Not a cheerful week over at The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Joe Giudice leaves for prison and Siggy takes her kids to a Holocaust memorial. There are some nice moments of family togetherness, though.
Siggy starts the episode getting served a bit of her own medicine by her mother. At a family gathering where Sig goes off on her usual tirade about her son being too focused on his phone and not spending enough time with her (only the dog pays enough attention to her … ), Siggy's mom — Safta to you and me and the grandchildren — pipes up with her own disappointment. Siggy and her sister (Ziggy? Twiggy? I'm done) get a good old-fashioned guilt trip for neglecting her. Just when you think Safta's tears are as intense as it gets, Siggy's father (Saba to the kinder) goes for the jugular: He plays the H card, as in the Holocaust. He survived it and considers himself lucky to enjoy the blessing of being together with his family. As always, credit is due to Siggy for taking the criticism, apologizing, and hugging and kissing her mom.
With Saba's message in mind, she organizes a field trip to a Holocaust memorial park, setting the scene for moving interactions between the three generations of Flickers (or whatever Siggy's maiden name is). Most compellingly, this leads to storytelling time with Saba, who's lived quite a life going back to his extensive trek across Europe as a refugee fleeing the Nazis during World War II. Siggy's son cops to being nurtured and "Jappy" (as in Jewish American Prince), which is like the double crown for Sig in that he's acknowledging how loving she's been and how able to recognize his own privilege he is. Fade out on the Flicker clan singing "Hava Nagila." Ball's in your court, Kyle Richards. Time to make the most of that red-string Kabbalah bracelet or lose the title of Most Jewish Real Housewife to the kooky rookie from New Jersey.
Of course, the week's lead story is Joe leaving for prison. The producers do an excellent job of presenting Teresa and company in as favorable a light as possible. If you don't feel empathy for them this time, you never will. They come across as a sweet, loving family clinging to each other on the eve of separation. The closest they come to any kind of internal conflict is Milania riding around on an ATV ("Hide the keys!") and then Joe joking with Gia that she shouldn't date while he's gone ("No promises!"). That's some serious sitcom shit, like old-school Growing Pains. You know, like Kirk Cameron coming home with some contraband. Alan Thicke asks, "What's under your arm, Mike?" "Hair, Dad!" LOL.
Everybody's feeling for Teresa and Joe. Naturally, that includes Melissa and Joe, who are closer with them than ever and committed to being there for each other as a family. It includes Siggy, who calls Teresa in a non-intrusive way that some other cast members could learn from. And it even includes Jacqueline, who pulls that same old crocodile-tears routine. "When I look at those little girls losing their dad." PUH-LEASE.
I can believe that Jacqueline feels for them, but the waterworks are just too much. Where does she get off behaving like a psychopath in Vermont only to turn around and suddenly start playing Miss Concerned Friend? Does she have zero self-awareness? And what's up with hanging out so much with Kathy and Rosie? Were they ever really such good friends? It seems very suspect to me, although I'm always happy to have Rosie on the show and glad to see she's dating someone nice. But, oh God, Richie. RICHIE! I can't take it. I was never a big Richie hater, but this stuff about wanting a foursome with his wife and her sister and the sister's girlfriend … are you kidding me? I think he actually is kidding. I mean, I have to believe that. Otherwise, it's just too repulsive. But still. He's that hideous combination of repulsive and not funny at all. It's so obnoxious. Poor Kathy — she knows it. She's horrified by Richie's comments. At lunch with Teresa a few weeks ago, the first thing she asked about her pulling away was, "Is it because of Richie?" At the very least it's not not because of Richie.
But back to Jack, she's driving me crazy. I'm looking back on years of this show and I don't think she's ever been likable. She's always been involved in murky crossed loyalties and can't seem to be at peace in her relationships with anyone, except maybe Chris, who — let's face it — seems pretty easy to get along with. Like, seriously, what is he doing with her?
The only person worse than Jacqueline is Ashlee, who starts making judgmental comments about Teresa again. Does anyone really want to know what Ashlee thinks about anything? I truly do not. Can we please just cut all her screen time and give it to Antonia instead? That little Gorga firecracker is delightfully sassy. How about a kids' morning talk show hosted by Milania and Antonia, sort of Kathie Lee and Hoda Junior? Or for God's sake, how about a little focus on Victoria Wakile? We've watched her grow up and we are invested in her story. I really want her to be okay. Jacqueline keeps saying that she doesn't have a relationship with Melissa, that she doesn't have a relationship with Teresa. Honestly, that seems a little hasty for people who only broke up within the last month. What is this, fourth grade? You're not my best friend anymore. Give it a minute. Or better yet, don't. Take your phony feelings and your stupid daughter and go be tertiary characters on Manzo'd With Children so we can enjoy RHONJ open to close once again.