Watching Kim Zolciak, one of the stand out stars from Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta, was always a bit problematic. It's like a two martini lunch: you know you shouldn't be enjoying it, but there you are, having a blast. Here was a grown woman whose entire life was fake. She has fake boobs, fake hair, and a fake relationship with a married man who paid all her bills. You would never see her without a tumbler of wine, a cigarette, and so many designer labels that even the truest consumerist would be a little uncomfortable.
Here was a mother of two girls who made her money fighting with other women or loving an unavailable man she called "Big Poppa." But she was so fun. Watching her with her on-again-off-again friend NeNe Leakes was like a reality show Lucy and Ethel: Two crazy girls who get into all sorts of wacky situations. You wanted Kim to be your friend, even if only to make her snatch her life together and get it on track.
Surprisingly, she did it on her own. On the show we saw her meet Kroy Beirmann, an oak tree with a smile who is also a football player. He got her pregnant, proposed, and whisked her off for a world of happily ever after. A funny thing happened after Kim met Kroy. She did what is biologically impossible for most Real Housewives. She changed. Kim got kind of serious. She wasn't interested in the petty spats and squabbles of the Housewives anymore. The last season on the show, while she had the women over her house, she wasn't out on the town chasing after the next goblet of free Chardonnay or trying to shake her finger in someone else's face. She wasn't out in front of a strip mall chain restaurant getting her wig pulled in some stupid fight. Kim Zolciak became a real person.
That's the Kim we see on Don't Be Tardy for the Wedding, her new Bravo spinoff where she is planning her wedding to Kroy in only two months. The tension, for a change, isn't from wrangling with the other screech monsters who are Real Housewives, but trying to get everything in under the gun. Kim is still obsessed with labels and bling and having her tits hang out of whatever outfit she's wearing, but the sinister undertone of being Kim is gone. She starts off each episode with talking to her baby about what's going to happen in the episode. It's something that Kim has never been: really [bleeping] cute.
Instead of NeNe, Kim's partner in crime is her Matron of Honor Jen, who is a little overweight and plain looking but has a quick wit and sense of humor that was made for reality TV. She and Kim trying to work out with Kroy's trainer is like watching a scene right out of Absolutely Fabulous, but with better wigs. Kroy isn't around a lot and, when he is, he doesn't really have the energy that translates on camera. But we don't need that, we have Kim! Unlike Bethenny Frankel, whose spinoff is powered by her neurotic New York energy, Kim's mothering method is more laid back and comical, but not in the way that we're laughing at her for being a craven purse monger who neglects her children. That is the old Kim. We laugh because her family seems happy, they seem to really enjoy each other and they have the sort of fun that only a tight family can have. When Kim pushes her daughter in the pool it's funnier than the best pratfall, because her daughter is quickly over it. That's just life with Kim.
And we're loving living that life, at least as long as we have the backdrop of the wedding planning to keep the plot humming. That the show is meted out in 30-minute bursts rather than what could be a drawn-out hour doesn't hurt either. With her new husband and focus on the family (no, not the crazy Christian TV watchdogs) the new Kim has boiled herself down to what we always liked about her. Now she's just fun, without the problems. Well, most of them, at least.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan