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Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Fashion Showdown

This week on Real Housewives of New Jersey: fifteen stilted lunches and half a catfight. You want action? Watch Waiting for Godot.

The episode starts with the second half of Teresa’s housewarming party and ends with the first half of Kim D.’s fashion show. In between, everyone talks about Danielle, or tries to get others to stop talking about Danielle, or gossips about Danielle behind her back but goes ahead and invites her to her “event.”

The turd has to get stirred somehow, and these ladies are nothing if not dutiful.

But here’s our question: Does RHONJ want to be a drama-club medley of Carmela Soprano highlights, or does it want to be an experimental take on the standard women-in-prison exploitation flick? Because it’s getting hard to tell, what with the wild mood swings. For what it's worth, we’d suggest going with the latter from here on out, mostly because we just found out that the RHONJ ladies may only make $3,333 per episode, which is 10 to 30 times less than their New York counterparts make, and, well — look at them! They’re the hardest-working housewives on TV! They’ll claw each other’s eyes out at the slightest provocation! They’ll eat each other’s babies! They’ll exhaust themselves and anyone who cares to watch them with their strategic back-stabbing. They’ll do anything for Bravo and Bravo’s depraved overlord and possible exploiter of children, Drunken Andy (we would totally watch a show called The Real Executives of Basic Cable, by the way). The exploitation thing may not seem fair, but you know what they say about life and fairness. And those cookbooks and sex tapes and singles and People magazine exclusives aren’t going to sell themselves.

As the show isn’t even trying to pretend that anything that happens is genuine or organic or spontaneous or unscripted, they might as well go all out: add some group shower scenes and a fiendish lesbian warden. Do something besides poke at the hornet’s nest that is Danielle’s fragile psyche with the dull stick that is Teresa’s intellect.

As trumped up as the Danielle drama is, though, it still beats Caroline’s newfound devotion to tediousness. The episode starts with her having lunch with two previously undisclosed sisters, Cookie and Franny, to discuss her housewifely problems. Her kids are flying the coop (though not exactly moving out). One of the sisters makes a joke at Caroline’s expense, and Caroline chuckles fondly, saying of her siblings, “When we fight, we fight crazy big. And when we laugh, we laugh crazy big. But we love each other to death.”

Later, Lonely Caroline makes cow eyes at Albert in the kitchen.

After that, Lonely Caroline makes cow eyes at Albert at the Chart House.

We're starting to miss the Marlon Brando imitation.

Meanwhile, Kim the two-headed monster diligently plays both sides and sets the scene for another confrontation between Teresa and Danielle, and it goes something like this:

Kim G. bad-mouths Danielle to anyone who will listen at Teresa’s party.

Kim D. meets Jacqueline and Teresa for lunch to invite them to her fashion show.

Danielle finds out that Kim D. has invited Teresa and Jacqueline to her fashion show and storms into Posche to confront her. Kim D. isn’t there, and in her stead Danielle finds a new employee who happens to be on the phone. The saleswoman holds up her just-a-minute finger, Danielle interprets it as a coded insult from Kim D. Danielle then whips herself into a frenzy of self-righteousness, prompting Kim D. to ask her to leave the store. Danielle vows never to shop at Posche again, and caps it with a movie-villain laugh, a curt “ba-bye,” and a wave.

Meanwhile, Kim D. asks Ashley to model for her, then calls Danielle to talk her into coming to the fashion show.

Caroline is summoned to Jacqueline’s kitchen for yet more advice on dealing with Danielle, and briefly comes back to life, animated once again by her Godfather role.

The night of the fashion show, Kim G. swings by Danielle's to pick her up. Danielle has put on leather leggings and prostitution heels for the occasion. Kim G., meanwhile, is decorously attired in what we sincerely hope is her granddaughter’s skirt.

Danielle braces for a fight: “Just remember there’s an animal thrown in with a bunch of women [woo-men] — Teresa. She’s an animal.”

Kim G. and Danielle arrive at the North Jersey Country Club late, a new and more presentable bodyguard in tow. Danielle knew everybody there. “And I felt such warmth.”

But such warmth evaporates when she spots Teresa and Jacqueline at Kim D.’s table. Then she feels such petty rage, refusing to clap for the models (“I’m not going to clap”) and pretending to be on the phone (“I’m going to pretend to be on the phone. Paris Hilton taught me that.”).

Predictably, it all ends in tears when Teresa insists on saying hello to Danielle on their way out. Perhaps not so predictably, Bravo chops the scene in half and sticks half of it in the fridge for next week. You've seen the scene a hundred times in promos already, but still it's annoying not to see it in toto, after all that birdbrained scheming and plotting. Teresa’s wearing her chinchilla, so presumably next week the fur is gonna fly. Still, we're standing by the Caged Heat idea.

Photo: Bravo