Christmas Evil? Sexy pumps, a studio prison & a shirtless stupor define RealHousewives holiday
Nothing’s more cinematic than Christmas.
Who can forget Jimmy Stewart hollering through town in It’s a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus on trial in The Miracle on 34th Street, or Ralphie’s friend Flick getting his tongue frozen to a telephone pole in A Christmas Story?
As Christmas morning finally arrived on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, the episode swung wildly from ridiculous to sublime and back again. We couldn’t help thinking of our favorite holiday films and how Jersey they might have been.
If we had to choose our favorite Christmas scene, it would probably be from John Waters’ Female Trouble. Every Christmas since we’ve been together, we’ve made time during the festivities to watch Divine, as Dawn Davenport, stomp on presents and knock over the tree when her parents fail to give her the cha-cha heels she demanded. “Not on Christmas!” Dawn’s mother pleads from underneath the fallen tree.
At the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes larger. We wondered if, instead, Joe’s shirts all grew three sizes smaller on Christmas Eve.
We thought of Dawn as Melissa opened her first gift from Joe, a pair of slinky black pumps with rhinestone-studded ankle cuffs. Melissa puts them on right away and proceeds to the Louis Vuitton carry-on luggage Joe put in her stocking. She’s still wearing the pumps when she finds a gold Rolex among the ornaments on the tree. She’s so excited that she hugs him, wrapping both legs around his waist.
But unlike Dawn Davenport, Melissa refuses to have sex on Christmas. “Where’s my gift?” Joe inquires hopefully. “Not today,” Melissa says firmly, “because it’s Jesus’ birthday.”
Who doesn’t love the funny, homely quality of A Christmas Story? Poor Ralphie won’t be happy if he doesn’t get a Red Ryder BB Gun. At first his mother says no, fearing he’ll “shoot out” his eye. When he finally gets his wish, he nearly does put out his eye. Ralphie doesn’t mind, but the film has always seemed cynical and disenchanted.
Franklin Lakes is not immune to disenchantment with holiday bliss, and the most disenchanted seem to be Jacqueline Laurita’s children. It all begins at a rather dull Christmas celebration at the Manzo household, hosted by a haggard, greasy, makeup free Caroline. We couldn’t help but notice the huge zit on her chin.
Her sons Albie and Chris sneak outside to fulfill a Manzo family tradition by ringing sleigh bells so the children will think Santa has just arrived with presents.
Upon hearing the rusty bells, Jacqueline’s son CJ walks promptly to the window, spies the Manzo boys crawling on the ground in some sad imitation of guerilla warfare, and says, “There’s someone out there, laying on the floor.” So much for Santa.
Jacqueline’s daughter, the rebellious Ashley, is even more disenchanted. She doesn’t believe in Santa or in buying her parents gifts. She lamely justifies her behavior, saying that her new car, which her parents bought and partly pay for, is really expensive. Her final words tell a different story: “But, whatever.”
Who doesn’t love Miracle on 34th Street, a film whose genius lies in extraordinary daring and product placement, as a Macy’s Santa Claus is institutionalized and then put on trial for claiming to be the real Santa Claus. Were holiday legal proceedings perhaps on the minds of Joe and Teresa Giudice?
Given their ongoing, much-publicized $11 million bankruptcy case, and more recent reports of a court-ordered auction of their belongings, we wonder if they weren’t worried they might hear a knock on the door from an officer come to collect all the gifts, like some court-appointed Grinch!
Speaking of the Grinch, Joe Giudice was looking a little green on Christmas morning. As Joe lies around like a slug, his wife and daughters are positively ecstatic. They gradually peel him out of bed, hoping to imbue him with the Christmas spirit. Later, downstairs, he lies shirtless on the sofa with his eyes closed, holding a video camera up with one arm in the hopes of catching some precious memories over the back of the sofa with a minimum of effort.
At the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes larger. We wondered if, instead, Joe’s shirts all grew three sizes smaller on Christmas Eve. We also wondered if his shirtlessness was the cause of poor little Gia’s vomiting spell.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a movie musical, something along the lines of White Christmas. Joe Gorga may have given his wife shoes, luggage and a gold Rolex watch, but her “real” gift is the home recording studio he’s built in their basement.
He makes Melissa wear a white fur blindfold before taking her downstairs to see the finished room. She’s thrilled, of course, and dances around the studio, imagining how she’ll look when she’s actually recording a song. It’s bittersweet, because he doesn’t really think of it as a gift, however, but more of a cozy sort of prison.
As he explains in his video diary, “I put a lot of time and money into this studio, so I don’t have to worry about my wife being somewhere else. Lock her right in! Where is she right now? She’s here with me!” Is this White Christmas, we wondered, or The Cask of Amontillado?
Although Melissa fails to provide an invigorating carol, we finally get music when the Manzos head into Manhattan on Christmas night for a private dinner and performance by Alexa Ray Joel, none other than Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley’s daughter. Albie Manzo is nervous, however, because it’s evident that he has a crush on Alexa, and his entire family is aware of his feelings.
Alexa takes the stage to sing “All I Can Do Is Love,” and the camera pans to her mom, whose head is bouncing around as if she doesn’t understand the rhythm. It’s a lyrical number, but whatever. She seems to be singing directly to Albie. We felt fortunate she wasn’t singing directly to us.
We were thankful for at least one truly happy scene in the entire episode, given the undercurrent of resentment running through the New Jersey clan. That reminded us of Christmas Evil, that brilliant 1980 cult horror flick in which psychopathic Harry, dressed as Santa, goes on a holiday murder spree. No matter how much phony reconciliation happens in Franklin Lakes, these folks still want to kill each other.
Early on, Teresa says ominously of her estranged cousin, “Kathy’s kind of evil, right?” Probably not, Teresa, but why take any chances?
You’d better watch out, and you’d definitely better not cry.