Mark this date in history: “The Real Housewives Live Tour” is actually something that is happening.
With all the singing that the ladies (and Simon) are doing, you’d think it’d be the place to hear “Tardy for the Party” and “Money Can’t Buy You Class” in one convenient spot. But it seems things won’t be leaning on the music side. Instead, “Housewives” from various cities will come together for a three-city tour and discuss “the most talked about moments, reveal cast secrets and answer questions straight from the audience.”
Among those slated to appear are Caroline Manzo (“Real Housewives of New Jersey”), Lisa Vanderpump (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”) and Jill Zarin (“Real Housewives of New York City”).
And apparently Bravo thinks attendees live the lavish "Housewives" lifestyle: Tickets range from $49.50 to $170 for the red carpet package (which includes perks like a cocktail reception hosted by "The Real Housewives" and a tour laminate and matching lanyard).
The tour kicks off in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 1, with stops in Chicago on Oct. 8 and Atlanta on Oct. 15. L.A.-area folks, you’re spared out of luck.
The New Jersey Housewives, firing guns, hanging with Alexa Ray Joel, gifting each other Tank watches, muscling people out of parties and kaffee-klatching around island-sized granite islands, have finally bored their production company, Sirens Media, beyond reason. Sirens knows an audience will sit through a bunch of raggedy fashion shows and trumped-up tête-à-têtes if there’s real-life drama, like an actual divorce, at the end. (Nene and Camille! Good work.) But if the only real-life drama is going to be the Soul Diggaz wishing Joe Gorga would be swallowed by his own backhoe as he hurls sexual endearments at his wife while she struggles to stay on pitch, that’s not going to cut it.
And thus the brass of Sirens, lifting their snouts like jackals in an arid savannah, sniff for fresh blood on the wind. Are their any true challengers for their raccoon-eyed alpha dogs, armed only with defanged husbands, fur vests, lip liner and fresh manicures? Predators with anger-management issues, wide-ranging hunting grounds, and no families yet to protect — younger, wily predators, seeking their own packs to lead?
Why, yes! I’m glad you asked, because there are tons of daughters on "RHONJ" — daughters entirely lacking the media savvy to be as fake and unlikable as their mothers, armed with their own manicures, "careers" and dramatic arcs. So: Exeunt Albie and Chris; enter Gia, Victoria, Lauren, and (need you even ask?) Ashley, her perennial lavender slouch hat the distinctive plumage of a Top Difficult Daughter.
But before we get to Jacqueline’s bête noire, let’s address Teresa, whose photo shoot for "Fabulicious!," the sequel to her hit cookbook "Skinny Italian," was rent to shreds by her brood of ankle-nipping, ferociously uninterested cubs. In the first take, which was to feature the entirely family, the toddler ripped off her frilly hairband in protest, and bull Joe Giudice put an end to the proceedings with this bellow: “Tre, you’re making this a million years!” Next, attempts to hold the younger girls up amid the pots went awry as they squirmed to lower ground. Finally, only the sentient eldest, Gia, could be coaxed into staring devotedly up at her mother, then rolling her eyes and stalking off. Click. Good luck with that one in five years.
Next up was Kathy Wakile’s ripe beauty Victoria, getting ready to shop for a spring dance. Her father’s view of her as a doe-eyed innocent was somewhat belied by the series of seductive shots gracing the walls of her fuchsia room, where her parents, appropriately enough, chose to discuss her blooming sexuality. (Her father’s suggestion — “When a guy tries something with her, she’s gonna imagine my face instead” — was soundly rejected.) But Kathy was game to give her daughter the lowdown, which she imparted with difficulty at a local store while Victoria traipsed back and forth from the dressing room in a series of fashion mistakes. (There was actually an entirely cute, age-appropriate sequined number that suited Victoria perfectly in terms of color and cut. Victoria — you’re an autumn! No thanks required.) Her mother’s final words of advice as she held up Victoria’s choice— “Honey, when they see you in that, people are going to … think things” — was admirably countered by the daughter, who would not be dissuaded from a clingy, French blue fishtail monstrosity. “Well, Mom, that’s why I have a black belt.” Terrific! Let's wear that.
Next came (I think) appealingly zaftig Lauren Manzo, who brought her mother to tears as she confessed that even if she lost weight, she didn’t think she’d feel good about herself. Though Caroline wasn’t helping matters by discarding a bunch of clothes that no longer fit her lipo’d physique, she did put on her Lycra and hit the gym right along with her daughter, joining Albie, Chris and roommate Gregory on their kickboxing lesson, with even Jacqueline along for moral support. By the end, Lauren had rallied enough to taunt the handsome Gregory mercilessly on his too-loose shorts as she performed cross-elbow sit-ups. Lauren, rest assured, if the kickboxing doesn’t work out, making sport of men is an equally healthy pastime.
But the kicker, of course, is Ashley, the girl who has done nothing to earn my sympathy but now has it entirely. Sitting down at NYC’s Double Crown with Jacqueline and Chris Manzo, plus her absentee father and his surgeried wife, Ashley was greeted with taunts of “Lindsay Lohan” and “Princess” as she joined a panel supposedly assembled to respectfully discuss her future. (The last I heard, princesses didn’t regularly have to hear ungrateful they are.) The four actually drove the girl to tears as they shot down her plans to go to California, which are certainly ill-formed, but no more ill-formed than most 20-year-olds’ fumbling attempts to tear away. It’s pretty clear why they don’t want her to. If she fails far away — or, even more astonishingly, thrives — it cuts in on their ability to project all their flaws, failures and weaknesses on her. In the wake of their scuffle, Ashley silenced her former teen mother with one snap of her mighty jaws. "I don't have a baby at 20, so I'm doing pretty good." Carnage.
I have been a fan of the children of "Real Housewives" since the inception of the series, wondering how such grasping, vapid beings, seething with ambition and delusion in equal parts, manage to produce entirely charming offspring. (Does the Reality gene express itself postadolescence? Or are we finding the offspring charming largely in comparison to their progenitors?) But I’m most interested in the offspring of "New Jersey," who seem to clearly show the effects of bad parenting versus good parenting. Caroline may have had lipo (as has Jacqueline, certainly), but at least she’s going to the gym with Lauren and punching her weight. Kathy isn’t playing down her daughter's dress because she's jealous — she’s trying her best to protect her. These are good mamas, passing along valuable skills and knowledge with a minimum of surgical intervention.
On the other hand, Jacqueline and Teresa seem to think daughters exist for their own purposes, as adoring extensions at photo shoots or as grateful beings who bow to parental sacrifice before they can even stock a decent résumé. I’m willing to bet that in the future, Teresa’s daughters can weather her with a grain of salt, but Jacqueline’s weeping fit in the back of the Double Crown after Ashley's jab made me truly feel for her — struggling, probably, with enormous amounts of jealousy at Ashley for a freedom she never had the opportunity to squander.
Let’s hope they work it out. And in the meantime, Go west, young Ashley. Getting away from your family may not be the real problem. With your natural flair for drama, it might be getting away from Bravo.
When I'm a professional artist, I won't have clients. It will be all my vision and the general public.
Ah, my sweet, deluded grasshopper. Yes, it was another week on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" to watch not only the wives but now their offspring Catty Catty Rrrow Rrrow at each other about their "work," a development which can only be welcomed if one considers the obvious alternative: Housewives arguing over whose looks, husband, children, or -- yegads -- houses are better. (Score one for feminism.)
First up on the Career-o-Meter was poor 20-year-old Ashley, Jacqueline's daughter, with whom, although she is inarguably sullen and spoiled, I can only increasingly sympathize. We first met her toiling in the offices of notorious publicist Lizzie Grubman, angling for a car so she would not have to ride public transportation with the great unwashed -- wait, she said it actually was so she could make it to work on time. After Grubman let her go -- presumably because she realized her firm would not be receiving adequate Bravo camera time -- we heard tell of another mysterious "job," which yours truly speculated was becoming a paid member of the "RHONJ cast." (I'm convinced this is the true source of her mother's boundless rage for the girl, but more on that anon.)
Throughout these travails, Ashley's mother and grim stepfather have bullied her with naked self-righteousness in the guise of Tough Love, with first cousins Albie and Chris, fond but impatient, piling on. Dimly aware that she's being used, not advised, Ashley has responded with a mixture of self-pity, self-aggrandizement, and indifference.
This week cousin Lauren, a newly minted makeup artist with an alleged store that sells her makeup line, FACE, and her handbag line, Chateau Face, joined the spree. The setup was thus. Ashley, per a few grandfather-praised sketches shown for our benefit, is apparently a talented artist. (The sketches revealed pastels of women's faces in the tradition of Virginia Slims ads in the '70s, which is to say Ashley is still miles ahead of any Housewife in the entire franchise in terms of native talent.) Lauren needs a T-shirt design for her alleged makeup line. Ashley is tapped.
I'm not even going to get into how a half-hour of Google-searching -- decades in pre-digital research years -- yielded no further information on Lauren's lines other than that they may be procured at a pre-existing salon in Franklin Lakes. (If anyone can find more than the bare-bones Facebook page with 17 Likes and a brief mention of a "launch" with her brothers and mother present, please talk to me.) I'm only going to point out that flipping through Ashley's sketchbook and cuttingly saying, "No. No. No," is only appropriate if you're auditioning for the role of Anna Wintour in a community theater production of "The Devil Wears Prada" and already playing to the cheap seats.
Speaking of playing to the cheap seats, it was another week for Teresa to express her love and caring for family by challenging her sister-in-law's singing ability and declaring that cousin Kathy got the idea of her catering business from Teresa's successful line of Skinny Italian cookbooks. OK. Tre, first of all, you stole "Skinny" from Bethenny with all the finesse of a 12-year-old purse-snatcher. Second, we all know Melissa can't sing. No Housewife can sing. But remember how you pronounce "cumin"? Game over.
But back to Ashley's declaration of artistic freedom, above -- a brave echo of the famous declaration by "The Real Housewives of Atlanta's" "Tardy for the Party" hitmaker Kim: "I don't have to know how to sing. I'm an artist."
Shaky logic? Certainly, but only borne out by the market, which dependably, if briefly, rewards Housewives for their non-talents in exchange for a peek into their aggressively non-life lives, in which half the time they don't even own the clothes on their backs, to say nothing of knowing how to pronounce "cumin."
An odd calculus, to be sure, but the Housewives shouldn't get too comfortable in their "total request live" seats. Sunday, Bravo TV listings mistakenly touted this season's "Giuliana and Bill" show instead of "RHONJ," and during the aftershow, Andy Cohen, the brains of the franchise, kept slipping and calling it "the finale." ("Why does everyone keep calling it the finale? It's not!" Lauren Manzo, star for a day, tweeted.)
Wishful thinking on Bravo's part -- even a harbinger of doom? Ladies, it's not like Bravo didn't ax the "Real Housewives" of Washington and Miami with all the ceremony of crumpling a paper cup. So enjoy your cookbooks, your sketches, your purse lines, your one-hit wonders, and other intimations of artistry for the time being.
But as far as your vision being embraced by the general public? Sorry. That's all still up to @bravoandy.
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.
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.
Well, it’s another heated week in Lake Waynegon -- not because tempers are flaring among its bellicose denizens, but because there actually is a broiling heat wave sweeping the nation, and we poor viewers are forced to watch be-furred, egg-nogging, tree-trimming maniacs swan around their supersized McMansions while we shvitz in agony. (Since the RHONJs don’t, of course, control the weather, it seems churlish to blame the ladies for this unintentional sadism. However, one feels sure, had they known our portending agony, they would have gone ahead anyway -- perhaps even provided some nice velvet costumes for us to join Melissa’s village carolers from our couches.)
Yes, it’s another overpriced charity event "for the children." (50 G's worth!) A rejected olive branch. A surprise guest. Kim G. causing trouble. Sounds familiar, right? Except this isn’t Danielle Staub having her extensions pulled out by Ashley while Teresa hurls darts at her departing back. This is Melissa Gorga’s Christmas/For The Children party, circa Season 3, and you know what? I am TIRED of the Giudice/Gorga reenactments of the great Staub battle.
Remember how ancient Roman Emperors used the Colosseum to stage mighty battles to keep the masses focused on blood lust instead of their poverty? Bravo, I am not focused on blood lust. I am noticing the increasing skimpiness of this narrative, and soon I will take to the streets.
What makes seeing Kim G. yet again appear at a party with an interloper in tow (this time, even more improbably, the wife of the lawyer who’s suing Teresa) particularly disturbing -- even MORE disturbing than the terrifyingly gelid insta-face lift she managed before the week was out -- is that there’s real drama brewing that we only glimpse in the Guidice clan. Their bankruptcy is carefully mentioned only in passing -- you have to read December’s “Us” magazine if you want the real story. Joe Giudice’s distance from his wife’s drama increases -- he was hanging out in dad pants in front of the telly when Teresa yanked him out to go to the party, then gave a frightening kick to a punching bag in the garage before they departed, to say nothing of calling her crazy to his fellow cast members a week earlier. Listen, even Ashley has started to win my heart with her despair over her absentee dad -- and her incisive insights into her drama-queen mom.
So sure, it’s good for a startled laugh when the party planner confides to Joe and Melissa that “roly-poly people” cost more than servers “who speak correct English” (guess the housewives will never be servers!) but generating both a charity event AND a run-in seems too trumped-up even for a show that triumphs in trumping things up. Listen, if we’re going to traffic in reenactments, why not have the three wise men and a pregnant virgin hit the scene? I’m not sure where we’d find the wise men, but I’m pretty sure Joey Gorga would be happy to don a white dress to play Mary.
God bless Albert Manzo. The guy’s not a big talker, but he is the first man on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" — the first person, I'd say, in entire Real Housewives history — to respond to a housewife’s absurd career intentions justly: with silent, open-mouthed, floor-shaking laughter.
The unlucky lady on the other end of this piquant soliloquy was this week's Kathy, whose terraced army of Thanksgiving cannoli grew in husband Rich’s mind into the advance guard of a mighty restaurant empire. For weeks we've watched the pair scout locations for their first encampment, Kathy offering stinging observations about unpleasant carpeting and questionable pizza-slinging ambience, while leaving off those incidental questions of chef de cuisine, management, business plan, budget, investors, vendors, time frame and support staff.
But while, after a private moment of giggles, head honcho Albert politely turned his incredulity into a broader, impersonal form of discouragement (he suggested that, you know, getting into the most difficult business in the world might cut down on the couple's vacation time), Melissa Gorga continued unencumbered in her dream to be the next "Britney Spears or Beyonce."
Well, as we say in the South, "God bless her heart" -- meaning, for those of you unlucky enough to have never experienced the full lexicon of these environs, "That poor, deluded fool." But if you're a deluded fool with a husband who'll build you a studio and serve wine to the two producers dragooned into listening to your furtive stabs at the upper octaves, who's to stop you?
I am, that's who. Watching Albert boisterously knee-slap at Kathy's ridiculous temerity while we were faced, at Melissa's, yet again with the scenario of a visiting team of producers forced to keep their sunglasses on in order to not similarly break down in hilarity was a breathtaking tonic. We've now sat through too many of these poker-faced Real Housewives' meetings, from RHOOC's Gretchen producing her set of "drawlings" for her tolerant handbag designers to Atlanta's Dallas Austin listening to Kim's first countrified iteration of "Tardy for the Party" and gently suggesting they might "go in another direction."
But there's another direction Bravo can go in, one I would encourage the producers to set forth on before we all lose our hearing and sit through another fashion show from which no wearable clothing will emerge.
The network, you know, has quite a few institutions already in place in the realms of singing, fashion, design and cooking. These, of course, are serious institutions for talented acolytes, meant to train and weed out the true talents from the wannabe's, where judges like Rocco Dispirito have more nuanced insight on a meatball than Teresa Guidice, and pay handsomely for skill to fry up a good one.
But the ladies, while persevering, rarely put themselves under that kind of heat. I can think, in fact, of only two instances: The first, when "Project Runway"'s Michael snapped at Sheree's raggedy "She By Sheree" shmattas, and, recently, when Rocco out-Italianed Caroline Manzo with a brief nose wrinkle.
But there's no need to dash their dreams entirely -- only their unearned sense of authority. So why not open up a sort of scholarship/internship program for the Housewives, one in which Melissa could blast with the best of them on "Platinum Hit," Kathy could cannoli it up on "Rocco's Dinner Party," Caroline could test her green feathered Christmas Tree on "Million Dollar Decorators," and whatever housewife next decides to release her sartorial expressions could try to get them into the collection of Rachel Zoe?
After all, ladies, Camp Bravo is almost over. Time to try your hand at flipping a judge's table, for once.
It was the showdown that surprisingly didn’t result in a table flip. Teresa Guidice and her sister-in-law/nemesis, Melissa Gorga, finally decided to sit down together and air out their issues on Sunday’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
And it was there that the big offense was revealed: Teresa acted like a meanie when Melissa (gasp!) used the same photographer for Antonia’s Christmas card photos that Teresa onces used for Gia! If anything merits a table flip, that surely does.
Instead, the two hug it out. Cut to Melissa's confessional where she obviously says there’s a little voice inside her that says not to trust Teresa. It’s those same confessionals that Melissa admits have given her a different perspective on Teresa's side of the story.
“There’s definitely times where I hear her point,” Melissa told Show Tracker. “But it’s been frustrating for me because I’ve been asking her for years and years and years to fix it, to work it out with me. All of a sudden, within the last year, she was doing all the right things and saying the right things. But better now than never, I guess. I’ve been trying to get her to act this way for years. I guess I was confused: ‘Why now?’ But whatever. We’re family. I’m always willing to forgive.”
It’s the wife who makes it, and the wife who breaks it.
Well, as long as it’s not the wife who kills it, spikes it, sticks an apple in its mouth, roasts it over a fire all day, then hacks it splayed full-body right in the house for the guests to eat, is what the viewer will come away thinking after this episode of "RHONJ," in which the bloody overkill goes from Jacqueline’s living room to a shoot-’em-up in the Catskills to a yak that deserved a more dignified end than as Teresa’s ottoman-sized winter boots.
But to the first faceoff: Teresa and Melissa. We’ve been waiting for this fight for the entire season, mainly so we can finally figure out what caused the family to split up in the first place. Sporting the spoils of some recent we-paid-retail Bloomingdale's hunts, Teresa, attired in leather, and Melissa, lost in a vast bomb of fur, were nonetheless slim pickins, info-wise. (“Show me love and I’ll show you love!” “That’s what I’ve been trying to say!” "That's what I've been saying!") Behind the scenes, we learned that (A) Teresa objected to Melissa using her photographer for the kids, and (B) Melissa stormed out of her future in-laws' house when Joe got a text from another woman. So far: team Melissa.
But we also got a trip to upstate New York that gave us a nice dose of insight into the Giudice clan, which apparently consists solely of Joe’s father, keeping a redoubt in the Catskills with a ratty shirt, 27 acres and approximately 6,847 guns. The Manzos on both sides were present, and, after a pig roast, a pizza cook-off, a shopping trip to the cute shops of the local town and way too many rounds of artillery and vodka, we headed back to NYC, where Melissa’s youngest had a two-minute walk-on in a basement ballroom dancing Christmas show and finally got some time with her in-laws. (Verdict: Antonia’s no Gia, but she’s getting there.)
Now, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the absurd bounty of material, but I’m starting to become impatient with Bravo’s producers, who seem to think that they can just haul the women around from singing to shopping to shooting, and we won’t think they’ve jumped the gun. The other housewife franchises' fashion shows, weddings and charity benefits may be ludicrously trumped up, but at least we get to see some ugly bespoke and teetering heels for our troubles. I never thought these words would emerge from my keyboard, but at least those other women are doing some work.
But this season on "Jersey," the only genuine things our ladies have come up with, it seems, are a pig's eye full of hilarious malapropisms, which always carry the additional benefit of being more true than the real-world word anyway. This show was a doozy: Teresa commented she and her crew “enraided” the local bar, Jacqueline remarked they were heading up to the Catskills to “unravel” and then Teresa (again!) reached for “cookie crumbles” and could only get so far as “ball drops” and “ball bounces.” (Well, if I were her, I would lay off the cookie talk anyway.)
So, while it makes me feel like a trussed, rotisseried pig to say it, I think I’m missing Danielle this season. Here’s the deal: Arduously, to have an interesting group didactic, you need a dark force. Like, some animal infant — a black sheep in the henhouse or something. If everyone is relegated to everyone else, there’s no contradiction. Because whatever you do, in families, blood is thicker than thieves.
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!”)
Women. When we are young, we have our own dreams for our careers, and our own goals. And then, you fall in love.
This is not, as you suspect, a quote from Bette Davis’s searing discourse on sexism from that unforgettable car scene in "All About Eve." It’s actually the digest version of the same from our very own cannoli-crafting Kathy, who finally states what has been obvious to the "Real Housewives" viewership from Day 1: The women — see: Housewives — don’t work. (The men “work,” I guess, if you define “work” as driving your families into bankruptcy while living beyond your means and conducting unusual all-cash deals that allow your wife to blow 100K in Benjamins in one sitting on padded headboards, Carrara marble and gold vanities for your soon-to-be-foreclosed property, *cough Joe Giudice cough*. But I digress.)
Yes, frying up the bacon and serving it up in a pan was the theme of this week’s show, in which the previously unemployed ladies of the hour contemplated becoming, respectively, a singer (Melissa) and a radio-advice jockey (Caroline), while even Kathy’s children were made to sign official contracts on their future performance as offspring and Ashley triumphantly secured the vehicle needed to go to her “part-time job,” the details to which we are not privy. (More on that in a sec.)
Bravo announced Tuesday that “Real Housewives of New Jersey” will return for a fourth season. But that’s hardly surprising, right? When a show provides viewers with such gems as “Meet it before you eat it,” it’s practically destined for longevity.
Table-flipper-turned-cookbook-diva Teresa and her housewife counterparts are already unleashing drama with the third season currently airing on the network. And it seemed the absence of Danielle Staub this season did little to stifle the show’s allure with viewers. It delivered the highest-rated season premiere in the network's history with 2.02 million adults 18 to 49 and the highest-rated season premiere in the "Housewives" franchise with 2.87 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The network also announced that the present season will be moving to Sundays at 10 p.m. (the slot previously occupied by “Real Housewives of Orange County,” which just aired its finale) beginning June 12.