Baby Jesus loves blackjack and other arson-friendly Christmas lessons from theReal Housewives
A diamond ring or a lump of coal? What do The Real Housewives of New Jersey really deserve for Christmas?
If Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice, we’re not sure he’ll be stopping by Franklin Lakes. We suspect he’d be too frightened to leave these brawling Jersey girls (and guys) their well-earned lumps of coal. Beneath the fancy wrapping and saccharin sentiment, there lies an inferno of holiday-induced rage.
As usual, everything seems innocent as the ladies prepare for Christmas. Wait a minute — hasn’t it been Christmas for weeks in Franklin Lakes? Did Bravo get some deal on freelance camera crews this past December?
The episode opens with a montage of terrific Tannenbaums, each ridiculous in its own way and cleverly demonstrating wealth disparities in the little hamlet of Franklin Lakes. We love how Bravo always chooses to show, rather than tell us, exactly what’s going down in New Jersey. Here it’s almost as if the trees could talk.
We’re sure that sick children and Baby Jesus love blackjack, but here’s a crazy idea: How about a direct donation of $50,000 to the hospital?
Teresa and Joe Giudice, on the rebound from their recent bankruptcy proceedings, have decided to “cut back” this holiday season. We’re not sure exactly what that means, since the 20-foot tree in their foyer looks about as lavish as one can get.
The preparations are bittersweet. Teresa is especially sensitive right now, feeling the hurt of all the press coverage of her family’s finances. Not to mention those cruel stories about her husband’s 10-day stint in jail for driving with a suspended license (which happened after his unfortunate DUI).
“I know just how Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie feel,” she says. A girl can dream, can't she?
But the kids aren’t worried at all as visions of sugar plums dance in their heads. When little Gia passes ornaments up the ladder to her father, she exclaims “This is the best Christmas ever!”
Over at the Gorga household, however, the money never stops flowing. Melissa is going with the two trees she usually erects: one real and fragrant, the other a fake. She wishes her husband Joe would take his hand out of that bag of chips, get off his ass and help with the lights, but she keeps her focus as the decorating drags on. In sharp contrast to her sister-in-law, she boasts that she bought even more this year.
“It’s for Jesus’ birthday and I need everything perfect,” she says nervously, as if Jesus might tell Dad that the display just isn’t good enough to merit constant blessings.
And then the saddest tree of all, at the home of Kathy and Rich, is squeezed into a corner and almost crying out for a trim to keep it from hitting the ceiling. Kathy has a serious look on her face as she fusses with the Venetian Carnevale cat mask she’s saved for the top. With an inexplicable explosion of maroon feathers forming some kind of collar for the cat, the tree looks like a community theater production of Cats fighting with a community theater production of Phantom of the Opera to see which can escape from the top of the tree first.
Only Kathy would think of a 1980s Broadway-themed tree! Maybe Martha Stewart offers remedial lessons in Christmas decorations.
When husband Rich (“Chicken-ass,” as Joe Giudice calls him) comes in from the cold to check it out, he wonders why the cat looks cross-eyed. We wondered, too.
But the big news this Christmas is Melissa’s post-reconciliation party. Everyone’s on pins and needles, wondering if there will be Christmas blessings or Christmas brawls.
Melissa has pulled out the stops for a $50,000 party, but she claims it’s all for the Christmas spirit, Baby Jesus and the children of St. Joseph’s Hospital. It’s true that toys are collected for kids. But we did notice two blackjack tables and a craps table as well. We’re sure that sick children and Baby Jesus love blackjack, but here’s a crazy idea: How about a direct donation of $50,000 to the hospital? We suspect Baby Jesus might have liked that better.
Fabulous Fred, Melissa’s event planner, promised and delivered an ice sculpture of Joe and Melissa. The camera lingers over the couple’s lawn jockey-sized icy counterparts, who greet guests. Ice Melissa, nose in the air, seems to be smelling something particularly foul while Ice Joe, sporting an ice-Afro, grasps her waist as if he’s about to squeeze the life right out of her. “Merry Christmas” is written across Ice Joe’s left arm.
Melissa can hardly contain herself as she inspects Fabulous Fred’s work: “The carolers are adorable and I got a bar going in my libary [sic].” Well, we assume that in spite of the excellent “work ethnic” Melissa celebrated on the first episode of the season, she doesn’t spend much time reading in the library.
Joe, already drunk, greets Rich and Kathy at the door. Joe apparently enjoys Kathy’s silvery chain-embedded, eyelet-studded Christmas costume because he turns to Rich and says, “She’s a slut tonight. You look at her! Kat, you’re looking sexy, with the chains.” When Rich threatens to throw Joe on top of his ice sculpture, we don’t think he’s joking.
Teresa finally arrives and pretends to be full of gracious thanks and holiday cheer, but it’s clear that she wants to seem like she’s doing everyone a favor by showing up. Her face tells a different story. We suspect her barely-contained resentment and rage stem from the fact that everyone seems to love her baby brother and his wife, whose holiday party totally upstages the bankrupt Joe and Teresa.
Not that the Giudices care about that! Earlier in the episode Joe said, “The rumors don’t bother me. The stupid bankruptcy doesn’t bother me. We’re not in trouble.” Well, Joe, maybe Santa will stuff $11 million in your stocking. A boy can dream can’t he?
So it was inevitable that Teresa wasn’t interested in mending fences with Kathy. Kathy approaches Teresa and begins to speak with a sanctimonious air of putting differences aside, as if she were auditioning to be a stand-in on Caroline Manzo’s radio advice talk show. If this is what the olive branch sounds like, we don’t blame Teresa for snapping it like a sad, little twig.
Snub noted, Kathy storms off and retreats into a bathroom with her husband Rich to fume about Teresa. Rich helpfully suggests that she go back out and “rip Teresa a new one” and then he’ll burn down the whole house. We suspect Kathy read our column and tried to interject a little interest into her otherwise dull demeanor, but her chain-mail dress, a few curse words and her husband’s arson fantasies still come up short.
Just when things can’t get any worse, Melissa’s brother-in-law Joey walks up to Joe Giudice and asks him for “the thousand dollars” he owes him. We’d be the first to believe Joe Giudice is in yet more financial trouble, but it is a little Grinch-like to raise such matters at a party. Melissa was clearly having flashbacks to the brawl that broke out at her son’s christening, so she pulls Joey aside to scold him.
“Are you crazy?” She demands. “This is my home — it will turn into an f-ing mosh pit.”
Who knows, Melissa, maybe the only thing Baby Jesus loves more than a blackjack table is a good mosh pit.