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The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: It’s Danielle’s Party, and She’ll Cry If She Wants To

How much more interesting did TRHONJ just get since the Giudice bankruptcy story came out? Last week, they were buying their kid an ATV for her birthday; this week we find out they owe somewhere in the vicinity of, oh, $8 and $11 million on an annual salary of $79,000, plus $120,000 in loans from “the family.” Which not only puts a new spin on Teresa’s sudden interest in Gia’s career, but is so much more interesting than the endless pretend pink princess party they try to pass off as their life week after week. Because it seems to us that what the Giudices really need — for reasons way more pressing than your usual, basic fame-whoring — is a Bravo show of their own, preferably one that contributes more to the household income than the reported $3,300 TRHONJ is currently bringing in, which must cover Gia’s monthly lip-gloss budget and little else.

But in order for that to happen, they’re going to need to stop doing their best to incite an angry French-revolutionary mob to find a wormhole in the time-space continuum for the express purpose of traveling to Franklin Lakes and chopping their heads off — that is, if some angry Russian peasant mob led by Bolsheviks doesn’t beat them to it — and start banking some sympathy. Because, seriously, were the show’s producers so unaware of the financial house of cards that was (is?) the Juicy’s entire existence that they couldn’t include one sneaky shot of the bills bursting out of the mailbox, or pesky dinnertime calls from collection agencies, or catch even the tiniest flicker of doubt on Teresa’s face in the pregnant moment before her card gets swiped? These housewives could stand to learn a thing or two from the Novogratzes. Sure, they’re using Bravo as a no-cost alternative to hiring a PR agency to promote their business (who isn’t), but at least they have the decency to throw in a little dramatic tension by talking about their debt, which makes us worry about them and want to root for them instead of making us think that maybe the one-child-per-family limit is an idea that's time has come. Because when you get right down to it, TRHONJ is basically “Pimp My Life.” For all the shit (richly deserved) Danielle has gotten, it’s obvious that there’s not a single cast member on TRHONJ who’s in it for anything other than the professional opportunities and business promotion. If we hear another word about the Brownstone, we’re going to lose it. Get some paid programming, why don’t you?

Anyway, in this episode of TRHONJ, everyone talks about Danielle some more. Is this the result of the “research” they talked about in that recent New York Times article? The one about how the show lurks on message boards and scours Twitter, etc., for clues on how audiences want the plotlines to go? If so, we don't think it’s the best endorsement for slavish devotion to market research. Anyway, Kim G. ambushes Jacqueline at the Chateau (the local nail place) and tries to share her feelings of discomfort about the whole cancer benefit/felonious entourage/gay slur debacle from last week. Jacqueline advises Kim not to broach the subject with Danielle, but Kim ignores the advice, kicking off Danielle’s weekly psychotic break. She brings it up as they’re getting ready for Danielle’s “first adult birthday party!” (by which she means the only birthday party anyone has ever thrown for her as an adult), and elicits the best quote of the evening. What she wants to know is if Danielle objected to her friend Danny using a gay slur to insult Christopher Manzo.

“Of course I did! I’m a gay advocate!”

The whole incident is very upsetting to Danielle, who ends up crying at her party about how much satisfaction the other housewives will gain from finding out that she cried at her party. Which is genuinely sad. As Ashley’s boyfriend points out later, Danielle really is like a 17-year-old trapped in a 47-year-old’s body. She’s a suppurating narcissistic wound. Even that morality-free fame remora Kim G. is mildly horrified and moved, saying, "You care too much about them!" Danielle hotly denies it — "Oh no! Don't go there!" — but it’s clear that as a kid she was traumatized for life by a roaming band of feral Heathers. In any case, Kim and Danielle make up, but you can tell Danielle has crossed Kim G. off of her secret list, at least until she’s distracted by fresh blood.

While Danielle’s daughters are still wisely MIA, Ashley steps into the void. She’s started an “I hate Danielle Staub” page on Facebook and started a text war. Danielle calls it “highly terroristic” and “nothing short of the KKK.” She ponders having her arrested, then takes her felonious sidekick, the highly terroristic Danny, out shopping for a suit. As they joke about their immediate association between wearing suits and facing charges, Danielle gets a call from Dina, who wants to get together to tell Danielle to leave her alone. Danielle doesn’t know this yet. Such is the nature of her mental illness that she thinks Dina must want to apologize. We have to concede that the nutjob has a point here, though. Who makes dates to tell estranged former friends to stay away? Dina’s invitation smacks of a promotional ploy, though it’s still unclear what she’s hocking (yoga tapes? Aromatherapy candles? Something’s coming). But the glimmer of hope and anticipation in Danielle’s darting, needy eyes as she waits for Dina to show up — are we crazy, or is what Danielle is really seeking … love?

Whatever it is, the meeting quickly devolves into another showdown, as advertised, and despite the pact made by every other cast member moments earlier at Caroline’s that they will never discuss Danielle again, ever, you know they’ll never be able to resist her dark, magnetic attraction, which they know will always make them look kind of good and moderately healthy by comparison — and not just because the centrifugal force of being sucked back into her drama is pulling back the skin on their faces, either. The ladies have brought it upon themselves. Without the crazy lady, they’ve got nothing.

Photo: Bravo