‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ recap: Punta Cannot
I repeat this not only because I am thrilled in this episode to see an ancillary member of the RHONJ cast show familiarity with what I knew as the English language before reality TV spit it, half-chewed, from its mighty maw, but because, since this is a family paper, I’m not sure I can mention anything else.
The Jersey Housewives' trip to their much-mentioned former idyll, the D.R.’s Punta Cana, was such a festival of things that should not be mentioned and men who should stop doing things, that I may be stuck here simply finding new and interesting ways to describe Teresa’s exact shade of tan (Teriyaki?) or Melissa’s favorite swimsuit (Toilet-Papered Tree or Macrame Plant Holder –- I haven’t decided yet). Relating the plot, which mercifully and mentionably ends with Teresa picking a big crazy fight yet again with Kathy Wakile over the Blowout at the Christening Corral, could make Mae West blanch.
The episode began, as all Housewives on Holiday episodes do, with the women overpacking and their children charmingly hiding in half of the suitcases, possibly shoved in hopefully by the vast army of nannies we rarely get to see. However, the men, usually excluded from such jaunts, also joined in, oversharing instead of overpacking. As the cars sped off, the team of husbands launched into their expectations for the trip, which unfortunately fall into the three categories I have related above.
Arriving on the island, the entire clan –- Gorgas, Giudices, Manzos, Lauritas –- set off, like Federales, in a menacing line of black SUVs for their sweeping, blindingly sunlit villas in the Hard Rock Hotel. As rooms were divvied up and villa inhabitants migrated, boundaries were quickly drawn: Albie and Chris were going to be sharing a room, Caroline Manzo was going to get a migraine, Teresa and Joe Giudice have none.
The ostensible purpose of the trip, of course, was for the clan to return to the golden days shown briefly to viewers in a photo that elicited this comment from my fellow viewer: "Good God! How can people change so much in this short a time!" (Answer: lipo, Juvederm, booze.) But the trip quickly developed into what Kathy chuckingly called the battle for Punta Cana Princess between Teresa and Melissa, one Melissa won handily. While Melissa’s Joe was (overly, overly) affectionate, Teresa’s Joe told her to shut up and muttered ironically that she was "hot, babe." Melissa’s white bi-one-piece-stringy-thing showed off her Chicken McNugget hue better than Teresa’s gold lame half-skirt complemented her shriveled apple. And ... well, so far, that’s all you really need to be the Princess of Punta Cana.
As the episode closed, Joe and Teresa were hiking away from the communal fire, where Kathy had, in Teresa’s view, not only rained on her parade by rolling her eyes at the restaurant Teresa's planning shortly to open with Juicy Joe, but also insulted her mothering skills, her business acumen and possibly her last fourteen generations of ancestors. (All I know is, everyone on the show showed great politeness and restraint by not immediately ripping Teresa's gold suit to shreds and hurling it in the fire in the name of Anna Wintour.)
Next week, we apparently get to see the continuation of this fight, but truly, Bravo, its vast, episode-spanning breadth is starting to stretch the boundaries of what the viewer can actually understand. In the series “Lost,” when the survivors wandered the island, picking fights with each other, brief snapshots of their past brought their present behavior into focus. But on RHONJ, that actual snapshot is shown only for a second, then withdrawn. (lots of Juvederm and lipo.) Why, truly, is Joe Giudice so violently furious at Joe Gorga? What made Teresa stop calling Melissa to chat? Who are those "Others" across the island? (Oh, wait.) Okay -- well, why did Jacqueline have so much surgery if she wasn't even going to put on a bikini?
Punta Cana, Punta Cana, release the dark secrets of the past! We Bravo viewers are far from home, with only Teresa’s gold swimsuit to light the way.
-- Lizzie Skurnick
Photo: "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast. Credit: Bravo