Where's Dr. Drew? Worst "intervention" ever & prom sex talk debacle leave RealHousewives desperate for help
The kids are up in arms, but are the parents to blame?
This week on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, children are definitely speaking their minds. How refreshing! But it seems their parents aren’t listening, because they themselves have too much to say.
Here at Aftershocks, we respect the fulfilling if grueling task of parenting. If Bravo is any indication, New Jersey may any day be declared a special federal disaster zone for child-rearing. While we ourselves are not parents, we certainly remember what it was like growing up in Italian households. We just can’t help but offer some gentle advice to the frustrated families of Franklin Lakes — if only for the sake of the children.
Don’t expect your daughters to serve as free labor when promoting your latest book.
The episode begins with what appears to be a homey Sunday dinner at the Giudices. It’s actually a stress-filled photo shoot for yet another cookbook by Teresa, this time called Fabulicious, a follow up to her hit Skinny Italian.
Skinny Italian’s subtitle, “Eat It and Enjoy It, Live La Bella Vita and Look Good Too,” makes us wonder if the children inspire Teresa even more than we know. While they are forced to pose for promotional shots, 4-year-old Milania and 10-year-old Gia have facial expressions and body language that definitely say “Eat It” to the camera, and to Mom.
Kathy worries that Victoria has “inherited the party gene,” and that it’s finally time to have a serious conversation. Presumably this is a conversation about sex, but husband Rich is so squeamish that they avoid the term for an entire five-minute conversation full of euphemisms.
Teresa grins goofily and speaks in a sing-song manner as she reminds them that they’d better deliver. “Smile, or no movie theater,” she says, as they whine and whimper during the endless shoot. “It’s important to have photos to represent what an incredible family we are,” Teresa says in a voiceover. Incredibly dysfunctional would be more apt.
When Teresa makes Milania pretend to roll out a fresh batch of pasta dough from scratch, the production crew calls a timeout. “We need to shut it down,” a frustrated photographer barks. Later, her arms crossed and her eyes rolling in disgust, Gia saves the day with the phoniest smile she can muster for the cover of Mom’s new book.
Don’t avoid talking about sex with your children. On the other hand, don’t be too eager.
Kathy and Rich Wakile are awfully proud of 16-year-old Victoria, who truly is blossoming into a beautiful young woman. Therein lies the problem.
Kathy worries that Victoria has “inherited the party gene,” and that it’s finally time to have a serious conversation. Presumably this is a conversation about sex, but husband Rich is so squeamish that they avoid the term for an entire five-minute conversation full of euphemisms. Rich can’t stomach thinking about his daughter in such a way.
“If she ever wants to do that, she’ll just imagine my face and it’ll never happen,” he says. Dare to dream, Rich.
Meanwhile, Kathy seems way too keen to have this little conversation. She decides to do so while shopping for Victoria’s spring formal. We paused to reflect on what was most mortifying for Victoria in this scene: Talking about sex, trying on hideous prom gowns, or doing both at the same time while on camera.
As Victoria paraded around in a swishy blue-sequined gown, lacking only a mermaid’s tale to make it complete, Kathy seemed to think she was in a Tennessee Williams play. Or, perhaps, Camelot. “When you’re sending the right message,” she advises Victoria, “you attract the right suitors. In a dress like this, you know, people are going to be saying that word, sexy.”
Victoria had a sleepy, glazed over look in her eyes when her mother advised her about dresses, but as soon as Kathy warned about what boys really want, she perked right up. Kathy, we think Victoria has heard that word “sexy” before, and we trust that she’s not secretly auditioning for MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. Maybe you should trust her too.
We would also advise parents worried about a weight-conscious child not to call her fat right to her face. Not even indirectly.
Caroline Manzo has conquered the airwaves of late with her own advice show. We think she should page through just about any title by Dr. Benjamin Spock before being let loose on her own daughter.
In a cozy tete-a-tete in her mother’s ample closet, Lauren confesses to feeling unhappy with her weight. Caroline’s throwing out old clothes and reminds viewers (and Lauren) several times that she weighed 94 pounds in her youth.
Last time we checked, calling a young body-conscious woman a sausage in a bag is not a way to cultivate self-esteem.
Quite poignantly, Lauren says, “No matter how much weight I were to lose, I’d never feel good about the way I look.”
Caroline begins to sob, but then predictably she begins to correct her daughter’s bad attitude by telling her she’s “beautiful inside.” This is one of those often-well-intentioned phrases that is practically a code word for “fatso” or “ugly.” But it was not the worst. “Maybe you got eight pounds of sausage in a five pound bag right now, so what?” Caroline says.
Last time we checked, calling a young body-conscious woman a sausage in a bag is not a way to cultivate self-esteem. Are you sure, Caroline, you aren’t trying to compete with Lauren?
If you think your 20-year-old daughter lacks ambition and spends too much time partying, don’t meet her in a bar for an impromptu family reunion or fortify yourself later with drinks before participating in her intervention.
When Jacqueline decides to reunite Ashley with her father, he comes all the way from Texas only to arrive at The Wicked Wolf Tavern in Hoboken. It doesn’t seem the best environment for Ashley, who can’t legally order a drink while the rest of her family is getting trashed. Nobody seems to think that Ashley, at this point, is going to succeed at anything.
“She reminds me of myself at 21,” says 23-year-old cousin Lauren, “lazy with no ambitions.”
But Jacqueline and Ashley’s dad Matt, along with their new spouses, think that Ashley is lucky to have four parents who care enough to meet at a swanky gastro-pub, the Double Crown, the next morning to enjoy a few Bloody Marys before confronting Ashley about what a failure she’s become.
If only these woe-stricken parents had followed the script of an actual episode of Intervention. They failed to secure a friendly but indifferent moderator who would tell Ashley, “What I see here is a whole lot of people who love you like crazy.” And they also forgot to identify the particular addiction they’d like Ashley to give up. None of them reads a hastily written letter that begins with, “Ashley, your laziness has affected me in the following ways …”
Instead, the conversation gets ugly quickly, and it’s poignant because Ashley has real problems.
She’s totally directionless and apparently lacking in any useful, no less, marketable skills. When asked about her goals earlier in the episode, she says, “I’m thinking about California.” Not a job, really. We just hope she could point it out on a map.
But who knows? With the state California is in, maybe Ashley should run for governor.