best reality characters 2010 Best Reality TV Characters of 2010: Russell Hantz, Snooki and moreYou’ve already seen the Best & Worst Reality TV Moments of 2010. How is this different, you may ask?

Well — moments and characters are not the same thing. For instance, an all-girl team finally winning “The Amazing Race” was awesome. But Nat and Kat weren’t exactly “characters.” They were good racers and are probably great doctors. But they weren’t what makes reality TV fun — crazy, polarizing characters.

That’s what this list is for. So with no further ado, Zap2it presents our Best Reality TV Characters of 2010, in alphabetical order.

Simon Cowell: Simon took his Cowellness to a whole new level during his last season on the show. He had very clearly checked out this year, running out the clock until he could bolt for “The X Factor.” It was delightful to watch his increasing boredom and frustration with a show that now succumbs to the whims of tween girl voters. The ultimate moment was when Simon finally told Tim Urban that it didn’t matter what Tim did, he was going to smile and girls were going to vote for him regardless of talent. Cowell might as well have finished that sentence with, “I don’t give a bloody h*** anymore. Ta-ta!”

Teresa Giudice, Danielle Staub, the Manzos, Jacqueline Laurita: It’s so hard to choose from the giant cesspool that is the “Real Housewives” casts. But you really can’t argue with the “lovely” “ladies” of New Jersey. Weaves torn off, lesbian dalliances, growling — they embody reality TV characters.

Vienna Girardi and Tenley Molzahn: Has there ever been a bigger good vs. evil showdown on a “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette”? In one corner is Tenley, a girl so sweet sugar won’t melt in her mouth. In the other corner is Vienna, a crazy famewhore that no one on the show liked. They certainly gave the audience a lot to root for and against.

Russell Hantz: Not only did he make a lagging franchise interesting again (for two seasons in a row, no less), but we have never seen fans of “Survivor” so divided. Whether you loved or hated Russell, you cannot deny that he made for excellent television.

Bristol Palin: Someone shot their TV over her “Dancing With the Stars” success and then you could flip right over to TLC to watch her gut fish. Way to keep at your 15 minutes, Palin.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: We are not big fans of “Jersey Shore,” but we cannot deny the ubiquitousness of Snooki since the show began a year ago. (Also – it’s only been a year?!) She also spawned one of the best “South Park” episodes in recent memory.

Prince Poppycock
: We were pretty surprised at how successful the flamboyant opera singer was on “America’s Got Talent,” especially considering that just a year before the winner was a little-talent chicken farmer. His antics with phallic champagne bottles, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and make up made for a nice addition to a show that is normally filled with acts entirely consisting of boring singers.

Rachel Reilly: Has there been a “Big Brother” contestant you wanted to punch more than Rachel? Between that laugh, her gross extensions, clown boobs and disgusting showmance with Brendon, we don’t think it gets much worse/better than Rachel in the world of reality TV.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."