‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’: Some people just can’t take a scherzo

The Real Housewives of New Jersey
“Portrait of an Italian Family”
October 9, 2011

So it’s the finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, except that it’s not really, not if you count the “reunion special,” WHICH I DO and which will inevitably be a two-parter, because we just can’t get enough of half-literate goombahs (goombettes?) screaming at one another while also possibly shoving Andy Choen around. And so, while this episode is edited in such a way to try to bring some closure to our various storylines — “The Follettos and Meatballs hate each other!” “Potato Face is a jerk!” “Caroline has a radio show!” “Kathy has kids? Exists? I’m not really sure what her story is, now that I think about it.” — it also leaves open a lot of possibility for conflict. Because we have to have something to shriek about at the reunion, right? Otherwise, what’s the point? OHMYGODWHATIFTHEREISNOPOINT?

After an entire season of passive aggressive cookie-gifting and bitchy text message fighting and table abusing and Christening ruining, il Follettos and il Meatballs have finally come to una comprensione. Brother and sister and sister-in-law and horrible, horrible brother-in-law can be in the same room together without the police getting involved. Progress! As such, the famiglia has decided that they should shove little Baccala, Sfogliatelle and Mortadella, Gabagool, Stugats, Fagoli, and Little Joe into matching purple and pink outfits, drag the nonni over to the house and take everyone’s picture together. And aside from a little grouchiness from Nonno Giacinto, and some embarrassing hopping around like a crazy person from the photographer, it goes without a hitch. Not a single table is tossed and no one is called a whore. It is very, very boring.

Caroline still has a radio show. It is also very, very boring.

Kathy and Jeff Goldblum Jr.’s daughter, Victoria, is going to some sort of big school dance. (Is it the prom? I don’t think it’s the prom, because no one refers to it as “the prom.” I also just realized I don’t care.) While Jeff Goldblum Jr. makes less-than-subtle threats to Victoria’s date, Paulie and his genitals, Kathy fixes Victoria’s hair and cries. Crying crying crying. So much crying. Then everybody goes outside to a large tent that has been set up on the lawn? And the entire family, including Rosie, is there? And they’re drinking wine? Why is the entire not-prom here, taking pictures? What is happening? I do not understand what is happening. Eventually, Victoria and Paulie leave for the not-prom and Kathy talks about how she wants to celebrate her kids’ lives with them, because of brain tumors or something, and there might be some more crying. And it’s sweet, and as a mom I totally understand, and would probably be a sobbing mess, too, but all I can think about is how grateful I am that my parents didn’t set up a wedding reception tent on our front lawn when I went to the prom because, marone.

So, Potato Face. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT POTATO FACE, YOU GUYS? Chris and Caroline’s fratello favoloso, Jamie, comes over to the house to have a chat with Potato Face about her plans and ambitions. Wait, Potato Face is still living at Chris and Jac’s house somehow? How is she still in the house? Didn’t Chris tell her to get her merda and get out? I AM CONFUSED. Anyway, Potato Face comes downstairs and shows Uncle Jamie her tattoos, and Uncle Jamie questions the wisdom of getting a swallow inked on her arm. Call it a sparrow, honey, he advises. THIS IS GOOD ADVICE. Uncle Jamie then questions the wisdom of her big plan to pack up all her merda and move to California without a job waiting for her. This sends Potato Face into a tizzy, because of course it does. SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS, WHAT ELSE DID YOU EXPECT? How many times and with how many different people have we been through this? Fun game, let’s count!: Lauren, Poppa Potato Face, Mrs. Poppa Potato Face, Grandpa, and Lizzie Grubman. What on earth made Jac and Chris think that somehow Uncle Jamie’s input would be the big game changer? And so, while Potato Face slams doors and keens and claims that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS, Chris assures her that he believes in her again and Jac just sits there and rolls her eyeballs into the back of her head again. Stick with this whole plan, you guys. Don’t change a thing, because this is totally working.

Finally, the cookbook. Marone, the cookbook. Teresa’s cookbook Fabulicious is published, and it would seem she decided to fill it with nasty stories about her co-stars and a couple of her mom’s recipes. In the cookbook, Teresa attacks an anonymous sister-in-law for copying her style; Teresa grouses about a cousin who she claims makes fun of her; and, most surprisingly and out of nowhere, Teresa attacks Caroline’s deep-fried meatballs, clutches her pearls at Christopher Manzo’s plan to open a stripper car wash and suggests that Caroline is only 1/16th Italian. INSULTO! THIS WILL NOT STAND.

Jacqueline swings by Teresa’s house to chat about Potato Face and admire the new family portrait and OHBYTHEWAY, what was she POSSIBLY THINKING writing about Caroline this way? Are you pazzo? Teresa is all, well, I tried to call her about it, but Caroline never returned my calls! (Which, NOPE. Look, I used to be a book editor. You know how long it takes for a book to be published after the author delivers their final draft? Nearly a year. A YEAR. In which time, Teresa has gone to numerous events, spent holidays and gone on vacation with Caroline, never managing to find the time to bring up the fact that she decided to attack her in her upcoming cookbook. Good story, Teresa! I’m sure Caroline will understand when she checks her voicemail and sees those two unreturned messages from you!) When this ridiculous excuse fails to impress Jacqueline, Teresa compares herself to Lucille Ball (sure, of course) and then falls back on the old, “It’s a joke! So what! Who cares!

Oh, I’ll tell you who cares, Teresa: Caroline Manzo. Guardati le spalle, Teresa. The reunion show, it’s a’comin, and all 16/16ths of Caroline Manzo is hella pissed.

We conclude the season with the obligatory updates on each of our signore:


Ashley still lives at home.
She has no job and legally changed her name to Ashlee. (HAHAHAHAHA)
Jacqueline continues trying to keep the peace with her family … and her friends.


Teresa’s 2nd cookbook spent one week on the NY Times bestseller list.
Amid allegations of fraud, Joe abandoned his multi-million dollar bankruptcy filing.
Teresa is now working to pay back her debts.


Kathy is still stirring things up … in the kitchen.
With Rich’s deep wallet, she hopes to bankroll a dessert company.
Kathy vows never to use the word “unattended” in Teresa’s presence.


Melissa’s single “On Display” reached #14 on iTunes Dance Chart.
Joe is determined to make Melissa a rockstar on stage and in the bedroom. (GROSS.)
She recently celebrated baby Joey’s 1st birthday with her in-laws … Teresa did not attend.


Caroline hopes to take her radio show to the Big Apple.
And she has some advice for Teresa … learn the recipe for friendship.


Until next week, paisanos. Until next week.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays on Bravo at 8/9 CST.

This post first appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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