Danielle Who? The 'Real Housewives of NJ' Roars Back with Compelling Drama

Even without uber-villain Danielle Staub, the hit Bravo show's season 3 premiere wasn't lacking in fascinating vitriol

The Real Housewives of New Jersey came roaring back on Monday's season 3 premiere. Amidst the high family drama, vitriol and violence that broke out at the christening of Joey Gorga (Teresa Giudice's nephew), viewers hardly had a chance to miss series villain Danielle Staub -- who departed the show after season 2. Staub -- who'll be appearing on the upcoming VH1 reality show Famous Food -- recently predicted that the show would turn into a bland, no-drama zone without her. But she was wrong. With or without her, hot tempers (and bad behavior) are still in great supply.

Granted, when a fight broke out between Teresa's husband, Joe, and her brother, Joe Gorga, it was a pale imitation of the family dynamics you might see in, say, The Godfather movies (yet many of the characters were in place: new cast member Kathy Wakile's goofy husband Rich is definitely Fredo). But even in this extremely low-brow form, the sibling rivalry and raw, violent anger was compelling to watch.

Joe-the-brother felt hurt by the seeming favoritism that his father showed towards his son-in-law. "You're my fath-ah!" he shrieked at the old Italian patriarch. "Your son-in-law's garbage!" And the brawl unfolded amidst cries of "Come on, man, you're family!"

University sociology departments could devote whole semesters of study to the characters of this show. Sure, copious amounts of alcohol (and a need to perform for the cameras) contributed a great deal to this explosive opening episode, but that doesn't negate the fact that these people are fascinating.

The show will always have its detractors (like a critic who wrote in a recent New York Times piece that "the show’s stars should be excommunicated, not from their church, necessarily, but certainly from New Jersey"), but the strange, crazy and often humorous nature of these particular human beings will always make for good entertainment.

WATCH: How Well Do The Real Housewives of New Jersey Ladies Know Their Show?

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