We envy them, desire them, and scorn them in pretty much equal measure: the girls of reality TV. Who are the young female stars that prompt viewers to make appointments to see what they do next, either because they are just so darn likable, or because their antics are sure to be the main topic of discussion at coffee break time?
There's no time like summer -- when guilty pleasures flourish -- to rank the Girls of Reality TV:
10. Daisy De La Hoya, Daisy of Love: VH1 is learning that the success they had with turning the previously obscure "New York" into the star of her own show can't be duplicated at will with other civilian contestants on their dating shows. Daisy was fine as one of the crowd on Rock of Love. She knew she was there to be the bimbo-est of the numerous blond bimbos, and succeeded in the role. But now we're seeing her and her bike-tire lips (reminiscent of the Daisy who is sleeping with Donald Duck) entirely too much. You're not watchable if people are closing their eyes in something like horror.
9. Bridget Marquardt, Bridget's Sexiest Beaches: Bridget is almost overqualified to be considered a girl of reality TV, in large part because she's now closer to 45 than 25. Besides, she has more educational attainment than most in her position. She works hard, but always seemed to be in the background on The Girls Next Door. At some point, you need to provide the fireworks or move into a new field. Suggested openings: The Price Is Right, or just hold out until Vanna White retires.
8. Audrina Patridge, The Hills: I've been using various synonyms for dumb to describe Audrina for years, but I'm going to try to be fair here. It's possible that the real issue is her weird eyes, which give her the look of being perpetually stunned. It appears Audrina is going to get another show at some point, in addition to the acting she's now doing, but can she be compelling enough to be the center of her own series? The example of Whitney is not promising here.
7. Whitney Port, The City: One wonders how often Whitney thinks about the strangeness of her life. A few years ago, she seemed set for a perfectly decent career in fashion journalism. But she wound up as a bit player on The Hills, which led to more airtime and eventually a new show of her own, a very odd development considering she's the very definition of a supporting character. The artificiality of The City merely enhances the fact that Whitney isn't watchable on her own. She's too nice a girl for someone like me to be criticizing her -- she needs to go back to real work.
6. Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, Keeping Up With the Kardashians: I'm including them as an entry, like you see in the Kentucky Derby. And no, there's not a distasteful joke there. In case you're having trouble remembering which is which: Kim is the famous one who makes sex tapes and dates Heisman Trophy winners; Khloe is the cute one with the DUI; and Kourtney is the one who is pretending to run a business. As a group, they make for a surprisingly decent wallow, but I fear that ambition may tear them apart, at least on TV. Let's hope not.
5. Heidi Montag Pratt, The Hills: Heidi has been given much of the credit for turning The Hills into a phenomenon, along with spouse/fungus Spencer. In her MTV environment, she is watchable, more interesting to follow than anyone else on the program. Her problem is that, like Kristin before her, she and Spencer now seem to feel that their home base is too small a platform for their awesomeness. Her stint on I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! was an embarrassment, and she's now posing for Playboy, one of pop culture's truest signs that someone's clock is nearing the 15 minute mark. Heidi needs to stick with what she does best, which just might be the only thing she can do well.
4. Kristin Cavallari, Laguna Beach and The Hills: Kristin left Laguna Beach, the show where she was basically the lead, with the goal of becoming a star for real. After finding out that girls like her are more plentiful in Hollywood than any other demographic group, she's worked her way back to The Hills, which is in need of a new focal point with Lauren Conrad gone. Kristin helped make the franchise what it is today and she ought to succeed at it again. Let's just hope she doesn't again make the mistake of believing we'll care about her in any other context.
3. Denise Richards, Denise Richards: It's Complicated: There are two things Denise has going for her. One -- and this is obviously subjective -- she is totally gorgeous, easily the most attractive woman on this list. Secondly, she seems to have a good handle on the reasons she's so controversial, even if she doesn't always believe the rap is justified. Unlike everyone else on this list, she's been famous for well over ten years, and thus has a jaded attitude toward Hollywood that works well on-screen. Stay snarky, Denise.
2. Kendra Wilkinson, Kendra: Holly Madison might have been the first among equals when she was in Hef's harem, but Kendra was the best-looking of the group, so I expect she's the one we might still be hearing about in a few years if her new family doesn't occupy her time. She has a way of coming across as a bit addled without seeming completely incompetent a la Anna Nicole Smith. Landing a likable husband and preparing for motherhood only enhances her appeal, especially considering that the world could use a reality mom who doesn't make us ill.
1. Jillian Harris, The Bachelorette: I think the format might get most of the credit here, because most of the Bachelors and Bachelorettes seem like decent enough people, unless they're swapping out fiancees at the last minute. She landed the role because she had been a fan favorite on The Bachelor (before Melissa distracted everyone with her own plight), and it's been so far, so good for Jillian in the starring role. The best thing about her is that we can be extremely into her for a few weeks and not worry that she will live to bug us for years to come like Heidi and Spencer.