‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’: Meatbrawl*

The Real Housewives of New Jersey
“When Joes Collide”
July 14, 2013

The thing is, this is not a surprise. It was always coming to this. We all knew it. They knew it. And Bravo certainly knew it. There was just no way these two ‘roided out bags of rage and stupid were going to be able to continue exchanging barely literate insults about each other’s wives and manhood without coming to blows. It was just a matter of time. And as a result, despite Andy Cohen’s breathlessness and Bravo’s endless promotion of the episode, once we’ve seen it — and we’ve already seen most of it on promo after promo after PROMO, it’s sort of like, “Welp, it finally happened. Glad that’s over with. Can we go home now?”

BUT I KNOW YOUS WANT MORE THAN THAT, so let’s do this thing.

The episode begins our long slog towards fate with a bunch of packing sequences, because there is nothing the Real Housewives Producers love more than a good packing sequence. But before we get to what Melissa and Teresa have in their suitcases (animal print stilettos, portraits of Jesus, duh), we’re going to jump to what the two characters who are not attending Teresa’s retreat are doing with their time instead of doing trust falls with Meatball, balancing on construction paper with Jeff Goldblum Jr. and terrorizing a Ron Howard lookalike.

Caroline and Albert go to Lambert Castle and Great Falls where Albert yammers about how his padre helped build the park or something, I don’t know, what we’re getting at is that Albert’s padre died when Albert was 23 and as a result Albert has padre issues, and he takes them out on Caroline by making her cross a tiny bridge over a big waterfall. Also, Caroline urges Albert to slow down at work for the eleventy-thousandth time. WHO CARES. Look, I understand that now that Caroline has retreated from the entire Teresa situation she doesn’t have a whole lot of dramaz in her life, which good for Caroline! But bad for her role on the show. But having her nag her husband about not working so much in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE is just not an interesting replacement storyline. Unless Albert dies at the end of the season. Does Albert die at the end of the season? Does he have a heart attack? A Tony Soprano’s style anxiety attack? Do they get divorced? Are they divorced at the end of the season because HE COULD NOT HEAR ONE MORE TIME ABOUT HOW HE NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN AT WORK? Unless any of those things happen, I do not want to see UN’ALTRA SCENE where Caroline tells Albert to stop working so hard.

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Meanwhile, The Producers make Laurita go home for lunch in the middle of the work day so that Jacqueline can tell him that she isn’t going on Teresa’s retreat, which is something I’m fairly certain he already knew, and so she can sheepishly inform us that after her argument with Teresa on Kathy’s phone, she impulsively tweeted the following:

When u argue w/a moron, u become a moron. U have2rise above&remember what is really important in life.Some things don’t matter.Let it go

Which, eh? That’s not that bad? Who cares? And she’s not wrong? But seriously though, is this a big deal? Because this does not seem like it should be a big deal to me. (For the record, Jac, things that do matter: punctuation and spaces between words.)

So il Follettos pack their suitcases for the retreat and talk about how they are going just so they can confront Teresa about her using her “army” to spread tawdry rumors about Melissa. They have little hope in ever being amica with her, but they do hope she will acknowledge and apologize for the things she has done, and that they can all arrive at a place of mutual respect.


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Oh, sweet Follettos.

Teresa also manages to pack even though Mortadella, high on “a hundred Twizzlers,” is furiously body-slamming her sorelle and trying to climb into her madre’s suitcase. Meatball walks in, whines that he doesn’t know why they’re even bothering, didn’t Teresa and her fratello do this before with that therapy thing? before resigning himself to his inescapable fate.

Il Follettos, the Goldblum Jrs and Rosie all drive up to Lake George together on a party bus with a stripper pole, because there is no mass transportation available in New Jersey that doesn’t have a stripper pole, fact. Why do you think this happened? ANYWAY. On the stripper pole bus, Rosie burbles excitedly about the relationship expert that Bravo Teresa is bringing in, Dr. V, because who better to fix a bunch of reality show stars than another reality show star? The rest of the famiglia jointly has a skeptical, and spend the rest of the trip talking merda about il Meatball (who, frankly, deserves it).

Speaking of il Meatballs, they drive up to Lake George in a private, stripper-poleless car, while Teresa yammers endlessly at Meatball about how excited she is for the weekend because delusional. So delusional! Teresa also half-worries that Caroline and Jacqueline will be attending the retreat, not having been informed otherwise, and Meatball reveals that Jacqueline texted him this one time. What a pazza, right?

Il Meatballs arrive at the Lake George castle? Hotel? Bed and breakfast? What is this place? I do not know what this place is or what it is called because they refuse to tell us! And so I had to do a bunch of research (five seconds on Google) to discover that it is the Inn at Elrowest, which I can only assume they didn’t specifically tell us in the episode because the Inn requested they leave their name out of it. Anyway, they are shown around the joint, which seems lovely and has the wherewithal to let these pazzi have the entire place for the weekend thereby limiting the number of innocent bystanders that might get caught in the cross-goombah.

The stripper bus arrives some time later and Teresa graciously greets everyone, looking genuinely happy to see her famiglia. When Teresa wonders if the Lauritas took a separate vehicle, they tell her that Caroline and Jacqueline have opted to not be dragged into the mezzo of this mess-o, in part because Jacqueline is too busy with Nicholas. This clearly disappoints Teresa who immediately launches into a rant about how Jac is sooooo busy with her kid, but not so busy that she couldn’t find time to “twitter” about Teresa. But when everyone is like, “Hey! Here’s an idea, why don’t you take that up with Jac and leave us out of it!” Teresa loses steam and everyone is allowed to go to their rooms and unpack and talk merda about l’un l’altro.

Teresa requests that Meatball remain calm with Folletto; Melissa promises to follow Folletto’s lead in this round of the “Make Up with Teresa” gioco; Rosie assures the Goldblum Jrs that she really is not angry with Teresa any more, and Jeff Goldblum Jr. notes that it’s dumb that Teresa assumed that Jacqueline’s tweet was about her (even thought it totally was), because Teresa’s “not the only moron in the world,” as this show amply demonstrates.

And I could not possibly come up with a better example than when moments later, Meatball decides to share with the world his thoughts on autism. Meatball declares that the Lauritas use Nicholas’s autism as “an excuse. A lot of people have autism. I mean, autism isn’t really a bad disease — some of them are like, scientists.”

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I can’t. I can not.

Meatball quickly attempts to backtrack and explain that he doesn’t really know what autism is and maybe he shouldn’t be talking about it. O? U THINK?

Everyone then has lunch together in awkward silence until Rosie begins burbling again about how excited she is for the team building exercises that they are going to be doing that afternoon. Rosie explains that she recognizes that she can be hotheaded, and is trying to learn how to take a step back in difficult situations. Teresa announces that some people are just not receptive to that, which she learned in her dealings with Melissa — that when Teresa would attempt to step back, “[Melissa] would take it the wrong way.” No one has any idea what Teresa is talking about.

In a passive aggressive (but not unwarranted ) dig at his sorella, Folletto compliments Rosie’s ability to recognize when she’s done something wrong and willingness to apologize. And Teresa immediately snips that he just needs to stay out of her fights with Melissa. Melissa suggests that Folletto and Teresa fight more than they do, which Teresa denies, so Melissa points out that Teresa just threw a bottle of water at her brother the other day. Folletto and Teresa start growling at one another until Rosie urges everyone to wait for the team builders, and Jeff Goldblum Jr. suggests Folletto  come with him for a drink. Which, on the one hand, good thinking, Jeff Goldblum Jr.! Remove Folletto from an intensifying situation! But on the other hand, terrible idea, Jeff Goldblum Jr.! The last thing this situation needs is alcohol poured all over it!

While Meatball goes into horrifying detail about his body’s reaction to eggs, the Team Builders, Ron Howard and his wife, Mrs. Ron Howard, arrive for the Worst Day of Their Lives. Opie and Mrs. Opie are offered drinks (TAKE THEM, OPIE AND MRS. OPIE! DRINK ALL OF THE DRINKS!), introduced to the pazzi, and then Teresa takes them to the ballroom where they will be setting up their games, explaining along the way that she and her fratello haven’t spoken in a year and a half. Meanwhile everyone else is skeptical that Opie and Stephanie are going to be able to fix them using “butterflies and sweet dreams.” Well, let’s hope that in addition to butterflies and sweet dreams they packed tasers and waterboarding equipment!

Once Opie and Stephanie have finished setting up by placing ropes and construction paper on the floor (at one point Opie instructs his wife that if in doubt, call them “Joe” which, ha!), they bring in the pazzi, explain that they have 15 years experience in Team Building and they have just returned from the Middle East where they solved the Palestinian crisis with trust falls and thumb wrestling.

So, Opie and Stephanie explain the first game wherein the pazzi have to stand on pieces of construction paper until the 7 of them are huddled together on three sheets of paper. This manages to happen without anyone being punched, although when all is said and done, Meatball does complain about his own smell, adding that “there is no excuse for having bad underarm.” Indeed.

Opie, puffed up on his own construction paper game success, ventures into dangerous territory, asking about trust within the group, and whether Folletto and Teresa have any loyalty between them. Teresa declares that she’ll always be loyal to her fratello, but Folletto, he has some conditions: 1. Teresa has to cut it out with the evil and 2. Teresa has to cut it out with the bitterness.

Teresa announces that she feels loyalty within this group of people, which is news to them, but that she doesn’t feel loyalty from someone who isn’t here: Jacqueline. Opie and everyone else suggests that they limit the discussion to people who are actually present and wanting to work on their trust issues with Teresa because COME ON, DROP IT. But since it’s easier to blame someone for all of your problems when they’re not in the room, Teresa, again, blames Jacqueline for the rift in her relationship with Folletto. When Folletto is like, “UH, NO, LET’S KEEP IT ON US,” Teresa tries to claim that it’s different this time because this is the longest they’ve gone without speaking because Jacqueline. Melissa steps forward and explains that they haven’t gone this long without speaking because that’s how upset Folletto is with Teresa, and Teresa, SHE DOES NOT CARE FOR THIS. She does NOT want Melissa speaking for Folletto, SHE DOESN’T CARE IF SHE’S HIS WIFE. Meatball, reasonably, attempts to point out that Teresa and Folletto can work things out if they want to, that she doesn’t have to be amici with Melissa, just like he’s not amici with Folletto. And that’s when poor, poor, has-not-had-nearly-enough-to-drink-to-deal-with-this-pazzo Opie steps in to announce that there are “a lot of emotions at play here, and that’s O. K.”


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Oh, sweet Opie.

Folletto explains that it’s a good thing Jacqueline didn’t come because he wants to focus on his blood, and Teresa, NOT HEARING HIM, continues on about how she dared Jac to come and Jac is crazy and wait ’til yous gets to know the real Jac, etc., etc., infinitum.

Meatball, sensibly, invites Rosie to go outside with him, and leave Opie and Mrs. Opie to deal with Teresa and il Folletto. But as Teresa begins screaming about what Folletto should have said to Jacqueline at the fashion show and Melissa begins yelling about what Teresa should have done when she first heard the stripping allegations, all Opie’s got in his bag of trust tricks is to say, “hang one second, hang one second, hang one second,” in some sort of sad, meaningless mantra.

The mantra, it does nothing.

Outside, Meatball informs Rosie that he promised his padre-in-law that he would not beat the merde out of Folletto, but that Folletto’s got to stop. Meatball explains to an incredulous Rosie that Folletto is straight-up brainwashed, and she’s like, NOPE.

Inside, Folletto demands that his sorella admit that she’s behind the rumors about Melissa, explaining that they are not there to prove her wrong, they just want her to stop. And that’s when Melissa snaps. She falls to her knees and begins begging Teresa to stop hurting them, declares that she forgives Teresa, and explains that she has no pride, Teresa is the queen and she is willing to kiss Teresa’s ring. JUST STOP HURTING THEM.


Melissa demands to know if Teresa loves her niece and nephews, and Teresa, looking for someone to take her side, explains to a REALLY WISHING HE’D ACCEPTED THAT DRINK RIGHT ABOUT NOW Opie that Melissa has threatened to move her children away from il Meatballs. And Melissa begins screaming “MELISSA, MELISSA FOLLETTO, FOLLETTO FOLLETTO FOLLETTO.” I don’t know.

Teresa turns her fury onto Folletto, demanding that he should stick with his sorella over strangers, that he should stick with blood instead of believing strangers (like his wife? is she referring to Melissa — HIS WIFE — as a stranger here?), and that he should grow some coglioni and be a man. Folletto retorts that he’s not sticking with “scum” like her. At this, Teresa turns on her heel, and marches outside to Meatball who happens to be explaining to Rosie at that same moment that one day he’s going to flip out on Folletto. Teresa explains that Folletto called her scum and she wants to go home, so Meatball stomps inside on his tiny Meatball legs and starts screaming that he wants an apology from Folletto. Instead, Folletto throws his tiny bald head and two inches of neck into Meatball’s meatball. And there’s a bit of stubby thrashing around before we cut to black.

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So, we’ll have to talk more about this once we see how it all shakes out (although based on the previews for the season and the fact that Meatball is shown crushing Melissa in what appears to be a hilarious trust fall, I think they calm down and see through the weekend). However, a programming note: it might take me a few days to get to next week’s episode. Apologies, apologies, but considering this is the first time I’ve posted an entry this quickly this season, I think we’ll all survive, yes? Yes.

*Also, big props to Mr. Pilar, husband of reader Pilar, who graciously gave me the title for this entry. I was going to make a reference to and go into a long philosophical discussion of fate versus free will and how it relates to these monkey-brained goombahs’ inevitable confrontation, that it simply isn’t their fault but their destiny, but he saved me from myself. Grazie!

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sunday nights at 7 p.m. on Bravo.

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

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