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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: 'You're My Home' [Video]

I just have to get one thing out of the way: We are now at the stage where Billy Joel's daughter, Alexa, is forced to use an appearance on "RHONJ" to shill for publicity. Did you hear me? Oh, yes. Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel's daughter now needs Caroline Manzo -- no offense to Caroline -- to get her concert some air time.

I mention this only to point out this is a major paradigmatic shift in how celebrity functions in American culture -- i.e., the hangers-on, typically those with no talent other than an ability to cling to those with talent, have become the hanged-upon. The deep significance must be examined at a later date, when the image of Christie Brinkley darting around to be best caught by the Bravo cameras is not burned in my brain.

OK, back to the people who matter. Our recap is going to take a rather sobering shift today: to scary husbands, emotionally abusive moms, and all the joy they bring us on what I will now call, as Melissa Gorga has taught me, "Jesus' Birthday," known to the rest of the world as Christmas.

 

Exhibit A of scary, violent patriarchs is, of course, Joe Giudice. Where, oh, where is that happy boy who two decades ago did a split in ecstasy? Now he seems about two seconds away from splitting -- both his marriage, and his mind. One was mildly worried at his bull-like charge during Christening-gate, but that seemed au fait at the time. I'm now more concerned about these ominous withdrawals followed by violent eruptions. These began with him sitting on the couch in Dad Jeans resisting a trip to Gorga's party, then flinging a violent kick at a punching bag on the way out the door; degenerated into calling his sister-in-law "raccoon face" and she and her husband "animals" as they tried to politely mix with his children; and, on the morning of Jesus' Birthday, filming the family one-handed, shirtless and prone, before rubbing his perenially puffed eyes and muttering that he was going back to sleep. Merry Jesus' Birthday!

But Joey Gorga, who seems cheerier and more down with the clan, is actually no better. Sure, he's all about camcordering their 90-foot tree and mountain face of presents. But, while I'd like to think the gifts to Melissa of spike heels with a two-inch diamondine ankle strap and the thick gold Rolex weren't symbolic, the final present of the massive basement studio in which Joey can "keep his wife so no one else can touch her" make them seem awfully close to cuffs. Oh, yes, Melissa, DO hit that mic with some sparkle! It'll work great when you start singing like a canary in your jail of bling.

These two Department of Family Services-ready figures are even more grotesque when compared with  Teams Wakile and Manzo, with whom I increasingly side. Sure, Albert Manzo drives his wife to a remote location under Route 80. But it's merely to timidly repeat his original proposal to his lady love, who bursts into tears and asks him jokingly again if the ring is real. And even their family's weep-fest at Caroline's gift of family bracelets -- take note, jailer Joe Gorga -- pales next to the Wakile event.

While a fully made-up Teresa chattered at each daughter, "Do you love it? Do you love it?" then snapped a picture of Gia post-vomit ("You look real pretty!"), Kathy, au naturel, wept as she accepted the gift of a laptop from her children, who'd pooled their allowances to give her a tool to kick start her business. Padre Wakile cried so much I'm almost forgiving him his fishy story of losing his wedding ring so often that Kathy had to give him a new one. That is weird -- but it's not as bad as Jacqueline complaining that Ashley didn't get her anything at all. (I'm thinking this is a reap-what-you-sow situation, lady.)

But sweetest, of course, are Albie and Chris Manzo, the latter in love with Alexa Ray Joel, the former totally happy to bust on his brother in his macking plans. As we watched Alexa do her Regina Spector-slash-Alicia Keys thing, I had a hard time believing, with his hopelessly-in-love punim, we would ever see Chris attempting to Bluebeard his wife into a basement studio or filming their family with all the interest of a dad dragged to Pixar's latest.

She would -- oh, forgive me, reader -- be movin' out.

ALSO:

Last week on 'The Real Housewives on New Jersey'...

More about upcoming shows from the TCA Press Tour

Melissa Gorga talks about her fight with Teresa Giudice

-- Lizzie Skurnick

 
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