The Real Housewives of New Jersey
I’d like to start off with a note to the network: Not bravo, Bravo. Not bravo. I’m very disappointed in you. If I’ve learned one lesson after all of my fandom, it’s that the most important rule in reality television is to show, not tell. That being understood, why have I sat through three solid seasons of New Jersey, starting on my fourth, only to have one of the greatest scenes of all time told to me through unattributed voice-overs and exteriors?
This has been the worst Rashomoning of a subject since Rashomon, which I’ve never even seen, preferring instead to throw Rashomon around as a term to make it seem as though I have. I am talking, of course, of the alleged incident of one Joe Guidice busting chops on the topic of height to one Richie Wakile, who responded with a challenge of a standoff and was met with an apparent attempted ball-squeezing.
According to Juicy Joe, he made the grab but came up with nothing but air, because Richie’s “Got pebbles for nuts. He’s got no nuts at all.” As Teresa solemnly tells the camera afterward, “I’m glad my husband handled it like a man.” Which is, to say, by allegedly falling into a large candlestick holder and giving himself a black eye and a bloody nose. No wonder Juicy Joe shows no sympathy later when parenting a bloody-knee-ed Audriana, choosing instead to fake cry at her. He’s teaching her early on how tough life can be, especially in Franklin Lakes where there are candlestick holders at every turn.
In other news, the end of the rope that Ashley had put her seemingly patient parents, Chris and Jacqueline, on has finally been sawed, gnawed, and jawed through until there is nothing left but a twisted pile of hemp, string, and, it turns out, a lot of guts. That’s right, guts. Ashley’s guts. That brave little lady, who faced the ridicule of a nation by falsely portraying herself as a deeply dull and petulant brat to allow us to have a closer look at how profoundly f-ed up Jacqueline actually is? It turns out “Ashlee” was all part of a plan by “Ashley” who is now safely ensconced in Vegas, finally free to pursue the love of quantum physics she only so mildly hinted at with her sullen displays of throwing herself from room to couch to room.
Because that’s the only explanation, right? It’s all purposeful, it has to be. That little exercise in obtuseness we witnessed last week, when Ashley pretended she couldn’t figure out how to run the vacuum cleaner and had to ask her 10-year-old brother to show her, was actually part of a masterful plan so we wouldn’t question how moronic she would have to be to miss a flight after being dropped off with plenty of time at the airport. She was giving us time to digest the little nuggets her mom was throwing out, like, “Ripping her hair out is not going to solve the problem. Although I have pulled her hair before. [Giggling.] It didn’t work.” As Ashley struggles to haul her enormous suitcase down the staircase, she actually wants us to watch Jacqueline play the neat trick of saying she’s going to hug Ashley good-bye. Then as soon as Ashley gets to the bottom stair, she quickly picks up baby Nicolas so her arms are full and all she can offer Ashley is a, “Call me when you arrive and we’ll Skype.” I’ve employed similar techniques at the end of bad first dates, though mine also involve opening the car door and leaning my body away from the driver and onto the passing road.
Jacqueline has no idea that we’re on to her, even going so far as to think she’s winning us back at the end of the episode by showing us pictures of how adorable Ashley/Ashlee was as a baby. She doesn’t realize she’s showing us how it will play out if the series continues on to season 35, and it will, when we’ll be watching Space Jacqueline avoid hugging Astronaut Nicolas in the same exact way while she kicks him out of the space pod to live with some strange robot uncle over in Alpha Sector of the Magwad Galaxy.
And speaking of great mothering techniques, Caroline is starting to think it’s more than her family that’s as thick as thieves, it’s also her daughter Lauren’s middle. So with the same infinite wisdom she brings to her radio talk show, does she bring her only daughter to a professional doctor’s office in a professional health-care-looking setting? No. A poor man’s George Hamilton–looking shyster with tinted hair and a crispy suit who works in an infomercial-looking spa? Yes.
There, Lauren is prescribed a diet of yellow liquid, mixed berries, and chocolate powder. I have no idea what the yellow liquid is. What ever it is, my guess is that Caroline’s counting on it to either slim her daughter down or beef her up to the next weight class. It looks like it could be made of absolutely anything. I listened to the description several times before giving up and going with what I heard, which was Diet George Hamilton saying, “pasteurized piglets” and then Caroline knowledgeably repeating the word “piglets.” There’s a part of me that doubts it’s pasteurized piglets, but I’m keeping that part compartmentalized next to the part of me that doubts this will be a long-term solution, especially for someone like Lauren who is constantly surrounded by meatballs, both literal and figurative.
And on a final note, um, where was Rosie? I wanted my Rosie. Bring me my Rosie! If you, like me, find it hard to watch the show and not view every scene through the “How would Rosie have slammed her fists on the counter at this situation?” filter, this was a tough episode. Which boots would she have worn? Whose heart would she have tried to rip out? How many newsboy caps would she have chewed through, for example, when Kathy found the e-mail with the nudie pics that chick sent to Joseph the Sophomore Class President? I settled on nine for my own edification, but it was hard.