Credit: Ali Paige Goldstein/Bravo


As viewers of this durable franchise know full well, being a Real Housewife isn’t all champagne and caviar. And that's a good thing. The juicy season-three opener with the NYC contingent -- funny Bethenny Frankel, ditzy Ramona Singer, geeky Alex McCord, mouthy Jill Zarin and snooty Countess LuAnn de Lesseps -- features ritzy outings, frivolous gossip and wild confrontations.

The sniping starts in petty doses: During a boozy yacht party in the Hamptons, Zarin blasts the fiftysomething Singer for wearing a skimpy bikini and crying too much. Then the backbiting really kicks in. Much of the sizzle belongs to Frankel, who, since last season, has dumped BFF Zarin ("She’s grabby") and fallen for a cute but conservative new guy. No shrinking violet, she takes down de Lesseps ("You're fake!") and, later, scandal queen Kelly Killoren Bensimon ("You’re crazy!") in deliciously riveting scenes. Is it any wonder this woman, who's now pregnant, is getting a spinoff? (Bravo, 11 P.M.)