The Real Housewives of New Jersey
You can tell that the season finale is next week (well, minus Teresa’s wedding special) because we’re starting to wrap up some story lines here, and we’re getting ready for the final party. This year it’s being hosted by Dolores and Paulie, and he says he wants to throw an Irish party. Okay, that sounds fun. Like Guinness, corned beef, whiskey shots, and U2 on the soundtrack, I’m in. But then he says, “Like a Prohibition, Roaring ’20s party.” Okay, back up. Back up so far that you overstep Ireland and end up somewhere near Bruges. Here at the Real Housewives Institute, we have established that any franchise looking to throw anything resembling a Roaring ’20s, Gatsby, flapper, Prohibition, or speakeasy party must first file a variance petition for permission to reactivate the tritest theme in the Bravo universe. RHONJ has not currently applied for such a petition; even if it did, it would be denied. Calling it an Irish party but then having everyone show up in fringe with cigarette holders does not allow them to skirt the application process. I am going to have to show up at Paulie’s house and give them an Irish hello, which is when you show up, tell everyone they suck, steal half of their booze, and then just go to a bar.
We find out about this party at the group dinner with Dolores and Frank, their two children, Dolores’s BF, Paulie, and Frank’s GF, Brittany, who belongs on Vanderpump Rules because she has no idea that people in Ireland don’t already speak English. Do I need to go over my people’s generational trauma caused by colonialism by the stupid and greedy English who I have to live amongst every day while pretending to like their disgusting Gregg’s sausage rolls? I will no longer pretend! (That is because they are delicious, so I don’t have to fake it.)
This whole dinner was very fun and sweet, and I liked seeing the expanded Catania clan all getting along. But this story line is so weak you would think that Melissa made it up so she’d have something to do. I don’t care that Dolores ignores Frank because she is in the right here. And then it just takes one giant bowl of spaghetti for the table for Frank and Paulie to get over their issues? Frank ends it with a cute button saying that he’s not losing his family; it’s just getting bigger. Aww, so sweet. Too bad Paulie still hates this dude as much as whoever cleans the Equinox showers hates pubic hair. (Haha. JK. If you go to Equinox, that shit is already waxed within an inch of its life.) Did you see his face the whole dinner? Not only is it redder than Luis’s after vigorous yoga, he has a stank on it I don’t think he’ll ever get over. However, stamp this file [THUD] “Story line closed.”
Next, we go over to Danielle’s house, where her biggest problem is that the weird-ass kids’ clothes she sells don’t photograph well online. Maybe get a better camera? This doesn’t seem that hard. Her mother comes over and they sit around and cry about how her brother doesn’t want to fix the problem they have, and they remain estranged. I find it hard to care about this story line because I don’t think we’ve ever gotten an honest appraisal of it. Danielle told us he dumped her because she unfollowed him on Insta. I wish she would tell us, “My brother says I’ve been mean to him about X, Y, and Z, but I disagree and here’s why.” That her mother is on her side makes me think that Danielle is probably in the right here. Anyway, stamp this file [THUD] “Story line closed.”
Next, we have a diversion where Jennifer Aydin helps her brother Michael and his wife move into a new apartment in New Jersey now that his wife has a visa to enter the country. I love how Jen tries to complain to her brother about Bill never being around, and he’s basically like, “Yeah, I’m the same. I have to provide.” That’s the thing about being “old school.” You have to stick to the script: The man makes the money and the woman raises the kids. If you don’t want this arrangement, that’s fine, but you can’t want to change things and be delighted that you are “old school” at the same time. They are incompatible. It’s a charming and moving scene, but how are we just learning any of this in the second-to-last episode? Consider this file stamped [THUD] “Story line open (question mark)”.
My favorite scene of the episode was when Rachel and John Fuda (always both names!) sit down with their son Jaiden to talk about how the adoption process is going. They tell him they met with a lawyer and that the lawyer has to try to get in touch with his biological mother to see if she wants to give up her parental rights. He seems concerned that she might, and he wants to know about the process. The two of them handle this delicate situation perfectly. Rachel tells him, “If you are uncomfortable and want to change your mind at any time, I want you to tell me and be honest, and we won’t go through with it.” She’s thinking about his feelings the whole time and then he says that he won’t have to change his mind because it’s something he’s been wanting for a long time. What is this moisture on my face? I didn’t moisturize. It must be … tears? Stamp this file [SOB] “Story line closed.”
Marge has her mother, Marge Sr, over for lunch so that Jennifer Fessler can introduce us to her mother and identical twin. They walk alike, the talk alike, sometimes they even dress alike, you could lose your mind! (If you get this joke, you are so old even I think you are old, and I am older than Marge’s first facelift.) They’re called Cazzie and Mazzie and still have the same haircut, glasses, and outfits. I wonder if they go to the same plastic surgeon so that when they nip and tuck, they’re still mirror images? Apparently they were best friends with Barbra Streisand when they were kids. Have you ever noticed how everyone in Jenf’s life is, like, only 1.5 degrees from Kevin Bacon? If a celebrity wasn’t there, Jenf never registered it. I enjoy her but stamp her [THUD] “Story line closed.”
Alright, that only leaves us with one story line — a saga, really. An epic poem that was not written in dactylic hexameter but in idiotic infinitymeter. It has taken us ten years to get through all the stanzas, and I feel we might finally be at the last one. That is the story of Melissa and Teresa. Put your stamp away because it’s about to totally pop off next week. Why? Because Danielle will tell Melissa that Marge’s ex-friend Laura told Jen that Marge told her that someone they know once saw Melissa making out in the back of the car with some dude who is not Joe. I mean, if anything was ever closer to Ferris Bueller passing out in the 31 Flavors, this is it.
Early in the episode, Marge says that Danielle is used to being the center of attention, and that got me thinking that she’s kind of like the girl who was always the lead in your high-school play. She packs it up and moves to NY the day after graduation and then she’s suddenly in audition rooms with all the girls who were the lead in their high-school plays, but they’re so much better than her. That is what is happening to Danielle; she is being outplayed and outmaneuvered at every juncture. She thinks that telling Melissa that Marge said this about her will somehow reflect badly on Marge. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, sister. It will reflect badly on Teresa and Jen and will reignite the fire that has always been burning since the world has been turning. (Please, Moylan. I know you turn 45 next week, but can we get a reference that isn’t from the ’80s? You know who Olivia Rodrigo is. Duh!)
Also, why does anyone believe any of this? Teresa is pissed that Melissa didn’t stick up for her and Luis last year; why wouldn’t Melissa be equally pissed that Teresa didn’t stand up for her in that instance, even if it wasn’t on camera? Also, Laura could be totally making this whole thing up. As much as Teresa hates Melissa, she should know she would never cheat on her brother. In fact, the Gorgas seem to have a pretty solid marriage these days. Sure, her relationship book is hot garb, but they have it figured out.
That makes both of Luis’s scenes in this episode absolutely stunning. Teresa brings up that she texted Melissa to see if she was coming to the rehearsal dinner. Isn’t that usually reserved for the wedding party, something which Teresa pointedly did not want Melissa in? Then they’re all bent out of shape that the people they don’t want at their wedding aren’t coming? “I can’t read anymore; it’s making me sick,” Luis says. Dude, you don’t even want them there. Take the W.
Then Teresa says the only time she and her ex-husband Joe fought was because of her brother Joe. Really? You didn’t fight about him calling you a C U Never Thanks on national television while talking to his girlfriend? You didn’t fight when he got you arrested and you were sent to jail? You didn’t fight when you blamed him for missing the last months of your mother’s life because you were in the slammer? You only fought about Joe? Sister. But still, it wasn’t that they were fighting about Joe; they were fighting because Melissa was always in her ear. I mean, come fucking on already.
Then Teresa says she was always grasping for a relationship with her brother and taking the punches, but she’s given up. Wait, did Joe and Melissa get someone on the show to make up a lie about how Melissa was a stripper? And wasn’t it Teresa who called her brother a “bitch boy” at the most recent reunion? That’s how she was trying to have a relationship with her brother? But I’m starting to understand why she is thinking like this: because Luis is telling her this. It’s him in her ear, just like she accuses Melissa of being in Joe’s ear.
In the first scene, he calls Joe and Melissa trash. Then in the final scene, he goes absolutely wild on them. Wait, isn’t this Mr. Namaste always trying to show he can fix their relationship when he’s tearing them apart? It’s like Luis has all of this therapy talk but is too stupid to understand how things really work. “He’s thinking about how to hurt you. It’s disgusting,” he says of Joe. Wait, isn’t Teresa the one who is always blaming them for things? Doesn’t she say that everything is Melissa’s fault, including the 500 pounds of macaroni that mysteriously appeared in New Jersey? How is Joe trying to hurt her? By going on the show in the first place, which she still isn’t over ten years later? But if she was so welcoming of him and always trying to help him, wouldn’t she have wanted him to get just as rich off the show as she has?
None of it makes any sense, but Teresa is buying it. Luis is luring her in while he accuses Joe of gaslighting Teresa. I don’t think that Joe and Melissa are evil, but it would make sense why Luis would paint them like that. From what I understand, they supported him until he had a shady business deal with them. The real reason Joe is upset about this is that he sees who Luis really is: a low-rent scammer who didn’t get a prenup with his sister and is eventually going to take her for everything she is worth and ruin the slimy reputation that she already has. Luis says, “If you see me standing in a snake pit, will I pull you out of it? … I’m pulling you out of the snake pit.” We know that Luis knows what projection means, even though he claims Joe is using it when he’s not. This is actual projection because [THUD] Luis is the snake pit, and he’s going to continue poisoning this whole family.