‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’: Call me. Maybe.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey
“Whine Country”
August 20, 2012

Madonn’. This episode.

So here’s the thing: my feelings about Teresa Giudice, they are complicated. This is because Teresa is complicated. Is she a self-serving idiot who wants everyone to pretend along with her that everything is perfect and glittery and pink and onyx and marble in her life and her marriage? Yes. This is a fact. Does she lash out at anyone, amico o un familiare, who might think, much less say that perhaps this is not exactly the case? Yep. She does! Does she profit off of the drama in her life, real and manufactured? Absolutely.

But is Teresa also funny and tough and a mother who loves her daughters? She is. And while it might be her Achilles’ heel, she loves that Meatball of hers. Or, at the very least, she values the institution of marriage (for better or for VERY WORSE) and appreciates that a divorce would be terrible for her four daughters. Couple that with some very old school values that dictate that you can either have 1. a husband that treats you with respect and doesn’t call you horrific names, or 2. a husband who cheats on you (and the notion that somehow a husband that calls you horrific names might actually also be cheating on you on account of his tremendous lack of respect for you, this is not an option), and you’ve got a recipe for some cringe-worthy television.

In this blog entry, Teresa defends Meatball calling her terrible names. Note that she never addresses the cheating issue. I can only assume that she either is trying to ignore it, and hope we ignore it by distracting us with the name-calling as if that is what everyone is so shocked by; or she is just delusional. I think it’s the former. And this is sad! This is such a sad lie for a person to have to live!

Do I wish Teresa were more sensible and could either see past her idealistic vision of Meatball and accept what is right in front of her: that her dum-dum husband is abusive and cheating on her? YES. OF COURSE. No matter how much I make fun of this woman, I don’t actually wish upon her heartbreak and misery, and I don’t wish that her famiglia fall to pieces. Those four girls did nothing to deserve a broken home (or a worthless drunk misogynist of a father, but that’s another matter), and, honestly, neither did Teresa. But bastante is bastante. Teresa needs to quit taking all the abuse Meatball can heap upon her, while staring dead-eyed into the cameras in some sort of pathetic effort to convince the world, and maybe even herself, that everything is fine. It is not fine.

Can she be terrible? Yes. Would it be a nightmare to be friends with her? Yes! But, and I’m no psychologist here, but if I had to speculate, I might suggest that she demands such impossible loyalty from her friends — to the point of pushing them all away, because she has been raised in a culture that demands she not expect that same sort of loyalty from her husband. And therein lies the entire problem that is Teresa. BOOM. YOU JUST GOT PSYCHOANALYZED, TREE. DEAL WITH IT.

No, seriously, deal with it. (And defending your husband talking to you so awfully is not the same as acknowledging what was really happening, with the goombah and the whatnot, COME ON, LADY. DON’T THINK YOU CAN HAVE A QUICKIE IN THE VINEYARD AND EVERYONE WILL BE TRICKED INTO BELIEVING MEATBALL ISN’T CHEATING ON YOU, MADONN’.)

Right. So the goombahs in their RVs head to the next and final stage of their assault on California: Sonoma Valley. As they drive there, Melissa attempts to take photos of Meatball and Teresa, but Meatball, he can’t force a genuine smile because he is not genuinely happy because he is terrible. Teresa tries to make him laugh by suggesting he do all sorts of dreadful things to her, but all that does is make Melissa and I sick to our stomachs. No, Teresa. Stop it, Teresa. Teresa tries to explain Meatball’s grumpiness on the fact that he hasn’t been getting the hanky or the panky on this trip, instead of him just being a horrible troll of a man.

In the Manzo RV, Lauren makes a bunch of loud noises about how she’s not interested in remaining amici with Teresa, in case anyone was wondering, which they were not. Caroline announces that her tolerance level of Teresa has reached the zero point, but if Jacqueline wants to remain friends with her, who’s Caroline to say anything. Jacqueline explains that Teresa refused to admit any wrongdoing, because she’s Teresa. But Jacqueline insists that she can be friends with La Pazza, because she now understands the limitations and boundaries in their relationship, and everyone just sort of tightens their mouths, because, Oh, Jac.

In il Meatball/il Folletto RV, Teresa meows at Melissa about Jacqueline asking her about the magazine stories that she was planting, HOW DARE SHE. Melissa suggests that maybe, perhaps, who knows, but could some of the hostility towards Teresa have been thanks to all the nasty things she said about EVERYONE ELSE in those same tabloid articles? And that maybe, when Teresa’s selling her stories to In Us Weekly, maybe she, you know, NOT BASH EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CAST? Teresa merely shrugs and waves it off as being in the past. Get over it! Why all the tears over spilt latte? Melissa simply shakes her head, because whaddya gonna do? Get into a fight with her? That’s certainly been effective in the past.

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As they approach the vineyard, Teresa begins exclaiming over how beautiful the vineyards are, and how she wants to “do” Meatball in said vineyards. NO. NO, MA’AM. YOU LEAVE THOSE INNOCENT GRAPES OUT OF IT. QUIT BEING NASTY. Melissa, who let Teresa’s other nonsense slide, suggests that Teresa’s such a media whore, she and Meatball should film themselves violating the grapes. There’s nothing like a sex tape to get a career going! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GRAPEY, NO. STOP GIVING HER IDEAS, MELISSA.

The goombahs arrive at a very swanky vineyard where they will be staying, and Laurita begins wringing his hands, worrying that these idioti are going to get drunk and ruin his business deal, which is why they are all out here in the first place. O RLY, LAURITA? This is only occurring to you NOW? And not, oh I don’t know, WHEN YOU INVITED ALL THE DRUNKS TO COME WITH YOU ON YOUR BUSINESS TRIP?

But instead of suggesting that maybe all the drunks just hang out and relax at the vineyard and get their drink on safely away from his potential client, Laurita allows all of them to load up into the transport van and accompany him to the client vineyard with whom he is trying to do business. This leads to exactly the sorts of sciocchezza that is utterly and completely prevedibile. On the vineyard tour, while Laurita and the Manzo boys attempt to ask their guide legitimate questions, Meatball boasts that he could get the wine barrels for a lower price, rejects a wine sample and starts whinging that he’s hungry; Folletto tries to lure Melissa into the vineyard to molest the grapes, and has Meatball toss grapes into his mouth like he’s a trained seal. Laurita, he is not divertito. Laurita, he glares.

On their way back to vineyard #1, somehow, who knows even, the topic of KFC arises, which leads to the Most Ridiculous Argument Ever on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Which is Really Saying Something: Albert and Meatball argue over whether or not there was, at some vague point in the past, a KFC on a particular corner in some New Jersey town. WELL? WAS THERE?

The next morning, the owners of vineyard #1 invite the goombahs on a tour of their estate, because … I don’t know, they’ve never seen the series? they’re gluttons for punishment? I DON’T KNOW. And so blah blah, blends barrels blah wine cave blah bottle in a year blah AND NOW FOLLETTO IS HUMPING A STATUE. QUIT HUMPING THE STATUE, FOLLETTO. Laurita can’t take you people anywhere.

Fortunately, the tour comes to an end with minimal property damage done, and suddenly Lauren is blindfolding Caroline and shoving her into an SUV, because they have set up a surprise dinner in the middle of the vineyard to celebrate Caroline’s 50th compleanno a week or so late. This is a very sweet gesture that the Manzo children maybe should have done in private because LOOK WHO YOU ARE WITH. DO YOU THINK THIS WON’T BE RUINED? FIVE MINUTES AGO FOLLETTO WAS HUMPING A PIECE OF ART. COME ON.

And so the Manzo boys toast their madre, and call Caroline the best madre that ever madre’d, but before Lauren can add her own toast, Meatball bellows from the end of the table that he, too, wants to toast Caroline. HEY, FACCIA DI CULO, SHUT IT. Lauren finally manages to toast her mother, and everyone cries, and then someone was like, “Alright, Meatball, you were saying?” And Meatball, drunkenly notes that he and Teresa have been clients of the Manzo’s restaurant, “Whatever Yous Call It,” for some time, and that he hopes they can keep up the amicizia, salud. Salud, Meatball! Well said, Meatball! I think it’s fair to say we are all pleasantly surprised!

And then Meatball receives a text. Meatball excuses himself from the table to call “work,” and apparently is drunk (stupid) enough to forget that he’s still wearing his microphone. To whomever it is he is speaking, work or otherwise, Meatball says some rather suggestive things in a rather suggestive voice, before Teresa leaps up from the table to go check on him. And this happens:

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Porco mondo.

Meatball tells whomever it is (goomah, obviously) that he is going to have to hang up, but then doesn’t, as Teresa begins asking to whom he is speaking. In response, Meatball calls her una ritardare and begins yammering nonsense in Italian into the phone, in the charade that he is actually taking a work-related phone call. Teresa appears to suspect nothing and everything, all at once.

Eventually, Meatball hangs up on his goomah, and he and Teresa wander into the vineyard, where she demands that they have una sveltina. Oh, Teresa. Meatball calls her una puttana, and yet she continues lifting up her dress and climbing up on him and OH, TERESA. And everyone is watching from the table and they all know what is happening and Jeff Goldblum, Jr. maybe even says that he can see her “chuckie.” OH, TERESA.

And then that horror is taken care of. Teresa and Meatball return to the table as though nothing happened. Buon compleanno, Caroline! Hope you like what il Meatballs got for you!

The next night, the last night in California, everyone gets dressed and made up for dinner. Teresa goes into Jacqueline’s room for help on her hair and to talk some smack about Kathy and her OUTRAGEOUS! and OFFENSIVE! suggestion that maybe some of Teresa’s madre’s recipes were actually Kathy’s madre’s recipes. You don’t see Teresa making snarky comments about Kathy! (Except for her constant snarking on Kathy, but sure.)

Meanwhile, Caroline visits with Kathy ,and Kathy essentially says that while she’s happy Teresa and Melissa are mending their relationship, she feels as though Teresa is pushing her out. Which she is. Because Teresa always needs someone to demonize and use as a litmus test on her amici: if you’re amici with her, you can’t be amici with Teresa. It’s always a zero-sum game with Teresa.

Finally at dinner that night, Teresa raises her glass in a toast to the Lauritas for inviting them along on the trip, to il Follettos for being il Follettos, and to Caroline on her 50th compleanno. Salud! Salud to everyone but The Goldblum Jrs!

Greg notices that Caroline has not raised her glass, and whispers at her to do so. Nope, whispers back Caroline, I don’t do mean saluds. GOOD FOR YOU, CAROLINE. And as Kathy sits and pouts at being deliberately left out of Teresa’s acknowledgements, Lauren and the Manzo boys acknowledge Kathy as a saint. Because she is one. Teresa, she is not divertito. Teresa, she glares.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on Bravo.

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

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