Let’s begin by just stating up front that I am not Bobby. I am not from Staten Island, I did not go to high school with any of these people, I am not half Italian. However! I am a quarter Sicilian, I lived in New York City for a few years (Brooklyn represent, yo), I watched every episode of The Sopranos, and I know my way around a Real Housewives franchise or two, so I hope that counts for something. I’m never going to be as hilarious as awesome as Bobby, but you’re stuck with me. Whaddya gonna do? Facciamolo!
It’s a season of change for our New Jersey friends. Seasons one and two’s villainess, Danielle Staub, has been exorcised from the state, according to half-informed rumors whispered by Jacqueline (and back onto the pole, according to TMZ). And Caroline’s sister, Dina, continues to have no interest in being dragged back into this mess, grazie mille.
The kids are growing up, and moving out, and this is very hard for their madri. Albie and Christopher introduce an overly emotional Caroline to their new Hoboken apartment, which makes her “WANT TO DIE.” Which is a completely reasonable reaction to your 23-year-old failed-law-school-student and 22-year-old aspiring-car-wash/stripperteria-owner finally moving out of the house and acting like grown-ups already. Not addressed: how these young men afford an apartment with commanding view of the Empire State Building. Of course, living beyond one’s means is something of a theme on this franchise, so.
Jacqueline is dealing with her own little potato-faced bird who wants to leave the nest. It seems dum-dum Ashley has found a job! In the city! Working for Lizzie Grubwhat? Lizzie Grubman is here? Why is faccia brutta, drunk driving, slur-hurling, felonious Lizzie Grubman here? When did this become PoweR Girls? ANYWAY. Ashley has a “job” at Lizzie Grubman’s PR firm, and by “job” I mean “unpaid internship to which she does not go to because that involves waking up in the morning.” Lizzie Grubman and Ashley agree that this is a Serious Problem, and have invited Jacqueline to the office to discuss a possible solution:
an alarm clock a New York City apartment. When Jacqueline makes the OUTRAGEOUS suggestion that Ashley get a job that pays in actual cash money and not just Lizzie Grubman compliments, Ashley’s potato-face crumples, and she clomps off into a private room to sob piteously. Lizzie Grubman and Jac follow, only to have Ashley shoo Jacqueline out of the room while she moans to Lizzie Grubman about how awful her mother is. Lizzie Grubman consoles Ashley with stories about how she dropped out of college. Good speech, Lizzie Grubman. You are an inspiration to young people everywhere.
Jacqueline and Ashley meet Jacqueline’s sainted husband, Chris, for lunch so as to go over this genius plan to rent Ashley an apartment in New York City so that she can get to her unpaid internship on time. As Jac shrieks at Ashley that normal people wake up in the morning and DO THEIR JOB, and Ashley counter-shrieks that Jac is SO ANNOYING, Chris sighs, closes his eyes just for a moment, and goes into his dark quiet cave of regret. When he emerges, Chris offers to pay for Ashley’s commuting costs, and suggests that she look for a paying job, save her money and plan on moving into the city once she can afford to do so. And then Jacqueline stomps out of the diner because everyone was being calm and reasonable for far too long.
Caroline has the kids and Jacqueline’s family over for Sunday dinner, for which she puts aside the gravy pot and makes, instead, Southern food. This not only causes great consternation, but also inspires an insulting conversation in which it is revealed that these stunads think all Southerners are hill people who only eat pasta sauce from jars and speak in a mush-mouthed garble. Albie then graces us with his “Cajun” “accent” that consists of him growling a bunch of gobbeldy-gook interspersed with the occasional comprehensible word. I guess I should be grateful that Caroline at least thinks we have jar technology down here, and not go on a long indignant rant about how Sicilians actually immigrated in great number to New Orleans, Louisiana (you know, the state where Cajuns are from) in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and have contributed to that city’s great heritage and culture. Because, you know, YUK YUK, WE ALL BE DUM UNEDUMACATED YOKELS IN DESE HERE PARTS! Or, translated into “Cajun”: “ughuhuguhugh guhughguhgu Southerners are stupid ughuhguh ughuhgughh.”
Also, Caroline, if you are cooking Southern food and your kitchen doesn’t smell straight-up awesome, ur doin’ it rong.
On a completely different show, Teresa is recovering from a molto male year. Last season, Teresa furiously spent her family into bankruptcy on ugly hats for little Baccala, boring vacations, furs, ridiculous parties, more onyx for her bathrooms, legal counsel, etc., all while her husband Joe — who knew perfectly well that the bankruptcy fairy was coming — developed acute agita.
But the Giudices are on their way back. The “construction” business not having worked out so well for Joe, he’s opened a pizza joint where Teresa holds book signings and meets with her molti, molti fans who bring her nicknacks. But you know who doesn’t come to these book signings? Teresa’s sister-in-law Melissa.
MEET YOUR NEW CAST MATES!
Melissa Gorga is married to Teresa’s younger brother, Joe (FUN FACT: All Italian men are named Joe, Christopher, Paul or Joe.) to whom Teresa used to be quite close. That is, until he married Melissa. Melissa and Teresa each spend a great deal of time trying to explain why the other one is a horrid little puttana who has ruined the other one’s famiglia, but it’s all a wash, really. They are both Il Peggio. They get to share that title.
Melissa lives in a 15,000 foot monstrosity. Melissa is married to a tiny bemuscled goblin who likes to smell her toes and rub lotion on her culo. Melissa has three children: Stugats, Fagoli, and Little Joe. Melissa understands that her role as a wife is to be a cook in la cucina, a lady in il salotto, and una puttana in the bedroom, because she is very enlightened.
The other new cast member is Kathy, Teresa and Joe’s cousin. Kathy is married to Rich, who is Lebanese. Kathy has two children; Victoria and Joe(seph). Kathy rides her bicycle to the grocery store to buy clams for her husband. Kathy thinks women are afraid of vegetables. And Kathy is clearly Squadra Melissa.
ANYWAY. Melissa and Joe are christening Little Joe, so it only makes sense that they should invite all of Melissa’s sisters over to the house to pound champagne and talk smack about Teresa. This is the traditional way Italians begin christenings. That, and murdering the heads of the five families. Duh.
Teresa and her family have been invited to the festivities, because they’re family, and also, dramaz. However, Gabagool has a gymnastics tournament that she has to attend, lest she be kicked off the team, and Joe has the stomach oobatz so he’s going to stay home with Baccala because who wants to wrestle a baby into tights and a hideous feathered headdress if you don’t have to, right? Teresa attempts to get herself, Sfogliatelle and Mortadella church ready with only the assistance of some 8 or 9 people, all the while wandering around muttering about some conspiracy in which Melissa used Teresa’s hair dresser so that Teresa would be late to the church. Which she is.
After Little Joe has been properly welcomed into the kingdom of Jesus, Teresa makes sure to congratulate her brother and sister-in-law there at the church. They are less than impressed that neither Joe nor Gabagool are in attendance, however, and there is much lip pursing and eye rolling.
ON TO THE PARTY.
Melissa will have you know that Teresa DOES NOT THROW BETTER PARTIES THAN SHE DOES. Melissa spared no expense on the cake or the ice sculptures (plural) or the hilarious portraits of Little Joe. NO EXPENSE.
Teresa, who will have you know that this event is patate piccole compared to her parties, has managed to shove Joe into a suit and Baccala in some sort of feathered contraption and go to the reception.
Once there, Joe offers Joe a shot, which is declined. Wait. This is going to be confusing. Once there, Joe G. offers Joe G. a shot. WAIT. NO. Once there, Folletto offers Meatball a vodka shot, which is declined. This sets an increasingly drunk Folletto on edge.
Later, after dinner is served, and the dancing begins, Teresa’s feelings are wounded when her brother Folletto dances with everyone but her. She resolves this by finding Little Joe, who I suppose was just left under a table somewhere, and dances with him and Meatball to the astonishment and ire of Melissa.
Folletto, because he’s had more than a thimblefull of vodka at this point, is molto molto ubricado, and molto molto belligerent. Folletto drunkenly works out his Oedipal issues, ranting to anyone nearby about how Meatball has somehow stolen away his father’s affections by suggesting that Folletto works hard (INSULT!). The guests become increasingly alarmed, and encourage Folletto to eat something already, because his tiny little liver is overloaded. This is when Teresa swings by the table to once again offer her congratulations to Melissa and Folletto. She is thanked with another eyeroll, and being called garbage by her brother, as poor little Gabagool tries to pull her mother away from the awfulness.
And that’s when the fight begins.
Meatball lunges for Folletto, Folletto swings at Meatball, Papà Folletto gets involved for some reason, Little Joe goes missing, Gabagool begins sobbing, tables are thrown, camera men go down, Kathy herds the children away from the scene, someone is yelling that these people are “animali!” SO MUCH! IT IS ALL SO SO MUCH!
Finally, Teresa and Meatball flee the scene while Folletto and Papà Folletto yell at each other about Mama Folletto in Italian at the valet stand. WAY TO DEFY STEREOTYPES ABOUT NEW JERSEY EVERYONE! WAY TO GO! EXPECT SOME SORT OF AWARD FROM GOVERNOR CHRISTIE ANY MINUTE NOW.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays on Bravo at 8/9 CST.
This post first appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.