Bringing Up Baby

Aftershocks: Real Housewives of New Jersey artfully builds the catfighting drama

Aftershocks: Real Housewives of New Jersey artfully builds the catfighting drama

Television would never be the same again after the table-flip heard round the world. Bravo aired Teresa Giudice’s Incredible Hulk moment so often that now it seems as normal to flip furniture as to have dessert after a fine meal. What more could happen on The Real Housewives of New Jersey?

The sophomore season of Bravo’s legendary franchise brings us back to Jersey where the drama, name-calling, and rage are so inventive it’s hard to believe the show isn’t scripted. The premiere started with a home video of Jacqueline Laurita delivering baby Nicholas.

After her four miscarriages, of course, it’s a triumph, but fans will remember that her two eldest are already a handful. Ashley, 19, has managed to graduate from high school. She shows up with 23-year-old new boyfriend Derek, and the dog he can’t seem to take care of between shifts at Blockbuster. Ashley’s enjoying her semester off from college, that is, until her parents remind her she isn’t going to college.

Ashley has moved out and likes her newfound independence, admitting, “I would love to open a checking account if I knew how to.” But what her parents really worry about is what goes on after the video store closes. Jacqueline declares: “I know what boys at that age want.”

Meanwhile, she cuddles her newborn in his tiny “Lock Up Your Daughters” T-shirt. Husband Chris isn’t pleased about Derek, but what he’s really mad about is the fact that Jacqueline’s been texting Danielle.

Much of this second season debut episode features Danielle’s quest for spiritual truth and free advice. She insists she didn’t deserve to be called “garbage” in Season One. Really, she doesn’t care about the other housewives anyway.

Scary music blares in the background as Danielle cruises around Franklin Lakes in search of counseling. She begins with a visit to Father Richard, explaining “what a devout Catholic I am.” Who knew? She demands Father Richard teach her how to pray for the other housewives.

Is Linda Blair, now 51, available to play the role of Danielle in the movie version of Cop Without a Badge?

Next Danielle stops at “Posche” (a misspelling of neither Porsche nor Posh). At Ye Olde Posche (just the kind of boutique an aging Jersey girl with a Bedazzler would open) owner Kim “D” tries to peddle faux-leather leggings to Danielle and her two daughters. Danielle doesn’t suspect that Kim might be a double agent and a simpatico to the others.

Danielle begs advice next from her pedicurist Rosa, who lets it slip that Caroline is having a $1,000-a-head benefit for the local sheriff. Danielle feigns indifference, telling Rosa it’s a struggle to pay the bills. Clearly Danielle is not skimping on nail care.

It’s Teresa, the household philosopher of the Jersey women, who asks the truly burning questions. Is it proper to make red sauce while menstruating? Answer: No. Should you marry an Italian or a Jew? Answer: Italians are not as good to their wives.

Later, at Caroline’s benefit party, acting on information from double-agent Kim’s husband, Teresa muses that Danielle may have slept with as many as 500 guys. This information brings out the poet in Teresa, who speculates on Danielle’s depth. How big is it? “Not the Lincoln tunnel, not the Holland tunnel: what’s the longest tunnel?” she inquires. She even tips her hat, saying, “Danielle you put the cont in contradiction.”

The moon waxes, and it’s not only the dash light of Danielle’s SUV that puts a glint in her eye as she drives on, contemplating crashing Caroline’s benefit.

Her daughters give her the best free advice of the evening from the backseat: “Don’t go there, Mom, you’re not a creepy stalker.”

No, of course she isn’t.

Real Housewives of New Jersey
The Real Housewives of New Jersey are back to keeping it real.