'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: Magma-nimous gestures
From the infamous christening brawl that launched this "Real Housewives of New Jersey" season, I, and every recapper across the land, have made great sport of the Franklin Lakes denizens' propensity for violence—especially the molti bellicosi Giudices.
We need not revisit the lavender-shirt-clad breast-thumping of the first episode’s conflagration, where Joe and Joe grappled in the netherworld of a genteel sit-down affair; nor the shoot-’em-up Catskills vacay at padron Giudice’s home; nor even last season’s infamous table flip, which Teresa gamely reenacted for this season’s promos. I’m even going to set aside the recent extraordinarily nasty comments of Joe Giudice toward his sister-in-law — “Who’d want to be with that raccoon-face” — because, let’s face it, Joe’s own puffy eyes reflect either some hard drinkin’ or some lack of sleepin’, and he’s probably wishing he had access to her cosmetic implements himself.
Still, though in this episode, Teresa made sure to release her habitual blast of blockheaded, feral rage at Melissa — to say nothing of adding a big dose of anti-Semitism (multi-tasking gal!) to the mix — she was not the guiltiest party. The worst offenders were two families I heretofore felt wended toward peacemaker, not jawbreaker — and haven’t done anything worse than to suck up to Billy Joel’s daughter.
I am talking the Lauritas and the Manzos.
Needs to be slapped around. Snatch her by the neck and beat her. Pick her teeth up off the floor. Bring out the wooden spoon. Get a good slap. Hit rock bottom. Get a black eye. Get out. Call one of your friends and get out.
And who’s the recipient of these charming suggestions? Is it some drug addict lout who’s stolen all the family jewelry? A relative who shows up drunk to every party and starts a fight? (Wait, that’s any Joe G.) A sister-in-law who whispers, “I can’t believe you made me eat this” and spits out Kathy W.’s obviously delicious peasant salad like something with the manners of a… peasant?
No. It’s Ashley, eye-rolling Ashley, who as far as I can tell is mostly guilty of rolling her eyes.
Don’t get me wrong. Ashley must be exhibiting some deeply, deeply annoying behavior for a 20-year-old. I’m sure she is hanging out with her friends and sleeping in; whining and asking for money at the same time she asserts she wants to be independent; blaming others when she can’t hold a job; and basically not bearing children and hanging around the kitchen for a husband who bankrolls the operation. (Oh, wait! THAT'S GOOD.)
But at the same time, Ashley’s incredulous weeping at the assertions that the people around her are trying to help her hold a veritable Franklin Lake of water. Say what you will for the crucible of family—there is actually no way any group of adults who stand around talking about how they would be making you pick your teeth up off the floor care about your own good.
Also, between Ashley and her mom, Ashley is actually exhibiting the more mature behavior of the two. She’s said she wants to go to California and go to makeup school, work part-time, and go to community college. Why is that weird? She’s also said she and her mom need to change — true. If Chris Laurita has the dough to lease her a car, why can’t he lease her a future in cosmetics school — and why can’t her absentee dad, who abandoned her in the first place, give her some down-payment money for an apartment?
When I heard Jacqueline’s sobbing about her real worry — that when Ashley went away, she would actually do well, get a good life, succeed, then never involve her mom in it — I have to admit, I almost started to cry. We don’t always get to see the side where moms are afraid they’ll be abandoned too. Even Chris Laurita told her she should let Ashley hear it.
But the Laurita/Manzo clan reverted to the old black-eye treatment, and they got in the way. Instead of a heart-to-heart, Ashley got tossed out on her keister in the middle of one of the coldest winters we’ve had in Jersey in a long time. It wasn’t even by her mother. It was Chris Laurita who did the deed, while Jacqueline tried to gather herself enough to read to her two sons about the creation of magma while sitting by the fire.
Magma! It was the only moment of symbolism the producers and editors let themselves have -- zeroing in on that nasty buried stuff that creates volcanic explosions. It was nice and subtle. Because to tell you the truth, I think Bravo producers might be getting a little worried about catchin' a beating, too.
-- Lizzie Skurnick
Photo: From left to right, Jacqueline Laurita, Teresa Giudice, Caroline Manzo, Kathy Wakile and Melissa Gorga. Credith: Tommy Garcia / Bravo