The Real Housewives of New Jersey is back and better than it has ever been. At last Bravo has gotten it right. Gone is Danielle Staub and the Manzo-centric focus. The show is no longer about recreating the Sopranos. It’s about highlighting the tacky Jersey trash we’ve come to know and love through recent pop culture phenoms like Jersey Shore. And who could be any tackier than Teresa Giudice? The producers have wisely turned the cameras on the Skinny Italian author and her bonkers extended family, and needless to say, we had a brawl within the first three minutes of the premiere. This is what I’m talking about.
Everything in last night’s epic premiere centered around the christening of Teresa’s nephew, Joey. This is not to be confused with Teresa’s husband, Joe, nor her brother Joe, nor Joe’s other brother-in-law… Joe. Yes, there are so many Joeys around, you’d think we were in a kangaroo fertility clinic (rimshot!).
Anyway, Teresa and her brother used to be super tight, but then came Melissa, who has since married Joe and now joins the cast of RHoNJ in its third season. For reasons that are not totally clear, Melissa and Teresa just don’t get along. Teresa says it’s because Melissa has been icy and kept her brother at arm’s length. Melissa says it’s because Teresa became competitive once Joe (Gorga, not Giudice) began focusing on his own business. Either way, the women don’t like each other.
The guys aren’t faring so well either. Joe Gorga hates Joe Giudice and claims that his brother-in-law has poisoned not just Teresa but their father too. In fact, the general consensus is that most of the Gorga clan has issues with Joe Giudice. Enter Kathy, Teresa’s first cousin and also a new cast member. I can tell you this right now: I LOVE KATHY.
First of all, Kathy looks perpetually confused and exasperated, and yet I trust that she’s probably the smartest of all these mooks. Second, she pedals around a cute bicycle to the supermarket. Third, her husband Rich looks — as one of my readers Tweeted — like Lebanese Jon Lovitz. I rolled my eyes when I first saw Rich — what with the thick framed glasses, giant cross, and shirt unbuttoned — but oddly enough, I found myself adoring the sleazeball. I think it’s because beneath all those poor aesthetic choices, we can see that he seems like a really good guy. Of course, I base this off very little, but I’m going with it.
Anyway, Kathy seems to be on Team Gorga, and while there’s something undeniably skanky and bratty about Melissa, I found myself siding with her and her husband too. Let’s examine the evidence:
Joe Giudice is a total lowlife. He plunged his family $11 million in the hole, has been arrested for driving with a suspended license, and also had that curious DUI situation that he claims was purely him falling asleep at the wheel and then having four shots immediately afterwards. The point is that he’s up to no good, and it’s hard to be Pro-Giudice when he’s got this track record. Plus, Melissa and Joe’s little quips about actually paying their bills were kind of amusing.
Additionally, I have some empathy for Joe Gorga. Clearly he has suffered from the mind games of his father. Case in point: note everything that happened at the christening.
So as is apparently usually the case, Teresa showed up to the christening late and arrived only with two of her daughters. Gia had to go off to gymnastics, and Joe was just lumbering around at home for no good reason (there had been talk of The Runs, but apparently the diarrhea had passed). This alone was fairly poor of Juicy Joe to do, and I understood Melissa and Joe Gorga’s frustration with him.
Well, Joe Gi (as opposed to Joe Go) did eventually pop up, but only at the reception, further angering the Gorgas. And then he didn’t do a shot — the shame! This was probably Joe Gi’s only smart move all night — as we know that Joe and booze is not a good thing (note above “sleeping” incident at the wheel). Joe Gorga took offense to this, which was on par for him as he has proven himself to be ultra sensitive and dramatic, and of course the rage started to build. Throw in some lingering issues about how Teresa apparently ignores the Gorgas at social events (not to mention the fact that she never, EVER told Melissa that her house was beautiful), and we had the foundation for some serious family issues.
Did I also mention that everyone was wasted off their asses?
Things got even worse when Joe and Teresa decided to have a special dance alone with Baby Joe, a move that infuriated Joe Gorga. According to him, Joe Giudice never had expressed any interest in wee Giuseppe and the whole dance felt like an image-saving act. By the time Teresa eventually wandered over to her brother to wish him congratulations again, Joe Gorga wasn’t having any of it. He told his sister to scram (although, not before equating her to garbage first). This led to confrontation and bickering with not just Joe Gorga, but Melissa and her sister. It would have been all pretty funny had little Gia not been in the middle of it all, crying and begging her mom to walk away. The fact that all these adults overlooked the presence of a child right there was fairly unforgivable.
Nevertheless, this all resulted in Joe Gorga pounding the table with his hand, which I believe might just be the Italian call to arms. Thank goodness for tables: otherwise the Giudices would never be able to express themselves. More hostile words were had, and soon Joe Gorga was at his feet screaming at Teresa to go away. That’s what she did, but then just off camera, we heard Joe Giudice yell, “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!” Or something like that. And then it was on.
If you thought the Danielle vs. Teresa brawl at the Brownstone last year was insane, it was nothing compared to this. Soon EVERYONE was fighting: the Joes, Melissa (the cameras caught her kicking someone on the ground), some random dude, and even Teresa’s dad, who despite a heart ailment was still shoving people with the best of them. It was pure pandemonium. I guess this is how they do it in Paterson.
Technically, this was all Joe Giudice’s fault for lunging at Joe Gorga; however, an argument can be made that Joe Gorga’s temper was the real culprit. Either way, both Joes were out of control, and by the time the dust had settled, things had gone from crazy violent to crazy emotional. Joe Gorga sat with his parents and pleaded for them to respect him. He told them that Joe Giudice was coloring their views about him, etc. etc.. Finally, Joe Gorga rose as his father said “I’m proud of you!” But when Joe ignored him — whether intentional or not — his father lashed out and mocked him for running crying to his mother. He then followed this with accusations of being selfish. It was one of those tragic, awful family moments where suddenly a lifetime of emotional abuse plays before your eyes. No wonder Joe Gorga is so emotional and angry — his father has been toying with him all his life — praising then emasculating, lifting up then bashing. It’s enough to make Livia Soprano seem like an angel.
True, I’m gleaning all this from one very small interaction, but then watching Joe Gorga sob to his father “I’m your son! I am your son!” one has to think I might be on the right track.
And this was just the first episode.
As for the Manzos, they were all up to the usual, affable junk. Caroline was crushed that her sons were moving off to Hoboken — a maternal instinct I certainly sympathized for, but honestly, Caroline, you should have been so lucky to have had them as long as you did. And it’s not like they’ve trekked off to Bolivia (although, I would like to see that). When Caroline wasn’t tearing up over her sons, she was slaving away at a Southern style dinner, which didn’t look terribly successful. Still, I’d rather be there than stuck in the great Giudice-Gorga brawl of 2011.
Lastly, we had Jacqueline and her idiot daughter Ashley. For all of one second, I had hopes that Ash had grown up and done something with herself, thanks to a swanky new internship with none other than Lizzie Grubman. That all changed when she had a temper tantrum upon learning that her parents wouldn’t front the money for an apartment in New York City. Ashley crumbled into a pile of tears, bemoaning the difficulties of a morning commute — something that Lizzie (who was right THERE, the horrors) seemed totally unsympathetic to until her maternal instinct kicked in. She then consoled her spoiled protege, saying that Ashley was like a carbon copy of her at that age (except, you know, minus the potential). I have a hard time Lizzie Grubman would ever take time to give a pep talk to an intern like Ashley, and the whole scene made me pine for Kelly Cutrone to waltz in and kick the dumb girl to the curb.
After this bizarre scene, Ashley had lunch with Jacqueline and Chris, who tried to impart helpful advice, but Ashley just whined and acted like a petulant seven-year old. One must wonder where she gets it from… that is, until Jacqueline opens her mouth (or at least tries to). Yes, when Jacqueline wasn’t busy peppering Chris’s advice with passive-aggressive quips and digs, she was trying to add her own useful commentary to the mix. However, Chris wouldn’t let her talk (rightfully so), causing Jacqueline to storm out of the restaurant in tears. Three cheers for emotional maturity.
Looks like we have an awesome season in front of us…
“I don’t know if I can deal with this new apartment. Are you sure you don’t want to maybe move out when you’re forty-five?”
“The worst moment in a mother’s life: when her two sons decide to move thirty-five minutes away.”
“You know, Ashley, Lizzie Grubman says you’re doing a great job. The way you wrote November in pink on the wall calendar was totally inspired. You’re really coming up in the world!”
“Ashley, please stop crying. Lizzie is right here. If you don’t act professional, she will LITERALLY run you over in her car.”
Lizzie: “I will.”
Jacqueline: “My husband is always so calm and sensical. HE’S THE WORST.”
“It’s not fair! I have to, like, wake UP in the morning. And, like, commute! You don’t realize how hard that is! And then I have to work for, like, two days a week!”
“Oh hi, ME!”
“Hey Melissa, where’s my polo shirt? Is it hanging out with Joe Giudice again? That breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. How could my polo shirt let that man get into his head? YOU’RE MY POLO SHIRT! YOU’RE MY POLO SHIRT!!!!”
“This is my very beautiful and classy portrait. Just like Mariah Carey, except we did ours at Sears.”
Kathy: “Cheers to family. And Melissa wearing her White Swan outfit.”
Joe: “Melissa is going to be the lead in Swan Lake.”
“Yeah, I just need to have a lesbian scene with Mila Kunis or something and I should be all set.”
“I’m listening — I just got some chewed up bread stuck behind my teeth. You know when that happens? I don’t want to stick my finger in there, but… keep talking. Don’t mind me.”
“I’m so excited to welcome this makeup brush into the kingdom of Jesus.”
“Audriana can’t go to the christening. She has a pageant in two hours and a spin class after.”
Melissa: “This is my dream come true: to dress my son like one of those little chefs on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch box.”
“Hurry up, girls. I didn’t dress you up like blood clots for nuthin’.”
Kathy: “I do not care for Phil Donahue.”
Teresa: “Hi guyyyyys. Just wanted to say congrats… on having a really lame christening.”
Joe: “Walk away like the garbage you are.”
Melissa: “Joe. JOE. That’s not right. She’s a whore, not garbage.”
Joe Giudice: “You think you’re so smart? I’ll kick your ass, you sumbitch! I know Italian karate!”
“Yeah? And what’s that?”
“It’s when you pose like kung fu and then have a goon shoot you in the back of the head.”
“Hey Joe, kiss me before anyone sees.”
“Who the hell are yous?”
“Just a drunk waitress.”
“I WANT TO GO TO DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!!!”
Lady: “Listen to me, Joe. LISTEN TO ME: I left my shawl in your car. Don’t let me forget it.”
“NOT THE TIME, REGINA!”
“Gasp! Someone just knocked over the sculpture of Baby Jesus made from canolis!”
Old lady in the back: “All I asked was to turn the heat up, and this is what happens.”
“Oh my gosh! I can’t believe this fight! And I was just about to sing Celine Dion to baby Giuseppe!”
“Hey Tre, let’s drunk drive home, okay?”
“I will not calm down until SOMEONE tells me why my DVR did not record Glee! And don’t give me this ‘there was a conflict’ business because there were NO CONFLICTS!”
Teresa: “Oh gawd. This is horrible. Horrible. But as long as you ladies are here, can I interest you in my cookbook?”
“Honestly, what I really want right now is a falafel.”
“I’m your son! You should be proud of me!”
“I am proud of you! Except when you act like a pussy and cry to your mother!”
“See, this isn’t helping, Dad.”
“Help is for pussies. Like YOU. But I’m proud of you!”
“I wonder how the christening is going. Couldn’t be much worse than us Italians making soul food from the South! Hahahaha!!!”
What did you think about the premiere? Team Melissa or Team Teresa? Team Juicy Joe or Team Lil Joe?