The Real Housewives of New Jersey has become so much like a procedural courtroom show and this season has evolved into a referendum on Jacqueline Laurita, the once and future (?) housewife. So I would like to conclude my Jersey recaps for the year with a trial of sorts to get to the bottom of this Jacqueline woman, what she’s done with her RHONJ time, and whether she has anything to offer us going forward.
Last week’s reunion episode dropped a bomb (or a minor skirmish that Bravo tried to pass off as a bomb): Teresa claimed that Jacqueline reported her to the authorities and was responsible for her and Joe getting caught for the crimes that ultimately sent them both to prison. I say “responsible” for getting caught because I don’t think Teresa meant to imply her crimes were Jacqueline’s fault — although you never know! In any case, that’s my hunch and I don’t want to get into the “Teresa needs to take responsibility for her actions” debate yet again.
So we begin this week’s reunion episode by examining that allegation and learning a bit of what’s behind it. Apparently, Jacqueline is a “fact checker.” Is that a thing? Either way, Teresa doesn’t consider it to be why Jacqueline ratted her out. Still, there is a story here, or at least some small degree of fire behind the smoke. Chris jumps in to explain that a friend of his had bad business with Joe Gorga and another friend wanted to tip Joe off before he got in trouble, but Joe blew it off. Teresa dismisses this story, but I have to say I’m inclined to believe Chris and Jacqueline on this point.
I do believe Jacqueline would sell Teresa out to the tabloids to Kim D. or whatever.
I do not believe Jacqueline would want Teresa to be in trouble with the law.
I do believe Joe Gorga would have blown off such a warning. If he was concerned, he would have been more cautious in the first place!
Round one, I give to Jacqueline.
Then there’s discussion of the whole Jacqueline-Melissa conflict. Here’s where I got a little confused. When Jacqueline refers to all the smack Melissa was talking about Teresa, it seems like she means back in the day, like when Melissa first joined the cast, right? If that’s the case, then so what? Bygones, do you, boo.
But maybe Jacqueline means more recently? I suppose if it’s super-recent, like after Teresa came home from “camp,” then it would be a little shady. I have to cast aspersions on the sincerity of Teresa and Melissa’s rapprochement — let’s not forget their original, self-serving intentions — but they clearly have gotten close, or at least snug in their strategic alliance. And so, Jacqueline’s repeated attempts to drag old baggage and drum up conflict between the sisters-in-law is fruitless.
Chris is absolutely right when he says Jacqueline cares deeply for Teresa and only lashes out because she herself is so hurt. Siggy and Dolores harp on how Jacqueline’s “delivery” is the problem, though her intentions are good. This is where I think they’re being too easy on Jack. Yes, she loves Teresa and yes she is hurt, but that doesn’t excuse her behavior, which is psycho. Nothing about how she acted with Kathy and Rosie in regards to Teresa was okay. Just because Jackie cries into her pillow every night doesn’t give her a free pass to be a total bitch.
Here’s the thing: Jacqueline brought her heart and soul to the reconciliation with Teresa this season. Teresa did not. I’m not saying Teresa wasn’t sincere, but she obviously wasn’t very committed. She would meet Jacqueline not halfway, but like, hmm, maybe 3 percent. She just plum doesn’t care that much.
Teresa not giving a crap about Jacqueline has been the proven time and again. During tonight’s reunion, Andy keeps trying to rekindle some love by replaying old “Lucy and Ethel” clip packages and reminding everyone of all the times Nicholas — sweet little, melt-your-heart Nicholas — gave Audriana a flower. When everybody tears up, they all turn to Teresa like, “Ah? Ah? You care!” Every time, she answers quite candidly, “It’s so moving anytime a parent has to be away from their child,” or whatever else moves her that isn’t Jacqueline. I would venture to say that no one at that reunion cares less than Teresa about her relationship with Jacqueline, with the possible exception of Melissa. I still don’t think Melissa was threatened by Jacqueline. Melissa knows what I know.
So here’s what I think went down: Teresa went half-heartedly into a reunion with her dispassionate friendship, prioritizing anything and anyone, including that random lesbian couple, over Jacqueline. I think Jacqueline lashed out in response, especially at Melissa, because she was infuriated by what she perceived as hypocrisy. I don’t know why Jacqueline couldn’t just accept the Teresa-Melissa reunion, but that was her downfall.
All the trouble trickled down from there and despite people’s commitment to their doors remaining “always open,” it’ll be a cold day in hell before these wounds are healed. Other than that — which is pretty much where we started this season — there are handful of amusing tidbits to come out of the reunion.
Teresa gets called out on her malapropisms and even Jacqueline admits it’s one of her endearing qualities. While we’re on the subject, though, can I tell you what drives me batshit? “Her and I.” This lethal combination of object and subject pronouns makes me queasy and all the housewives do it. Andy, help! I will say that credit is due to Dolores for how much better she speaks than any of these women. She doesn’t turn a phrase unless she knows how to use it and pronounce it. The rest of them are more improvisational.
In my further ongoing analysis of Teresa’s personality, I’d like to point out her practice of “The Secret.” Teresa doesn’t ever want to discuss bad things that might happen. We saw it with her avoidance of prison talk for years before it became a reality and we see it now about Joe’s potential deportation. (Apparently she stormed off the set of Access Hollywood for this. Cool!) It’s also true with matters of less self-interest, like the cut back to Nicholas’s progress with his autism. Teresa brushes off the suggestion that Nicholas might enjoy anything less than the maximum possible progress in overcoming his challenges. As Andy says, Teresa doesn’t like to “put negativity out there.”
Also, Jacqueline gets called out for the way she jumped on Teresa at the beginning of the lunch. I should give a lecture series on dealing with Tauruses. Jacqueline would’ve done so much better had she just kissed Teresa on the cheek and said, no matter how dispassionately, “Hi, how are you?” These little gestures make a statement. That’s all it would take and they could be civil.
Or maybe not. People always talk about being civil, but when you reconnect with someone with whom you were once close, it’s so easy to get sucked into intimate “buddy-buddyness” and that is where the trouble starts. When you abandon casual civility, the doors of conflict swing wide open.
And there we are. Nothing left to hash out. Will any of these women come back next year? Obviously Bravo has a big boner for Teresa and her adventures, but she seems pretty determined to not get sucked into typical Real Housewives skirmishes. Maybe she’ll get her own show. Will Jacqueline come back for even more punishment? No matter what happens, I figure we can count on more Siggy and Dolores. But who knows? Maybe it’ll be clean start across the board. One thing I do know: Bravo cannot possibly wring YET ANOTHER SEASON OF MANUFACTURED DRAMA out of the Teresa-Jacqueline war. Praise Jesus.