The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Do you know what I just realized? Jacqueline got top placement this season! Teresa arguably has the best placement — it’s tough to beat the “bitch in charge” spot — but appearing first is surely at least second. I suppose it makes sense, since Jacqueline is an OG housewife and Melissa (next in Housewife longevity) only joined in season three. It’s sort of like those kids who started at your elementary school in third grade: They just weren’t lifers.
Still, though: It’s quite a good deal, especially after leaving the show. (Or more to the point, after getting demoted to recurring status.) If I’d noticed this earlier, I might not have made so much noise about the Lauritas being not long for this world when she and Tre were at each other’s throats earlier this season.
Anyway, they’re not at each other’s throats now. They’re back in town, revelling in the afterglow of a girls’ weekend without drama. Also, Siggy comes over to console the grieving Dolores (whose dog died) and climbs into bed with her. What is it about these women hanging out in bed, like they’re in the dorms? They live in 10,000-square-foot mansions, but it’s always the kitchen or the bedroom. Oy.
Again and again, this season of RHONJ proves the continued influence of pre–Sexual Revolution, decidedly nonfeminist ideas about a woman’s role in society and family. See: all the Mr. Mom stuff with Joe and Melissa, or Dolores’s conflicted commitment to her new gym business, or Dolores’s reliance on her hot ex-husband, Frankie, for money and money management and house renovations and God knows what else. But for now, let’s bring it back to Dolores’s bed. (I really can’t let go of this people-hanging-out-in-bed thing.) Siggy literally gets under the covers, still wearing her street clothes. I know these broads drive around the ’burbs in SUVs, so their pants and skirts aren’t crawling with the flora and fauna found on New York City subway seats, but still. I just don’t get it. Do the producers think this creates an intimate, “girl-talk” vibe?
It’s hard to imagine anyone having any other vibe with Siggy. Something about the warmth in her voice, the unrelenting Sigginess of it all, everybody in a conversation with her immediately seems like a patient in her shrink office — or maybe a guest on Siggy’s talk show. Someone is developing a talk show for her, right? I think she might be the Jewish Wendy Williams.
A talk show would definitely be better than these endless scenes about Siggy and Dolores confronting empty-nest syndrome. Is it me? I’m so bored. I just don’t think it’s a real problem. These parents know their kids need to leave the house and obviously support what they’re doing. And they may miss their little ones, but they also enjoy the freedom. I mean, they’ve all known it was inevitable for a couple of decades. Even among contrived Real Housewives conflicts, I give these a big fat thumbs — whoa, wait a minute, hold the phone! Did Siggy’s son just complain the she touches his “legs and thighs and [his] butt”?! First of all, my attention was raised as a concerned citizen on alert for child abuse. Okay, if I’m being honest, I was immediately grabbed by the thought of Joshie’s legs and thighs and — ew, he’s like 17. You’re disgusting. Anyway, it’s pretty clearly not that. Siggy’s like a smothering mother patting her baby’s bottom. Not for nothing, though, Joshie does say, “Dad doesn’t touch my butt.”
Well done, RHONJ, you made me forget about the boring empty-nest plot. But you can’t psych me out like this every time. I’m watching you.
Speaking of boring plots, did somebody say Melissa’s boutique? I don’t know what’s less-interesting, Melissa’s boutique or Dolores’s gym. I know, I know — I’m being hypocritical and contradictory. First, I complain that the show portrays women as barefoot and pregnant, and now, I’m kvetching about their businesses. But let’s be honest: These businesses are pretty basic.
Of course, I do not like the Joe Gorga who bullies his wife about having a career. It’s not a good look for him, or any other man for that matter. I do think Melissa needs to prioritize, though. She’s so worried about missing out on absolutely anything in her kids’ lives. Good luck with that! And what about setting an example for pretty little Antonia, whose dream is to be professional cheerleader? Melissa makes a half-assed attempt at setting her straight, but like, as we say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “half measures availed us of nothing.”
Speaking of alcoholics, Rosie is a much stronger female role model for these kids. And thank you, Jesus, she returns in this episode to play poker at the Lauritas, although she’s really only there because she wants a heart-to-heart with Joe Giudice before he leaves for the big house. No tea, no shade to Chris and Joe Gorga and Ashlee’s boyfriend, but once Gorga flakes, RoRo is a no-go. But then she comes back and says she doesn’t know if he’s staying away because he’s really just a drunk mess or if Teresa is poisoning him against her. So Rosie gets to enjoy a nice game of poker with the boys after all.
That’s why I love Rosie: She’s got some of the best aspects of masculine and feminine personalities. She’s one of the fellas. She cares more about whiskey and cigars with the paisans than any silly drama. On the other hand, she’s sensitive and she thinks about other people’s experiences. She reminds me of my Aunt Arlene, my mom’s lesbian cousin, who can whoop it up over baseballs with the boys in one room, then come in and debate Barbra and Liza with me and the girls and girly boys in the other room. She’s just great. Rosie is sure that Teresa hates her, but I can’t really imagine that. I hope they get together, or at least find their own peace separate from Kathy.
Also, I don’t really think Rosie’s an alcoholic, even though the show has gotten a ton of mileage out of her hot-headed boozing. I’m not even sure that Joe Giudice is an alcoholic, although everybody’s making a big deal about his drinking. He didn’t seem that drunk to me. Maybe in that one scene where he is rude to Teresa, but she seems totally unfazed, so it’s hard to take his behavior to heart. Maybe she is fazed, maybe that’s all part of the Teresa thick-skin denial machine, but it’s hard for me to watch this show and think, “Joe’s got a problem?” Am I crazy? As a sober person myself, maybe I just don’t want to be one of those recovering addicts who think everybody is an alcoholic. (Of course, I also don’t want to be one of those gay guys who thinks every hot guy is gay, but that’s wishful thinking.) In any case, he’s gonna be sober for the next few years in prison. Sure, there’s prison wine and Joe is a practiced amateur vintner, but I hope he gets the drying-out time everybody thinks he needs.
And I really hope he doesn’t get mixed up with unsavory characters, like his buddy who causes a scene outside Teresa’s book-launch party. Can I nominate this dude for Most Disproportionate Response to a Conflict award at the Emmys? When his underage son can’t get into Teresa’s book party — at a 21-and-over nightspot, which even her own daughter can’t get into — he freaks the freak out, bellowing, growling, belting louder than anyone in a piano bar on that same West Village street. I do have to salute his vocal technique, though. I’m a pretty loud person, but to get anywhere near those decibels, I would have to strain and scratch up my throat. He sounds healthy as a jaybird. Somebody get this baritone a touring revival of South Pacific! We already know he can act because that kerfuffle just. Cannot. Be. Real.
Joe seems well enough when he goes back inside for Teresa’s thank-you speech. It’s a happy note to close the week, especially with the news that her book hit No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list.
And then, I had an epiphany during next week’s coming attractions! When Melissa mentioned her forthcoming fashion show at Envy, it hit me — the opening of Melissa’s boutique means we won’t have fashion shows at Posche anymore. Catch my drift? No more Kim D! No sooner had I popped the nonalcoholic sparkling cran-grape juice, than the vicious snake appeared in blonde and black. She returns. Why? Why God? Maybe a common enemy is what these women need. But if the past has taught us one thing about Kim D., it’s that the ‘D’ is for divide and conquer. Oy vey.