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The Real Housewives of NJ Recap: Hekyll and Jive

"You're one of my best friends," Teresa Giudice tells Jacqueline Laurita, then amends: "Actually, you're my best friend." Teresa Giudice is the kind of person who would say this to anyone when she thinks it'll manipulate them into doing or feeling something, which is arguably the worst kind of person there is. Beneath her many Matryoshka-doll-style layers of denial and use of Italian "old-schoolery" as an excuse for various transgressions, Teresa Giudice knows exactly what the fuck's up.

Bankruptcy be damned, Joe "'Roid" Giudice is busy ripping out concrete around the backyard, planning to build a garage (with a chandelier in it) and a house expansion. They plan on housing Tre's parents in this new hutch, which upsets Joe Gorga. The Giudice kids peer into the hole ripped into the ground by their father. "Look, frogs!" cries Milania. "Those frogs are gonna be dead," mutters Joe. This is like the beginning of Fern Gully.

Caroline throws some judgmental side-eye when Lauren orders the fruit cup (God forbid) instead of snorting egg whites or whatever every time her body requires actual sustenance. Lauren defends herself, and, amid the sea of putdowns and condescension that Lauren's had to put up with her whole life, Caroline gives her a rare nugget of image-positive understanding along the lines of: be happy, be healthy, be yourself. Then she calls Lauren a "chunk-a-munk." Jesus. Two steps forward, one step back. Also, if Albie and Chris are "the good-looking ones" anywhere besides hell or the DMV, I will eat my own hand.

Jacqueline Skypes with Ashley's dad, who looks exactly like every other man on this show. Surprise! Their little bundle of joy (and extensions, dyed ombré with Nyquil) is causing the same old problems and he's kicking her the fuck out. Jacqueline, who seems to have expected this for some time, slurps her Bailey's-spiked coffee with chagrin. Will Ashley be returning to Franklin Lakes?

Albie, Chris, Greg, and Lauren lie around on the leather sofas that doubtlessly fell off the backs of trucks, waiting out a dreary rainstorm in Hoboken, and order a big fucking pizza that Lauren barely looks at. She goes straight for her pepperoni-covered salad. The boys, devouring "heart attack in a bun" calzones, continue to bust poor Lauren's balls about her diet. "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," she sighs. "At least, that's what I tell myself." Because a mantra coined by Kate Moss is bound to be healthy, amirite? AMIRITE, LADIES? As they chow down, they wonder about the whereabouts of Big Mama Manzo. "Has she tweeted yet? That's how you know she's alive." (Sample tweet, recited sardonically by Lauren: “Good Morning Sunshine! let a smile be your style today :)") They check if she's alive by calling her, waiting for her to say "Hello," and hanging up.

Aside from instigating ratings-raising fights, it is a complete mystery to me why the Wives continue following Tre's various tabloid exploits, since they clearly upset everyone and mean virtually nothing in the scheme of things. This week's rags report that Tre withheld $250,000 advance for her cookbook and, like Joe Giudice, might spend some time in the clink. Jacqueline is reaching the end of her rope (which, thanks to Ashley, we know is long enough to circle the Earth twice) with Tre's tabloid exploits because she lies to everyone's face about them. 

Prison has no tanning beds, so Joe and Tre would not like prison. They meet with their lawyer James Kridel to discuss their options. "I guess God puts you through tests in life, and if anything, this bankruptcy made us stronger," Tre tells Professional Attorney Whose Bookshelves of Law Tomes in the Background Are Definitely Not Made of Cardboard James Kridel. He does not even rearrange his face to reflect that he's listening to her. (Fucks Given: 0.)

Kathy and Melissa are thick as thieves. While their husbands are off at the Yankees game, they talk about the newest tabloid (of course), but, to be honest, it's sort of unclear why everyone is so pissed this time. For once, Tre's not slamming the other women — only building additions to her house while juxtaposing rumors of bankruptcy and prison to the gossip rags. I hate to say it, but I sort of understand where Tre's coming from this week (I know). She's not hurting anyone this time, and the women mostly seem fixated about how the Giudices' wanton spending and lifestyle is "wrong" or "inappropriate," and it's kind of judgmental to gang up on people about how they spend their money. Not that Tre isn't a catty, backstabbing, manipulative crazy person every single episode, of course.

Kathy refers to herself as "a ping-pong ball of emotions."

Concerned, Jacqueline confronts Teresa about the possibility of going to prison, and she flatly denies anything. "I'll give you my attorney's number," she says. "I want to hear it from you!" cries Jacqueline, frustrated, but there's no getting through to Teresa — especially on the subjects of (a) Joe Giudice and (b) money, which are inexorably linked at this point. The additions to the house are brought up, and Tre passive-aggressively downplays them ("No closet"), but loses the tiny scrap of credibility she may have had in this argument riiiiight about here: "I don't sell articles to the press." 

"But you have two more articles in your contract," says Jacqueline.

"What contract?" asks Tre. UGH, this makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

Jacqueline's also pissed that Teresa's been tweeting Danielle, and it all goes back to making Melissa look like shit (although Melissa's song "How Many Times, Dear Joe" basically got the job done). Then Jacqueline accuses Tre of never asking her about her own problems. At this point, fingers are being sassy-wagged. "I'M NOT UPSET," yells Tre, at which point, Caroline literally pops out of the bushes out of nowhere and asks casually, "Why are you screaming?" Caroline points out that Tre mentioned in Chicago that she does, in fact, get paid for the tabloids, and rehashes the old cookbook shit, at which point it becomes Giudice vs. Manzo and the less-shrieky Laurita is sidelined. Finally, Jacqueline throws down the incriminating tabloid — and, hilariously, realizes that something was taken out of context about Caroline bullying her. She immediately apologizes. Caroline accepts. This argument gets derpier by the minute. 

"[Jacqueline is] like Hekyll and Jive," says Teresa. Next week she'll doubtlessly compare Joe Giudice's dick to Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Baged Kird Sings."

Finally, both Jacqueline and Caroline seem to have had it with Tre, and she gets up to go, but it's clear that she's still oblivious to the repercussions of her actions. "Kisses? No kisses?" Jacqueline the doormat reluctantly gives her a kiss, and we're out. Is it just me, or is the whole Tre-tabloid-as-fight-catalyst thing getting old? Can't someone just fuck someone they're not supposed to, the old-fashioned way?

Photo: Bravo