The Real Housewives of New Jersey
What has Ireland done to these women? I don’t know if it’s the Guinness, the end of the rainbow, the ghosts of the castle, or maybe just the Druid energy that courses through the ley lines under this perfect island, but everyone is behaving strangely. But the strangest occurrence of all: Teresa Giudice is almost nice to her sister-in-law Melissa Gorgonzola. (Hey, if she is going to say Sláinte, the traditional Irish toast, as “salami,” then we can call her whatever we want.)
It starts the morning of their final day in Ireland when Paulie’s mother, Claire, stops by the castle to see Dolores. Everyone with an Irish grandmother knows what Claire is like: She tells an excellent joke, an even better story, has suffered for most of her life so she has a great sense of humor, and she’s probably wasted before her third Murder, She Wrote rerun. (RIP Grandma Moylan.) These Italian women from New Jersey are lapping her up when she calls Dolores a “hussy” and jokes about how she doesn’t find any of the Househusbands hot in their sexy calendar (except for Dolores’s ex Frank). I love Claire. Bravo should pay to fly her over for next season, and then they can start a show where Claire and Dolores’s mother, Valerie, solve cold cases in suburban New Jersey.
Anyway, Teresa says her father was like Claire, always saying weird and inappropriate things. She then adds a “Right, Melissa?” to the end of the table, and everyone in that room is so shocked that they have to go back upstairs and straighten their hair. Melissa then shares a nice memory about the first time she met her future mother-in-law, and she was jokingly calling her a puttana, which is like the Italian word for hussy. See, this is what you lose. The shared history, those group memories, that sense of who you are and where you came from all get lost when you become estranged from your family. No amount of friends can replace that. Yeah, I’m ready for the Giudice/Gorga rift to be off my television for good, but there is some sick part of me that still hopes they can get over this.
That afternoon everyone goes on Teresa’s “hen do,” which is what they call a bachelorette party in the British Isles. I’m not sure if Jennifer Aydin Googled “Irish hens” or what, but they somehow arrive on a farm with a nice Irish lad named Peter, who was sweating his ass off in the balmy Irish summer heat of 55 degrees. Peter takes them around the farm playing games of some sort. This is very confusing. Is this a sixth-grade field trip or a hen do?
The first game they play is called “Catch the Cock,” where the women enter a chicken coop in pairs and one of them has to, you know, catch the cock. Teresa gets to go first and she picks … Melissa? Say what now? The next activity is for the women to paint a memory from Teresa’s life on the wall while she sits outside and pets Peter’s puppy. Yes, much like catch the cock, this is an alliteration but not a euphemism. Teresa is a little worried about someone drawing her in jail and says she doesn’t want to see any bars. She tells us in a confessional that she just pretends that part of her life didn’t happen. Well, you know what happens when you ignore history? You repeat it. Oh, hi, Luis; I didn’t see you there.
When Tre comes inside, Melissa paints a picture of her family in Italy coming over to America with her parents and brother. They both get teary thinking about it. See, this is what we need. We need them to remind each other of what brings them together. Teresa comes over and hugs her. It’s so weird seeing Teresa and Melissa getting along. I don’t think I like it. Teresa then says she wants Melissa’s family in the wedding in some vague way. She spitballs some ideas, but we all know they won’t happen. Melissa poo-poos the idea in her confessional, saying her family members are not props for Teresa to bring in at the last minute to make herself look good. Yes, but couldn’t Melissa have met her halfway? Couldn’t she have seen this as a window to making things better? This whole interlude is sweet, but let’s be honest, Jennifer painting the iconic table flip moment will win a rural Irish art award.
Speaking of which, at lunch after we find out that Bill Aydin will also be at the wedding. Teresa says that Bill and Jen have been very supportive of her relationship all along, and then she says, “And I don’t have any family.” I get it, Missy G, I really do. One minute she’s crying over you; the next minute, she’s pretending you don’t exist. It’s more exhausting than figuring out exactly how Margaret’s mullet skirt of layered black tulle is constructed.
Then Peter takes the ladies to the “Irish spa.” They ask if it’s going to be nice. Oh, sister, if you put the word “Irish” in front of anything, it goes from being excellent to being awful. Irish Spring. Irish good-bye. Irish Republican Army. It even happens if you put Irish after a word, like the Fighting Irish. I mean, who the fuck wants to go to Notre Dame? (Well, my brother, for one, but much like Teresa and Danielle, we are currently not speaking for entirely mysterious and unexplained reasons.)
The Irish spa is a giant mud pit that all of the women jump into and then sink at least down to their knees. Oh no. Uh uh. This Irish homosexual will be sitting this Irish spa out, k thx bai. Melissa and Teresa are the last two in, and they decide to jump in together, holding their hands before they jump like their Dirty Thelma and About to Be Filthy Louise. They even scream together as they get in. That’s what’s so confounding about these two. At least they have this to bond them. At least they have ten years of being on the show together to relate to each other, but they can’t even manage because even there, they have been on opposite sides. I mean, can’t they at least agree on hating Danielle Staub or being super afraid of a Posche Fashion Show?
As the women are gearing up for dinner in Ireland, Joe Benigno and Marge’s “assistant” Lexi are gearing up for guys’ night at Joe’s house. We discover Lexi is now living in Marge’s guest house after a separation. She says that where Marge is in Ireland is “30 minutes from my hometown.” Wait, so is Lexi English or Irish? Her accent is as inscrutable as Dorit Kemsley’s after three carcass-out cocktails. Where is this lady from? Is she just lying to us at this point? Is she the George Santos of Dirty Jerz? I’m hiring a PI because I need answers.
Guys’ night is the same kind of intoxicated mess that we know and love from the RHONJ husbands, but with a twist: they’re all stoned this time. Apparently, Frank is getting into the cannabis game and brought over some joints for the guys to enjoy. He even blows smoke in Joe Gorga’s face so that he will get zooted too. That’s fair play since Joe is always doing the equivalent with shots when the dudes are all drinking.
I couldn’t find any indication of Frank having his own weed line, but a very cursory Google pulled up this article about Frank Catania opening a weed shop in Union, New Jersey. I don’t know if this is our Frank Catania, but this is so incredibly New Jersey that it made me LOL IRL. Anyway, it is nice to see them all mellowed out and scarfing down the crispy chicken from the food truck in the driveway rather than getting red face enraged while drinking appletinis.
Back in Ireland, at dinner, Danielle and Rachel get back into their fight, which I still don’t understand. As Melissa points out, Rachel has nothing to do with this, and it’s Marge who should be mad at Jen and Teresa for talking to her ex-friend, Laura, the Non-Friendly Ghost. These newbies should be out of it. But Danielle starts shouting about how everyone should calm down, and then she tells Marge that she is why Jen’s kids know that their dad messed around on her. Danielle tells Marge that she will forgive, but she won’t forget.
That’s when Marge goes full Allison DuBois, “He will never emotionally fulfill you, know that,” on Danielle. She looks into the future, and she reads her to absolute filth. “That is why you are gonna have problems with your family for your whole life,” Margaret incants. “You will never have a clean slate if you keep bringing up old shit. And that’s a fucking fact. You can forgive, but you can’t forget? You pull that shit your whole life; you will never move past anything.” I don’t know that Margaret is necessarily right about Danielle, and this wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but everyone around that table needs to listen. It’s the old shit that is bringing the show down. It is the old shit that is ruining families. And, to paraphrase a famous Irishman, it is the old shit, much like history, that is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.