Prep the popcorn and grease the gossip chain — “The Hills” is back.

MTV’s greatest guilty pleasure brings us season four, and while the premiere was a only a half hour long, there’s still plenty to chew on and look forward to.

Of course, before we just dive back in, our star and narrator Lauren Conrad is there to make sure we know what we’re getting ourselves into, and after a brief recap of last season comes the foreshadowing: “Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.” Brilliant.

Not only does the warning set the tone for the season, it also sums up the show itself, following up last season’s lackluster finale with a premiere primed for both drama and suspense.

Let’s start with Lauren’s date. The fact that she has one is exciting; the thought that she’s again retreating back to an old high school friend is terrifying.

This guy, however, is no Jason Wahler. Doug is actually tall, handsome and doesn’t have the communication skills of a sea sponge. That said, he's still not the most talkative of the bunch, making for some painful moments of silence, coupled with some even more awkward questions like, “So, Lauren, what have you been up to for the past four years?” Seriously?

Still, as L.C. dates go, this one was quite promising, and it was hard not to be happy when he followed it up with an impressive performance at the birthday party she threw for roommate Audrina Patridge.

Doug gets plenty of brownie points for volunteering to man the grill and for making mingling with Audrina’s tattooed, mohawked friends somehow seem painless.

Third roommate Lo Bosworth, on other hand, deserves to be pushed in the pool for her foul attitude. Who gets mad at the birthday girl for inviting her own friends to her own party? We hear a lot about all the “effort” Lo’s making to patch things up with Audrina, but I’m willing to bet that we aren’t going to see very much.

Similar to our dear Spencer Pratt, who kicks off his “new start” with ex-fiancee Heidi Montag by openly bashing her visiting sister. That seems productive. Though I will second his notion that if Holly Montag decides to move to L.A., there’s no way she only stays with them for two weeks — that isn't nearly enough coattail time to secure her own MTV apartment and camera crew. Though having brought his own sister onto the show and spent plenty more than two weeks on her couch to boot, Spencer’s glass house here couldn’t be more fragile.

Heidi’s job, on the other hand, is apparently indestructible. Who ditches their boss on a business trip and only suffers a scolding as result? Even if this job is as fake as her lips (and, ahem, other parts of her body), MTV really needs to be a little more convincing here.

Or they could go the Audrina route and just show random work scenes so we can watch her gossip with co-workers, but after three seasons still have no idea what she actually does. Not like we care. We all know the only thing she’s doing at that desk is leaking naked pictures of herself onto the Internet anyway. Not much left to the imagination there, Audrina.

The ability to be blunt with Lo, however, is a definitely a side of her we’ve never seen. No one could have predicted that we’d ever witness shy, sweet Audrina telling Bosworth and her fake olive branch, “I just don’t care anymore … we’ll never be friends.” I think I’d rather see that kind of anger and assertiveness directed at JustinBobby, but it’s a good start.

So now it’s a full-on roommate war with Lauren and her perfect mascara-stained tears in the middle. She was right, things did get a bit worse, and yet they're so much better.