The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Did you catch it? Every light, in every Cinnabon, in every Sbarro’s, in every Roy Rogers, in every desperately in-need-of-maintenance ladies’ room in every rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike flickered off for just a moment there. Joe and Teresa Giudice have separated after 20 years of marriage, a development that doesn’t come as a surprise to a single living being on Andy Cohen’s green earth, including anyone who’s only just woken up from a coma, so long as that coma began at any time since, say, RHONJ season four. Nevertheless, we wish Tre and Juicy Joe, and especially their children, the best in their separate yet intertwined lives. May they continue to confusingly flirt on Instagram till the day they die.
Traveling backwards along the Bravo space-time continuum to this week’s episode, Teresa’s older daughters have learned that Joe’s appeal was denied, but she has yet to break the bad news of his increasingly likely deportation to 9-year-old Audriana.
Over the weekend, I attended a Real Housewives trivia night that was won by a team who called themselves Danielle Staub’s Weave, a name worthy of an award in and of itself. Anyway, on this episode, she, and it, join Teresa for a drink. To lovingly plagiarize the podcast Who Weekly, tens of people want to know: Are Danielle and Marty back together, or what? Danielle hesitates. Exhales dramatically. Shake-nods her head. She’s not going to use “that word,” she says. And what about Oliver, the… “duke?” (Actually, I’m not going to use that word.) Danielle hesitates again. Sigh-moans. Tucks her hair back behind an ear. She Who Must Not Be Addressed As Beverly really knows how to elevate a performance through bold choices.
Marty, meanwhile, pays a visit to Margaret and Joe. Marge remains convinced that, despite what her friends may think, he and Danielle aren’t having sex, there’s definitely no way, right, Marty, blink once for no, blink twice for absolutely not? “I wish that wasn’t discussed,” Marty says, explaining that he is in a “good place” with Danielle. Could the particular good place in question be the inside of her vagina? I’m a journalist and I’m just asking questions.
Margaret reminds Marty that Danielle has more ulterior motives than she does ex-fiancés (Discussion question for the class: If you were to accumulate 20-plus engagement rings, what would you do with them? Surely they belong on prominent display in your home, no?), the most glaring of which is that she’s facing a 30-day deadline to buy her ex out of the house in which they are currently dysfunctionally cohabitating, or else vacate. (Her cosigner is to be, who else, Oliver, on whom she may or may not be cheating on at this juncture? Danielle Staub is, in her own way, a genius.)
Of their relationship’s future, Marty muses, “I can’t say what’s going to happen in five years from now.” Marge responds — and I’m paraphrasing here, but — no. No, no, no. No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. N-O. Non. Nyet. No, thank you, sir. There’s no way you’re sleeping together. Right? Right. But right, though? In fact, you don’t even need to answer that. Except you must.
“Um,” Marty says. “That’s not something I’m going to talk about.” Now not even Large Marge can deny the indisputable fact of their sexing. Marty’s penis might as well have presented her with a notarized affidavit.
This episode also serves as a standalone nature documentary about the curious rituals of the seventy-something New Jersey male. Jackie’s father Barry, a gambling enthusiast who’s moved to Manalapan for its proximity to Atlantic City, keeps his fridge stocked with expired food and his prescription bottles full of loose change. He demands his visiting family watch a video of a heavyset teenage Jackie dressed up for junior prom, then suggests that his now-svelte daughter’s life-threatening eating disorder was “almost worth it,” to her extreme displeasure. Dolores’ father Larry, who is struggling with serious heart disease, waves off her concerns about his diet when he informs her that he had a bagel with cream cheese and jelly for breakfast, but that’s fine, because “[he] toasted it.” America’s nonno Giacinto yells at his family members when they express concern over his alarmingly labored breathing, between sneaking sips of what appears to be hot sauce directly from the bottle and announcing, to no one in particular, “I got no more blood.” Anyway, I should call my dad.
It is a testament to how far the sister-in-laws have come that Melissa can bring sprinkle cookies to Teresa’s redone home on Easter Sunday without triggering a series of events that ultimately require the dispatch of a SWAT team. Joe calls, and the Giudice-Gorga family catches up with him on speakerphone around the table. It’s genuinely a very sweet scene: They joke about how tall the kids are now, how old they’re all getting, how good his lamb chops were. The conversation grows increasingly poignant as an automated voice announces they have one minute remaining, then just 20 seconds to trade tearful I-love-yous.
Audriana is clearly a bright kid, who, like all bright kids, is painfully aware of when grownups are trying to keep something from her. Finally, she takes her mother aside: Is her dad getting deported? Would she tell her if she was?
It’s truly bewildering when The Real Housewives of New Jersey makes me feel feelings other than “amused,” “vaguely annoyed,” or “hungry for red sauce,” but here we are.