This might go down as the worst vacation in Real Housewives history. Sure, sure, COVID restrictions are probably a bit to blame, but the whole crew (minus Teresa) is staying in a McMansion somewhere in the suburbs, and Frank has been forced to sleep not with the fishes but with a doll collection that looks like that time Stanford Blatch went home with a confirmed bachelor with an insane fetish. There is no glamour to be found anywhere, no matter how many hot personal chefs you hire to serve breakfast or hot party planners you hire for Tiki Barber to ogle.
The nadir of the trip, however, has to be the group biking activity. First, there was last week’s singing fiasco, and now they’re on a giant bicycle that everyone has to pedal, but there is also a bar in the middle. This is by far the most embarrassing thing I have ever seen on television. Why would a group of grown adults do this? Not only are you holding up traffic and making asses of yourself fist-bumping in the middle of the street, but you’re getting disgusting and sweaty in the sun. This is as sure a recipe for a hangover as drinking Long Island Ice Teas out of a porn star’s jock. (What happens in Fire Island does not stay in Fire Island, because it usually needs to be treated on the mainland about four days after.)
Yes, Nashville is now the bachelorette-party capital of the world. I was terrified when they all arrived at the Sprocket Rocket, the name of their party bike, and there was a whole fleet of them in the parking lot. How are there so many Americans making decisions as bad as hiring Rudy Giuliani to be on The Masked Singer? I totally understand bachelorettes looking to play drinking games in the afternoon, but grown adults? Grow some dignity and go to a whiskey tasting for fuck’s sake. There is not enough money in the world to get me on one of those frat houses turned into a Citi Bike. Even if Kyle Cooke’s face was the seat, I wouldn’t sit on one of those.
Now that I’ve spent half the recap making fun of the things drunks like to do, maybe we should actually talk about the Real California Pizza Kitchens of the Garden State Plaza. As much as I hate their ill-fated conveyance, it is nice to see everyone together having a good time, just like it was at their softball game. This is a great cast, and the relationships between the guys and the girls is really a great time, like when Joe Gorga holds a chicken wing–eating contest that he has to convince Bill to bow out of just so his fragile ego won’t have to bear the weight of a loss. (The most I have ever liked Jennifer Aydin was when she was cheering on her husband and saying to Joe, “What? Are you drinking milk? Does this little boy need milk?”)
However, Teresa is once again intent on ruining everything. When everyone sits down to lunch, she decides that right then is the time she needs to talk to Margaret. But she doesn’t try to start a conversation; she goes over there with a challenge as if daring Margaret to fight with her again in public. Luckily, Margaret and everyone around the table talk her out of doing this in a crowded public place again. Evan is right; activities with these women are fun, but when they sit down, all hell breaks loose.
I am glad that Joe, Melissa, Dolores, and some of the others stand up to Teresa at lunch, especially since at breakfast, Margaret staged a one-woman intervention about how they all treat Teresa. Margaret brings up that Teresa fat-shamed her at dinner the night before and no one stopped her. Everyone agrees that fat shaming is bad, but again no one piped up. Jennifer tells Marge, “You do ask a lot of questions,” but she has stopped asking those questions. The last two times Teresa attacked her, Marge hadn’t been doing anything. They’re just rage aftershocks because Teresa isn’t getting the edit she wants.
As everyone is enjoying their lunch, poor Jackie is trying to find something on the menu that she can eat. I know that she’s trying and struggling, but I just feel so bad for anyone who would deny herself fried chicken fingers, the TGIF Friday’s branded ambrosia of the gods. Sure, she does order some coleslaw, but what about later in the episode when they go to dinner and they bring out chicken-and-waffle lollipops. You can see the look in Jackie’s eyes that say, “Abort! Abort! Leave immediately.” Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how to crawl through the screen like Carol Anne in Poltergeist to get me one of them chicken-and-waffle lollipops. I joke about this because that is how I cope with difficult things, and we have seen nothing more difficult than Jackie’s eating disorder. I once again have to commend her on her bravery in sharing this with the world. If she doesn’t join me for chicken fingers, I will at least meet her for coleslaw (and maybe a dessert of some kind).
The final rooftop party of their trip shows us not one but two scenes that I find truly disgusting, and no, I am not talking about Luis’s jacket with what appeared to be a bedazzled spinal column up the back, though Luis is involved in both scenes. The first is when Luis pulls Joe Gorga aside and asks him for his sister’s hand in marriage. Ugh. The fucking patriarchy is strong in this one. Of all the ridiculously outdated traditions in the world, can we at least get rid of this one? Joe has no right to tell Luis what he can and can’t do with his life. The only one who should make this decision is Teresa, and leaving this choice to two men makes her look like so much cattle. Burn it all to the fucking ground and start over. Abolish marriage! Abolish monogamy! Abolish men! Abolish billionaires! Abolish four-part reunions!
While I am disgusted by the very idea of this scene, I think that Joe handles himself well and at least asks Luis, “So, um, what is up with all of these reports we’re hearing about you?” He has to ask! Everyone has to ask. Margaret is taking all the heat for asking the questions that everyone should have been asking Teresa. And, know what, Luis’s answer (which I don’t entirely believe, but whatever) is that after he got divorced, he was in a bunch of shitty relationships and he wasn’t always a great guy, but he has worked on himself, and now he’s ready to love Teresa and treat her right.
That’s all he needed to say. That’s all he ever needed to say, but because a woman was asking him these questions, he didn’t feel the need to answer. When Joe asks, then he answers. It wasn’t that hard to address all of this, was it? This wasn’t the worst of Luis’s moments, though. What about when Margaret walks away from Teresa, and he says, ever so snidely, “Thank you. Have a great night.” Ugh. Or what about when he tells Teresa he’s not fighting anymore and he wants to go. “I’m done. Seriously,” he says to Teresa and the whole rooftop and the viewing public. “I don’t need this. I can work hard so you never have to work a day in your life. How lucky is that? Let’s go move into our 15,000-square-foot house.”
I just barfed. First of all, that house is being paid for by what Teresa is doing right here. It is mortgaged on fighting on reality television, and if Luis thinks he can bring in the kind of cash the show does with all of his bankrupt businesses, then have at it. But there’s no way he’s going to. Margaret says it best: “I was right about Siggy. I was right about Danielle. I’ll be right about Luis.”
As for Marge and Teresa’s talk on the rooftop, it is much more civil than I thought it would be, and Teresa is a lot more honest than she has been in the past. I think the real crux is when Teresa says, “I finally find someone I like, and this has to happen.” I don’t think she means Margaret; I think she means the scrutiny that her man is getting. I think it is about the price of fame, and she doesn’t want to have to deal with the reports that he might not be entirely who he claims to be. This is about Teresa’s life choices — being on the show, sticking with Joe for so long, going to prison and losing time with her parents — and the negative consequences that they’ve wrought. But that doesn’t mean she should blame all this on Margaret; maybe she should blame herself.
But Teresa can’t do that. She can’t even apologize. She can’t even say sorry to Margaret for throwing all of those drinks on her and ruining a white dress. That’s how hard up Teresa is; she can’t even issue a Housewives apology. “I’m sorry I lost my temper and ruined your dress, but you drove me to it.” Even that is too much for her. Teresa still thinks that she was nice to Margaret and has stuck up for her in the past, despite the litany of misdeeds that Margaret brings up. Yes, Marge is no saint. She poured water on Danielle. She pushed Marty in the pool. But Teresa has never done anything to support Marge.
Margaret says it best when she says that everyone lowers their expectations around Teresa. Jennifer, the strongest woman in her family, becomes a sniveling sycophant. Dolores twists herself into a human pretzel (which is hard with her new butt-lift) just to excuse Teresa’s bad behavior. Jackie has to lose several IQ points just to have a conversation with this woman. Melissa has been at her beck and call for a decade now to keep peace in her family when Teresa doesn’t try to meet her halfway. Teresa won’t even throw out just half the sprinkled cookies. Everyone is giving her participation trophies. Everyone is ignoring their decency and common sense just to keep close enough to her that they get another contract, another renewal. I hope that Marge can finally rally the troops to do the right thing and, based on what we’ve seen of Joe Gorga at the reunion, she might finally be making some headway.