Take a reflective moment to light a sautéed-garlic-and-self-tanner-scented candle: It’s time for the season-eight reunion of The Real Housewives of New Jersey! Like all Housewives reunion shows, this is not very good, but given the long history of not-very-good reunions, it’s good enough.
Before we dive in, some precious moments:
• Dolores, whose look is 80 percent boobs, 20 percent the rest of the human body that is not boobs (obviously I mean this as a compliment), shares that she had a cosmetic “tune-up” before the reunion, zhuzhing her lips and cheeks.
• Margaret has no pigtails tonight. I momentarily don’t recognize her, and feel bad for having always thought that the citizens of Metropolis who couldn’t tell Clark Kent was Superman must be idiots.
• Siggy would like to correct Andy Cohen on his assertion that she drove all the way to Penn State to do Joshua’s laundry. She picked up Joshua’s laundry, took it home, and mailed it back, thank you very much, which is somehow twice as bizarre.
• “I wanna make out with you,” a very blonde Teresa announces to Andy. They do not make out.
Let’s start with Melissa, who is responsible for the one genuinely enjoyable moment that does not involve Siggy and Margaret locked in a death battle when her phone begins to vibrate. Who else could be calling but New York’s own Ramona Singer? Andy picks up. “We’re in the middle of the Jersey fucking Housewives reunion,” he says, before pointing out that Ramona’s name is spelled wrong in Melissa’s contacts. The Singer Stinger: Accomplishing reunion firsts on shows she’s not even a cast member of. Andy presses Melissa as to whether she was angrier at Joe about buying the restaurant than she let on in public, and she insists she’s only worried that he works too much. Okay, girl. Anyway, she and Joe are fine, and she and Teresa are also fine, even if they continue to bicker and fail to agree on which sister-in-law says more “stupid shit.” (It’s definitely Teresa.)
As for Tre, she defends her supposed lack of maternal discipline on the grounds of the traumatic year her girls just lived through. And yes, she did tell a lie at the last reunion: Melissa was banned from visiting her in prison. Hey, she was “trying to be nice.” Teresa also swats down divorce rumors. She’s sure Joe will be different when he gets home — after all, she was too. But there’s still a possibility he might be deported to Italy. What would she do then? Move there? “Whatever God has planned for me, that’s what’s going to happen,” Teresa says, a classic nonanswer. Again: Okay, girl.
Margaret cops to wearing occasional “pigtail extensions,” and I for one feel cheated. She says her estranged kids haven’t reached out, but she knows that they’ve seen the show. Siggy, who looks deeply unhappy to be here, cycles through so many disgusted facial contortions while Margaret speaks that I’m worried her face will, in fact, get stuck like that. Andy asks her why she sold “Soggy Flicker” T-shirts at the retreat if she really hated the name. “Now when people call me Soggy Flicker, I don’t mind it that much,” she says.
Siggy accuses Margaret of shaming her for side effects related to her hysterectomy. “Why are you using the uterus? Why are you using the uterus?” Margaret yells. And why did Siggy tweet at PETA about Margaret? “Because you have a dead bear in your foyer and you’re making fun of my foyer, which has pictures of me,” Siggy explains, like this a perfectly normal thing to say. Actually, come to think of it, I’m surprised I can’t think of more foyer-centric arguments from previous Real Housewives reunions. Well, anyway, Margaret would like the world to know that Siggy eats veal.
After the runaway critical and popular success of my last play, I Know Joan Rivers, I’ve decided to grace the theatrical community with an experimental new work: Little Veal, inspired by real events.
[Dramaturg’s note: Dialogue should be spoken concurrently. The more incomprehensible the results are, the better.]
MARGARET: Did you ever see a little veal, in an aluminum cage, force-fed?
SIGGY: Your husband killed a bear!
MARGARET: Little veal! Little veal!
SIGGY: An innocent bear, with eyes, nose, mouth.
MARGARET: The bear led a lovely life, running through the woods.
SIGGY: He shot it! Like Elmer Fudd! He’s saying, “I think I shot a puddy tat!”
MARGARET: Little veal! Every Sunday!
Thank you. Please hold your applause.
It’s time for Siggy and Margaret to take a well-earned emotional intermission, so Andy unveils Danielle Staub in a scarlet gown so sparkly that it’s best to avoid looking directly at it. (Do you still have your eclipse glasses?) Danielle relates the horrifying story of how, after Teresa talked about Danielle’s “daily blow jobs” on the show, a boy walked up to her daughters, unzipped his pants, and said, “Do what your mom did.” Andy reads a pertinent fan question about RHONJ’s past: Teresa called Danielle a “prostitution whore” (among other things), but what did Danielle ever do to Teresa? “You were putting my husband down,” Teresa says. Danielle kindly points out that this was after Joe had used a gay slur, which is true, but sorry, folks! We’ve got to move on to Cakegate!
Teresa explains that part of the reason she threw the cake in the first place was because she felt at least one of its tiers (or perhaps its base? I am calling for a Warren Commission–style inquiry) was made of plastic. A fan asks Siggy why, if throwing cake is so unacceptable, she felt it was okay to pour her glass of wine out on a table? “First of all, when you’re sitting at a table, you’re at a table, right?” begins Siggy’s explanation, which gets no more cogent from there. Siggy is on the defensive throughout the hour, but what’s far more scalding than any of the barbs she trades with Marge is when Melissa rightly takes the Sig to task for humiliating her at her party. Do the women believe that Siggy, as she claimed in drunken anger, really has a higher IQ than anyone else in the cast? The consensus is a resounding no. Siggy has said that her IQ is 167, but now she clarifies, “I just make that up to make people laugh.” (What is funny about that? It just sounds like she’s just lying. If she’d said “169,” though, I’d be fully onboard.) At some point in this mess, Margaret tells Siggy she should star on “The Real Housewives of Bellevue,” a solid line that, in true Big M fashion, she spoils by repeating several more times.
In the final moments of the episode, Kim D. emerges with so much aggressive fanfare that this suddenly feels more like an episode of Raw than it already did. “I thought this was The Real Housewives of New Jersey, not Tales From the Crypt,” Teresa shouts. Andy tells her not to get off the couch. We’ll have wait to see what happens next week, but it looks like Teresa does indeed get off that couch.