The Real Housewives of New Jersey
I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing Jacqueline Laurita in these recaps and I think I’ve finally figured out why. It’s not that’s she a bitch. It’s that she doesn’t know how to do it right. Back in the ’80s, I LIVED for Joan Collins as Alexis Colby on Dynasty. But I liked her when she was happy, or at least vengefully triumphant. I was not a fan of her moments as a shadowy creature skulking in the periphery of her ex-husband’s life, trolling for fights to start. Along those lines, I don’t like Jacqueline when she’s obsessed with being the bee in Teresa’s bonnet.
It’s not about her being disloyal to Teresa or anyone else. Jacqueline never seemed to have a sense of belonging anywhere, which I always attributed to her relative outsider status within the clanzo of the Manzos. When Jax would talk about raising Ashlee all alone, I truly felt for her. I thought this might explain her weird flip-flopping back in the Danielle days, but the beef with Teresa seemed forced. It struck me as manic and calculated. I could understand her jumping onto the Caroline-Melissa coalition, but the way she vehemently said that Teresa called Melissa a stripper didn’t make sense. (Just like “You’re a liar, Dina!” didn’t make sense when she got so riled up in season one.) Where’s the fire? She gets so hostile when it doesn’t seem to serve her or serve anyone else. No comprendo.
This week’s episode brings back that confusion. On the one hand, we see the Jacqueline I’ve been disliking at lunch with Melissa. (It’s a classic Real Housewives sit-down: The Godfather minus the gun in the toilet.) She’s obstinate and unrepentant when confronted about her inappropriate (and insane) phone call to Joe during her fight with his sister, despite how respectfully and graciously Melissa broaches the subject.
Come on, Jackie! Work with me here. What would Alexis do? Make nice with Melissa, win friends, influence people, yadda yadda. Blame the Joe call on Teresa! Tell Melissa how pretty she is!
Just when I thought I couldn’t roll my eyes any further back into my head, finally, for the first time in years, there’s a scene where Jacqueline was likable: She’s at dinner with her own family, not focused on anybody else’s stuff, just beaming in her happy home. (Another especially charming moment found her ring shopping with Ashlee’s boyfriend in advance of his big proposal.) Siggy suggested the problem between Teresa and Jacqueline is the clash of two Tauruses, but I want to see Jacqueline’s whole astrological chart. With all these contradictions, she’s just got to be part Gemini. Melissa identified herself as Aries, the ram, steadily making her way up the mountain amidst the storm. Each and every day, every day …
On the other hand, Teresa continues to shine. We follow along as she leads family meetings and makes everybody talk about their feelings, basically assuming the role of Giudice in-house therapist. It’s adorable when she confuses edamame with enema. (Pretty forgivable in the range of Housewives malapropisms, too, since both clean out the colon.) If some Housewives get the “bitch edit,” then Teresa is certainly receiving this season’s soft filter. The most flattering portrayals on RHONJ are of the women “staying in their own lane,” happily interacting with their own families. It’s when they maliciously interfere in each other’s lives that they start to stink. And, at least with Jackie and Tre, Tauruses are territorial, so home-court advantage has hurt Jackie for years.
Although new girls Dolores and Siggy show up at Jacqueline’s house, they have yet to really enter into the drama. Dolores has her own problems renovating her house, or rather, having her hot ex-husband Frankie renovate her house on his own dime and to his own specifications. Her sole wish remains that the workmen take orders only from Frankie himself. You’d think her new gym business might hold the answer to actually getting new cabinets (instead of a mere paint job), but she’s on thin ice there, too — her business partner, Maz, calls her at home in the middle of a work day, then reads her the riot act. She promises she’ll come out tomorrow, but I wonder if this partnership is doomed.
Siggy’s biggest conflict remains with her own children. She doesn’t require them to be “Super Jews,” but just asks that they spend time off their phones with the family. I’m glad she said the thing about Super Jews because with her Israeli upbringing and frequent use of Hebrew (calling her mother “Ima-le” and referring to her children’s grandparents as “Saba and Safta”), audiences might have gotten the wrong idea and assumed Siggy was some kind of ultra Ortho. Not so. We can expect her to get down and dirty with the other girls on their weekend away, Sabbath be damned. Shabbat Shalom.
And so, the scene is set for what comes next. At the very least, it seems clear Teresa and Jacqueline are headed for another blowout. They both agree to join the trip and that’s more than enough occasion to get up in each other’s business. Whose side will Melissa take? How will the other two respond to the brouhaha? Sure would be nice to have all their astrological charts. Maybe there’s a different moment in space-time when things might go more smoothly. Maybe the Real Housewives producers use astrology to ensure just the opposite. Mercury’s in retrograde? Quick, send Jersey to the Shore! However the stars align, the upcoming episodes should be good TV with the so-called OG crew, which, of course, is neither OG nor a crew.