Guccis ‘n’ gore — oh, my! It’s a bloody mess on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
We were naïve to think that a trip to the Dominican Republic by our favorite hausfraus from Franklin Lakes wouldn’t involve an outing for some “local color.” Thank goodness a lower standard of living in the environs of Punta Cana made possible a visit to a rustic open-air food market! The girls were thoroughly grossed out by the scene, but Teresa was as brazen as ever.
“Anyone read my book?” Teresa asked as she stepped over rivulets of animal blood in her sparkly platforms.
Teresa claimed she arranged the trip to “do research” for a future cookbook. Here at Aftershocks, we harbor pretty serious doubts about her ability even to reheat a can of Chef Boyardee, so we wonder what she’d do with the severed cow’s head lying on the sidewalk.
Teresa brings out the big guns, calling Caroline “as Italian as The Olive Garden.”
Of course, this episode is also the season finale, so we expected the blood bath to continue on.
At least the slaughter of language did continue. In a recap of some of the season’s best video diaries, Teresa is heard to say, “Back off, Caroline. I’m the me-triarch [sic] of my family.” We believe her.
But at first, the episode was positively bursting with parental pride and family reconciliations.
Teresa hauls her sullen parents over for a warm and loving family photo. Joe and Melissa Gorga arrive with the kids, and even Joe Giudice seems on board. “We always make up and then fight again,” he says with a smile, as he and Teresa relax in the kitchen before the big shoot. We couldn’t help noticing a copy of Teresa’s first cookbook, Skinny Italian, resting on a tacky baroque metal easel on the kitchen counter.
We forgot the sleazy product placement when little Gia reminded Uncle Joe and her grandfather that there wouldn’t be any drinking, even if it would “relax” everyone as Joe claims. We think Gia is going to make an excellent family counselor and interventionist some day. What experience she has already!
There is always an air of tension around a family photo, and Bravo tries its best to lighten the mood by playing kooky background music while emphasizing the silly gags occasioned by a photo. It seems, at last, all is well. The photographer teases the group with a clown-colored feather duster and asks who farted.
“I think it was grandpa!” Gia exclaims as everyone breaks into chuckles and camera bulbs flash. He does look like he’s got a bad case of gas, but then we remembered that he’s always had a look of disappointment and rage on his face whenever he’s been around his kids.
Joe Gorga has chosen his best pair of Diesel jeans for the moment. The photographer takes shots of just the guys and just the gals, but it’s the sensational group pose that Teresa carries wearily into the house days later. Jacqueline gasps with awe at the heartwarming photo, and for a moment even we wanted to believe that underneath all the bitterness and insults, family is forever, just like Caroline asserted. Teresa looks for her “friggin’ hammer,” but to no avail, and uses a meat tenderizer to bang a nail into the wall in order to display the huge photo. What a class act!
Comedies generally move from trouble to triumph, while tragedies end in a stage littered with bodies. Naturally, we were relieved that after 40 minutes, the blood had begun to splatter once more with the publication of Teresa’s newest cookbook, Fabulicious.
Bravo cleverly cuts between family compounds at the revelation of a series of insults, which must have been Teresa’s way of livening up her introduction. Apparently the title wasn’t enough.
We were relieved that after 40 minutes, the blood had begun to splatter once more with the publication of Teresa’s newest cookbook, Fabulicious.
“It always begins with a book!” Caroline’s son Christopher jokes, remembering the incendiary presence of Cop Without a Badge at the banquet table in the first season. We were left longing for its tales of former housewife Danielle “Garbage” Staub’s alleged prostitution, kidnapping and drug use.
Teresa begins, more humbly, with a dig at Caroline’s meatballs. OK, we thought, a glancing shot. But then Teresa brings out the big guns, calling Caroline “as Italian as The Olive Garden.” Ouch, Teresa, at least there you’re treated like family.
Then Teresa takes another shot at heritage by damning Caroline with faint praise: “I am a huge fan of Caroline Manzo, even if she is only one-sixteenth Italian.”
Caroline was quiet at first, perhaps silently counting to dieci in her head. But when Teresa proclaimed Christopher’s boyish zeal for a strip-club-car-wash immoral, finally Caroline reared in anger at an attack against her son.
Elsewhere, at the Wakiles, Kathy notes that Teresa says something about a cousin who she wishes would stop telling “lame jokes.” Kathy may hold out the hope that this is some other cousin, but her husband Rich puts the book in the garbage, where it belongs.
Later, at Melissa’s, we learn Teresa includes a swipe at her “baby sister-in-law” who “copies everything I do, from the shoes that I wear to the chairs on my front porch.” Melissa wants to believe it’s some other sister-in-law and holds her peace. “I don’t even have chairs on my porch,” she says.
Meanwhile, Teresa calls her publicist to ask why Fabulicious isn’t on the New York Times Best Seller list. The publicist gets right on it, saying, “We’ll make sure we get it on the bestseller list.” Later we learn it scrapes on for a single week. There’s publicity money well spent!
When Jacqueline visits and suggests these comments might seem insulting, Teresa claims it’s all in fun. Then she goes on the offensive, claiming that certain others lack a sense of humor. She even claims she’s just like Lucille Ball. Dare to dream, Teresa. In our book, you’re just a joke.
Even as Teresa may be leaving the show, heading over bridges and tunnels to the cast of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, we have learned a thing or two from Bravo’s trashiest diva.
In past seasons, when Teresa flipped tables and called Danielle Staub a “prostitution whore,” we sang her praises. We realize only now that Teresa, without a worthy object of hate, isn’t much fun. Granted, she and her family have fallen on hard times. When you’ve forgotten to pay nearly $11 million in debt and your husband isn’t winning the bread he used to, it can make you do things you might not have considered in better days.
Teresa, however, has alienated all of those close to her. Even the usually supportive Jacqueline begins to see light in this season finale. “She gets very defensive when I try to explain someone else’s side,” she says with suspicion.
Last, but not least, Teresa may be the one Caroline will now call “garbage,” but the truth is she’s just as motivated by money as the rest of the ladies. Teresa may be more naked in her greed and willing to stomp a stiletto into the back of a co-star or two as she climbs to the top of the reality heap.
But Caroline has a radio show and hopes to expand into the New York market, her sons are now consultants of some uncertain kind and hawk products on the show, Melissa’s launching a singing career like Kim Zolciak of Atlanta and LuAnn de Lesseps of New York, and Kathy Wakile wants to start a dessert company with her husband’s cash.
Only poor Jacqueline seems to have no prospects of her own. Then again, her wastrel daughter has still failed to launch and succeeded only at changing her name from Ashley to Ashlee.
Maybe she should keep a low profile.