Last night's journey into the suburban heart of darkness taught us all about how beauty can turn, very quickly, into ugliness, how expectation curdles into disappointment. But mostly it was about fashion. Wonderful, wonderful fashion.
I'm not sure when it was, or what cold spell was cast, but at some point in the past ten years, somehow, the love of not actual material fashion but its culture became widespread, more commodified. You know: The brand craziness — why are dim suburban wastoids so "conversant" in all these designers these days? — and this obsession with fashion shows. Going to Fashion Shows. Sure ladies forever have wanted to go to fashion shows, but now there's this horrible expectation, this demand that says if you DON'T go to fashion shows, you are slightly, in some mysterious imperceptible way, less than a fully complete woman. The fabulous women of Fabuloustowne all go to fashion shows and g(l)oat about their Gucci bags and Marc Jacobs whatevers. That is just what the modern woman does — she's smart and has it all, but mostly she treats fashion and fashion shows like they're just something that someone does, "Oh we're going to a fashion show," no biggie, who cayuhs. We're women, and we're flashy and important, so obviously we're going to fashion shows. Duh. Duhhhh. Duhhhhhhhhh.
These particular Real Housewives are no exception. In fact maybe they are the rule! Well, no, their big city cousins on New York are sort of the rule. These New Jersey ladies are just the sad dirty muck monsters that come choking along in their wake, dressing themselves up in castoffs and used old things and doing sad little mucky poses and saying "Look at me, I'm high fashionnnnn" while they vomit up spaghetti and mud and bits of broken glass and doll hair. And, no, ladies, you are not high fashion. No one thinks you're pretty. No one thinks you're cool. You're all just muck monsters who want so desperately to be ladies. And in your sad, mucky zeal you just lose more ground, rather than get closer. You are swimming against the riptide, which you should never do.
ANYWAY. I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just mad. I am mad at these Housewives! Why are they this way? Why is it legal to do what some of them are doing (or, grimly, already have done) to their children? I think I said in a recap written a long, long time ago, for some other show, that it is terrifying to see how badly children are being raised in this country, and these are the rich folks, the ones with kids who will never want, at least materially. And these kids are just being abused. Terribly abused. Mistreated. Emotionally run over. Spiritually drained by their succubus mothers, ignored by spectral fathers, men who are not there.
Well, not all of them. Dina's aight. Dina's doin' aight. I like Dina. I voluntarily follow Dina on the Twitter. I do! She's good at it! Caroline, oh well, pish posh, who cayuhs. Caroline woke up one morning and decided she was an angry carrot and no one knows why, but she decided that and she stayed that way. She shoulders and elbows her way through everything, carrot-headed and squat. Her kids vary wildly in degree of decency — clearly there is Caroline 2 who no one particularly likes, obviously there is poor Failure, and most mesmerizingly there is dappled stallion god Albie, who probably makes up for the other two duds eighteen times over. But even though two of Caroline's children are duds — in the context of this show, guys, I don't know (or care) who they are in real life, I'm sure they're lovely — she too is doing aight. I've no beef with her. Same for Jacqueline, she of the cream-filled bouffant, eyes blinking separate of each other in slow motion, lonely carousel music playing from some deep, empty, shadow-strewn place in her chest. Yeah her eldest daughter is an over indulged mess of a teenager, but she was raised under difficult circumstances, and sometimes some egg shells end up in the omelet. That's largely no one's fault. Good thing, at least, that Jacqui has the new one. A clean slate. What comes after the practice run. The real deal.
So that leaves Danielle and Teresa, who were the foci of this episode. These are two women who are murdering their children, who have put their daughters in one of those junkyard compactors and as the great steel walls groan closer and closer are yelling "Smile! Smile!" Danielle has Christine, the quite literally square-jawed young wood nymph who maybe has an actual shot at a fashion (modeling) career, and Teresa... Well, Teresa has, for now, until the others are older, Malatesta, her seven-year-old (or something) daughter who she has decided is A BIG FUCKIN' STAR. It does not matter what anyone else says or does or thinks or shows her, Portofina has got it, and if Teresa's medusa-head with its jugg-jiggle curls of polipo hair can come along for the ride, well then. Well then.. Well, that would be nice. Nice for Teresa. Same goes for Danielle. If Christine becomes a big and famous fashion model and Danielle gets to tag along, well, well then. If that's what the world wants, who would she be to deny it.
Danielle also has the added crazy benefit of her brokeassness. Well, no, she's not broke. Lady lives in a million-and-half-dollar home, but won't sell it because she wants a certain price. Last night her realtor came over and was like "Danielle, you should probably re-landscape the front yard and maybe replace some shingles, and definitely get that body out of the tool shed and, you know if it's not too much trouble, there are a lot of Pacifico and Cuervo bottles out by the firepit... Did you have a party? You'll probably want to clean those up... And the cigarette butts. Actually, you might want to get rid of the whole firepit altogether..." Danielle shook her head. Nunh unh. No way. How much? A mill four? Nunh unh. Absolutely not. The firepit? Fuckin' love that thing. That firepit. Nunh unh. No way. Get the hell outta here, realtuh. What're you, a realtuh? Nunh unh. No way. [quick, dark pause] Will you be my friend? Please, realtuh? Be my friend? I have a firepit...
Danielle didn't want to do much work on her house and wanted to sell it for top dollar in a bottom market, so she's stuck. Broke. The other ladies were interviewed about the situation and they mostly shook their heads and sucked their teeth and said "She's not too hot to work." Well, ha ha ha!, that was actually, of course, T.T. who said that. Teets was all "She's not too hot to work." Or whatever she said. The implication being, if you didn't catch it, that Teets is too hot to work. So she doesn't. Hm. That's actually not the real reason that Teets doesn't work. She doesn't work because she got fired from the Forehead Factory for brand disloyalty. YANGOS.
So that was Danielle's little money bit where she likes to seem all put-upon and whatnot. And, look, I'm sure things with her ex-husband and the girls' father(s) are tough, I believe that, and that sucks, but ladyyyy. Work. Sell the house. Downsize. Stop trying to impress people. Stop injecting your house money into your bug face. Use it to buy your daughter some damn groceries to eat. Danielle keeps trying to elicit sympathy and sometimes almost has it, but then she turns around and does something awful and it's just so frustrating. Dina felt some of this frustration. Dina is trying to be all zen and whatever about Danielle, but every time she tries to be nice to or about Danielle, the lady goes and does something cray-cray. Jacqueline sent Danielle flowers because of Christine's success and Danielle was all nutbars about it. She's so overeager, she's so hungry. It's embarrassing. It's sad. As Dina said, it's one thing to have a shitty childhood, that sucks for everyone. But it's another to never better yourself, choosing instead to go for pity. "I mean, Oprah was abused," Dina pointed out. And a hush fell throughout the Jersey pines and somewhere leaves swirled in an eddy of wind, because Dina had said a holy suburban housewife word, to say "Oprah," to speak of her difficult past, is to have invoked the name of something ancient and powerful. Dina looked at the camera sagely. She is a woman of faith. Oprah... Basically what she meant is that she's can't actually be friends with Danielle because it's just too much work. She can't do it. So, Danielle loses another maybe potential friend.
She turns then, in lieu of galpals, to her daughters. Her poor gasping-for-breath daughters who have to sit in the car while mom barrels down dark Jersey roads in search of something, threatens to run the car up on enemies' lawns, speaks with measured, determined abandon. "I will sell this house today. I will sell this house today." The poor dears have to suffer her prodding about the modeling careers and, now that she's unfortunately old enough, willowy Christine has to actually do it. This week was her big Fashion Week runway walk, her first ever, and Danielle was all insane and beady-eyed about it. The use of the pronoun "her" throughout the episode started to become very chilling, didn't it? This sort of practiced "This is a big deal for her," "Everyone is proud of her," "This is just the beginning for her." Her moment, her success. Just who is the "her" in that sentence Danielle? I mean, we know who the her is, we've peered into that particular hope chest. But do you know that we know? Do you imagine you're faking it well enough, coming across as some sort of doting, caring mother? So overjoyed that your daughter is, because of some girl-career success, overjoyed? 'Cause ya ain't. Ya burnt. Ya busted. Ya look hawrrible.
Danielle didn't actually do much that was awful in this episode, it's just that her constant presence was always so wrong and off. Poor Christine went to model walking class with some demanding tree trunk of a man who really needs to get another job, and Danielle was just there, staring hard at her daughter, watching her like Hiao-Tsiun Ma staring at a little boy and a cello, only it wasn't a cello or a violin, it was a model walking class in a silly modeling office, it meant nothing, means nothing, forever will mean absolutely nil. Christine got tired (or defeated by the silliness of the whole thing) after a while and she walked over to her mom and sort of crumpled on her shoulder and Danielle's antennae turned into a hard V and she said "No, you go back, you do this until he tells you you don't have to do it anymore." Poor Christine sighed and the tree trunk man clapped his hands and yelled "Girlie, this runway isn't going to walk itsellllffff!" and we all put our heads in our hands and groaned "Get a fucking job, dude. Just get a real job." (Said the boy writing about this shit the next day, professionally.) Christine was exhausted and stressed, but she did it, she filled those shoes with blood and then she was ready for her big moment on the runway.
The actual show went well, so yay for her, but then... I didn't know this (because I don't go to fashion shows, which means I am not a complete person, boo hoo) but apparently at the end of fashion shows, after the guests have cleared out and they've locked Karl Lagerfeld back up in his cage and shooed Bobby Trendy out from under the refreshments table, all the models come back out and stand for a long time while people get good still photographs of their outfits. So Christine came out with all her new model friends and she looked a little green. Not like inexperienced green (though she looked that too), but queasy green, sick green. She was standing there forever under hot lights, being photographed, being filmed for a TV show, being watched intensely by her crow-eyed mother, and it was just too much for a sixteen-year-old to handle. So she said, loudly, putting a hand over her mouth, "I don't feel good..." and then ran off backstage where she had maybe a panic attack. Some nice little gay from the fashion squad or whatever came over and was nice to her, but then of course Danielle swooped in and was all "She didn't eat anything, yup that's all, didn't eat anything." Like, oh yay, that's all it was, never mind. We understand, guys. Models don't eat anything. No big deal. Oh it's really nothing to worry about, it's just the anorexia. Clearly the gay fashion elf wasn't impressed by Danielle's inside fashion lingo, dated and ugly as it was, and finally Christine calmed down and it was all over, just the trickle and drip after the rainstorm. Danielle told us that Christine was devastated, just devastated. Oh, was "Christine" devastated Danielle? I'm sure "Christine" was
furious, I mean devastated. But anyway, the child rallied and she'll live to walk another cat. Or whatever. So yay for Christine. Or Danielle. I don't know who. Yay for someone, and nobody else.
Meanwhile, over at another part of Fashion Week, Teresa was having her big moment. And by her big moment of course I mean Traviata's big moment! Of course I mean that! Teresa was very excited for her daughter to do a runway walk. The child had been practicing for weeks and weeks. Mortadella does this adorable little strut thing with her hands on her hips and her lips pursed that's not at all robotic and creepy and eerily sexualized. Nope, not at all. There is nothing like that going on there. Rigatoni did her little sex jig for everyone who would look! She shimmied and shook for her aunt Carrothead, who bellowed out a deep chuckle and said "Beautiful, child. Tell me, what would you like for Christmas this year?" And Penne smiled her machine smile and she said "A Gucci on one arm and a man on the other!" and Santa Caroline said "Oh, that's, uh, OK... I was thinkin' like a PowerWheels or somethin', but, uh, OK..." and Teresa flitted up and said "Isn't she adawwwrrible???" The room fell silent and somewhere, far in the distance, a Britney Spears song wafted on the wind.
Teresa was really into this fashion show. Really into it. For Teresa this was validation of something. Of what she wasn't quite sure. But it meant something. If her dawtuh, the thing what came outta her you-know-wheah, becomes a model, then doesn't that mean, by the transmagic math prawpatee, that Teresa is a model? I think it does. I think that's how that works. Little Mastrantonio must do well not only for herself, but for her muthah, her intelligent and classy muthah who wants nothing more than for her daughter to live her mother's dream life. So she buys her a thousand dollars worth of kids clothes, forces her on stage, prays and waits.
Though, actually, you know what? Maybe that's not it. Maybe that's too easy. Maybe it's not that Teets just wants to live vicariously. Maybe it's more that in Teresa's dim, lamp-flickering worldview, everyone's doing the singing and dancing and acting these days. You know, the Miley girl, and Miranda Orangegrove or whatevuh, and Serena Gomelez. Y'know, all them girls. They all do this, so shouldn't then Scampi do it too? I honestly think that Teresa might not understand that celebrity isn't the intended end goal for every single child on the planet. I think that Teresa might think that everyone tries to make their kid famous, and damned if she's gonna let any of them beat her little Cannellini Bean. I think that Teresa just figures that all girls want fashion and singing and hands on hips and sassiness, so that's what her girl will do. I think Teresa might actually be one of the most cynical people on the planet. I think Teresa is a beautiful avatar for current cornfart America, a Raphaelite emissary for our nothing-based economy. She's all hollow vision, clear-eyed ambition with nothing behind it. It's just empty drive. She's whistling down the highway, racing toward nothing.
GOD THIS IS DEPRESSING. Sorry. It's rainy and gross and I am broke and this show made me sad last night. I wish I had a fun tale about Jacqueline — maybe she decided to become a magician's assistant and screwed up her first big trick and got sawed in half and shrugged her sad little shoulders and said quietly, "Oh, it's OK. I'll save a lot of money on pants, I guess." — but I don't. I can at least tell you that Dina's cat, the one with the puffy conical hairface and the weird bellbottom paws? That cat is like the greatest thing in the entire world. That cat gives breath to hope. I mean, that cat is actually what your dignity looks like after a night of heavy whatever, but he's still the greatest. I would watch a show about that cat. I would watch a show about that cat doing all sorts of things — being a paragliding police officer, running a quirky but compassionate law firm, waiting tables and trying to make it in the big city. I want that cat to solve mysteries in the upcoming movie Lady Buttons: A Curious Case. That cat is aces. Thank you, Dina. Thank you, hilarious cameraman who is clearly obsessed with filming that damn thing. Thank you.
And no thanks to any of you other monsters. Last night there was a tragic scene when poor little Aranciata was sitting in the backseat on the way to the fashion show and finally it all got to be too much, all the pressure weighing down on her fragile little emotions. So she cried, said she wasn't going to do it, like kids do. 'Cause she's a kid. But boyyyy-o. Her kind father was just like "No cryin', othawise I'm not doin' this no more, I'm not comin' to your shows if you're crying." And he said more mean things and Teresa just shook her head and said "Daddy's mean, don't listen to Daddy. But seriously, stop crying." And it was some really beautiful, sensitive, touching tagteam parenting. It was just so right. Everyone could learn something from those two. They really know how to do this. They're really good with children, when children are having that moment that all children, every single one, have: the oh my god I don't want to do this fashion show because I am young and scared moment. Remember your first fashion show? I remember mine.
OK, I think that might be it. I'm sorry this isn't funny or interesting or terribly anything. I'm just mad at them. I'll forgive them by next week. I will. I must.