The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Once my retinas recovered from looking directly at Melissa Gorga’s sequined hot pants, it occurred to me that everybody was trying to sell something this week: Gia, her burgeoning sexuality vis-à-vis break-dancing with the big kids; Kathy Wakile, homemade snackz; Caroline Manzo, her tomato sauce; Melissa, her legitimacy as a pop singer; Joe Gorga, his “poison” (je426sg375hes9gser); and Teresa Giudice, the clever ruse of temporary sanity. Most important, Chris Laurita and the Manzos are hawking Blk.
Hey, Albie, Caroline, and Chris, what is Blk?
Oh, it’s black water? Mmmmmmm, that sounds great. (“My president is black! My water is black!” chants Greg. Stop trying to make “fetch” happen, Greg.)
As I write this, Showgirls is on Logo and Elizabeth Berkley, clad in an MS-paint censorship bikini, has just staged a coup against Gina Gershon. Appropriately enough, we open with a sweaty, intense dance montage in which Melissa is preparing to perform at Beatstock and attempts to master the choreography by Chris Judd, Jennifer Lopez’s Second Husband™. Gia is also practicing for a dance solo at the same event. If you were interested, the rather sparse website for Beatstock advertises itself as “The Greatest Dance Concert Ever!” so we all might want to check the Oxford English Dictionary and make sure the entire English language has not changed.
Kathy Wakile, stricken with a “mo’ money, mo’ problems” version of the problem that has no name, decides to Make Something of Herself and sell some cannolis and mini-cheesecakes at the local ice cream parlor where Rosie had her first job. When she and Richie arrive at the parlor, the owner is hardening some desserts. “That’s what I call my bedroom,” Richie laughs. “The hardening box.” He also eats Kathy’s food before the shop owner gets a chance to try it and suggests that she call her pastry business “Richie’s Wife’s Desserts.” What up, Betty Friedan?
It also happens to be Joe and Melissa Gorga’s seventh anniversary, and she continuously reads her texts out loud and applies makeup in order to avoid being humped into the center of the earth. What up, Jules Verne?
At three different points in this episode, Joe Gorga refers to his penis as “Tarzan,” sucks Melissa’s toes, and refers to his young daughter as “a cockblock.”
On the way to the Fancy Food Show, Greg and the Manzo boys are reminded to abstain from fuckuppery by Chris Laurita. They then stop at a restaurant to inject approximately 50 pounds of scrapple into their bloodstream, which obviously won’t be a massive problem later when the kids are consuming their body weight in alcohol. (Offscreen, back in Jersey, Lauren Manzo is undoubtedly sobbing over a lettuce leaf.) Later, Chris Manzo pukes at the bar. I hope you understand why I’m not going to dwell on that moment, except to note that it was probably less scrapple and vodka than it was the human body’s systematic rejection of black fucking water.
“We have to take this very seriously, all day,” an understandably stressed out Chris Laurita reminds the hung-over Blk crew as they finally arrive at the Eatingtown Fancyfancy. We are reminded that Chris Laurita’s last business folded and that he is essentially the beaten-down Willy Loman of this show, a weary and paunchy ghost of the capitalist American Dream. Which, I guess, makes Greg Linda Loman, Chris Jr. Happy, and Albie a barely closeted Biff.
As the Giudices prepare their eldest daughter for the Mayan sacrifice of onstage freak-dancing (“You look like a boobie girl,” Gabrielle informs Gia), we learn that the following technique is what Teresa uses to get a shirtless Joe Giudice’s attention:
“Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe.”
In the car on the way to Beatstock, Gia does a cruelly accurate impression of Melissa’s single “On Display” and everyone laughs.
Unsurprisingly, the Blk crew is having a difficult time convincing Fancyfoodgoers to ingest their product. Says Chris Laurita defensively, “A lot of people are afraid to drink it because it’s black, but COFFEE is black, and coffee is black water, right?” Otay. Finally, they get a break through Patti LaBelle. You read that right, although I wish it were a typo and I meant to write “Patti LaBelle would never appear on this program.”
“Yo, it’s Patti. It’s MRS. PATTI,” hisses Greg.
“What has she done?” asks Chris.
“A bunch of stuff. She sang ‘Lady Marmalade.’”
As they approach Patti LaBelle’s booth, Greg begins to get cold feet.
“Get it together,” says Chris Jr. Greg introduces himself.
“I know, [you’re] from Jersey,” says Patti LaBelle. “I make hot sauces, I sing sometimes, and I put on high pumps.” That is a direct quote. She shows the boys her Louboutins and Greg is like, :DDDDDDDD. She then drinks their black water and does not immediately die, which one might consider an endorsement.
Annnnnd, Beatstock. Just before Gia goes on, someone asks her to bust a “slow hip-hop” move. Her completely unexpected, innocent interpretation of “slow hip-hop” dancing reminds us all that she is, in fact, 11 years old and being exploited on national television. Then she goes onstage and she’s pretty good. Joe Giudice tears up.
Melissa follows Gia and lip-synchs “Rockstars.” Her sisters watch her and cry. Dear readers, there should be a .gif-stacked Tumblr called “Shedding Tears of Joy to House Music”; I trust one of you will get on that post-haste. Joe Gorga says that Melissa’s music improves with “the more practice they get in the bedroom.”
A concertgoer holds a baby whose face is blurred out.
Afterwards, a giddy Melissa holds court with Chris Judd and his entourage, examining photos and laughing, and Kathy finds herself inspired by all the other housewives’ successes (suc·cess, [suhk-ses] noun 1. maintaining well-kept hair extensions in the face of foreclosure, bankruptcy, and tabloid-mongering). Then the Wakiles have a low-key romantic moment that actually doesn’t necessarily feel dictated by producers. But what do I know?
New friends Teresa and Melissa talk about the upcoming, much-awaited trip to Napa:
TRE: I heard that the roads are windy.
Windy is pronounced here with a long i, like “they wind,” not “they are windy.”
MELISSA: We’re gonna be together for five days!!
Melissa does a goofy soft-shoe in her gigantic stripper heels.
There is an ominous cutaway to the moon.
We close out the episode with some Risk-style shuffling of troops and stratagems regarding the upcoming Napa trip, Manzos/Lauritas versus Giudice/Gorgas. (“If we could invite them, great.” “I’m not coming.” “We’re looking to rekindle a relationship.” “It’s kinda weird going on vacation with someone who doesn’t wanna be your friend anymore.”)
And finally, Albie informs us that as much as he likes his new girlfriend Professional Cheerleader, if she gave him an ultimatum, he would choose black water. Wouldn’t we all?