‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’: In which reality trumps “reality”

The Real Housewives of New Jersey
“Best Frenemies Forever”
August 4, 2013

Poor Bravo. I’m sure this episode was supposed to be Very Dramatic and Very Important, what with the big showdown between Teresa and Jacqueline some 18 months in the making. But, I don’t know, in the wake of current events in Teresa’s life, what with the 39 counts of bank and tax fraud, $1 million combined in bond and the possibility that she and Meatball are going to face 30 (or 50 depending on what you read) years in prison — or even the possibility that Meatball might be deported, it all seems so … insignificant? I just can’t get too bothered over whether or not Teresa and Jacqueline will be able to mend their friendship this season when I am more interested in whether or not there will even be a next season. Because, honestly, the mess Teresa is in — and it is BAD, Y’ALL — could potentially create huge legal and editorial headaches for Bravo if they were to continue filming her. And if there’s no Teresa, I don’t know that there is much show. Do you really want to watch an hour of Kathy and Caroline wringing their hands over their grown kids? No, and neither do I.

But until something else happens in Teresa’s legal mess — which won’t be until August 15th when she and Meatball are scheduled to enter their pleas (certainly of not guilty, right?) — what else are we going to talk about but this episode, boring in comparison as it might ultimately be?

This week begins with Melissa paying Folletto a visit at the construction site of that one building he’s optimistically planning on turning into lofts — and has been planning on turning into lofts for what, two years now? To be fair to Folletto, it would appear that his entire construction crew consists of one guy whose job it is to move dirt from one pile to another, so the project might yet take a while.

As Melissa arrives, Folletto just happens to receive a call from the owner of Sizzle Tan — yes, THAT Sizzle Tan, who wants Folletto to model for him on a freeway billboard. It would seem the billboard offer extended to both Follettos, but Melissa declined to participate lest she be accused, again, of copying Teresa. (Or as Melissa explains the situation: “Teresa likes to implant that I do things after she does.”)

And then Folletto makes Melissa drive the tiny Folletto-sized bulldozer thing around in the dirt, before ordering her to stick to cooking him dinner. Reinforcing and conforming to traditional gender roles is always good for a chuckle!

At the casa del Meatball, Teresa prepares dinner for il Follettos while her bambini, including The Elusive Sfogliatelle(!), set the table. At one point, Mortadella helps her mother stir a pot, and Tre asks her if she’s going to cook dinner for her husband one day. “NO, HE’S GOING TO COOK FOR ME,” Mortadella exclaims, raising her defiant feminist fist in the face of her famiglia’s institutionalized sexism. RIGHT ON, SORELLA. True fact: I married my husband in no small part because he cooks for me — and cooks well. I’m living the dream, Mortadella, and I have no doubt you will too.

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But before il Follettos head over to the Meatballs’, Melissa swings by Jacqueline’s house to inform her that she’s made nicetime with Teresa. Caroline, who is also there, is all, “Oh, and bytheway, I made Teresa promise that she would call you, so don’t be surprised when ‘Sociopatico’ pops up on your caller ID.” In her version of the story, Caroline claims that she made Teresa swear that she would call Jacqueline and admit her wrongdoings, but I do not recall the whole “admit wrongdoings” part ever happening — either thanks to some creative editing or Caroline being delusional, I’m not entirely sure which. Jacqueline is rightfully skeptical.

So then il Follettos go to il Meataballs’. Folletto is shocked at just how big Gabagool is. Feeling guilty for not having seen his nipote for as long as he has, he offers to take her out. Gabagool regards him suspiciously.

Teresa and Melissa agree that it’s nice that they can get together for the bambini and Melissa unnecessarily snips that if Teresa keeps being a good girl, they can be amici. Not cool, Melissa! Way to try to make trouble, Melissa! Teresa, however, miraculously doesn’t take the bait, and just notes that she is going to keep her bocca chiusa to keep nicetime going. Good for you, Teresa! This is progress, Teresa!

After Folletto tells Teresa about his Sizzle Tan billboard and she manages to go deep within herself and find some happiness for her fratello, Melissa announces that she swung by Jacqueline’s house and she Caroline told Jac about the promise Teresa made to call Jacqueline. Teresa is certainly not happy with this development and explains to the camera that Jacqueline has a dark side: Jac had “800 pages faxed to her about ol’ Square Boobs Nose Job;” Jac did something or other to Dina, and now Teresa is her next victim. Folletto encourages his sorella to not give up on a 10-year amicizia, while Meatball grumbles at everyone to quit talking about it already. And then dinner is over without a single punch thrown! Salud!

Meanwhile, Albie and Christopher are still building their restaurant and I still don’t care.


Anyway, the Manzos have dinner at their dumb, unnecessary apartment with their children and Caroline berates Albie for having a work ethic? Is that what she is doing, giving her child a hard time for having ambition and drive and trying to build something for himself? I do not understand this person! I literally do not understand how her brain works with this and with the unnecessary apartment! Caroline’s nagging goes on for a little while until Albert snaps and sternly demands that Caroline STOP TELLING HIM ALBIE WHAT TO DO, and then dramatically storms off to the couch some three feet away to watch some television.

Later, Albie talks with his mother alone to express concern about his parents’ marriage, and she tells him to mind his own business and not try to fix everyone else’s problems because Caroline doesn’t understand hypocrisy.

Looking for something, anything to make herself relevant, Kathy has a sitdown with Rosie to make sure her sorella understands that while she might not have liked Rosie’s last girlfriend, that doesn’t mean she has a problem with Rosie being gay. Rosie replies that her sister should have kept her mouth shut about it, talks about how terribly lonely she is and then laughs about wanting to have some “fun,” thereby undermining what was probably intended to be an emotional scene. 

This is all to set up Kathy and Jeff Goldblum Jr. and Folletto and Melissa going with Rosie to a singles’ night at a lesbian bar to help her meet ladies because having that crowd tag along will only help. After Rosie meets a bunch of self-described “half-lesbians” and a swinger couple, Jeff Goldblum Jr. introduces her to a very nice lady whom Rosie chases away with her drunken conversation about fried green tomatoes. SAD TROMBONE EMOTICON HERE.

Il Follettos have individual photo shoots.

Folletto for the Sizzle Tan billboard:

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And Melissa for her book cover. She demands extra fan:

Later, il Meatballs drive by Folletto’s billboard and are like, “Hey, look, Zio Folletto’s nipples are on a billboard. Good for him, but it’s no commercial.”

Il Follettos also drive by the billboard, but when Folletto points it out to his family, Fagioli is less than impressed and announces, “Congratulations, stupid,” before shrugging that “it’s just a billboard.” Watch your back, Mortadella. Someone is looking to take your place as HBIC.

Jacqueline takes her son C.J. to a toy store to make up to him for all the attention she’s been giving his younger brother, so it’s the perfect time for her to take a phone call from Teresa to arrange a meeting, and not, say, let that particular phone call go to voice mail. Good quality time, mom!

Meeting arranged, Jacqueline talks with Caroline once again about how to handle meeting Teresa face-to-face, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard a thousand times before: Teresa never takes responsibility for her bad behavior; Teresa deflects all of her problems onto other people; Jac doesn’t want to be vacation buddies with Teresa, just wants to be able to be in the same room with her, etc. You know the routine. Everybody knows the routine! The routine: SO BORING. ENOUGH WITH THE ROUTINE.

Finally, FINALLY, Jacqueline and Laurita and il Meatballs meet at a restaurant called The Brick House which, unfortunately, does not appear to be a Rick James-themed eatery, but rather a niceish establishment that had the good sense to lock Jac and Teresa in a private dining room so as to not disturb the other guests/for insurance reasons. While the ladies hash out their differences upstairs, the men retreat to the basement level bar to have drinks and grunt at one another that there are no hard feelings.

Upstairs, however, things are considerably more tense. Jacqueline begins by saying that after they supposedly made up in Napa she overheard Teresa saying that she hated her, and it made her feel sick for a week. Teresa doesn’t bother denying this, but instead turns it on Jac, claiming that this must be why Jacqueline stirred up the trouble between Teresa and Folletto at the fashion show. As a result, a fratello and a sorella didn’t speak for a year and a half. THANKS, JAC. Jacqueline argues that Teresa and Folletto had problems before the fashion show and so she’s not really to blame for them not speaking for so long.

Teresa then turns the conversation to Jacqueline’s allegations that Meatball had cheated on Tre, arguing that it was uncalled for, no woman has come forward to claim that it’s true and so Jac should apologize for saying it in the first place. Jacqueline is five steps ahead of Teresa, however, and deflects this by saying that they should change the conversation lest something incriminating is said — WHICH IS INCRIMINATING IN ITSELF. Well played, Jacqueline. Well played, indeed.

Jacqueline then points out that they both have said hurtful things, and that their fight on Kathy’s cellphone left Jacqueline thinking Teresa was a sociopath.  At this point, we cut to an interview with Teresa wondering “what the fottere is a sociopath, like a crazy person? I feel like Jacqueline is calling me a sociopath because she doesn’t really have much on me and it’s the worst word she can think of.” Teresa fires back at Jac that she’s the sociopath, with all the mean tweets, because Teresa HAS NO IDEA WHAT A SOCIOPATH IS. Self-awareness is a difficult and sometimes painful thing.

Teresa then calmly explains that there are evil people in the world, and Jac is amongst them. For instance, Jacqueline went after Square Boobs whose honor Teresa is suddenly and curiously very interested in defending. Jacqueline, somehow, is able to remain calm in the face of this hypocritical nonsense and tells Teresa that she knows Jacqueline well enough to know that she’s not an evil person. But Teresa fires back that the two of them are different: Jacqueline hits below the belt, whereas Teresa is nothing but forgiveness and light. Teresa goes on to incredulously ask if she has ever hurt Jacqueline, and when Jac answers in the affirmative, Teresa remains skeptical. How? But Jacqueline hesitates to answer, and Teresa notes that she seems to be holding something back. So, CUE THE DRAMATIC END MUSIC. DUN!!!!! 

Nope. Not even the cliffhanger ending can make it more interesting than real life. Sorry, Bravo.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on Bravo.

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

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