I have a problem with Jennifer Aydin. No, it’s not that she got so wasted she had to be escorted out of a pool party as if she were a limbless mannequin being carted off to a dumpster. It has to do with a little incident that happens in her own backyard. Several of her children (and her sister’s children) are sitting on the giant waterfall grotto she built next to her pool when she was vision-boarding Vicki Gunvalson’s life so she could get on a Real Housewives program. Her oldest son, Justin, turns on the waterfall so all the kids get their drawers wet. They stand up, scream, and complain, and Jennifer says, “Justin, that’s not funny.”
I’m sorry, Jen, but that is funny. That is very funny. If I were a 15-year-old who could turn on the grotesque water feature in my backyard with an iPhone app and ruin the day for my younger siblings, I would take every opportunity to do just that. That is a solid gag, right up there with farting in your hand and feeding it to them or kicking the bottom of their foot when they’re trying to walk in front of you. Childhood is made of these simple eviscerations, and to try to take them away from her oldest for the coddled solidarity of the rest of her children is a crime.
Coddled is the best word to describe Jennifer’s brood. I’m not saying she’s a bad mother. They’ll all probably turn out to be fine and functioning members of society, and Jen really does seem to have their best interests at heart, but all of them behave like people who have been indulged their entire lives (except my angel baby Jacob, who actually helps his mother clear the table). They don’t like their meat, they all want to eat different foods at different times, the ones who are eating are complaining about it, and Jen, rather than tell them they can’t get up from the table until they clear their plates, just lets them do whatever the hell they please. Even Jennifer’s sister says, “Seriously, babes, you need to make these bloody kids do something around this piece.”
Since we’re checking in on the girls, let us next stop by Dolores’s house, or rather, David’s house that Dolores designed. First of all, there is a three-foot-tall pepper grinder on David’s kitchen counter just totally by itself, and no one is talking about it. It’s not so huge that it’s obviously just a decoration and not small enough to be actually functional, so what is the purpose of this Pinocchio schlong of a spice dispenser? Really, I brought up Dolores just so I could point that out. Sure, she and David continue to have another one of their discussions about how he didn’t propose and she’s mad about it so now she’s redoing her house and not moving into his. I love that the two of them are in a throuple with Frank, but seriously, this conversation goes nowhere, like one of Jen’s kids who’s supposed to be doing her chores.
Next stop, Jackie’s house. Oh no, wait. Just kidding. She’s not in this episode other than to tell Teresa to “stick her olive branch up her ass.” Oh well. Sorry, Jackie. Hope that one line was enough air time for you to cash a check because I know these ladies get paid by the episode.
On to Margaret’s house, where she’s meeting with her ghostwriter, who is a woman named Emily Liebert and who is not me. There are three things in life I refuse to acknowledge as legitimate: all of Madonna’s albums after Confessions on a Dance Floor, Rose Byrne’s Australian accent, and every Real Housewife’s ghostwriter who is not yours truly. So yeah, I guess you’re doing a good job, Emily, but whatever. Pretty Mess was a New York Times best seller, so put that in your Aviva Drescher and smoke it.
Finally, like a Roomba out of batteries, we land at Melissa Gorga’s house in Toms River. The Gorgas are “down the shore” for Joe’s 46th birthday, and I am upset that he’s only a few years older than I am and looks like a men’s underwear ad filmed in a meat locker while I look like a bag of ground-up Cadbury Mini Eggs that are missing most of their candy shells. Melissa invites her two sisters, their husbands, and Teresa out to dinner for Joe’s birthday at a place called MEAT, which is the most Joe Gorga–named restaurant of all time, assuming there’s not one called One Sperm Left.
At dinner, Melissa brings up the fact that she has to have the “birds and the bees” conversation with her oldest daughter. It appears this is her story line this season, so she mentions it at every turn. Whatever. At least it’s better than thinking she’s going to have another baby or hunting down some long-lost sister who doesn’t exist. The amused people around the table ask how Melissa will start this conversation, and she says, “Antonia, I know you’re 15, and you’ve been seeing the same boy for a few years now but I want to know if he touches you.” That would be the end of that conversation because Antonia would open up her phone, press a special button on TikTok that only people under the age of 18 can see that would beam her entire body to Guangzhou, and we would never hear from her again.
As terrifying as her opening salvo is, I’m even more upset by how terrified all these people are of female sexuality. Teresa mentions that she wants to eat lots of pineapples and peaches because it will make her taste sweeter. You know [whispers so only gnomes can hear me], down there. Joe immediately says their father is flipping over in his grave and is totally grossed out by the whole thing. Yes, talking about your siblings’ sex lives is treacherous territory, but we all know we do it and it’s fine to have a fun conversation about sex around the dinner table with a bunch of adults who are peers.
The same thing happens, though, at Teresa’s pool party when Joe finds out Tony the Pool Boy is coming. (As it happens, as soon as Tony the Pool Boy arrives, I’m coming too.) He doesn’t want Tony anywhere near his sister because he knows how horny Tony is. He also says if his daughter engages in sex too early, it’s all over for her, but he refuses to engage in honest conversation with her about sex. You can’t have it both ways. Talking about sex doesn’t lead to having sex. Probably just the opposite. And it’s not just the guys; it’s the women, too. They have internalized this fear of their own sexuality. How did this even happen? Oh, the Catholic Church. That’s always the answer, isn’t it?
Anyway, Teresa has a pool party, and Jackie doesn’t come, even though Joe and Melissa forced Teresa to invite her. However, we get to see Teresa in another cover-up that looks like a parasitic mummy is trying to take over her body. Much like her attire in Lake George, this one is just a bunch of knotted strands of black fabric, and it sort of looks like Teresa lost a wrestling match with a 1970s macramé plant hanger. All the ladies look great, especially Melissa, in a pale-pink one-piece with a shimmery silver coverall, and Jen, who has a blue jersey cardigan dress clasped over an incredibly flattering blue Chanel bathing suit where the bikini top and the bottoms are caught kissing in the middle.
The best part of the party is Joe Gorga and Frank sitting off to the side with a plate of meats and cheeses slowly sweating between them. Teresa is once again talking about her pineapples and how that makes her pineapple taste like a piña colada. (A punani colada?) “You can control what you taste like based on what you eat?” Frank asks Joe. Neither of these men has ever contemplated a diet of anything other than processed meats and protein powder. Their spunk must taste like the black mayonnaise that’s scooped up from the bottom of the Gowanus Canal.
“Yeah, I guess you can,” Joe replies uncomfortably while shoving another slice of salami into his capicola hole. (Capi-hole-a?) “Haha, look at Joe,” Gorga says as Benigno enters the party in a blue polo and red trunks his wife picked out for him. “He looks like Marge dressed him.” Yes, I could watch this program all day. Replace the entire panel of The View with these two and a block of mortadella.
The big drama at the party is that Teresa invited Michelle, her Realtor, and Michelle’s husband, Jonathan, who has been telling people that Joe Gorga owes him tens of thousands of dollars. Michelle arrives wearing a gold lamé sleeveless dress over her ample bosom and looks as if she just wrote a $500 check to some sort of MAGA super-PAC. The husband is wearing a floral shirt and a beard, which make him look like a narcotics agent trying to fit in at a Mumford & Sons concert. Seriously, he is the Philadelphia Cream Cheesiest person I have ever seen at a thong-riddled pool party on a Tuesday evening.
Joe confronts Jonathan about their money issues and, well, it all sounds sketchy. From what I can tell, it sounds like Joe got this guy onboard with his “Grow with Gorga” seminar at Garden State Parkway State University and Coffee Lounge. Joe thought this guy would help him with this event to prove himself so he could make money with Joe on future events. Jonathan thought their partnership started with that first event, which, honestly, sounds like that’s exactly what happened. Still, Michelle wants to list Teresa’s house, so Jon tells Joe that it was a “miscommunication” and that in the future they would get the terms of their deal on paper. In the future? This guy is going to work with Joe again? Spit in my cheese fries once, shame on you. Spit in my cheese fries twice, shame on you again because I fooled you; I am never ordering cheese fries again. The cheese fries, like Cady Heron’s limit, do not exist.
The pool party ends with Jennifer getting so sloppy drunk that she eventually collapses on Teresa’s pool deck with her face on the ground and her ass up in the air like she’s the stick figure on the side of a Fleet enema box telling you how to properly use the product. Jennifer was just doing tequila shot after tequila shot, and honestly, I have not seen anything sloppier next to a pool since a mermaid attacked Camille Grammer at Pandora Todd’s engagement party.
There’s not much to say other than “Ouchie.” I know this is important because it’s going to be woven into a greater story about Jen and her alcohol abuse later in the season, but there wasn’t anything fun about this, like Luann falling into a bush in Mexico. It was just sad. It was sad when she blubbered water down her front. It was sad when three women couldn’t hold her up on her platform wedges. It was sad when her husband had to carry her to his Barbie Ferrari, and it was even sadder when Joes Gorga and Benigno had to help him get her into her seat. Yes, it was sad. It was all sad, like the changing of the seasons or the passing of an era. It was sad like the death of a turtle, which is exactly what it sounded like when Jen let all the tequila loose from her insides all over Bill’s leather interior.