When Jennifer Aydin is with the whole group of women, I find her more painful and insufferable than having an abscess on your taint drained. But what is really fascinating about her is that when she is with her family alone, I find her incredibly sympathetic and compelling. There has never been a woman who gets me to repeatedly move from one side of the proverbial aisle to the other throughout an episode.
Luckily this week, we don’t have to see her with the group at all, only with her husband, Bill, and her brother, Steven, who somewhat sheepishly tells her he was at Bear Week in Provincetown. I know why he was sheepish because, while I have never been to Bear Week, I have been to P-town, and I would not mention even one thing about it to my sister, either. When Jen is alone with Bill, she’s talking about how she is glad he defended her to the dudes when they attacked her character, but she says she wants more emotion from him. She’s working through her feelings on his cheating, and instead of a sympathetic ear, she gets a statue of Bill where a human being ought to be.
That she is in the midst of processing the affair comes up again with her brother. I don’t know; maybe she should thank Margaret for bringing it back up so she can finally deal with it. I don’t know. But also letting this thing fester between the two of them for a decade can’t be healthy. Then when Jen says Bill won’t go to therapy because he’s afraid of what they’ll say to each other when they’re airing their true feelings — oh, girl. Get out the divorce cream and unguent because you are going to have to slather your whole relationship in that. If what is under the surface is worse than this, it probably looks like the Sasquatch before she’s gotten her roots touched up.
There isn’t much more drama with Bill at the guy’s night, which we didn’t cover last week, but there is a bunch of new drama when Luis shows up about two hours late for Sausage Grinder Night at Vince Lombardi’s Steak House. Tiki Barber, doing his best to earn his Taylor Ham (that’s what the RHONJ ladies hold in the opening credits), brings up the rumors online about Luis being abusive in his past relationships. Luis says his ex is thirsty and wants attention, so this is her fault. He also says she stabbed her ex-husband “with a butcher knife,” so clearly she’s insane and should not be trusted.
I’m with both Jackie and Margaret on this one; I don’t like that he’s blaming these women and making them out to sound like they’re crazy. If I were Joe Gorga, I would not like that, either, because if he breaks up with Teresa, he’ll probably do the same thing to her. He also goes with “Don’t we all have some girl out there who would talk bad about us?” I don’t think Evan does since he’s been with Jackie since college. I bet Joe Benigno doesn’t either except for the ex-wife he cheated on. If there is “something wrong” with a number of someone’s exes, maybe the problem isn’t with them but with him. Or maybe he’s just bad at choosing partners, which again means there is something wrong with him. Either way, this does not look good for Luis.
Tiki Barber, NFL legend and RHONJ men’s night MVP, still presses Luis about why they keep hearing it from multiple sources. He is asking the right questions. Joe Gorga is in an awful position in which this guy will be his brother-in-law, so he can only go so far. He gives Luis the old “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you hurt my sister, I will call up the guy who beat up Dina Manzo’s new man in a parking lot and give him your address.”
Teresa does not like that Tiki and his wife, Traci, were asking questions about her man because only, 12 years into this series, she still doesn’t know what it is. What does she think she’s on? Unsolved Mysteries? But that’s okay because she can sit in her bathroom and convince her two eldest daughters Luis is just the best thing since the cat’s sliced meow. There are lots of fans out there of Gia Giudice and her zany sister, Melania, but I’m telling you the one to watch is Gabriella, whose glare is as ice cold as her delivery. When she clowns her mother for being 40 and single and asks the ghosts of her parents for a man, I died. Put me in a mausoleum, light a candle, and desecrate my body. She is the one to watch, and if she doesn’t turn out to be a serial killer, she will at least be the first reality-TV Supreme Court justice.
I want to roll my eyes at everything about Teresa and Luis’s anniversary celebration. Luis hires a driver who brings her to a boat that has a man on it wearing a gold-and-silver-brocade blazer and playing the saxophone. Where did he find this guy? At an open casting call for The Wedding Singer: The Musical at the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse? His name is Genny Kee, the Bizarro World Kenny G, and he would rather be anywhere else but on this boat having either too much or not enough attention paid to him by this uniquely tanned couple. Teresa tells us Luis booked this because she played sax in grammar school. I used to play red rover in grammar school; it doesn’t mean I want anyone from my grammar school coming over now that I’m 43 years old.
After she gives him a diamond man bracelet, he says he is going to give her a card. It is not a card. It is a whole scroll. A whole entire scroll with the 20 reasons why he loves her. It is so large it is taller than both him and Genny Kee, who has to be enlisted to help him hold it up. Luis better have tipped him well. The thing is, they aren’t 20 reasons like “Your smile” or “You make excellent omelets.” They’re like whole paragraphs. One is literally “You are so affectionate and love holding hands and always being close — You yearn for endless LOVE and CONNECTION in our relationship.” (Yes, I paused it and transcribed it.) The thing about the scroll is Luis says he had it made just for her, but the platitudes are so universal it could have been for anyone. He could be regifting it from when his ex with the butcher knife gave it to him a few years back because it has no personality. “You love so good.” Yeah, Luis. Who doesn’t?
Other than the love bombing, this is kind of a boring episode. We see Dolores’s finished house, which has a bedroom with nine life-size religious figures sitting on top of a wardrobe, and it makes my lapsed-Catholic heart skip a beat. Who wants to sleep in the Fish Room when you can spend the night in the Madonna Mia Suite, bitch. There is also a spa day at the rec center of a suburban townhome community or something. I don’t know. It is weird, and I don’t like it, and all anyone talks about is Jen.
That is until Melissa starts talking about her daughter, Antonia, who got hurt tumbling and doesn’t want to cheer anymore. She doesn’t want to leave her room, and all she wants to do is roll her eyes and talk to her friends. When Melissa tries to talk to her, all Antonia says is “You didn’t take my feelings into account at all” or “I don’t want to do that anymore” or “No, that’s embarrassing.” Melissa, listen. It’s not too complex. You have a teenage girl. They’re all like this. In fact, this is too real. It’s too relatable. No one wants this on their television. Parents don’t even want to deal with their own teens’ moodiness — who wants to deal with one we don’t even know?