This week, Caroline is kind of like the ghost of Jacob Marley, and she’s come to tell us that we need to appreciate our families or we’ll be visited by three additional ghosts who look like Teresa, Ashley, and Caroline’s gelled pompadour. Her haunting narration starts via her radio show, which is basically Top 40 except with the same advice being repeated over and over again, instead of the same songs. In a ghostly tremor, she tells the chilling story of how a 3-year-old lisping Albie once told her to put on a seat belt, and you have to wonder why she didn’t bring out this charmer when Alexa Ray Joel was around to hear it. But I’m sure Alexa’s listening at home, and she probably picked up the phone to call Billy Joel and tell him, “Dad, you’ve got wear a seat belt!” Which is not bad advice for someone who once drove into a tree.
Melissa is also inspired to pick up the phone, placing a call to Teresa to ask her about arranging a play-date for the kids. And Teresa, who has hands down turned into this season’s biggest adult shitbag, pulls the “Who’s this?” when she knows exactly who’s calling her from Melissa’s phone number. Or did she just think that baby Joey was phoning her to chat about the newest skullcap he got for Christmas? But one of Melissa’s resolutions is not to let Teresa get to her anymore, and so in my book, she’s an absolute saint — no, an angel — for putting up with the treatment she gets when Teresa finally shows up to the Gorga mansion with her little monsters, almost three hours late. (For clarification, I’m not using “little monsters” in the Lady Gaga sense. I’m talking mostly about Milania, who has instilled terror in Gino by pulling on his neck, who can dump out her dresser in five seconds flat, and who angrily growls “I want this” when her cousin shares a new doll.) For a second, I’m like, “Whoa, Fergie has crashed this play-date!” but it turns out it’s just Gia in a low fedora and leopard fur coat.
In the kitchen, Teresa and Melissa talk about the Kathy situation, and go figure — Teresa has been holding a grudge against Kathy since before the cameras descended upon Franklin Lakes. Did Kathy send Teresa a letter about “redone” teeth when Teresa got braces? Did she bring the wrong cookies to Teresa’s bachelorette party? No, it’s that Teresa was Kathy’s “only cousin on her mother’s side,” and yet Kathy didn’t ask Teresa to be in her wedding. And boy, did Teresa get Kathy back by snubbing her from her wedding to Juicy Joe. I used to think that Teresa was kind of dumb but ultimately sweet-natured and fun, but this season it turns out she’s definitely dumb and incredibly petty, too. You think she’d win me over a little when she pantomimes gagging at the thought of having sex with Lebanese Jon Lovitz, who she thinks is obsessed with her, but she’s been so grotesque lately that his labial facial hair is gorgeous in comparison. By the end of that play-date, she has sarcastically rejected Melissa’s recipe offer and has shit all over Melissa’s attempt at a singing career, even though Teresa’s cookbook racket falls into the same category of opportunities that arise from being Bravo-famous.
I’ll just say it again: Melissa is an angel. Print me up a “Wench Like Me” T-shirt because I’ve picked my side.
The thing is, Teresa’s going to have stiff competition for the show’s biggest adult shitbag when Ashley turns 21 next year. I realize that most American laws interpret 18 as the age of adulthood, but considering that Ashley is still living in her mom’s house, refusing to make eye contact with her grandpa when he’s talking to her, and is mostly into “friends, parties” and sullenly drawing Marilyn Monroe, I’m not sure we should let her vote. And speaking of that drawing, it’s definitely surprising to find out that Ashley has a talent besides saying “whatever.” And then it’s disappointing all over again to learn that she has next to no desire to put that skill to realistic use. Grandpa wishes he could “light a fire under [her] butt,” and I wish he meant that literally because that’s not a bad idea. He should light her bed on fire, and then she’ll have to get that ass up and think and figure out what to do next. And while he has matches in hand, he should go ahead and light her Jeep on fire, too. Cousin Lauren naively tries to encourage Ashley’s ability by asking her to design a T-shirt for the grand opening of Chateau Salon & Spa, but Ashley interviews that she was “kind of mad at Lauren — I was just, like, whatever” because Lauren has the nerve to tell this dead-eyed Picasso what she wants for her business. You see, someday Ashley is going to be a professional artist and she’s not gonna work with clients. She’s just going to sell all her artwork to her stepdad.
And then it is New Year’s Eve, and some pretty great things come out of the “everybody getting ready” sequence. Milania snarls to her dad, “Gimme pizza, you old troll,” which is my new favorite catchphrase. Whenever someone’s eating pizza in my presence, that’s now my line. Even if I don’t want pizza. Jacqueline is trying to get a Bumpit® going without a Bumpit®. Melissa’s gay makeup artist flirts with Joe, who’s in a muscle shirt that reads “WELL-EQUIPPED.” Melissa is telling Kathy about how Teresa dogged her nineties look, and we see a photo of Melissa with crunchy curls and heavy lip liner — if Mariah Carey is watching, Teresa just made a new enemy. Caroline is recalling how last year Ashley brought her shitty friends to the Brownstone party, one of whom threw up outside her car window. And, of course, Caroline has brought out her aforementioned pompadour, and that means some extra serious straight-talking tonight. Lauren is thick, okay? Caroline knows it. Lauren is thick.
At the Brownstone, there are so many fully sequined dresses that I’m seeing honeycombs of light for a minute, and then Teresa’s yammering in the bathroom about the great Christmas Eve sibling betrayal to Caroline. That’s when Caroline decides to tell Teresa that Kathy and Rich are coming to the party, and the camera holds as Teresa visibly tries to process this information. It’s like a million thoughts are racing through her head, except they’re all basically 1/1000th of a thought, so nothing’s adding up. (You just know that when Caroline called Kathy with the invite, Kathy spent the rest of the day jumping up and down the stairs like a freshman girl after being asked to her first sock hop).
Making a quiet entrance, Kathy shows up with a cellophaned basket of baked goods that brushes against the chandeliers, and naturally Teresa feels that her cookbook is what made Kathy want to get into desserts. But enough of those two. Enough. Their husbands are 3 billion times more delightful, and that’s because they’re completely shitfaced. As Joe Gorga tends bar, Joe Giudice happily calls him a bitch and shakes a wad of cash, having a much, much better time than he was having on Christmas. Joe Gorga, who started drinking back at his house, laughs alongside his juicy namesake, and all is right with the world. No — make that perfect with the world, because Giudice goes over and greets Rich as “Mr. Dickface,” and those two laugh and hug. And you know what? I like that for Rich. In the remaining recaps, I’m going to put the Jon Lovitz stuff to bed, and LJL shall henceforth be known as Mr. Dickface.
These guys are in such high spirits that it’s a real shame when Mr. Dickface’s mood darkens at the sight of some older dude trying to dance with his daughter, Victoria. We don’t even get to see if this guy was hot because he evidently didn’t sign a waiver, and more important, we don’t know if he was just bouncing around in front of her or trying to do the Freak. Regardless, Gorga helps Mr. Dickface throw the guy out, and I wish they’d tossed Teresa with him because she’s still over at a side table, carping about Kathy. Caroline says it’s like going up against a brick wall, but it’s more like trying to get some sense past a thick skull protected by an even thicker hairline. Melissa’s solution is that she, Teresa, and Kathy should go on vacation, and Teresa blankly agrees to this, as long as Jacqueline and Caroline can come. Joe’s cock ring always has an unspoken invite.
Caroline’s narration comes back in to bookend the episode as she stands atop the two steps overlooking the ballroom. Her consciousness floating above the merriment, she observes her friends and family and takes stock of their lives, specifically hoping that Jacqueline will find “peace in Ashley,” which is only a little less likely than peace in the Middle East. Joe’s inventing a new dance move that will eclipse the Electric Slide: what you do is feel your wife’s tits while your daughters are dancing nearby … and that’s it. That’s the whole dance. And as Mr. Dickface stands by the wall, attending to an upset-looking Kathy, he says, “New Year, same assholes.”
So with that, let me paraphrase our friend and say to all of you, “Next week, same assholes.” We wouldn’t have it any other way.