The Real Housewives of New Jersey
On soap operas, the oldest trick in the book is to suddenly introduce a never-before-mentioned, long-lost relative. Dynasty started out as a show about a man with two children, but by the end of its final episode, the total was at least five or six, played by nine or ten different actors. In that spirit, the good folks at Bravo have sent us a Trojan horse in the form of (married) lipstick lesbian couple Robyn and Christina.
But first, let’s talk about Jacqueline and Siggy. These two are suddenly BFFs and making the rounds to stir up shit, despite Siggy’s best efforts to remain above the fray. Like middle-schoolers huddling to gossip after a prank, Jacqueline and Siggy can barely wait to jump on the phone with Kathy and Rosie to find out about the “lunch” with Teresa. This is where the serious trouble starts. Kath and Ro seem to take the high road, glossing over the heated details with a positive spin: We both said our “doors are always open,” we laid the foundation, and on and on. This leads so directly to unexpected conflict that I can only conclude it was a setup by the producers.
Even more egregious, Jackie and Sig stop by Posche — you heard me, Posche — to visit Kim D. — yeah, that Kim D. — for some bad tidings and worse fashions. Kim D. is delighted to inform them that Melissa’s store manager, Derek, was the one who sold stories about Teresa, which has something to do with taking cash at a book signing. Seems like small potatoes compared to the major fraud the Giudices were charged with, but I suppose they’re in no position to cut corners.
And so, the ladies’ Vermont weekend becomes a much shakier proposition than it originally seemed to be. Regardless, it affords the Giudice girls some quality time with Joe before he leaves for prison. If there was ever any doubt that Milania needs her own show, these scenes should clear that up real good. She may no longer lob hilarious one-liners like, “You’re not a cooker, you’re a hooker,” but she’s still pretty freaking funny. And I’ll be damned if the kid doesn’t have real depth and heart, more so than most characters in Bravo’s fake Real universe. You think she’s just being a brat when she demands Joe bring her water — and he certainly responds as such — but then her dejected little, “I always get you water when you ask me,” paints a different picture. It’s suddenly very real. Isn’t that what happens in families? You’re sitting around watching TV, and when someone gets up, you ask them to get you some water. My mom will bring you a glass of ice water with a lemon wedge and a napkin. My brother will fart in your face. Milania, with her perfect pancakes, appears to fall into the nurturing category.
I’m just gonna take this moment to point out that Melissa told Joe he’s hung like a horse. It’s somewhat ambiguous in context — and sure, it may have been a joke — but still, attention must be paid.
Also, in thinking about the dumbing down of America, this week offered a tidy example — I mean, in addition to the entire series being evidence of it. As the ladies (plus Melissa and Jacqueline’s husbands) board the party bus to Vermont, we hear a stray comment: “I have to sit as close to the back as possible so I don’t get nauseous.” Um, no. This is the very process of misinformation. This is how stupidity spreads. I can’t counteract everything, but if you’re reading this, please believe me: If you get carsick, stay up in front.
We do learn something worth knowing, which is that Teresa and Chris once went on a date. OMG. The details are scant: It was years ago, Dina set them up, and Tre talked about Joe the whole time. Cute story.
Then we get into the Kathy and Rosie stuff. Jacqueline is mighty aggressive tonight, isn’t she? The nice slant that Kathy and Rosie tried to put on their Teresa lunch backfires big time when Jacqueline, Siggy, and Chris assume there was some kind of miscommunication, that Tre’s feelings were not made clear to her cousins. Teresa is understandably incredulous, although to be fair, she is harsher about it on the bus than she’d been face-to-face. Still, the message was delivered loud and clear. And why in the world is Jacqueline getting so upset? Why is Chris jumping on it, too? He’s nice about it, but it’s still odd that they’re both so convinced they know what happened when they weren’t there.
And we’re back to that Trojan horse. What is happening between Jacqueline and Robyn? I mean, I guess it’s partly to do with Jacqueline being Team Rosie (who wouldn’t be?), since Robyn and Rosie had some hitherto un-broadcasted beef. But, either way, things get heated real fast. And just when you think Jacqueline’s gonna get violent, she gets freaky instead, sitting on Robyn’s lap in an oddball power move.
The whole thing is just so strange and complicated — fabricated perhaps, but complicated nonetheless. Tre completely keeps her cool, but joins Melissa in bashing Jacqueline in the monologues. Siggy and Dolores stand firmly at Jacqueline’s side, although they’ve made it pretty clear they’ll never cross Teresa. Even Jacqueline, for all her antics, maintains some level of good nature toward Tre. Then there’s Robyn and Christina, of whom only Robyn is volatile; Christina seems reasonable and mild-mannered. Teresa likes them, but her buddies Sig Sig and Dololo are convinced this new couple spells bad news. Is it possible that after years of a two-party system of mutual haters, the RHONJ landscape is about to become a sprawling archipelago of thorny cross-loyalties? Maybe I was wrong about Jacqueline, Kathy, and other peripheral characters being not long for this world. If anything, they’re multiplying.