Reality shows are not reality. Most fans of them are aware, and it’s no longer a shock when show are “revealed” to be staged. Still, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” does a middling to good job of staying as “real” as possible. Or at least they did, until this season.
There are the little things, like purposefully quoting the things that got the biggest reaction from season three. Joe Gorga’s obsession with “poison,” for example, has only increased.
But it really becomes evident with the central conflict so far which is, as always, between Joe Gorga, his wife Melissa Gorga, and his sister Teresa Giudice. The most recent issue rose when Joe Gorga tried to talk to his sister about a quote he’d seen from her husband Joe Giudice in a magazine. The article, an interview with the Giudices about Joe’s legal troubles, indicated that Joe Gorga would never be there for Teresa.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Laurita says “She’s agreeing to do these articles [but] she’s making something public that she’s never even discussed with her best friend.”
Because what family doesn’t fight over the things their significant others said to them in the tabloids?
Despite Joe assuring Teresa that he’d always be there for his sister, what’s really been bothering him and especially Melissa is a comment Teresa apparently made to Joe about Melissa being a gold digger. The comment was made off camera, but it has gotten plenty of camera mileage since.
First, Teresa talks to Jacqueline about it.
“Knowing that her brother’s insecure, she probably shouldn’t have planted that seed about his wife,” Laurita says, diplomatic as always.
Then, the Lauritas, Giudices, Gorgas, and Wakiles all go on a boat ride. Teresa tells Kathy in Italian not to talk about Joe Giudice’s potential jail time. Again, there is a weird feeling of awareness of the cameras that wasn’t present before, as Teresa always speaks in Italian when she doesn’t want the cameras to hear. This is of course is useless because they translate it. It’s a strange dichotomy between that and the pictures she poses for on the cover of the magazine.
While the comment about Melissa leaving Joe for a richer man itself is not brought up, the tension is evident. Teresa for one is still upset between the play-fight-turned-real fight last week between Rich Wakile and Joe Giudice, which resulted in a black eye for Giudice.
“Teresa, just punch my husband in the face so we can all sleep well tonight,” Kathy finally says.
Back on land, Rosie and her mother attempt to take cake of the four Giudice girls and three Gorga children, assisted by the two teenage Wakile kids. Frankly, it seems like Rosie does a lot of commentary while Gia Giudice seems to be the best disciplinarian. One wonders if Rosie’s prominence on this season has anything to do with the cult following she developed after he limited screen time last season.
Or it could be her terrific quotability.
“I love the kids, don’t get me wrong, but I’m going to need serious Scotch tonight,” she says. “Serious Scotch.”
Meanwhile, back in North Jersey, the most sincere story line in this season so far is featured. Lauren Manzo is on a very real quest to lose weight by drinking shakes. This extreme measure, while possibly not healthy, is showing a very real side of the often-overlooked Manzo sibling. She tells her mother that in addition to losing weight, she wants to be “very rich” and successful like her brothers.
“It’s always Albie and Chris, Albie and Chris,” Manzo says. “And I feel like maybe if I were skinny it would be Lauren too.”
Her insecurities are further explored when she accuses her boyfriend of looking at other girls and when her brothers and father make fun of the couple for their weight and the weight of her future children.
“I feel like when I’m with my brothers I just shut down,” Lauren says.
Caroline defends her.
“What she doesn’t realize is she has a great personality, a great boyfriend, and she has a belly. So what?”
Rosie shows her true power later in the episode when all of the housewives plus Lauren Manzo head to a Solstice Party thrown by Jacqueline’s psychic, Tia. Melissa goes to the party with Caroline and Jacqueline, and of course recounts her side of the gold digger issue with them.
“Right now, I’m giving Teresa a lot of passes,” Melissa says. “And I don’t know if it’s right that I do this or if it’s just going to make it worse….”
At the party, Rosie presents another reason she may be a greater presence on the show: she’s a superhero. Rosie pulls Teresa aside to talk about—what else—the gold digger comment.
“There’s a little piece of friction still and you need to take it easy; that’s all I’m saying,” Rosie says.
Instead of doing the usual Teresa thing and freaking out with someone who disagrees with her, Giudice seems to genuinely listen. Rosie seems to be the only one who can talk to her rationally, despite everyone watching being a bit on edge.
“Teresa tends to put her hands in her face when she’s upset, and you want to watch that with Rosie,” Kathy says.
Instead, Teresa actually thanks Rosie for her concern. Amazing.
The peace does not last long, however. Giudice confronts Laurita, asking if Gorga had told her about the comment. Laurita has a difficult time answering the question and finally tells Gorga and Giudice that they have to work it out together.
“The solstice party is turning into a big game of telephone,” Wakile says. “I thought this was supposed to be about positive energy,” she says. “I mean, there are fairies for God’s sake.”
The sisters in law finally sit down, but the conversation does not last long. When Melissa uses the word “jail” instead of “going away,” as Teresa prefers her husband’s time in prison to be called, Teresa storms out.
“Tomato, tomahto,” Gorga says. “We’re both grown women, there are no children around us.”
“I think that in Jersey we say going away instead of going to prison because it’s old school,” she says. “It’s a matter of pride. It’s a Jersey thing.”
Tia, Kim D, and Jacqueline follow Teresa outside. Jacqueline feels guilty for being the cause of the fight and is clearly feeling the strain.
“I do feel bad for Jacqueline, because she is in the middle,” Caroline says, “and I believe she is going to feel the burn of Teresa’s friendship.”
Laurita goes and tells Gorga that Giudice would like to see her in the parking lot.
“If she’s going to cause a big scene let me vent about what’s really bothering me,” Melissa says. “Why not? She clearly doesn’t want peace.”
What follows is one of the most circular and incomprehensible conversations in “Housewives” history.
Teresa claims that “people” were “telling her” things about a grown woman with three children performing in clubs.
Melissa demands an apology from Teresa for getting in the way of her marriage. Teresa refuses, saying her comment was never supposed to make it past Joe Gorga.
At some point, birthday presents for each of their children are brought up. Apparently, Melissa chooses to deliver them to the Giudice girls’ preschool, while Teresa chooses not to buy them at all.
Neither of them is able to speak below a shout.
When Teresa finally decides she’s going to leave, Melissa taunts her, “Run away coward, like you always do when you’re wrong.”
This prompts them to really get in each others’ faces and it seems like blows might be exchanged. Fortunately, they are not.
“This whole fight was ridiculous. And who was it caused by? My brother. Thanks Joey. Love you!” Teresa says.
Both women leave the party angry and unresolved….until next week?
The show airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.