It's been a big year of moving beyond the mothership for the ladies of "Real Housewives of Atlanta." NeNe Leakes landed recurring roles on "Glee" and NBC's comedy pilot (and likely pickup) "The New Normal," Kandi Burruss' making-a-music-star special "The Kandi Factory" has been picked up as a full blown series for Bravo and Kim Zolciak is fronting the first official "Atlanta" spinoff: "Don't Be Tardy for the Wedding."
Chronicling the dramatic events leading up to Zolciak's nuptials last November, "Don't Be Tardy" plays like a slimmed down "Real Housewives" arc and should appeal to "Atlanta" fans as naturally as Bravo's "Bethenny Ever After" capitalized on "Real Housewives of New York" breakout Bethenny Frankel.
Back in the first season of "Atlanta," it would've been hard to imagine Zolciak carrying her own show. The surgically-enhanced, wig-loving, chain-smoker was something of a villain, ostracized for her seemingly gold-digging affair with a married man, music career pipe dreams, and rambunctious personality leading to frequent fights with her co-stars and a roller-coaster frenemy relationship with Leakes. These days, though, it's Kim who's looking grounded and occasionally even admirable.
If you can believe what you see on reality TV, everything changed when Kim met NFL player Kroy Biermann. The sweet, quiet All-American boy from Montana appeared to calm Kim down and provide a solid foundation where before there was just uncertainty. They had a baby boy, KJ (as in Kroy Jr.), first and then Kroy proposed. Rather than letting the events play out as one more "Atlanta" storyline (like the marriage of cast member Cynthia Bailey in season three), someone seized the opportunity for a logical spinoff from the highest-rated installment in the "Housewives" franchise.
It helps that "Tardy" will air in brisk half-hour episodes instead of trying to pad things out to a full hour. Although they're not in the premiere, we're promised appearances from Kim's "Atlanta" co-stars in future episodes while also spending more time with Kroy, Kim's daughters 14-year-old Brielle and 9-year-old Ariana, and her mother Karen -- who is immediately established as the show's wild card.
The first half hour is a typical mix of sex jokes, over-the-top displays of wealth (Kim tells Kroy she wants to set their wedding budget at $500,000, while her celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie tells her to think about seven figures), and family bonding. There's nothing outside of the "Atlanta" wheelhouse and the spinoff works for the same reasons: Kim is good TV -- funny, lively, never taking herself too seriously and not afraid to stir up drama over any little thing.
The show caters to an even narrower niche than "Housewives" (it doesn't seem likely anyone without preexisting interest in the franchise will check "Tardy" out, unless they're really obsessed with the details of planning a massive wedding in two months time), but there's enough built-in attachment to make it a tangent worth taking.
"Don't Be Tardy for the Wedding" premieres April 26 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo
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