The Real Housewives of New Jersey
You know, the Irish and the Italians aren’t really that dissimilar. Consider these stereotypes: predominantly Catholic, know how to hold a grudge, hate the English, are known for their skill at cursing, and have all sorts of weird superstitions. Oh, and they are both hopelessly devoted to their mothers and don’t usually move out of the house until they get married. The only difference? Well, have you ever been to an Irish restaurant? I thought not. Okay, fine, they’re nothing alike aside from the Jesus bit, but I’m trying to make a connection here because our favorite Italians are off to my motherland.
Ireland is a strange trip for these ladies, who are always banging on about their Mediterranean roots. Why not just send them to Florence or something? What ITA Airways didn’t want to spend as much as Aer Lingus to get the whole cast plus production plus the extra plane just to carry all the hair extensions, so instead we’re off to Ireland, the homeland of Dolores’s pasty prince, Paulie? He gives Do some excellent advice as they prepare for the trip. He says, “If you start singing, they’ll sing along. If you start fighting, they’ll fight along.” I’ve never seen Teresa try her pipes at “Danny Boy,” but I have seen her flip a table, so I know how this one ends.
Upon arrival at the airport, Meghan King Edmonds, P.I., greets everyone with a tap on the shoulder. “You’re my cousin now. You’re my cousin now. You’re my cousin now,” she says as they each file toward their Sprinter van. It’s a hot car ride to the 400-year-old castle where they’re staying. We find out that Jen Fessler used to fuck James Gandolfini, and this is the most Italian thing to ever happen on the Emerald Isle. I don’t have much to add to this other than you better Tony that fucking Soprano, Jenf.
As they pull up to Ballinlough Castle, the women shout, “Oh, there’s staff for us,” like it’s Downton Abbey and the butlers and ladies’ maids are all lined up for them with their white gloves. No, it’s just Suzie and Emma, two girls from the local village, shivering in their polo shirts in the balmy Irish summer. Inside, the castle looks pretty grand, but the décor is giving me Grandma Moylan’s house ten years after she died and no one has changed a wallpaper, a four-poster bed, a chintz wall covering, or a bit of lace on a vanity. When were these rooms decorated? Was it in commemoration of Joan Collins’s first face-lift? It feels a bit like the whole cast is about to audition for The Traitors season two. (Rachel is definitely a traitor and will win the whole damn thing.)
At lunch, the conversation turns to Jennifer’s tea-reading party last episode, which nine out of ten dentists agree was so fake that it would give you cavities. Jen finally admits that she called her the night before and might have said things to her that skewed her psychic perceptions. Um, yeah. That or you just wrote her a whole damn script complete with the word endorsement and all this shit about Marge’s ex-friend Laura.
Once the conversation turns to Laura, who is haunting this season like the spirit of a milkmaid forced into a Magdelene laundry certainly haunts this castle, the table goes into a tizzy. Danielle wants to know just what Laura said, and considering everyone rode her about the real story behind her and her brother’s bust-up, that seems like a very fair request. Jen says that “she said things that I would never repeat.” This is the problem right here. If she tells the group there are things she can’t say, that’s worse than saying the things that she said. It’s like when Kim Richards brought up the vague specter of Harry Hamlin at that famous Amsterdam dinner. If they don’t say what it is, our minds just wander and we dream up all sorts of insane scenarios rather than what might be a rather lackluster truth.
Laura’s name is dropped, but in their confessionals, Danielle and Jen have a lot to say about Marge’s reaction. Jen says that Marge is mad that Laura talked to her. Well, yes, probably, because Laura has an axe to grind and maybe is making up stories about Margaret. Danielle says that every time Laura’s name comes up, she sees a rise in Margaret. Well, yes, probably, again, because she may be making up stories about Margaret. They think this proves that Margaret did something bad, but maybe it’s just proof that Margaret hates Laura, a hatred that might be valid, but we have nothing to go off of.
Just like with Danielle and her brother, we have no idea what happened between Margaret and this Laura character whom we have never met, possibly refuses to film (or Marge won’t allow her to film), and could just make up anything she wants and Jen and Teresa would believe it because they hate Margaret so much. We can’t assess who Laura is, what she knows, or how true she is being because we’re learning everything about her secondhand and in little dribs and drabs. Again, all the good stuff is happening off-camera.
After lunch, Danielle hits up Jennifer’s room because she needs to know what Laura said. Sis, I would have done the same, so game recognizes game. Jennifer tells her she doesn’t want to spill the gossip beans because “something very similar was done to me last year and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.” Yeah, but even by saying she knows something, Jennifer is advertising that it will come out. Even if she doesn’t say it, one of us Bravoholics will dig it up. But these sorts of rumors are always a bit of Chekov’s gun, and if the producers are showing us, then you know that it will explode just like James Gandolfini in Jennifer Fessler. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Then Jennifer caves and spills like a drunken butler. Yeah, so Jennifer is a hypocrite. Also, she’s coming after Melissa to get revenge on Marge? Jen needs to go to my favorite big-box store because she clearly has no idea what a Target is or how to aim for one. Jennifer says that what she heard was about Melissa. Jen says that Laura says that Marge says that some guy she knows opened the back door of a car, and Melissa was in there making out with another dude. The problem with this method of delivery — which Americans would call a “game of telephone,” but the English would call “Chinese whispers” because they invented colonialism and refuse to give it up — is that it is completely robbed of context. Apparently, the guy who saw it was someone who worked with both Marge and Laura. So did Marge tell her this like, “Oh, you know Mike from accounts, who is such a fucking liar? He told me he saw Melissa making out with a guy in a car. Can you believe that?” That’s very different from Margaret saying, “OMG, Melissa is totally cheating on Joe and I have proof!” But we don’t know which it is.
Danielle thinks that this is the truth and that Margaret has some arsenal of information that she is using to keep all of the women in line, and if they piss her off, she spreads rumors. Um, no, this is not proof of an arsenal. That’s like seeing someone eating a Snickers on the subway and thinking, “Wow, they must own a candy factory.” One dumb rumor that may or may not have even been from Marge does not an arsenal make. The real problem is that when Laura told them, both Jennifer and Teresa believed it.
That night is the big bachelorette party for Teresa in Dublin, the highlight of which was Jackie’s limerick about Jen Aydin. Teresa deserves a good time because her first bachelorette party was just seeing some male strippers in Long Island. Apparently, one of them was named Adele Dazeem. Jenf asks a benign question about why Teresa decided to add Dolores and Jennifer as bridesmaids. Oh, Jenf. There are no easy questions in this game.
Before the gals have even left for Ireland, this topic comes up. Danielle has a pop-up event (which is what I call a spontaneous erection) at Melissa’s store in New Jersey to sell her line, Boujie Kidz, for the non-speller in you. Jennifer Aydin comes by and asks Melissa if it was weird for her that Teresa made her and Dolores bridesmaids but not her. Melissa says she didn’t care and she would never change her mind. She tells Jen, “[Teresa] always blames everything on me, not the fact that she started this and she created the life we’re all living.”
I am interested in this statement and will give it a close read. Yes, Teresa blames everything on Melissa; that is canon. It’s still unclear who started it; some would say Melissa and Joe by going on the show, and some would say Teresa for just, you know, being herself. I want to focus on “she created the life we’re all living.” Does Melissa mean the life between the two families and their estrangement, or does she mean “we’re all living” like Teresa created the life they’re all living on the show, and she should somehow apologize for that? I’m not sure what she means, but I think it’s revealing either way.
Back at the bachelorette party, Teresa explains that Dolores and Jen have always supported her and Luis. Perfect answer, no notes. Four stars, would recommend. But, like most Yelp reviews, Teresa doesn’t know when to stop. She then says she was nervous about asking them because she didn’t want “another thing” with her brother. Okay, this is a can of worms that Teresa opened, poured on Melissa’s head, and then said, in her best Steve Urkel voice, “Did I do that?”
And if those worms weren’t enough, Teresa then says she didn’t want another thing, “like with your mom.” Great, another batch of worms for Melissa. Wait, Missy G really is trying out to be on The Traitors. Teresa goes back to her old excuse that if Joe had only told her that Melissa’s mom wasn’t invited to the wedding, then she would have invited her. But that isn’t the point. It’s like if your husband doesn’t say, “I love you” for three weeks. Then you say, “Why don’t you say I love you?” and he says, “Well, you never asked.” The answer isn’t in the act but in the intention. Teresa never intended to invite Melissa’s mother or make her brother happy and now she’s blaming Joe, the very person aggrieved.
In her confessional, Rachel says that Teresa is just pouring gasoline on this whole fight by doubling down on this bullshit excuse. To her credit, Melissa is calmly asking her questions and will eventually waive the whole thing off. This season she seems as resigned as a disgraced congressman who needs to spend “more time with his family.”
Teresa says, “I’m the coolest sister, but then you try to make me look bad. I never throw him under the bus, but he will throw me under the bus.” What? She literally threw him under the bus when she said he should have told her to invite the mother. I mean, she just did it and she doesn’t even recognize it. She then says, “This is the happiest time of my life. My brother should make this my happy time.” Oh, don’t start with the shoulds, Teresa. You should have invited Melissa’s mother. (Debatable, but Joe and Missy think she should have.) You should have stood up for your sister-in-law when Laura talked shit about her. You should have told Jennifer, under pain of death, that she never bring it up on-camera. You should take accountability for your actions. You should tell everyone the truth. You should get your lip fillers deflated a little bit. You should do a lot of things, but you won’t. You never, ever will, and that is the reason why you are stuck with a red-faced yoga demon until you eventually divorce him and he takes half of everything because, guess what, you really should have gotten a prenup.