All great stories contain recurring motifs: dancing, birthdays, and closeted homosexual urges are the through-line of this episode of The Foreclosure Variety Show, an orgiastic frenzy that's followed up with the inexplicable pairing of Melissa Gorga and Mike Tyson on Watch What Happens Live. I did not watch what happened, which is why I lived.
It's Melissa's daughter Antonia's birthday party, and nothing says "It's my daughter's birthday party" like ignoring your daughter and getting Photoshopped "IRL" by a male makeup artist with two first names (George Michel). As he smears product on her face, Joe Gorga inquires what she has planned for the party. It's "nothing crazy," she responds: just a cotton-candy stand, a hot-dog stand, face-painting, and a giant inflatable fort shaped like a caterpillar with sneakers on that made me think — as most things now do —of Human Centipede: Full Sequence.
Failed business Chateau be damned, Lauren and Caroline are giving business another go with Caface (sp?). They stand near their potential storefront and bandy about buzzwords like marketing as if they know the implications of this word as a business term rather than how their underpaid undocumented immigrant housekeeper refers to her weekly, back-breaking trip to Shop Rite to refill the Manzo Lasagna Vault. Caroline, hesitant to go through with yet another business bust with her daughter (at least not until she LOSES THAT WEIGHT), is pricing it all out. She owns 51 percent of the company, which is funny because she paid for 110 percent of it. Then again, thanks to all the weight-shaming, she owes Lauren a shit-ton in future therapy bills.
Lauren is unhappy with the store's name, dreamed up by Caroline, and says, eyes rolling, "I get it. 'Caface.' It's a café for your face.'"
"I feel like you're not understanding what's in my head," says Caroline.
Joe Gorga regales Melissa's mom and aunts (who all look the same/like a Samantha Jones version of the grotesquely aged eponymous portrait of Dorian Grey) about therapy with Tre — a horrible experience, moans Joe Gorga. However, renewing the Sunday dinner tradition is a point of interest, and Melissa suggests to a reluctant Joe Gorga that they invite Tre and the family over that Sunday. At the Giudices, Tre says something to that effect. Both Tre and Joe Gorga think they know better than the therapist, which makes sense since one of them is a frequent New Yorker essayist and New York Times best seller, and the other is a former showrunner with a cult fan base and eclectic collection of guest roles on popular television shows in order to finance the cheese ball business she runs out of her apartment. Oh wait, that's David and Amy Sedaris.
Gia, Gabriella, and Milania are wearing matching T-shirts, which is sickening and undoubtedly Tre's call.
As the guests begin arriving at Antonia's birthday party, which could only be more garish and Lynchian if John Wayne Gacy were blowing up balloon animals in the corner, Melissa invites Tre & Co. to the house Sunday for bonding/noshing. "When I come over to your house, I never have a chip on my shoulder," says Tre. Insert laugh track here.
Nobody on this show seems to understand that saying "We need to stop talking about the past, the past is the past" is still technically talking about the past.
The Wakiles arrive. Richie is a man of priorities and immediately asks where the fuck the barbecue's at. Tre gets into the caterpillar with the kids, which is actually kind of endearing. Joe Gorga cuts in front of the children on the face-painting line and gets some ink on his bicep, closes his eyes, and tries to imagine that he's getting a tat in prison until he realizes he's turning himself on at his little daughter's birthday party.
Meanwhile, Melissa, his hot, sexy wife who is a woman and whom he definitely likes sleeping with because he is straight, is pumping Rosie and Kathy for information about their wild night at the Cubbyhole last week: "A llllllllesbian bar?!" she shrieks. Rosie confesses that she met someone special, What'sherface. Kathy forgot her name, too. Good God, IT IS BRIANNE. The fact that this woman's name actually occupies a tiny space in my brain makes me want to throw my college degree on the ground and do the Cat Daddy on top of it to the ambient, mournful sounds of whale noise.
Joe and Tre, coming to the universal realization that they only get along when they're talking smack on other people, discuss the Tre-Jacqueline feud just as she's coming up behind them. Tre compliments her leopard-print breast covering, and Jacqueline gives her the cold shoulder — although she does indicate that she is willing to repair the friendship if Tre puts in some effort.
"I don't want to take sides," says Kathy, then proceeds to side with Jacqueline because she cries more.
Corté Ellis ("of Soul Diggaz," reads his title card, as if that clarifies anything), asks Melissa if she wants to perform at an event called Beatstock. Joe Gorga throws some quality side-eye. Maybe he does know that his wife is a terrible, charismaless performer onstage! But that could just be because she wastes all her talent and energy on being his enthusiastic beard.
"I'm a person of people," says Corté Ellis. "I like to say that."
Meanwhile, in Hoboken, the Manzo boys' gay roommate (goommate!) Greg has a dog named Deloris, as in "Van Cartier," which makes him the best human being on this show by default. It's his birthday — Greg's, not Deloris's — and they're planning a surprise party for him that night. Albie's new girlfriend Professional Cheerleader quietly begins a Walk of Shame out the front door as Albie rolls out into the living room in a just-got-laid fashion.
"She was sick, and she needed a place to stay," Albie smirks.
"What are you, Clara Barton on the battlefield? Taking home injured women?" Greg jokes, a reference that doubtlessly slipped by the Manzo boys. Albie declares that he is in love with Professional Cheerleader and plans to introduce her to the Manzo women.
Speaking of dancing in very little clothing in a patriarchal society, we are reminded that Teresa is a Dance Mom™ when she proudly watches Gia dance a weirdly promiscuous routine semi-competently during a tryout.
HAH! POW! WHAT! STEP! HAH! HAH, yells the forceful male dance instructor.
This is intercut with Melissa's choreographer Chris Judd, who reminds us every two minutes that he worked with Michael Jackson, teaching her how to Step It Up 2: The Streets. "There's power in stillness," he tells her. Best dance instruction ever! That means I am dancing my ass off right now.
"I don't want to make a fool out of myself," frets Melissa. Melissa, that ship has sailed, sunk, and turned into an epic story of romance and tragedy by James Cameron.
Back at Prepubescent Writhing Academy: "I always try to be positive and happy around Gia," Tre says. It doesn't matter if the world is crumbling, I always have a smile on my face."
HAH HAH BOOM! HAH HAH POW!
Rosie is already inviting her new sapphic pal Brianne to family dinner, which means either Rosie is a Stage 4 Clinger (Kathy: "I heard homosexual women, on the second date, bring a UHaul with their stuff") or Brianne wants to promote her restaurant. Probably 50-50. But it is kind of cute to watch Rosie into someone, even adopting Justin Bieber hair for the occasion. Brianne tells the family that she originally wanted to go into pediatric cardiological surgery. How the mighty have fallen.
"I'm, like, in love with her," Rosie says. Everyone derps, and she quickly adds, "I mean, as a friend."
And now we are in the gay bar for Deloris Van Cartier's birthday. Happy birthday, Deloris Van Cartier.
The bored-looking Professional Cheerleader is intro'ed to Caroline and it goes pretty smoothly. Ditto Lauren, although there's certainly a level of watchdoggery/spite. Joe Gorga grabs Chris Laurita's junk. "We almost kissed on the lips!" he crows later after unsuccessfully attempting to kiss Greg on the lips.
"Respect and sex are the key to a happy marriage," Melissa drunkenly tells Professional Cheerleader as her closeted husband expresses his repressed predilection for men that clashes with the old-school Italian mentality that he prides himself on, like a bad graduate school playwriting program table read waiting to happen.
"Vacuum when he's not around, fold the laundry, buy a fruit basket, 'cause that's what a wifey doesssss," says Melissa. She cheers up when she plays her own song and dances on a table. Someone brings out a cake for Greg, someone else pushes it into Chris's face, and Jacqueline sticks stars on her boobs. Le fin.
Next week's nuggets:
"Does anyone have a tampon? My wife just cut my balls off."
"It just happens to be Patti LaBelle."