They’re back and more fabulous than ever. Real Housewives of Atlanta, Bravo’s most-watched series in the Housewives franchise, premiered last week and these ladies know how to bring the drama with a capital D.

Now in its third season, the series revolves around the lives of author Nene Leakes, wig designer and one-hit wonder Kim Zolciak, designer Shereé Whitfield and singer/writer Kandi Burruss. Two new housewives were added for this season: model Cynthia Bailey and attorney Phaedra Parks.

In past years, the show has revolved around the constant friend/frenemy relationships between Nene, Kim and Shereé, Kim’s love life and the music careers of both Kandi and Kim. While these storylines are still ongoing, season three brings new tensions to the fold. Nene’s marriage of 13 years is at a breaking point, Shereé is back on the dating scene following her divorce and Kandi is still coping with the sudden death of her ex-fiancée, AJ. Phaedra, who is pregnant with her first child, must deal with gossipmongers when word gets out that her younger husband, Apollo, is a felon. And Cynthia, who has been engaged three times but has yet to seal the deal, must face her fears of matrimony when her older boyfriend Peter gives her an ultimatum: marry me before my 50th birthday, or else.

The season premieres with a renewal of the friendship between Nene and Kim, who were on the outs after the recording of Kim’s single “Tardy for the Party” last year. The two, who were friends before casting (Nene introduced Kim to the Bravo producers), agree to put their differences behind them. Kim also reveals that she had been in a lesbian relationship following the breakup of her relationship with Big Poppa, her mysterious, married lover, and Nene says that her marriage is on the rocks. Kim then asks Nene about rumors about her husband owing Dwight, Nene’s good friend, $10,000. Nene, shocked by the news, immediately confronts her husband about it, who admits to owing Dwight $500 for a failed business deal. When Dwight and Nene attend the same party later in the episode, sparks fly.

Like all of reality television, the strength of this show relies solely its characters. But unlike some of the other Housewives casts (I’m looking at you, D.C. and O.C.), Atlanta’s ladies don’t take themselves too seriously, which makes for hilarious antics and memorable episodes.

These women have fun, even when they’re fighting. During a confrontation between Kim and Nene in last season’s finale, Nene lashes out at her former best friend, “Is your wig squeezing your head too tight heifer?” These fights are far from the tearful frays between Bethenney Frankel and Jill Zarin in New York or the expletive-laden free-for-alls between Danielle Staub and Teresa Guidice in New Jersey. They’re just a little bit undignified, catty but still funny. The series is driven by the relationship between Nene and Kim, but the other ladies bring plenty of drama – and laughs – to the mix.

Bottom line: if you’re only going to watch one version of Housewives, make sure you watch Atlanta.

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