It has been many, many years since I’ve recapped The Real Housewives of New Jersey, so there’s something you should know about me before we start: I hate Teresa Giudice with the burning passion of a million, billion suns. Sorry, there is no room for Tre huggers here because there is a deep-seated loathing for her that is wrenched from the very bottom of my soul. I don’t love to hate her, like I do with Jennifer Aydin, whom I find exasperating in group interactions but endearing when dealing with her family. I hate to hate her. I hate her so much that I think she needs to get off of my television screen.
I appreciate all she has done for the Real Housewives franchise, and I think she is an excellent practitioner of the reality-television arts and sciences. But I think that her time should have been up as soon as her story line became about, you know, committing real crimes that she went to jail for and then profited from passively by continuing that story line on a reality show and writing a book about it all while showing as little remorse as there is a market for her Fabulinis, which is to say none. That said, I will try to bring fair and balanced reactions to her this season, but, well, we are not off to a good start, me and Tre. The show, however, is off to an excellent start.
It all starts at the party for Jackie’s husband, Evan, 173 medium-rare steaks packed into the physique of a Greek god. It’s the first big event of a post-COVID summer, and everyone is ready to put on some real clothes, get out of the house, and show off all the plastic surgery they had while the cameras were off and they had plenty of time to heal. Margaret had her boobs done, and they look amazing but not as good as her face, which looks a little bit tighter around the lips but totally refreshed and rejuvenated. Is that surgery or just time off?
Dolores had the most surgery. She says, “I had a tummy tuck, liposuction, and a butt lift a little bit.” Does she mean it only lifted a little or she just wants us to think it’s no big deal? Also, a butt lift isn’t something you can only have a little of, like Botox or tiramisu. We’ve seen the scars; it looks like a real big deal. Her ex, Frank, tells her she looks like she got filleted like a flounder. “Well, my butt was floundering,” she says. Gold star for Dolores.
Her boyfriend, David, didn’t love the surgery, and he’s a doctor. She didn’t tell him until just before she left for the hospital because he thinks elective surgeries are wrong. Oh yes, we got one hell of an update from David and Dolores. So she never moved into the house the two of them were building together, which is the nicest Pottery Barn showroom — with tastefully bland couches and strange nautical lights in the corners — that I ever did see. She’s still living with her ex-husband, Frank, while her son, Frankie, is living with David.
I love a modern arrangement, so I think this is just wonderful and way more sophisticated than anyone actually in this strange family rhombus situation. But I’m with Dodo; if he’s not going to take things to the next level, who is he to tell her how to live her life? “What I love about our relationship is I have the freedom to do what I want and I don’t demand the commitment that I thought I needed,” she says. Bake that into your ziti and call the Brownstone because we need a celebration.
Anyway, everyone shows up at Evan’s party with their new tits and asses and faces. Jackie hired a party planner for this event, which seems odd because it’s under a tent in a restaurant parking lot. I know, COVID restrictions suck. But I could tell you how to set up a tent in a parking lot, and the restaurant is right there. Just have them cater it. How much more planning do you need to do? A bartender? Just get Frankie to hire three of his roided-out friends from the gym. Bada-bing, we have ourselves an amateur strip club for Evan’s birthday. Just what he wanted.
What he didn’t want was Teresa going around his very own 46th-birthday party talking shit about him. Well, he also doesn’t want fat, out-of-shape children, and he’s going to make them do squats and lunges while holding logs over their heads, which seems like something that would have been pilloried in a Charles Dickens novel. While Jackie is giving her speech about how much she loves him, Teresa says to Melissa, “I heard Evan does stuff?” Melissa is befuddled. What kind of stuff? Teresa tells her she heard he “does stuff at the gym.” Okay, yes, what kind of stuff are we talking about? Butt stuff? Double Stuf? Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man stuff? Are we talking about jerk-off sessions in the sauna, because I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a men’s locker room, but … yeah. Teresa says she heard Evan “cheats on her” at the gym. She can’t remember who told her because, “You know me, I just forget stuff.”
Teresa then tells everyone in the cast that she heard an unspecified rumor from an unknowable source that Evan does unverified things with mysterious people who are not his wife in an alternate dimension known as the Champion Gym in Tenafly, New Joisey. Everyone, to a person, including Jackie’s sworn enemy, Jennifer, thinks this is disgusting. It’s so gross that by the end of the night, Margaret’s husband, Joe Benigno, is puking next to a trash can. Oh no, wait. That was the kamikaze shots. The only thing more College Night at Ruby Tuesday’s than doing kamikaze shots is puking them back up by the dumpster out back.
Jackie finds out about this, and before all the girls go off for a long weekend at Lake George, she wants to talk to Teresa about what she said. They decide to meet at Margaret Joseph’s House of Maximalist Wonder, where everything is psychedelic-print velvet furniture in front of green alligator wallpaper off a hallway that is covered in Missoni prints and the taxidermy trophies of rare animals. Since she’s a lawyer, as she will always remind you, Jackie has a calm and rational argument for Teresa. She says Teresa shared a rumor on-camera that could have devastating effects on her and her family. “You have to admit that whoever told this to you doesn’t know me and Evan, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You have to admit this is a lie,” Jackie pleads with Teresa, an imbecile whom a person with a J.D. has had to prostrate herself in front of for the past three seasons.
One of Teresa’s many fatal flaws is that she can’t admit she is wrong. She won’t say, “I’m sorry. Yes, I heard that, but I don’t believe it and I think that it is false.” No, she has to double down and say, “Well, it’s not like I told him at his party.” Okay, yeah. Point taken, but even worse, you talked about him behind his back to all of his friends.
I would like to dismantle every point in Teresa’s argument because it is absolutely ridiculous. She won’t tell Jackie who told her this rumor, possibly because she doesn’t remember and possibly because she made it up herself, or possibly because she’s trying to protect someone. I think it’s a combination of these three and the person she’s trying to protect is Teresa Giudice. Jackie asks if that person knows her and Evan. “I’m not sure,” Teresa says. “Obviously, they do if they told me.” The question is, does this person actually know the two of them as a couple or just know who the two of them are because this person has seen them on a very popular reality-television program? Teresa can’t say.
Then Teresa says, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Yes, that is often true, but Teresa did not see the smoke or the fire. She poured gasoline all over the situation, threw a lit Zippo into it, watched it explode and then said, “Hey everyone, look at this smoke!”
Her next argument is that, now that she’s single, a lot of married guys have hit on her and wanted to have affairs. Okay, well, was Evan one of those people? No? Then this point doesn’t even make sense. We know that lots of married men have affairs. Just, I don’t know, look at your ex-husband’s behavior on-camera.
After Jackie says she’s a smart woman and knows Teresa is lying, Teresa says, “If you’re a smart girl and you know he’s not cheating, then stand the fuck up for yourself.” Um, hello! What do you think she is in this room doing?!
Jackie accuses Teresa of spreading a rumor, and she says, “I did not spread a rumor. I heard a rumor.” Yes, you heard a rumor and then you did not just go, “Oh, that’s crazy.” You did not, as Jennifer says, collect receipts and come correct. You just started telling people willy-nilly at a party. If you smeared a melting Magnum bar on all of those people, someone would say you were spreading ice cream (delicious, chocolate-covered ice cream) all over the party. Now just imagine this Magnum is a rumor. Yeah, you spread it like I will spread my legs after this pandemic is over.
Finally, Jackie tries to use logic with Teresa. This will never work. Trying to get logic out of Teresa is like asking a starfish to borrow a pen. Teresa doesn’t understand reason or hypocrisy. She can’t process that she was hurt when Kim D. spread rumors about her so Jackie might feel the same way in a similar situation. Teresa, like a wounded dog, knows nothing other than what she is feeling at that very moment and reacts to it, often in malicious ways. Jackie makes this mistake again and again and tries to argue with Teresa as if she were a person of average intelligence. Well, if Teresa made up this rumor and won’t tell her how she heard it or if it’s true, it’s the same as Jackie saying, “I heard Gia does coke in the bathrooms at parties.”
This is when things really go sideways and Teresa leaves Margaret’s collection of multicolored funhouse mirrors yelling the word cunt in her wake like it was Princess Diana’s train at her wedding. All because Jackie “brought kids into this.”
That is not what Jackie did. Jackie was making the intellectual point that Teresa made something up and said it on-camera to hurt Jackie just like Jackie made this thing up about Gia. In the context of the argument, we are all meant to know that this “rumor” is fake. That is the point of it. Jackie isn’t alleging that Gia does coke; she is alleging that Teresa made up a rumor to slander her. Teresa will never understand this analogy because she is basically a blob of half-chewed Hubba Bubba walking around on human legs.
That’s why I’m so sick of Teresa on this show. All the villains, all the people we hate — the Kenya Moores, the Ramona Singers, the Jen Shahs — they argue about things because they’re delusional narcissists who can’t see any other point. I find that at least clinically interesting. Teresa, though, is garden-variety stupid, and that bores me.
The best part of the episode happens right before Teresa arrives, when Jackie says to Margaret that Teresa has spread lies and physically assaulted people and that Danielle assaulted Margaret last year only because Teresa told her to. Jackie’s other points are backed up with archival footage of Teresa making up lies about Melissa being a stripper, hitting Andy Cohen, and throwing a wineglass, coupled with the infamous table flip. Jackie asks, “How far do we let a person like Teresa go?” I think that’s a question not only for the women, the production company that hires them, and Bravo, but also for us as viewers. Apparently, the answer is at least another season, but I wish something would change that.