The Real Housewives of New Jersey
I’m sure some of you were bored by this week’s RHONJ. It’s all about the short getaway before the season’s (as yet unannounced) big vacation, which isn’t exactly promising stuff. The spirit of the trip is “kumbaya,” as Melissa puts it, and the girls certainly take the idea to heart. Everybody’s loving up on everybody else — even Teresa and Jacqueline — and the only tension in the air gets released through peaceful communication, rather than histrionic confrontation.
I wasn’t bored, though. I was fascinated. Teresa and Jacqueline’s reconciliation struck me as being the most authentic and heartfelt in Housewives history. It wasn’t emotional on the level of Teresa and her brother’s teary therapy session a few years ago, nor was it a detailed détente along the lines of, say, Yolanda and Brandy’s big beachside reunion last year. Instead, it’s a casual, social interaction that begins awkwardly (dare I say, Real?), then culminates in a mutual understanding and acceptance. There’s even a sincere apology!
Just goes to show ya. When Jacqueline and Teresa skipped right to the “Hi, honey” the last few times, it ended in drama. When they begin honestly, that’s when things move forward. Their first interaction in this episode is the perfect microcosm of their whole history. Somebody pushes them to face each other (i.e. Siggy “introducing them”), which is the essence of their presence on the show together. Jacqueline plays along and goes to shake Teresa’s hand. Teresa is insulted that Jacqueline doesn’t go for a hug. Both feel dissed. It’s like Scarlett and Rhett in Gone With the Wind.
So far, the season has thrown us a curveball to build the surprise factor on this love fest — even employing the ultimate psych-out, perhaps a Housewives first — with Teresa calling Joe to pick her up and get her away from this “bitch” in the coming attractions, only to reveal the scene as a joke they played on the husbands. This episode, however, travels a straight path to Jacqueline Laurita sittin’ in a Tre.
Siggy proves that, for all her cluelessness with her own kids, she does indeed possess relationship wisdom, and she offers an astute analysis of Jacqueline’s fundamental problem: Jax loves Tre and feels insecure about that love being reciprocated. When Teresa shut her out of the Giudice’s “legal problems” all those years, Jackie took it personally. It’s pretty much what I’ve been saying in these recaps, but I think Dolores said it best: “There’s a lot of buttons here.”
After some meaningful heart-to-hearts between J and T, and once the former friends seem to be on a real road to a relationship, Siggy tosses out another sharp take that explains why it’s always gone wrong between Jacqueline and Teresa. Jacqueline wants it all in each conversation. She’s so needy to feel loved and connected. Teresa, on the other hand, likes to keep everything casual. After all, as we know, Teresa is the Queen of Denial. With all of this being discussed freely in a safe space — a space where Siggy empowers them to laugh at themselves — they finally seem to find common ground.
Melissa even admits to feeling jealous, since she’s still walking on eggshells around Teresa. Dolores brushes it off as merely being “aware,” but I don’t think Melissa liked that idea. I think she genuinely hopes and maybe even expects to get to a relaxed place with Teresa, even though it may not happen. While the Jacqueline-Teresa bond seems stronger than it has in many years, the Melissa-Teresa pact has yet to attain a semblance of real security. On the other hand, the two are goofing around like sisters and clearly have a baseline of familial affection. I hope this lasts. But something’s gotta go wrong this season, and it’s starting to look like it won’t be between Teresa and Jacqueline.
What else can I tell you? It seemed like a real nice weekend. I did notice something about the particular way the ladies selected their rooms, so I’m gonna float a theory: Whereas New York Housewives scramble to choose the best room for themselves, New Jersey Housewives scramble to choose the worst for their enemies. Thoughts?
And then there’s the aforementioned husbands back home. In perhaps the most ridiculous display of staged dad-ineptitude yet, Joe Gorga fails miserably in his attempts to feed his children. Okay, I really don’t believe he can’t make frozen chicken fingers, but if that were true, why did he only make four? These are not chicken breasts — they’re not even chicken fingers, really, more like chicken tenders, barely larger than McNuggets. It was like the producers said, “Here burn some chicken tenders,” but there wasn’t enough left for everybody. Of course, if you’re just burning them for the camera, what’s the difference? Um, hello.
As if that weren’t bad enough, we’re then expected to buy that Joe Gorga doesn’t know how to make microwave popcorn. Hold the damn phone. Joe is about my age. He’s a child of the ’80s. Even if he was out on the street playing stickball while I spent long afternoons watching Can’t Buy Me Love with the girls, he eventually came inside for some Pop Secret. Also, chicken tenders and popcorn for dinner?
To his credit, Joe Giudice keeps it real by going out to Recurring Rino’s Restaurant for clams casino and straight talk. It’s sweet hearing Joe speak from the heart about leaving his family, although it’s a little disheartening that he thinks their biggest challenges can be overcome with surveillance cameras and German Shepherds.
In the final scene, we get the ladies all together, vagina-to-vagina in a good-vibes yoga session led by that great yogi of the Tri-State Area, Teresa Gorga Giudice. Who would’ve ever guessed we’d wind up here? Whatever your feelings on the journey, it’s safe to say we’re at a crossroads. More than any other times in recent years — or maybe ever — it’s hard to predict what will happen between these women.
If the coming attractions are to be trusted, though, trouble is brewing with Rosie! Remember her? Rosie? Now that’s what I call must-see TV.