real Housewives of Potomac" is filled with great reads and plenty of shade, but since we only have so much room on our list, we could only fit one "RHOP" lady, and there was absolutely no other choice than the Grand Dame herself, Karen Huger. Huger started out Season 1 as a very entitled, stuck-up woman hellbent on etiquette –- she once got mad that someone sat in her chair –- but has somehow morphed into a much more fun, funny, and quick-witted powerhouse. "They're cut from the same cloth -– moldy, mildewy, messy" and "I don't have time to Google your a**" will never not be hilarious.

Huger has had a contentious friendship with Gizelle Bryant since "RHOP" began, if we can even call it a friendship. The two are frequently at odds, and Bryant has been the recipient of a lot of Huger's most brutal insults. "Gizelle being messy is a train that always arrives on time," Huger has said about her fashion-impaired frenemy. In Season 6, she referred to her as "a broken wh*re from Hampton University" in a group dinner scene. She has even suggested that Bravo give Bryant a spin-off show focused on making her over (per Page Six). Some of Huger's best shade is lower key, like when she said, "I actually like her but she's irritating" about Bryant (in the series premiere episode) or claimed, "I am dressed to the nines and I didn't know the attire was flip flops."

Lisa Barlow

"The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" has not been around as long as some of its sister shows, but it is in no way lacking in terms of entertainment. And while the cast has yet to give us "Atlanta" or "New York City" levels of shadiness, we have not been disappointed by the daggers that have been thrown on "RHOSLC" in its early seasons. Lisa Barlow is probably the best at reading people, both in confessionals and to their faces. That is not even mentioning her Season 2 hot mic moment where she was caught trashing longtime friend Meredith Marks.

Barlow started off her tenure on "RHOSLC" with more subtle shade, like when she told Heather Gay she did not know her from university despite clearly remembering her, since she also called her a "good time girl." Gay and her cousin Whitney Rose are generally the ones on the other end of a Barlow insult. "I don't judge you. I don't care enough to judge you," she told them over a meal in one episode. When Barlow felt her gift of tequila (she owns Vida Tequila) was not well received by Rose, she also stuck her with this zinger about her party: "Hopefully it turned out good though. It doesn't sound like it did." She also dubbed the cousins "Bad Weather," a combination of the names Whitney and Heather.

Brandi Glanville

If we are being totally honest, as entertaining as Brandi Glanville can be, she also terrifies us. Her insults cut like a knife, and she is probably as unfiltered as "Real Housewives" cast members get. So, while we enjoy watching her launch grenades, it can also be uncomfortable to see things go so low. When she told Joyce Giraud de Ohoven that she did not look like a Joyce because "Joyce is a big fat pig," we could not help but recoil. Her Season 2 game night fight with the Richards sisters was also quite dark. "At least I don't do crystal meth in the bathroom all night long, bitch," she said to Kim Richards.

Glanville has also had words with Kim's sister Kyle Richards, though the two are reportedly now friendly (per BravoTV). After Richards told her she was not wanted in a Season 5 episode, Glanville went for the jugular when she replied, "Excuse me, neither are you. Ask your husband." She also told Lisa Rinna that her hairstyle had been the same for decades (true) and told Kyle Richards that she could not be seen with a tampon string hanging out "because you don't get your period anymore, b***h," which Richards accurately blogged was "demeaning to women." Glanville does occasionally hit with zingers that are lighter in tone, like when she told Rinna (who has advertised adult diapers), "You need to change your Depends, because you're so full of s***." 

Dina Manzo

There are many things to love about "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," but we don't think the reads are generally top tier. While entertaining, Caroline Manzo calling someone "garbage" or a "clown" is rather basic and not the best that the franchise has to offer. And while many "RHONJ" cast members have at least a couple of good reads under their belt -– especially Margaret Josephs, who told Jennifer Aydin her lip liner looked like "a monkey's a**hole" -– few of them stand out the way that, say, the ladies of Atlanta do. Dina Manzo is the closest that "RHONJ" has had to a true shade queen, and it is a shame she did not last longer on the show.

Manzo's ultimate quote has to do with Danielle Staub, who was her main foe on the show. "This girl is obsessed with me. I don't know if she wants to be me or skin me and wear me like last year's Versace," Manzo famously told the camera in a confessional. She also knocked Staub down a peg when she noted that, "when we're all sitting down at night, drinking a cup of tea, petting our cats, she's like scheming all this crazy a** stuff," and when she said, "Karma's a b***h and so is she." Aside from Staub, Manzo's other big memorable read was directed at Jim Marchese, the much-reviled husband of one-season Housewife Amber Marchese. "The magnitude of his d***hbaggery could clean a whale's vagina," she said. We don't know what it means, but it feels correct.

Porsha Williams

Rounding out our list is yet one more lady from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," because truly, no other city can compare to "RHOA" when it comes to reading and shade. Porsha Williams left as a main cast member, but she has been an integral part of its success over the years. The woman once told someone they "look like a thumb with lips on it," and if that does not make you laugh, we don't know what does. She is also still launching shade at her former castmates despite not being on "RHOA," like her recent Twitter post about the poor ratings for Season 14 (she left after Season 13).

Williams does not do refined shade well, but she absolutely knows how to read someone for filth. Her most frequent target has been Kenya Moore, and their feud at one point got so bad that Williams assaulted her castmate at the Season 6 reunion. In terms of verbal beatings, she has offered Moore quite a few, including when she called her a "slut from the '90s" and when she said, "Google you? From when? It's not even in the search engine, you're so old." Our favorite Williams insult, however, was directed at Eva Marcille and delivered at the Season 12 reunion, which happened on Zoom amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "Girl, them t***ies are aged hens. They social distancing, b***h. Don't come for me," she said.