The Real Housewives of New Jersey
After watching this episode, I have only one question: What the hell was Nonno boiling at 6 a.m.? Teresa and her daughters, Milania and Gia, wake up at an early hour for the three-hour drive to go see Joe in ICE prison. As they’re about to leave her onyx mansion through the doors that are angel wings frozen in carbonite like a holier Han Solo, Nonno is standing in the kitchen putting a gelatinous gray mass into a pot of boiling water. What the hell is that? An alien head? A giant ball of buffalo snot? The desiccated remains of Danielle Staub’s decency? The Montauk Monster?
After rewinding the scene about 17 times, it is clearly an entire squid, which makes sense since it is a staple of Italian cooking, something I enjoy eating but know as much about preparing as Paris Hilton trying to whip up a lasagna. But though I am willfully ignorant on the subject, I must question what the hell anyone is doing boiling a whole squid at 6 a.m. Is he going to make calamari for breakfast? Is there going to be rubber-band body parts in the other kids’ scrambled eggs? Has Nonno just finally lost it for good?
It’s little moments like this that I took delight in this episode. Another was when Dolores’s ex-husband Frank meets Joe Benigno, Joe Gorga, and Joe Gorga’s three remaining sperm for drinks while the women are off in the Hamptons. Frank, a man with arms like two Chihuahuas fucking in a pillowcase, orders a sour-apple martini. “And don’t be stingy with the pucker,” he tells the game waitress, who smiles through being creepily offered tequila shots on the job. “Don’t be stingy with the pucker” is a phrase I have not heard outside of a gay sauna, and it is certainly not something one would expect to hear from a gruff bodybuilder out with the boys for a night. Good on Frank for living his truth and ordering his favorite drink, knowing that it was going to get taunts from the boys.
An even better scene is when Dolores is doing squats on a BOSU, that half-ball thing they have at the gym that we look at with skepticism because, honestly, nothing good can come from such a contraption. She’s mastered the movement, but Frank comes in and is like, “WTF are you doing? That can’t be helping at all?” She tells him to try it and he fails spectacularly, not even able to step on the thing without it rolling everywhere and him practically falling over. Nothing on this show delights me more than these Neanderthal men being shown up by the women.
And some of these women. Sheesh. Just as I was starting to warm to Jennifer, she engages in one of the dumbest fights we’ve seen in a long time. The episode starts with the continuation of her tussling with Melissa and Jackie at a restaurant (technically) in the Hamptons. Jennifer is mad at Jackie for not spending enough money on her kids’ birthday party, and Jackie is mad that Jennifer is mad about something that isn’t her business. Melissa then says they’re all idiots, because Jackie is saving her money and her kids are going to be set up better than anyone’s some day.
This sets everyone off, particularly Jennifer. As we rejoin the action in medias res, Teresa and Dolores hustle Jennifer into a car and leave the restaurant before anyone’s mains can even arrive, but not before everyone in the place has taken videos for their Insta Stories. Jennifer gets in the car and continues raging, saying of Melissa, “Don’t tell me you’re winning and I’m not, because your opinion means nothing to me.” This is not the behavior of a woman unbothered. This is the behavior of a woman who cares deeply about everyone’s opinions of her and throws a temper tantrum when they are unfavorable.
To add to Jennifer’s litany of bad behavior, when everyone gets back to the house and the fight continues, she then plays semantics with the facts of what happened. She says she didn’t throw a knife at Melissa; she says she threw a plate. She “technically” didn’t throw a plate “at” Melissa; she threw a plate “toward” her. Oh, come on. That is the argument of a 10-year-old trying to get out of a punishment. It is the logical equivalent of “I didn’t hit her; I was just swinging my arms and she ran into them.”
Jackie and Jennifer continue to argue, and Jennifer says she can’t even conceive that a person wouldn’t want to throw an elaborate party for her kids if she has the means. This is Jennifer’s main problem: a lack of empathetic imagination. She doesn’t need to understand why Jackie does what she does; she just needs to accept that is the kind of person Jackie is. Then, when Jennifer storms off to her room to pack so she can leave the trip early, she says in her room, “This is who I am.” She wants Jackie to accept her on her own terms, but she can’t brook extending Jackie the same courtesy.
That is why I can’t stand Jennifer. I will watch all sorts of women of all sorts of levels of intelligence do all sorts of loathsome things on television and love every minute of it. But Jennifer’s emotional ineptitude wrapped in a cloak of insecurity fashioned to look something like superiority is just a deadly brew for me.
The same goes for people who miss the point of an argument and dig in their heels for a fight. Dolores takes umbrage with Melissa calling all of them “losers” for spending money on their kids and not saving like Jackie. Melissa includes herself in being a loser. Yes, Melissa technically called her a loser, but she doesn’t really mean it. Dolores is getting mad at the text and ignoring the subtext. Melissa isn’t really criticizing her excess in spending; she’s just trying to draw attention to a benefit of how Jackie acts that Jennifer might not have thought of before. (To be fair, Jennifer doesn’t think much, except to consider a new color for her gel tips and what McDonald’s dollar-menu item she’s going to get at the drive-through on her way home.)
Dolores and Teresa tell Jennifer if she wants to leave before the weekend is over, they’ll go with her. “We came with you,” Dolores says. “We’ll leave with you.” This is such a dumb and arbitrary distinction. When Melissa hears this, she says, “Oh, because you rode in the car together, you have to leave together?” Yes, exactly. If Jennifer wants to leave for throwing plates, she can go on her own. I understand why production would want at least one person in the car with her — so she can bitch about Jackie the whole way home — but otherwise who cares?
Melissa is totally right that if someone threw something at Teresa and then she left with that person, she would be apologizing for it from this day until her soul finally goes to rest in sprinkle-cookie heaven. When Melissa brings this up, Teresa decides to stay, and thank God she does because that night at dinner, we got to see the shirtless bathroom-mirror selfie of Tony the Pool Guy. You remember him. Teresa dated him in high school, and now he’s back in her life (as her boyfriend, according to the tabloids). This guy is fit. He’s a silver fox, pushing 50, has abs and a successful career. He is one man-on-man hookup away from being Anderson Cooper. Oh, and if you want to deep dive into his Instagram for shirtless pictures, I already did it for you.
But the shirtless picture he sent Tre is not on his Instagram. No, this is not the kind of picture that says, “I just went to the gym and I like the results.” This is a low-lighting bathroom vanity shot that sings “I Wanna Sex You Up” when you open it on your phone. This is the shirtless shot that comes three texts before the dick pick. This is not a picture you send your friend, unless you want to give that friend a naked hug.
I really tire of all this talk about Teresa and Joe and whether they’re going to break up, because we all know how it ends. I would, however, like to comment on the restaurants where these discussions take place. When Teresa shows the girls Tony’s picture, they’re at Dockers in Quogue, Sonja Morgan’s least favorite town. It is named after, and adequately resembles, a mid-priced pair of men’s chinos. When Teresa talks about her relationship over drinks and apps (the eating kind, not the dating kind) with her brother, it’s at a restaurant called Rails. Rails does not sound appetizing. It sounds like a euphemism for lines of cocaine or something from a title of a porn movie. It does not seem like a fake TGI Fridays next to a train station, which is surely what it is.
Anyway, Teresa packs the girls in the car to go see Joe, a journey she is about as enthusiastic about as R. Kelly going to an old folks’ home. Halfway into the three-hour drive, she realizes she forgot her ID and the girls’ birth certificates, and they won’t let them in to see Joe. This is the most Freudian of all slips. While she’s screaming about it in the back seat, Gia, who was asleep, wakes up and tells her mother not to freak out. It turns out Gia — strong, resilient, hotheaded, practical, intelligent Gia — is the only thing that I love about this whole show. Let’s hope she enjoys that nice boiled squid when she gets home.