The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Recap: a Nation Divided

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Reunion Part One
Season 7 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****
The Real Housewives of New Jersey -- Season 7
Joe Gorga, Teresa Giudice, Andy Cohen. Photo: Heidi Gutman/Bravo

Our nation is divided. One side stands by its old girl. Call her a criminal, but her heart is in the right place and she’s never wavered in her commitment to the gig. The other side is Jacqueline Laurita. Actually, I could just as easily have said the other side is Teresa Giudice. This is why I prefer The Real Housewives of New Jersey to the presidential election: The Jersey showdown is between two Hillary Clintons. I understand this comparison requires an enormous substitution of Botox, silicone, and hair extensions in place of intellectual prowess and professional achievement, but no matter how you slice it, RHONJ has no Trump.

But just like in politics, there is no reliable fact-checking. Even when you trust the facts you find, the other side will no doubt question your objectivity. In the great spectrum of news sources from Instagram hashtags to CNN, there is no central voice trusted by all. So questions just linger and nothing is ever truly resolved.

As the ladies serve up the first half of the reunion, what is being questioned is whether their hearts are in the right place. At one point, resident relationship expert Siggy Flicker posits that Jacqueline is stuck in her head but has a heart of gold, whereas Teresa is the opposite. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. Teresa is stuck in her heart and has a head of gold? Siggy adds something along the lines of Teresa having no filter, which is absolutely true. And while I think Teresa overcharacterizes Jacqueline as a calculating chess player, it is true that “in her head” Jacqueline gets worked up over what she perceives to see happening and then lashes out spitefully. Siggy and Dolores are right that it stems from Jacqueline loving Teresa, but that does not excuse her behavior toward Melissa, for example.

Jacqueline’s treatment of Melissa is a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with her. She acts spitefully toward Teresa, but they have butt heads so harshly that all’s fair in love and war. I don’t believe Jacqueline reported Teresa to the Feds! I don’t even believe Jacqueline brought up Teresa’s “legal problems” on that fateful night with malintent. But I do think Jacqueline reacted poorly when Teresa pushed back against her inquiries. That’s the difference between Teresa’s response to Jacqueline’s questioning versus her response to Siggy’s. Teresa and Siggy were just getting to know each other. Their trip to the supermarket was a chance to feel each other out, ask each other questions. They walked past a tabloid headline about Teresa, so it was only natural to ask — it was as much about Teresa’s personal story as it was about Teresa’s experience as a celebrity. And Siggy has that touchy-feely way of asking questions that’s very different from Jacqueline, who should have asked Teresa these things off-camera.

That’s not to say Jacqueline wanted to humiliate Teresa. On the contrary, Jacqueline seemed to feel insecure about their friendship — with good reason, as Teresa has repeatedly demonstrated how little she really cares about Jax — so she brought up Tre’s issues in the context of her own feelings. Me, me, me. Obviously, Teresa wouldn’t see it that way. I don’t know why Andy can’t understand this. Is it because he’s not Italian? Maybe Dolores is right.

Apparently, non-Italians also can’t understand why Italian people smack-talk parties and how that relates to somebody throwing away Melissa’s sprinkle cookies (which continues to sound like a euphemism for something she and Joe do when the kids are at Grandma Gorga’s). From now on, whenever people don’t get what I’m saying, I’m just gonna blame them not being Italian and cut to Dolores. You count on Big D over there to always smile and nod. Madonna mia!

But back to Jacqueline and Melissa. When it comes to Melissa, Jacqueline is just plain crazy. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Melissa wasn’t threatened by Jacqueline’s relationship with Teresa. Let me try to break this down more explicitly. Melissa knows, as we all do, that Teresa doesn’t care about Jacqueline. Therefore, there is no threat. The end.

It’s bad enough that Jacqueline keeps trying to drag up old drama between Teresa and Melissa. This is such a suicide mission. Even if Jacqueline had succeeded in causing a rift between the sisters-in-law, she would have certainly left scorched Earth in place of her relationship with either of them.

Again, I agree with Siggy and Dolores that this all comes from Jacqueline’s sad, wounded, loving heart, but you know what they say about good intentions? They pave the road to Jersey. Like, seriously, what is Jackie thinking when she calls up Joe to see if he’ll throw his sister under the bus? This is crazy behavior. It’s neither kind nor in her self-interest. The woman keeps lighting herself on fire to try to burn the people around her. Jacqueline has done one thing well this season: She’s made it much more about her than it ever seemed like it would be (or could be or should be).

There’s really not much else to talk about, is there? Teresa’s story line outside of Jacqueline has been pretty benign. From her teary reunion with her daughters to reports of Joe taking the GED in prison, things are looking as good as can be, given the circumstances for La Giudice.

Melissa and Joe release a final fart of airtime for their ridiculously fabricated chauvinism subplot. At least that’s behind us. I wish I could say the same for Kim D., who gets far too much time as the subject of conversation for my taste — I kept worrying Andy was about to introduce her behind Curtain No. 2. He did not, but until she’s officially banished from the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, none of us can truly sleep peacefully at night.

Oh, and a fan writes in to talk about how hot Frankie is. Isn’t that disgusting to objectify a teenager like that. Tsk, tsk. Anyway, don’t judge a book by its cover. Siggy and Dolores say that Joshua gets far more tail than Frankie. It’s the motion of the ocean, not the stunning washboard abs of the boat. Siggy makes an odd comment on how Joshy isn’t as hot as Frankie, whom I really wish I’d been less lecherous about all season so I’d have some moral high ground here. What is this world coming to? I blame the media.

By this time next week, we’ll finally resolve the major split facing the nation. And we’ll have a new president-elect, too! Let’s just hope the votes are counted and agreed upon before we wrap up this RHONJ reunion.

Real Housewives of NJ Recap: a Nation Divided