While we can’t honestly classify most of it as “real,” we admit that we’ve been hopelessly hooked on reality TV for, oh, about a decade and a half now. In honor of the 15th anniversary of Survivor (the show that kick-started the reality TV revolution premiered on May 31, 2000), we’re celebrating our favorite reality TV personalities in eight categories… and letting you pick the winners. Be sure to vote in the poll below — and if we left out your favorite, feel free to submit a write-in vote in the comments. Today’s category: Villains.
Juan Pablo Galavis, The Bachelor (Season 18)
Why He Makes the Cut: After winning fans over with his quiet charm, devotion to his daughter, and that dreamy accent on The Bachelorette, Juan Pablo was handed the title of the Bachelor — and that’s when the charm turned to smarm. The real Juan Pablo, we discovered, was a rude, condescending, and sometimes downright vulgar egomaniac who was clearly there to hook up with a bunch of women and then get the hell out of Dodge.
Best Moment: Besides saying “eees OK” about 138 times per episode? Probably when he had a naughty late-night swim with Clare and then accused her of setting a bad example for his daughter. Eees not OK.
— Kristen Baldwin
Russell Hantz, Survivor (Seasons 19, 20, 22)
Why He Makes the Cut: From the first moments on Samoa, Russell lied, pitted other players against each other, and even sabotaged his own tribemates. He said he was a Hurricane Katrina survivor, even though he was actually a multimillionaire. Russell did all this to sow chaos and disorder, out of which he could rise triumphant. But in the end, his arrogance and cockiness swayed the jury against him.
Best Moment: On Heroes vs. Villains, Russell teamed up with Parvati Shallow to pull off the greatest vote trickery of all time, basically persuading Tyson Apostol to vote himself out.
— Kelly Woo
Will Kirby, Big Brother (Seasons 2, 7)
Why He Makes the Cut: Will was the first — and we might argue still the best — reason to watch Big Brother. He was as smarmy and arrogant as a reality TV villain comes, yet, thanks to his bromance with fellow cheeseball and “Chilltown” alliance contestant Mike “Boogie” Malin, Dr. Will’s (yes, he is a board-certified dermatologist) manipulations and lies made for an entertaining summer watch. Oh, OK, it didn’t hurt that he was among the more attractive reality TV villains, but how can you not be amused by a guy who admitted his strategy was to lie as much as possible and purposefully lose all the competitions?
Best Moment: His Big Brother: All-Stars speech, in which he begged his fellow contestants to vote him out, because he hated all of them. They, of course, didn’t — as he knew they wouldn’t — until much later in the game.
— Kimberly Potts
Omarosa Manigault, The Apprentice (Season 1)
Why She Makes the Cut: One of reality television’s original (and all-around best) villains, Omarosa was the not-so-secret reason behind the success of The Apprentice’s freshman year. She was so skilled at stirring up conflict, so capable of pinpointing and exploiting her rivals’ weaknesses, that you couldn’t help but cheer her on. Sure, Omarosa was destined to go down in flames, but it was fun watching her take everyone else along for the ride.
Best Moment: Effectively puncturing Katrina Campins’s “I’m a good person” bubble and reducing her to a blubbering wreck.
— Ethan Alter
Spencer Pratt, The Hills (Seasons 2-6)
Why He Makes the Cut: Because he’s a walking, talking, smirking cautionary tale for young women everywhere. The moment the cheating, controlling, belittling party boy entered Heidi Montag’s life, he set to work isolating her from her family and friends — primarily bestie Lauren Conrad. It’s almost as though Spencer was trying to be a bad guy so the producers would give him more airtime.
Best Moment: It’s a tough call, as Spencer is hateful in pretty much every frame he appears in. But his Season 4 tantrum — in which he threatened to move out after Heidi’s sister Holly came to stay for a while — showcased all of his heinous qualities quite nicely.
— Kristen Baldwin