'Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: The Everlast Supper
What would happen if the Real Housewives of New Jersey ever ate breakfast with each other? Brunch? You know, had a nice taco at the food truck? I'd like to know, because we've now seen the extended famiglia cross-dressing, pig-slicing, wife-insulting, Kim G.-ejecting and outright brawling through several homebound, after-8 p.m. affairs, and I'm thinking a midmorning latte at Cosi might be a nice change of pace.
This week brought us the extended remix of partying in various domiciles -- including the second half of Melissa's party, an evening at the Giudice's and, if the point hadn't been driven home enough, many a flashback to the original christening brawl. (This event has now reached Holy Night-levels of mythology in the Giudice/Gorga family, though these Wise Guys came incensed, bearing gold chains and ire.)
This is not to say partying necessarily makes for bad drama. On reality shows, there's two basic modes of glued-to-couch celebration: the public party in which someone is confronted aggressively by another cast member (the Housewives of New York specialize in this), or the party in which a crazy interloper or cast member takes hijinks to an absurd level. (Need I even mention Beverly Hills Housewife Camille's friend, a "psychic" whose radical lapses in etiquette included puffing an electric cigarette and goading O.J. celebrity Faye Resnick about her Playboy spread?)
But since Teresa's inspired table-toss, the parties of "RHONJ" have become both overblown and ho-hum, mostly because they’re so patently concocted. Let’s be serious. Is there any chance that the producers didn't urge Kim G. to tote along Teresa's legal foe to Melissa's party? Encourage Teresa to write her heartfelt letter to Joe Gorga? Suggest to Jacqueline that she might host the battle of the sisters-in-law in her own genteel living room, where they could have the best angles for their fur-off? The trip to the Catskills -- guns and all -- must have stemmed from a wish to get these people somewhere, anywhere, outside of their kitchens and dining rooms. (No, Kathy, restaurants don't count.)
And that's a shame, because there's true family drama brewing amongst the New Jersey Housewives -- but it's all related to their children. Was there any viewer who didn't feel for Caroline Manzo’s son Christopher, made to bounce Kim G., the mother of his best friend, out of Melissa's party? Ashley, finding the only sympathy her mother Jacqueline can give her for her absent father during the holidays is that she doesn’t appreciate or respect her? (Let’s not even mention that her stepfather, Chris Laurita, is the kind of guy to drunkenly suggest that Kim G. needed a good slap.) Caroline's daughter missing her brothers? Even Kathy’s kids, who have yet to evince any dysfunction (a credit to their parents) still make better and funnier TV than the progenitors in question.
So while Teresa snipes at Melissa for showcasing her rack on Christmas Eve, all the while sporting a mini up to here, this celebration of baby Jesus feels no more genuine than these vast, echoing, soon-to-be-foreclosed-upon McMansions feel like real homes. From a gaudy Grand Guignol, "RHONJ" has descended into a bizarro “Truman Show,” one in which only the characters who know they're on tape feel they’re real, while the ancillary characters, experiencing the real drama, are little more than supernumeraries.
So, Teresa vs. Melissa, mini versus low-cut: Feh. Maybe we should be focusing less on these dueling Marys and more on the kids in the creche.
-- Lizzie Skurnick