The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Am I nuts or was this one of the best Real Housewives episodes ever? So much drama! So much shit going down! And what’s that thing where if you introduce a gun in the first act, somebody must get shot in the second? I feel like Jacqueline is that thing. And she’s also the one who gets shot.
But first of all, this week is all about Dolores. Dolores, Dolores, Dolores. Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Dolores. I’ll never stop saying Dolores. She proves herself to be a straight shooter even when the chips are down. Dolores tells it like it is. She doesn’t soft-sell Jacqueline when she comforts her after the big fight, nor does she fake a blind allegiance to Teresa the morning after. Dolores speaks her truth without any nonsense or hard feelings. Has there ever been a cooler Housewife? Even Teresa gets the chills when Dolores tells her off. And when Dolores realizes that neither of the sisters-in-law will give her much empathy during the snow day, she starts dropping bombs everywhere: Melissa is done up like she’s going to “Studio 54” and Teresa is dressed “like Melania.” LOL.
It’s a good week for Siggy, too. We had seen a bit of her vulnerability during the conflict with her children, but until now, she’d maintained an impervious façade regarding all inter-group problems, magnanimously offering only clinical observations. Now she’s deeply disturbed by what’s going on, unable to roll with it. We even get her first malapropism: She says “underlining” instead of underlying, although it’s one of those logically defensible mistakes. Most significantly, Siggy pulls off another coup: She’s the first Real Housewife to go through menopause, or at least the first to admit it. Leave it to Siggy to treat a hot flash with a handheld-fan sight gag. Has there ever been a schtickier cast member? It’s like the Real Borscht Belters of the Catskills. L’chaim.
The context for this excellent showing by the new girls is the dramatic conclusion of the Stowe trip, but not before a brief reminder that no matter the hijinx, this is a reality show, not a sitcom. For all the yucks at everybody’s clumsy skiing, Joe’s back still hurts. That wasn’t a stunt double — it was the real guy really falling. Staged perhaps, but painful nonetheless.
On to the emotional hurting, which starts out with Jacqueline wanting the lesbians to leave because she (supposedly) felt threatened and also something about Teresa avoiding potential calamity while on probation. After some back-and-forth between the villas, the dykes get on their bikes, leaving the rest of the gang to hash it out. Tensions are high going into the big dinner, and Teresa is ice cold to Jacqueline, offering no attempt at sympathy or even neutrality as she broaches the subject of the Jacqueline-Robin fight.
That said, Teresa most certainly does not attack Jacqueline, as Chris claims when he jumps to defend his wife’s explosive reaction. Siggy tries to make peace and argue Jacqueline’s side of things, while Joe and Melissa feel Jax is maliciously lashing out because she hates Tre. I don’t agree with that. I think Siggy and Chris are probably right that Jacqueline loves Teresa, so she’s very hurt by Teresa’s obvious indifference. But if that’s the case, Jacqueline should own it. She should be open about her feelings and plainly tell Teresa how what she thinks. Maybe Teresa would feel for her. If she remains closed off, we might wind up taking Jacqueline’s side, or at least better understanding her side of things.
Instead, Jacqueline comes across as a lunatic. She jumps and screams and points at Teresa and Melissa while they remain perfectly calm. (They’re even able to fake-scream, mocking Jacqueline without actually escalating to that level.) Jacqueline abdicates all power in this scene. Calling Teresa names is fruitless. Calling Teresa a criminal is pointless. The whole thrust of the season has been Teresa coming home from prison. We already know this. She might as well call her a Jersey Girl or a reality star or Italian-American. Also, isn’t Jacqueline allegedly involved in her own financial malfeasance?
When Jacqueline gets up in Melissa’s face, she really looks bad. Bringing up all the old Melissa stripper stuff is just plain nasty. Even if Teresa really were responsible for all that back in the day, Jacqueline is the one giving it airtime now. She’s delusional to think this will achieve anything other than upsetting Melissa. And then she brings up Melissa’s nose jobs! WTF. It’s not like any of these ladies are exactly au naturel. Doesn’t Jacqueline know how lame and petty this is? Whatever Jacqueline’s planning here, it backfires horribly.
Then Jax goes back to that whole thing about Teresa’s “soldiers,” purportedly Kim D. and Johnny the Horse or whatever his name is. First of all, there’s a great deal of confusion over what’s even being alleged. Is it that Teresa has yes men do her dirty work, or is that Teresa is under the influence of unsavory characters? I actually don’t think it’s either. (One of tonight’s many excellent Dolores moments is her suggestion that Teresa can think for herself.) And anyway, how hypocritical can you get? Who went to visit Kim D. at Posche? Who freaking calls Kim D. right there at the dinner table?! Can’t really complain about that, though, since it prompted one of the episode’s funniest lines: “Why are you always callin’ people?”
Jacqueline has pretty much done everything wrong. I’m beginning to think she was brought back as some kind of sacrificial lamb. It’s like the producers knew we were all done-zo with Teresa and Melissa fighting, but they needed some conflict so they gave us Jackie to go down in flames while they figure out what happens next. And that is exactly what happened. It’s been coming for weeks, with neither Jacqueline nor Teresa ever completely won over, at least not in their confessionals.
You have to hand it to Teresa. Whether you’re onboard with her new namaste outlook or not, she is certainly calmer. No matter what goes down, she doesn’t take the bait. You can’t rile her up. And I think that’s the core of what gets to Jacqueline. Chris said it best: Neither Teresa nor Melissa gives a crap about her.
So, what does Teresa actually care about? How her husband’s departure will affect their family. As we see when she opens up to Melissa — on the day they spend together after alienating the rest of the group! — Teresa is really going to miss him. It seems clear that the events of the last few years have brought them closer. And if that doesn’t make it obvious enough, there’s also a cute scene with Joe and the girls, eating takeout and talking about what’s to come. No matter what you think of the Giudices, it’s safe to say they are, to borrow a phrase, as thick as thieves.