I feel like this season of Real Housewives of New Jersey is a bit like the myth of Sisyphus, but instead of a boulder, it’s a giant meatball that is being repeatedly rolled up the same hill, and after it comes rolling back down over our lifeless bodies, at the bottom of the hill we are then beaten by ten dead horses. Seriously, I would say this was Groundhog Day, but eventually Bill Murray gets to make out with Andie MacDowell and go about the rest of his life, while the rest of us are still stuck here talking about Dolores’s relationship, Margaret’s book, and Joe and Melissa’s marital strife.
The greatest of all the disappointments, however, is the rollout of Teresa’s new boyfriend Luis (or Louie, for the colonizers of the mind). The first reports of him in the tabloids were about six months ago and still we just learned his name on the show a few episodes ago. This episode is titled “Teresa’s Mystery Man” but we still don’t even get to meet the guy. The episode ends with a big fat “To Be Continued” as he knocks on her front door, with the Pegasus wings frozen in carbonite. What is the continuation? That we’re going to see his face? Dude, I’ve seen his face. Here’s his Instagram. Here’s his shirtless pic. Here’s his “Page Six” story about how his ex-girlfriend is suing him. Yeah, I’m good with all this freaking suspense.
Why is this so drawn out? If the reveal of Teresa’s new boyfriend were measured in Fruit by the Foot, you would need about 69 million of them, so it would actually be measured in Fruit by the Mile. It’s all just so annoying, it’s enough to make me want to drown myself in a vat of Gushers.
So we learn nothing new about Teresa’s relationship, though she does talk to her brother Joe while cleaning out her garage, which is really just full of Amazon boxes. Hashtag Relatable, yes, but can’t Teresa break down her own boxes and put them out with the recycling? She needs her brother for this? There are some very curious things in that garage, though, including two human-sized wooden nutcrackers that look like they belong in Rockefeller Plaza. Or maybe those aren’t decorations, they are real soldiers who were frozen in the same substance as the Pegasus wings. Also in that garage of horrors — which doesn’t have a concrete floor but rather paving stones, which much have cost them (and by “them,” I mean the bank they stole the money from) — is a human-sized spider that looks like the thing that attacks Frodo at the end of Fellowship of the Ring. Does Peter Jackson know that Teresa has this? And why is Tre still holding on to a Big Wheel that is clearly only big enough for a 5-year-old? Sentimental value? Too lazy to throw it out? Because Milania needs it for a photo shoot?
We learn nothing new about Margaret and her book, but this episode we do see her do the photo shoot for the cover (and the back cover featuring Marge Sr.). What we do learn is that Joe Benigno is turning 65. He is 65?! Is he using Tru Renewal by Ramona, because there is no one in the Bravosphere that looks as good as him. He could pass as one of Andy Cohen’s classmates (and we all know that Andy moisturizes with the seed of twinks) when he’s really got ten years on the guy.
We learn nothing new about Melissa and Joe’s continued fight about whether Melissa should get to work outside of the home, and we certainly don’t learn why Joe looks so damn red every time he is on-camera. We also don’t learn whether he had some fillers, but he is looking a little plumper in the face region, particularly around his lips. Maybe that’s just COVID bloat? I don’t know.
We do learn that Joe has a kidney stone and Melissa has to skip Jackie’s trip to go apple picking for her birthday to take Joe to the hospital, where he’s cared for by David Catania, which is what Dolores’s boyfriend David will be known as when he finally marries Frank. (He’s also a former city councilman in Washington, D.C.) Guys, I have had two kidney stones and they were absolutely horrible. It’s like Donkey Kong is driving a nail into your side using a GMC pickup truck. It hurts so bad that it made me throw up repeatedly. Even worse, the pain is pressure in your lower back, so it feels like you’re going to shit yourself and throw up at the same time. I totally get why Joe was sitting on the toilet passing it, because he probably thought he was going to have a number three.
We learn nothing new about Dolores’s relationship with David or how upset she is that everyone says he bought her a Porsche so he didn’t have to buy her a ring. What we do learn is that Jackie and Jennifer actually agree on something! They both think that they didn’t see Dolores transition from wanting to get married to not needing it and that is why they were confused about the gift. They also agree that they want to make sure that Dolores isn’t changing what she needs from David just to keep him happy and isn’t sacrificing herself. Dolores says she’s happy not being married and hasn’t sacrificed herself, so they seem happy. But it is crazy that these two, who are usually like Mentos and Diet Coke, are actually seeing eye to eye on something.
We also learn, as if we didn’t know it already, that David is really a mensch, or whatever it is that Italians would call a mensch. As soon as Dolor (as Frank always bellows) finds out that Joe needs to go to the hospital, she sends them to Paterson so that David can help them out. We see David drawing a diagram of what kidney stones are on Joe’s hospital bed and making sure that he’s taken care of. Melissa even says that he called her repeatedly to check in on her. When it is Frankie and the Daughter’s joint-birthday party, David shows up and has custom-made cakes for both of them that he got for free because he delivered the bakery owner’s kids. David is a real class act and, as Dolores says, shows up for her when she really needs him to be there. Shouldn’t all of her friends just be happy that she’s with a guy who treats everyone so well but isn’t around as much, instead of some asshole who is at every single event and treats her like shit? I think I also learned that Dolores might be my favorite woman on the show.
As for Jennifer, we don’t learn anything new about her parents’ fight with each other, but I am okay with that because I am absolutely fascinated by this dynamic. Finally Jennifer’s empty house got some damn furniture, even if it does make the place look like a high-end dermatologist’s office. She calls her mother to come look at it and her mother doesn’t want to talk to her. She thinks that Jennifer embarrassed her on purpose by talking about her parents’ relationship with the rest of the women and their mothers. She says that Jennifer made a fool out of her when she was trying to do the exact opposite and support her. You know the conversation got heated because it was in Turkish!
Jennifer later tells the ladies that she thinks she and her mother might not be talking for a while, which is very sad. But in the moment, she asks her father, who’s sitting there getting a little chubby from his Betty Boop coffee mug, what she should do about her mother. “Ignore it,” he says. “That’s it.” But that’s just what got them to this place: Jennifer’s father ignoring her mother’s feelings for decades whenever she expressed herself. I’m not saying her mother is right, but at least Jennifer is listening; she’s on the other end of the phone, she’s trying to bridge the gap between them, between her parents, between the old country and new, between the past and the present, between her empty house with its high-backed thrones and all-white filigreed furniture that looks like it’s from a child’s dollhouse and a full house with comfortable conforming sectional sofas that cost way more than they should. It’s like she’s trying to bridge the gap between knowing and not knowing, but then she’s in the wrong place, because there is no learning going on here.