The Real Housewives of New Jersey
“Finale Part II: Strip Down Memory Lane”
September 23, 2012
OK, YOUS GUYS, FAST RECAP OF PART ONE: After an almost Kimless season, Kim D. comes out of the woodwork and invites all the ladies to the stupid fashion show for her stupid boutique with the stupid name. Kim D. then rather suspiciously drags Teresa to a hair salon where a bad Howie Mandel impersonator tells Teresa that Melissa used to be a booby dancer at his strip club. Teresa is shocked! And outraged! But at the Howie Mandel impersonator, not Melissa. THEN, at the stupid fashion show for the stupid boutique with the stupid name, Bad Howie Mandel Impersonator shows up out of nowhere and is all, “O HIIIII, MELISSA, REMEMBER ME?” before twisting his non-existent moustache and skulking out of the scene. And then Teresa is all, OH MAH GAWD! but Melissa can’t remember him and no one knows what Teresa’s talking about so they ignore her.
ALRIGHT. SO. Teresa continues to go on and on about how her heart is pounding out of her chest, which leads Oblivious Kathy to start burbling about coffee and how it gives her heart palpitations. Oh, Kathy.
The “fashion” show begins in all its sequiny, tight jersey-y, bechiffoned glory. Jacqueline and Lauren and Caroline make asinine comments about the outfits, none of which are particularly noteworthy EXCEPT for the fact that the Bravo Standards and Practices Department decided that a word that rhymes with “swat” but begins with a “t” is perfectly acceptable to broadcast. Do they not know what that word means? I am pretty sure we all know what that word means, especially since Jac used it in context: “I can see her ‘swat!'” exclaims Jacqueline. So, it’s not like they could have possibly been baffled by what it meant. AND IN CONCLUSION, Bravo chose to air a word that made me get up and go to my jewelry box and put on my strand of pearls just so that I could clutch them. Madre di Dio.
“Fashion” show over, Teresa announces that she needs to use the bagno and insists that Melissa come with her. There, Teresa begins to ask Melissa about the poor man’s F. Murray Abraham, and how Melissa knows him. Melissa says, again, that he looked familiar, to which Teresa demands Melissa feel her chest: her heart, it’s beating out of her chest! Which, for Teresa, like Ramona over on RHONY, means that the other person HAS TO TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY BECAUSE THEY ARE SO SERIOUS AND PROBABLY THE VICTIM HERE SOMEHOW, TOO.
Teresa begins telling Melissa that she met Telly Savalas earlier at the salon and asks Melissa if she ever worked for him. Uh, NO, says Melissa. Teresa explains that Kojak claims otherwise and told Teresa that Melissa used to dance for him at the Bada Bing back in the day. And with that Melissa just stops. She has a total rainbow spiral of death shut down while she her gerbil brain comes up with a response. Eventually, she powers back up and demands to know if Teresa thinks she was a dancer, and Teresa is all “No! Of course not! And by that, I mean, maybe! Because yous did say yous knew him!” Melissa explains that she did bartend for a week in a bar her cousin ran, but it was just a bikini bar! With old men! Who’d give you $100 tips! She was teaching second grade! Teresa knew this! To which Teresa counters, yeah, she did, but she didn’t know what Melissa did at night. Which is not helpful, Teresa! That is not a helpful thing to say right now! Melissa becomes agitated that Teresa would believe some cheap Chris Daugherty wannabe, and Teresa swears that she didn’t believe him! Except that she kinda did! And she loves Folletto and Melissa! And this guy is just un stronzo! Come on!
Melissa begins swearing on her follettini that she never stripped, and that Folletto knows she didn’t strip and SHE DIDN’T STRIP and then she decides that she needs to call Folletto and get him down here because that’s what this situation needs: a little ‘roid rage.
MEANWHILE, out in the ballroom (dining room, whatever this place is), Imposter Howie Mandel is busily explaining to some woman, who even knows who she is, the show can’t be bothered to tell us, that he received a call from someone saying that Kim D. and Teresa wanted to “blow the whistle” on Melissa, that “they” had him do this thing where he would go over to her and be all, OH HIIII, MELISSA, I ALMOST DIDN’T RECOGNIZE YOU (WITH ALL YOUR CLOTHES ON). And the mystery woman laughs and laughs.
MEANWHILE, at the table, Jacqueline receives a text from a “mutual amici” of Teresa’s that informs her that something is going to happen tonight, Jac’s not the target, and instructs her to stay put. Everyone at the table tightens their faces in an expression that approximates concern.
Back in the bathroom, Teresa thinks Melissa’s plan to call Folletto is un terribile, because IT IS, and worries that merde will go down because IT WILL. So she decides to march out to the ballroom to confront Wishes He Were As Cool As Ben Kinglsey herself. Except he’s already been safely escorted off the premises by the Producers left.
Melissa goes ahead and calls Folletto, tells him what Moby said about her, explains that she doesn’t want to confront him without Folletto, and then is all “no, don’t come down here, I don’t want you to get involved, except that I totally do because of course I do, I’m just saying I don’t want you to so that I don’t look manipulative and terribile.”
Back at the table, Jacqueline continues to receives texts, which she shares with Lauren and Caroline but not Kathy because you’re boring, Kathy! None of your business, Kathy! And you can pretend that it was your choice to not get involved, Kathy, but we all know that the Manzo-Lauritas didn’t include you because they forgot you were there.
Teresa, unable to confront Voldemort since he used the Evanesco spell, tells Kathy what is happening, with the stripping and the salon and the Kim D. Kathy notes that since the lead singer of The Disturbed didn’t stick around to defend himself, he was probably lying, and just trying to stir up trouble between Teresa and Melissa. For some reason.
Melissa eventually returns to the table, and Teresa informs her that the guitarist from Train has left, which Melissa declares as lucky, because otherwise Folletto would have kicked him squarely in the shins. Kim D. slithers into the booth and makes a bunch of noise about how sorry she is and how she didn’t know that person and how whatever he said doesn’t mean anything and Melissa is all, SHADDUP. AND GET OUTTA HERE. In an interview, Melissa explains that she’s fairly certain Kim D. had a huge part in setting her up (o rly?) and if Kim D. is involved, so is Teresa. For some reason.
And then Meatball’s brother, Porchetta, he is at the “fashion” show for some reason, which sets off all the other ladies’ conspiracy theory bells. BECAUSE WHY IS PORCHETTA HERE UNLESS TERESA DECIDED TO SET MELISSA UP? Logic = perfect. Anyway, Porchetta pulls Teresa and Kim D. away for a shot, and Caroline Manzo glares after them. Jacqueline continues receiving text messages, and begins to wonder why Teresa would even go to a salon to get her hair did when she usually has it done at home? Exactly! Unless there is a perfectly reasonable other explanation, Jacqueline, you have cracked this whole conspiracy wide open.
Teresa decides that it’s time to leave (buono idea!) and then decides that it’s not time to leave (male idea!).
Meanwhile, Melissa and Kathy go outside and rehash the whole thing, again, and Melissa protests that she was only a bartender, again, and ANYWAY, IT WAS A BIKINI BAR, SO. And that’s when Folletto and Jeff Goldblum, Jr. arrive. Super.
This will surprise you, but Folletto, he’s rather unhappy about the whole situation, and would like to have a calm, reasonable mano-a-mano conversation with this gentleman who has besmirched his bride’s reputation. But alas! The dastardly villain is not here, and Folletto is left to stomp his tiny little feet and shake his tiny little fist and yell futilely into the blind, unfeeling universe.
This is when Jacqueline begins telling Melissa about the texts, and her suspicions about Teresa just to throw some limoncello onto the fire. You can actually see the moment when the cogs inside Melissa’s narrow head click into place, and she decides that Teresa was, in fact, behind it all.
Caroline attempts to discourage Folletto from going inside the “fashion” show, and really, what is the point? Deal or No Deal has left the building, there’s no one really to confront. But he goes inside anyway, and finds Teresa and Porchetta, and he stomps his tiny feet and shakes his tiny fists and accomplishes nothing. Teresa swears that she walked away when Yul Brynner Jr. started talking about Melissa, but then turns her rage on Melissa for bringing Folletto to the “fashion” show in the first place. In turn, Melissa has her “I know it was you, Fredo” moment with Teresa, and informs her that someone told her that Teresa set her up on purpose. WHO? demands Teresa. CHE? But Melissa, she’s not telling, and she and Folletto make their way to the exit.
Outside, Kim D. confronts Folletto and Melissa, and Folletto begins yelling at her to get out of his cara, that she’s a dirty puttana, that she can’t even talk she’s so drunk and high. Kim D. counters that he is nothing, that he is tiny and that she “plays with the big boys,” which I’m sure means something, I’m just not entirely sure what.
Il Follettos retrieve their car as the other women flap their hands and continue speculating about Teresa being behind the entire thing. Folletto begins yelling at everyone that they are never allowed to attend another Posche “fashion” show, which, no worries, Folletto! I’m sure Kim D. has already adjusted her guest list accordingly!
In interviews, Lauren and Caroline confirm that Teresa had previously told them both that Melissa was a stripper, which clearly, obviously means that she is orchestrated this entire scene, too. As il Follettos get into their car, Jacqueline tells them about the texts that she received from her mysterious unnamed source, wherein Deep Throat overheard Dr. Wayne Fiscus bragging about how he was going to confront Melissa. Melissa asks Jacqueline if Teresa was standing next to him when this happened, and Jac merely shrugs, giving the impression that Teresa might have been, maybe, so why not just go ahead and leap to the conclusion that she was EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH MELISSA AND JACQUELINE WHEN THIS CONVERSATION SUPPOSEDLY TOOK PLACE. So anyway, now Melissa is completely convinced that Teresa is the mastermind of this entire plot. Despite lacking enough room in that threehead to contain much of a mind, much less a master one.
So then Teresa emerges from the building and demands to know what Jacqueline just told Melissa, and Jacqueline is like, Yeah, I just told her that you set her up. K SRY. Teresa, outraged, decides that she is the actual target, of course, SHE’S THE REAL VICTIM. Someone is setting TERESA up, and maybe it’s JACQUELINE. Makes about as much sense as anything. Caroline and Jacqueline both discuss this moment as Jacqueline’s final “a-ha!” moment, the moment when she finally decided she was done with Teresa. Yay?
Melissa orders Folletto to yell “Shame on you!” at Teresa as they drive by, but instead, he yells the much less pithy, “Screw that puttana you hang out with, that puttana and I don’t know, I don’t know…” which has considerably less of an impact. The siblings then yell at each other about what Teresa should have done, what she did do, and what she did not do about the situation, until the police come over and shoo Folletto away.
Caroline, Lauren and Jacqueline flee the scene, still burbling about how Teresa set the entire thing up, as Kim D. brings Teresa back inside the building to join her “real amici.” Amici, who, once again on camera reiterate that Melissa was a stripper, of course she was a stripper, everyone knew she was a stripper, and Teresa is forced to run away again. Kathy, presumably, made her way home that night, who knows.
In the interviews, these brainiacs proceed to psychoanalyze each other’s motives. Melissa determines that Teresa decided to spread this lie about her past as justification for the terrible way she had been treating Melissa for the past 8 years. Nevermind that it’s rather curious that Teresa would sit on this particular card and wait to play it when she and Melissa had finally begun mending their relationship, and not use it, say, at the beginning of Season Three when they were literally tearing each other’s hair out at baby parties. But sure! Makes sense! Good thinking, Dr. Freud!
Teresa, for her part, doesn’t understand why Jacqueline would attack her, except that Chris Laurita had told Teresa that he met Jacqueline when she was a stripper. So. Guilty conscience and all that. Which is a perfect logical argument and not just a mean way to reveal to the world that your former best amici used to dance, and doing the very thing everyone is accusing you of doing, but not about the person you are accused of doing it to, so I guess it doesn’t count, right? Right.
And I guess now we know why that reunion was so crazypants. Mystery solved!
FINAL THOUGHTS. (UNTIL THE TWO HOURS OF “REUNION” I.E. THE WOMEN SCREAM INCOMPREHENSIBLY OVER ONE ANOTHER WHILE ANDY COHEN LOOKS ON DUMBFOUNDED.)
Caroline has not spoken to Teresa since the Reunion was taped.
Lauren has lost 35 pounds thanks to LAP-BAND™ surgery and her beauty bar, Cafface, is thriving. (Note: Cafface is still the stupidest name, ever. EVER.)
Albie and Lindsey are no longer seeing each other.
Kathy’s dream has finally come true. Her homemade cannoli kit hits the shelves this year.
Victoria decided to stay under her mother’s roof and attend college in New Jersey.
Kathy and Teresa have been communicating recently … through text messages.
Melissa’s single “How Many Times” made it to #4 on the iTunes charts.
Melissa and Joe put their house on the market for $3.8 million …
so they can be away from Teresa.
Teresa wrote another NY Times bestseller, “Fabulicious! Fast & Fit.”
Joe is still waiting on a trial date for his 2011 arrest and if found guilty, could face possible jail time.
Teresa has not seen her brother since the Posche Fashion Show.
She recently apologized to her fellow castmates (except Kathy).
Jacqueline is focused on raising CJ and Nicholas.
Ashlee is still living in Los Angeles, and their relationship has never been better.
She and Teresa have not seen each other since the Posche Fashion Show.
SO. THIS FINALE.
Listen, we are all intelligent enough viewers of reality programming at this point to understand that many of the stories and conflicts that take place have been manipulated or facilitated by the producers in some fashion. Do you really think it was Chris Laurita’s idea to go on an RV trip with these castmembers? Of course not. The Producers knew that packing those guidos into a bunch of Winnebagos would be like loading up a Ford Fiesta with C4 and then flinging matches at it. They just had to sit back and wait for someone to snap. Which, of course, they did. And to some degree, that’s an example of the Producers placing the cast in a situation and letting it happen organically, which is what we all rather expect from our reality shows.
This, however, feels different. I continue to believe Teresa was set up, and based on the evidence in this episode, she was blatantly by the Producers. Here is an interesting entry from Jezebel that breaks down the Producers’ involvement, that is appalling if accurate.
“One of the cast members, Jacqueline, said that she receive a text message that evening from a “mutual friend” of Teresa’s that something was going to happen, that she was not “the target,” and instructing her not to leave. Rumors began circulating that the text came from executive producer Cat Rodriguez, who communicated with all of the women except for Teresa. Some are accusing the producer of being biased against Teresa and stepping over the line, as far as reality TV manipulation goes.”
This would certainly explain why Jacqueline never gave the “mutual friend’s” name, why the text would discourage her from leaving, and how the “mutual friend” would be privy to so much information. As for the bad photocopy of Howie Mandel saying that Teresa and Kim D. approached him with this plan, he is not the most reliable of sources and I’m sure was remunerated for his services. By the Producers. So.
I am by no means a Teresa apologist. I definitely think she is The Worst on this cast. But it was clear she was set up by the Producers (with an assist from Kim D., Bobby’s World and the willingness of her cast mates to think the worst of her), and she was too stupid to not play right into it. Teresa did everything wrong at every turn, certainly. She should have defended Melissa, and not made unsure noises while on camera about her sister-in-law’s past; she should have even called Melissa after the salon incident and warned her that some shenanigans were afoot; and she should have made more of an effort to apologize to her brother and Melissa instead of immediately taking a defensive position. Furthermore, when it occurred to her that she was being set up, she should have turned her anger away from Jacqueline, who was also being used, and turned it towards those who truly deserve it: the Producers.
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.