The Real Housewives of New Jersey
As our ninth season draws to a close, we have a few unresolved story lines to knot into a frenemy-ship bracelet before we can say our good-byes.
First up: Jackie takes her “frumpy” mom (ouch, Jackie) to get her hair done at what I initially believed to be a beauty salon called Wave; as it turns out, she is getting her hair done by a hairdresser named Wave. I felt like I needed to mention this to you. Anyway, Jackie’s mom is thrilled to hear that her daughters are reestablishing their relationship. That said, while it appears that Jackie says her sister’s actual name in IRL conversation, the audio has been clunkily dubbed so that we hear her voice saying only “my sister.” I think it’s safe to say we shouldn’t expect Jackie’s mystery sibling to make her Bravo debut any time soon. (Or: What if she’s already made her Bravo debut and we don’t know it? Could Jackie’s sister be a stew on Below Deck? A hat-wearing member of the general public who complimented somebody’s biscuits in her two seconds of screen-time during a Top Chef Kentucky Derby party? Dorit?)
Other RHONJ relationships, alas, remain in stasis. Melissa has taken a 23andMe DNA test in the hopes of finding her hypothetical half-sister, but no luck yet. At least Concetta the Catholic Psychic didn’t force her to spit into a tube. And after more than two decades in their former marital home, Dolores tells Frank that she wants to find her own apartment. Frank is supportive, but I choose to interpret this as just a minor hiccup on the path to the endgame that is Frolores — excuse me, Dank.
Jennifer, Bill, and their approximately three dozen children go out to a hibachi dinner, where the smaller members of the family emit a great deal of complaints, bathroom requests, and miscellaneous other noises. Olivia — who, mark my words, will one day release a single to rival that of global, international, worldwide New Jersey recording superstar Milania Giudice — offers to finish her soup in exchange for her parents buying her an unspecified “two things” at Target. When Bill declares that Jennifer has “spoiled” their daughter, his kids step up to remind him of his own parental negligence. “You know how you said you’re, like, a role model for me?” one son (I’m sorry, I can’t keep track of anyone who isn’t Olivia) tells him. “I feel like I don’t really see it that much, because you’re not around.” Tonight, the burns are coming not via the grill or the shrimp jauntily flipped off of it, but from the mouths of Bill’s offspring.
For the most part, though, this is a very happy episode for the Aydins, who are commemorating their 16th wedding anniversary with an elaborate red-themed party. (On an Arbitrary Celebration scale from 1 to 17-year vow renewal, I score this event a 4.) Jennifer is decked out in an impressive “tiara-type thing” and an even more impressive ponytail. There are red roses everywhere, a red carpet, belly dancing, hookah, and gambling (do not for a second think that I missed the “TRUMP PLAZA” logo imprinted on those playing cards) with fake cash bearing Bill and Jennifer’s likenesses. They even serve a multitiered not-technically-a-wedding-cake, though I’m sorry to report it’s not red velvet.
It is a perfectly lovely party. A second kind of party begins when Danielle and Marty arrive.
The other women try and fail to suggest to Teresa that it might benefit their collective mental health if Danielle were less of a presence in their lives. The Giudice-Staub alliance highlights one of the fundamental ethical questions at the core of Housewives philosophy: Should you base your opinion of someone on how they treat you and only you, or on how they treat everyone? We explored this debate just last season, when Margaret infamously invoked Hitler to explain why she wouldn’t pursue a friendship with Kim D.
Obviously, there is one and only one correct answer here, and equally obviously, it is not the answer that Teresa’s strict interpretation of the Golden Rule has led her to. In her unwavering support of Danielle, Tre is effectively suggesting you turn a blind eye when your otherwise charming dinner date abuses the waitstaff. (Then again, in Teresa’s defense, she can almost certainly handle abusing the waitstaff all by herself.)
“So tell me, was anything said about me tonight?” is how Danielle opens a private conversation with Teresa, and is also what I will now say upon entering any room, including doctor’s offices and funeral parlors and the DMV, for the rest of my life.
Danielle declares Margaret to be “nothing but a manipulative, malicious bitch” shortly thereafter. “You are Teresa Giudice and you don’t let anyone tell you what to do. Who the hell is Margaret Josephs to dictate to Teresa Giudice?” Danielle asks, both manipulatively and maliciously.
All this shit-talking is only the opening act to the evening’s marquee conflict between Margaret and Danielle’s husbands. As Joe G. puckishly eggs them on, Joe B. and Marty take to the backyard to settle their differences. In fairness, I should point out that it’s not like Joe B. has never said (or at least howl-shouted) anything bad about Danielle. But Joe never called Marty a “jealous motherfucker” who wishes he were him, which is what Marty does tonight, before accusing his ex-friend of “staring at Danielle’s tits, because [his] fucking wife doesn’t have any.” This is not only extremely rude and inappropriate, but, I have to point out, simply untrue. Marge has great boobs.
“What man would say that about someone else’s wife?” Margaret asks, having by this point come outside to find Joe. (Or about … anyone, one feels compelled to ask.)
“Because I’m promoting the beauty of my wife,” Marty retorts, in what is no doubt his greatest contribution to this television program, and very possibly to human society in general. I am so thrilled by the idea of his “promoting the beauty” of Danielle, like he’s a social media coordinator for Danielle Staub Industries being paid in college credit that will never actually manifest on his transcript to leave mean comments on the Instagram selfies of her detractors.
The yelling, poking, and cursing escalates until Marty says Margaret “emasculates” Joe, at which point the couple jointly pushes him — sharing culpability like all those Roman senators stabbing Caesar — into the cleansing, color-changing, LED-lit waters of the Aydins’ pool.
Now, children: In this TV family, we use our words, not our hands. That said, Marty sucks.
“Your husband’s in the pool,” Margaret coolly informs Danielle.
“Who threw my husband in the pool?!” Danielle asks.
“Me and my husband,” she answers with pride.
Raise your glass of red wine and let’s toast to an entertaining season — but maybe stop just short of throwing it, at least until the reunion.