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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: Tedioso Killed the Radio Star

June 23, 2011 |  4:42 pm

Let’s get out of here. I have a headache.*

 Last week, a friend emailed, “These NJ Housewives better find some more interesting material than this brother-sister feud, or I’m outta here.” I hate to side with a dismissal of my local, wigless arm of the sisterhood, but I too have been becoming improbably fatigued by the season already. And, like Carrie Bradshaw before me, I cannot help but wonder: why? 

It’s a descent from dizzying heights. Last season, the behind-the-scenes drama kept me and millions of viewers in perpetual, rerun inducing fear -- on my end, mainly because I was worried some production assistant would be whacked for finding someone amusing. (I kept wanting to call the producers and say, “You KNOW about the Manzo’s purported mob ties, yes? That Danielle Staub has a felonious, druggy past? That @bravoandy doesn’t pack anything but an elegant, hip-but-whimsical wallet? NJ CAMP IS NOT BRAVO CAMP!”)

But everyone survived, and the problem may be now that the table has simply flipped the shark. Remember: Teresa’s notorious gastronomic maneuver was the culmination of weeks of sniping, hair-pulling and literary sleuthing. The O.C. didn’t get physical until last week, when an enraged Tamra blasted Jeanna Keogh with a refreshing face full of booze. Pugnacious Atlanta housewives Nene and Kim, apart from an occasional off-camera strangle, restrain themselves to psycho-musical warfare. And in NYC, apparently the greatest wound you can inflict on your sister-cast is to arrive late for dinner. (OK, we’ll call the Countess’s crack at Alex’s “Herman Muenster” shoes a K.O.)

Which is to say, though The Dust-up at the Ol’ Christening Corral may be a first for Bravo viewers, it was hard to care when we hadn’t met the parents in question yet and they kept complaining in Italian. Sunday’s big brother-sister sit-down lent little clarity to the brawl. After a few dangerous, neon-sign-like eye-flickers at the air around his head, Joe Gorga demanded an apology from his sister, refused to tell her what the problem was, then said he had a headache. It’s nice to know feminism has allowed men to act like disgruntled wives, but we still don’t know what the problem is.

After all, the story keeps changing. First, it was the Saga of the Sprinkle Cookie. Next, it was the Snubbing of the Book Signing. Third, it was the Card of Redone House. But these are all chips in some far greater manicure. Twice, on camera, Teresa has gone so far as to call her sister-in-law a gold-digging ho. (“She knew how to make him happy. I just don’t know how else to say it.”) Sometimes a pignoli is just a pignoli -- but not, I think, in the house of Giudice.

It’s unsurprising that, in this violent environment, one of the clan has turned to therapy -- namely, Caroline Manzo, who has emerged this season less as a fire-breathing, behind-the-scenes matriarch than a charming, sparkly-eyed doyenne. Ruling the airwaves at 101.5 (the permanence of this gig -- less than clear), she gave advice to callers struggling with -- yes -- family feuds around the holidays, which seemed to her a miraculous coincidence. (“I kept wanting to say -- is this Teresa?” No, because no one’s talking about sprinkle cookies.) 

Jacqueline, meanwhile, was forced to jockey for camera time by offering her house for the next sit-down — this one between Melissa and Teresa. (Shades of "RHONY’s" big Bethenny/Jill  Bethenny/Kelly meetups!) In a spliced-in outtake from an earlier "RHONJ" finale, we saw Jacqueline joke about throwing a punch at her sister-in-law Caroline, lo these many years ago. If she wants to keep her own storyline going this season, she’d better find out what cookies Caroline hates, pronto.

*Sorry for Teresa-like tardiness: your faithful correspondent is suffering the fever disease currently battering the Tri-State area. No word yet if RHONY’s cast is currently infected with same, but I’m sure next season we’ll see the Manzos whipping up a monster dose of matzo-ball soup for the neighb if they are.


Complete coverage of 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' on ShowTracker

-- Lizzie Skurnick