We took that turn! Whistling through tunnels, sailing o'er the bridge. We blinked our eyes, suddenly out of the city, in a new, strange place that the Indians named New Jersey, a thousand years ago.
Yes Bravo has packed up its camera crews in carefully holed crates and shipped them across the mighty, churning Hudson so they could film a group of women—browned and bruised, duck-lipped and sharp-tongued, mean and feral. And it was successful! We were served another hour of horrifying materialism, of insolent, awful children, and of women teetering on the edge of parody and psychosis. It's that edge we love! That precarious devil's walk. Let's see how everyone fared last night.
The gold satin curtains pulled back to reveal Teresa, an Italian princess if ever there was one (a Medici, perhaps) with black snake-like curls of hair spilling out of her head bone. Like any good princess, Teresa is building herself a palace made of marble and granite and onyx—building because living in someone's old house is just icky, plus very few extant houses in NJ have Corinthian fountain rooms.
As some people have a fiery temper and others are prone to sadness, Teresa has a defining personality trait as well. You see, Teresa has small bubbies. Bubbies means boobages, fun bags, juggaroos, Dolly domes. Breasts. We're all speaking about breasts. Yeah, she's all natural and the hissing orcs that she pals around with think it's time she stuffed some space-age material down the front of her dress and rectified this terrible problem. But she hasn't yet! I suspect this will be her big character arc for the season. Bra From Home: The Adventures of Orange Dawg.
Teresa is also a treat because she has three daughters. Their names are Milano, Asti Spumante, and Prosciutto Royale and they are all beautiful talented little bundles of vicariousness. Teresa claims that she is not a stage mother, no way bucko. She just likes to make her six-year-old daughter, Risotto, pose in sexy rapstress poses and would like her to have an acting and singing and dancing and modeling agent in New York City. Because, you know, the little fucker is just plain talented. And there's no denying that. Why fight the spotlight, you know? You can't. You just can't fight the spotlight.
Teresa is very close to two horrible sisters, one named Dina, the other named Caroline. (Isn't that name a little suspicious? What kind of self-respecting Eyetalian is named Caroline?) These two gals are basically mobbed up, which makes me scared to write about them, but I must be strong in my journalistic integrity. I'm basically Veronica Guerin you guys. Which means I'm one step closer to my life's goal of having Cate Blanchett play me in a movie. Anyway. The Sisters Rosensweigissimo. Dina is blonde and prettyish in that sort of mysterious middle-aged suburban lady way—there's something aesthetically pleasing about her whole appearance but when you look at individual features to try and find the source, you're only met with ugliness. The strange protruding lips, the tired wine-soaked eyes, the floppy mass of hair. I guess she's a classic full-on Monet, much like Amber. Best not to inspect too closely.
Dina is also unpleasant and rude, and makes constant, awful references to her enormous bubbies, creations out of a William Pène du Bois novel. She has children, I can't really remember how many, but there's only one important one. Her name is Briannica or Allybeth or Courtniffani or something and she is about twelve years old and has little round glasses and a Wendy's hairdo and you instantly feel bad for her when you see her. But then she opens her mouth! And out tumbles the binky-bonk cadence and word garbage of a horrid New Jersey woman twice her age and you just put your head in your hands and shudder and feel suddenly sorry for the Skidmore class of 2019. Dina and Ashlissa went to play tennis but Dina couldn't play because her bubbies were too big and she couldn't take them off because she forgot their special carrying case back at the house so Morganriley was upset and said "Next time wear two sports bras!" Poor dear. The same poor dear wants to have a nanny that will call her "your majesty" and you put your head in your hands and feel suddenly sorry for that Filipino kid who's moving here in 2022 to be "adopted" and oh sleeping in the broom closet isn't so bad, if anyone asks, tell them you're an exchange student who cleans to earn a little extra pocket money.
The other sister is Caroline, who I will refer to from now on as Strega Nona (perhaps Nona for short). Strega Nona has a little pixie haircut and wild beady features and she has two overgrown sons who have definitely pumped a fist or two. There is Christopher, a 19-year-old wiseacre who wants to see bare bubbies when he's getting his car cleaned. He's a "get rich quick" type-a guy, Dina explains to us knowingly, because, I guess, when you hang out in made-up towns in New Jersey and everyone lives in prefab mansions you probably know a lot of "get rich quick" type-a guys. I don't know any. I'm just putting that out there. Christopher looks a bit like an Italian Tintin, though not nearly as latently homosexual as my favorite Belgian adventurer. And then there's Albie. Ohhh Albie. He of the million-watt smile and breezy confidence. Albie is the 22-year-old golden boy of the family, the only one going to college (and now law school), beloved by the ladies, creepily flirted with by Strega Nona's ancient friends. As Nona herself isn't all that interesting yet, I'm betting that there will be many high jinx with Chrissy and Albie. Perhaps Captain Haddock will be allowed to tag along.
There is also Jacqueline, who is sad and pompadoured. She's a "Vegas girl," which means she's a foundling child, left to sizzle in the desert but rescued by the Franciscan monks who live in the Bellagio. Then she was married off to Dina and Strega Nona's brother and moved to New Jersey. But not before giving birth to a teenage girl. So the family is transplanted here and Jacqueline has fit in well, bossed around by her sisters-in-law, referred to chillingly as like the cool mom from Mean Girls by her own oblivious daughter, who seems to have failed to grasp that Amy Poehler is a comedienne who was deftly parodying a certain kind of modern American maternal horrorshow. Isn't it terrifying how many children, as evidenced by all these iterations of Housewives, are being raised terribly in this country? And these are the rich kids! The poor ones will be eating out of garbage cans and living in the woods by 2019. Good luck with the townies, Skidmore grads.
Jacqueline is the only one who is friends with Garbanzo, a non-Italian woman who I believe was a face double for Pizza the Hut in Spaceballs. I kid, I kid. Her name is Danielle and she is fit as a fiddle and has three or seven or forty-six children, all of whom are named Primavera, even though, again, Danielle is not Italian. I think she might be Croatian-Dutch, or maybe Albanian-Kiwi. It's hard to tell. Garbanzo has made every effort possible to fashion herself in the style of the Romans she mingles with, down to the straw-like wig and eyelid implants. The entire state of New Jersey needs to put cucumbers over its eyes and take a nap. Y'all bitches look tired. Damn, Gina.
What the hell was I talking about? Oh, yeah, Garbanzo. She is very sad because only Jacqueline likes her. She and Jackie met at a beauty parlor and Jackie is lonely and lost so she sat there for four hours talking about divorce and probably hair products. Now Garbanzo is ready to get back on the dating market, and has been having phone sex with a man named Guccimodel. She met him in her computer and they have phone sex that goes like this:
"Hey Gucci, it's Garby."
"Oh hello and buona sera Miss Garby. What would you like from my pleasure parts tonight?"
"OK. Let's start. You enter the room, noting the lovely calico carpeting from J.J. and Diane's Carpet Showcase in Elizabeth. You admire my brushed pewter curtains from the Forever Designs Warehouse and then compliment me on my original faux-cherry sleigh bed from Furniture Fantasies in Secaucus."
"Si, si. I am liking all of your room designs."
"Then you notice that I'm wearing a satin champagne penoir from the "Gail O'Grady for QVC" collection. You also think my hair looks wonderful, which has been highlighted with a special mix of VO5, food coloring, the juice of an Italian lemon, and horse grease. You sniff it and say that it smells like an Olive Garden and then you notice my pillows. They're from Daphne's Sleepdreams Boutique."
"Hey, um, are you just gonna talk about various things you've bought?"
"Yes. Is that a problem?"
Long pause. Finally, Gucci sighs.
"No, I guess not."
"Hey, where'd your accent go?"
Something like that. So it's been so fucking good that Garby just has to meet him. So they schedule a date at the fanciest restaurant/event hall/nightclub/chandelier showroom in North Central Jersey. Jackie and Teresa, who has kindly agreed to pretend she likes ol' Garbanzo Bean, are concerned because they don't know why anyone would ever want to date someone they met inside the computer. "He must be awfully short," Teresa mused, twirling her thick, olive oily hair. So they decided to secretly tag along with hilarious enormous novelty binoculars, just like Cagney and Lacey, if Cagney and Lacey had been sitting in a Target parking lot doing grappa shots for the past half hour.
Garbanzo sat in the airy airport terminal of a restaurant waiting for her beloved Guccimodel to show up. And you know what happened? Nothing. He never came. What a jerk. She left him a voicemail instructing him to go ahead and die, which is the mature thing for any 56-year-old to be doing. Then she called her friends and said "how soon can you be here?" and then they popped up behind her and, as is custom in New Jersey when one is startled, Garbanzo reached into her purse, pulled out a pistol, and shot them both.
A bullet wound couldn't stop Teresa from taking her daughter, Classico, to Horrible Showkidz Camp, where a whole host of adults encouraged little girls to act hip-hop and an entire world wept. Jackie, meanwhile, was busy stirring shit up between Garby and Dina, who do not like each other. Dina is convinced that G. has been spreading rumors about her, and all G. wants to do is go to Chiprianee for the big NYC girls' night out. But she wasn't invited, and this made her sad. So she sat on a bench outside of dumpy building that housed the hilariously misnamed Chateau salon and waited for Jackie to show up so she could invite herself to the party. But Jackie held firm and said "You weren't invited, you can't come." She did well on the outside, but inside her nervous guts quivered and her sparrow heart fluttered and "oh why is living so very hard, Mister Bear" she'll later ask when in her big pink nightgown, trying desperately to fall asleep.
Strega Nona was busy planning a graduation party for Albie Greenleaf, held at the Brownstone. The Brownstone is the beautiful and elegant Schönbrunn of Paterson, New Jersey. It is used as an event hall, and Strega Nona's scary husband runs it. Her daughter, Abbondanza, helps out with all the weddings by wearing a headset she saw once in Rent that one time when she went to the city with Melissa and Michelle and Triana, back when they were still friends, and they ate food in the Village and then they saw the play and, you know what? Gay guys are kinda fun! And those cool headsets...
At the party everyone pinched Albie's cheeks and all the young ladies swooned when he flashed that brilliant smile and Chrissy looked on, angry and surly and thinking about soapy bubbies. It's like a later episode of Jack & Bobby, if Christine Lahti killed a lot more people and got Michael York's haircut.
So the episode sorta wound down and it was mostly stuff we'd seen in the preview special anyway. The show holds promise! The women are terrifying and awful, meaner and crasser and braver than any of the other housewives. They're all dumb as toilets, but in that menacing kind of way that dumb can be. Dumb that doesn't know it's dumb. I'm intrigued and a little nervous. Teresa vaguely fascinates me with her babysitter good looks. Strega Nona ought to make a formidable gum-chewing Maleficent. Jackie is sad and broken and maybe just a small child inside, and so we must tenderly hold her like a robin's egg and hope that one day she blooms and bats her wings and flies away. Garbanzo is old and angular, but I like her more than I like, say, Jeana from O.C.. I'll try not to say too many things about you being 63 years old, Garby, if you try not to talk about your American Express black card anymore. And Dina, you're terrifying and will one day kill someone, perhaps me. Or you'll just stay bland and faux-finished, eyes tired and acrid like afternoon farts, like near-empty piano bars.
Like the dim glowing diners that dot the byways of fair New Jersey. There they stand, all grease and fried and Diet Cokes on ice, bonding the people together. It's not the Devil in the Pine Barrens that'll get you, oh no. It's the stuff that's cheap and easy. It's the stuff that sits in your stomach like a cannon ball, that makes you wish you'd never ordered it to begin with. But you did. And you will again.
Because you just can't stay away.