Well goodness gracious we are back. With fiery lion roars, our most volatile Housewives—prone to violent lashings out—returned to the airwaves and, madonn, did they lash out.
As is usually the helpful thing to do at the start of a Housewives season, and because we have two new ladies to talk about, let's go character-by-character to see where everyone stood.
Our most stable Housewife is mostly doing what she does best, tending to her rambling, chatty brood with a mixture of jokey tough love and teary mama-ness. There is something undeniably charming about this wing of the Manzo clan, cheery and good-humored folks who seem to like nothing more than standing around the kitchen and bullshitting with each other. Sure Caroline can be a bit of a bulldozer with the other ladies, barking and stubborn, but with her family she's good old mama Caroline, pulling her children in close to her bosom and telling them to never leave. Unfortunately, they did not listen! Though they are not getting married, and therefore as good Italian boys should still be living at home, shining honey god Albie and his runted, black-eyed brother Chris have decided to leave the house and get an apartment in Hoboken, a sunny high-rise overlooking the Hudson with yawning views of Manhattan, the city teasing them with its proximity. It's a nice bachelor pad, with balconies and soft pink carpeting, and I'm sure that Albie will lure many a lady there, reeling them in with his ice cream smile and mama's boy gentility. And perhaps he'll bring a scrap or two back for his brother the jokester, the dark prince Chris, who will get the girl laughing with his dopey Cajun voice and other various quips, but then she will feel his cold clammy hand on her neck and know that he has other, more sinister intentions than making her laugh.
It won't be a bad life, but this doesn't mean that Caroline has to be happy about it. The boys showed her the apartment as a surprise, but Caroline knew what was coming. She pretty immediately started crying and did not much stop throughout the apartment tour. Her babies! Leaving! Of course there is still the sister, oft-forgotten Lauren, but it's not the same. Not the same at all. Later at Sunday night dinner — they tried to cook Southern food and mused about whether Southern people can cook Italian food, specifically pasta, and Caroline and Chris decided no and Albie rolled his eyes at them, he's not as skeptical of the wider world as they are, no he's got his gaze fixed on the distant horizon — it was revealed that Chris will also be stepping down from his post at the Brownstone, because he and his father think that he needs to find his passion. "Something with all the jokes and stuff you make," his father said. And that, coupled with Chris saying he was "working on a Cajun character" filled me with the dreadful thought that he is maybe going to pursue a comedy career. Oh no. Oh no. That's just what the Manzo kingdom needs, another embarrassment from one of their sons. First Albie's law school and now this? Comedy? It will not stand. Send him to the war in Prussia! That will set his constitution right. The performing arts are for beggars and whores, not princes, not even ones like Chris. Caroline's happy family, shamed! Shamed! For her part, Lauren and her dopey, affable boyfriend Vito are getting serious. Vito says he has a plan to marry her, but not just yet. Which suits Caroline just fine. If Lauren leaves, then that's it. Empty nest. No chicks to feed. Only silence and occasional echoes. She's not ready for that just yet. She tucked into her bowl of beans (that's what Southern people eat) and prayed for a very long engagement.
Jacqueline and her husband Chris were at the Sunday Manzo dinner, and while Albie and Chris talked about their new apartment with excitement, a sad cloud of resignation passed over Jacqueline's face. "Yeah," she sighed. "Ashley's thinking about moving out too. To the city." Haha, yes. Our old flop-hatted friend Bouffant is back, and she is going places. Moving on up! She's gotten an unpaid internship in the city, working in PR for... Lizzie Grubman. !!!! Yes, Lizzie Grubman as in the nefarious red lobster who, in a fit of pique, drove her SUV into a crowd of people outside a Hamptons nightclub, supposedly while shouting "Fuck you, white trash!" That Lizzie Grubman! Great person to intern for in the city. I mean, I'm sure that Bouffant has grown up around a lot of people who have run people over outside of nightclubs, so it fits. It's a natural pairing. So she's off doing that and living like Sex and the City, as Caroline put it, and everything is going fine until her stupid mom has to come and ruin it. Yes, as a little surprise Jacqueline decided to show up at Bouffant's fancy city office and it was really embarrassing for everyone. "Mooom..." Bouffant bouffanted. "I just wanted to see where you work!" Jacqueline said, chipper and silly, blind to the fact, either willfully or not, that she was embarrassing her daughter so very badly. Then, with the clacking of claws and the shuffle of antennae, Lizzie came out from under her rock to meet Jacqueline. "She's doing good, she's doing good..." Lizzie said, entirely unconvincingly. "She just needs to come in every day." Haha, ohhh dear. Bouffant. Why are you not coming in every day? This is your big city chance!
Bouffant glowered and pouted and said "It's really hard with my commute... That's why I wanted to talk to you and dad about me getting an apartment in the city..." To which Jacqueline basically laughed and said "How are you going to do that? Maybe if you get a second job that actually, y'know, pays?" And that got Bouffant all upset, which got me all upset because you really should not be doing this, getting upset with your mom about your bratty apartment plans, in front of your boss, especially if you are an intern who can't even manage to make it to work every day. But that's what happened! Bouffant excused herself to go cry in a storage closet and was followed by Lizzie, who said something like "You act differently around your mother," which I'm not sure exactly what that means but I can sorta see being true, and then of course Jacqueline had to barge in and try to comfort her daughter, which was the last thing anyone needed, and it was just one big blubbery, lobstery mess.
Jacqueline dragged a sniffling Bouffant off to lunch at a local diner, where Chris was waiting, and Jacqueline related the whole story to him and he just looked so tired by the situation. "You're not going to work every day?" he asked Bouffant exasperatedly. "I have to commute. And it's hard..." she whined. "I have to wake up early, take the train..." Ha. That's true. So few jobs require people to wake up in the morning and commute to an office. That is a very rare, very hard thing to have to do and Bouffant is right to feel that, because she endures such hardship, she, at 19 years old, deserves an apartment in Manhattan that she does not pay for. And she wants it now! Right now. Jacqueline tried to point out the silliness of this, but she was too interested in fighting to be productive, so Chris sort of shushed her and Jacqueline got fed up and said "Clearly it's just you two talking, no one wants my opinion, so I'm gonna go. Find me when you're done talking." Oh, Jacqueline. Way to impress upon your daughter the value of consistency and seeing things through! Ah well. Chris laid out a very reasonable plan for Bouffant — he'd pay her transportation costs if she went to the internship every day, and then once she got a paying job she could get an apartment, "Apartments in New York don't just happen," he said soberly, "Thousands of kids your age live in the city, but they work for it," which I wish was entirely true — but Bouffant wasn't really hearing it. She doesn't understand why her parents make everything so hard for her. All she wants to do is teeter around New York City in her too-high heels (girls wearing shoes they can't walk in sends such rage shivers up my spine I don't really know what to do) and say she works in PR, but of course not actually work in PR. I don't really get where this sense of entitlement comes from, but I suspect it might be somewhat curbed if Jacqueline decided to, hey, I dunno, not put her daughter on a reality show that gives her false impressions of fame. Maybe! Who knows. You never do know.
Kathy is one of the two new wives, and happens to be Teresa's cousin. So far she hasn't really done much but proved herself to be a bit of an eccentric. She lives in a pretty typical Northeastern colonial house, and yet in a quick shot of her backyard, we saw that it was done up will billowing curtains and Roman lounge-type stuff as if she's wintering on Capri in the year 12 A.D. Or like she lives in King's Landing in Game of Thrones. You know, something like that. Very funny. She also had a weird scene where she rode her bicycle down a highway of sorts to go to the grocery store. I guess it was a whimsical, charming little thing to do, but I also got the impression that, after she'd weirded out a bunch of supermarket employees and loaded her basket with grocery bags, she maybe doesn't actually ride her bike to the supermarket all the time? She kinda wobbled there a bit too much, didn't she? I don't know. It felt like a very Joan Allen in The Ice Storm kind of thing to do, this bicycle thing. Not befitting a Jersey Housewife at all. Quit trying to be all classy-like with your bicycle riding, Kathy!
The most amusing thing about Kathy, though, is probably her husband Rich. He's a bit like if Jeff Goldbum and Garry Shandling had a baby together and raised it in New Jersey. He's got a very expressive face, let's say. He's a Lebanese guy, but can clearly roll with the Italians pretty easily, and the two seem to get along pretty well. They have two kids, a 14-year-old son with a mischievous look about him and a 16-year-old (right?) girl who appears to be a pouting princess. They didn't do much this episode but bicker a little, and I suspect they're both likely too young to really do anything interesting this season. But Rich! Rich, if nothing else, is definitely good for an occasional comic relief moment, and that's always welcome. Kathy herself seems a bit too serious and a bit too willing to get in on family drama that doesn't really require her presence. What drama, you ask? Well, let's talk about it.
Ohhh boy. Mellisa is Teresa's sister-in-law, married to her brother Joe. (Everyone on this show is named Joe.) Melissa is a pretty in a very processed way and lives proudly in a giant faux-classical mansion fill of painted portraits, puttering around with her three kids (two boys and a girl) and making sure she's got a hot meal on the dinner table by the time Joe comes home. Joe, a lumpy knuckle of a man, seems to work in some sort of real estate development, the kind of bubble business that makes me feel uneasy, like all this wealth and luxury isn't here to stay.
Not that I would feel that bad if something like what happened to Teresa and her Joe were to happen to Melissa and Joe Gorgon. They don't seem like very pleasant people? Melissa doesn't much like Teresa because she feels a sense of competition there, and claims that Teresa is not very attentive as a member of the family. Joe feels much the same way and has problems with Joe as well. Not Joe himself, Joe Teresa's husband. I got the impression last night, and maybe you did too, that Melissa, and possibly Joe too, bore a little resentment about Teresa's reality TV fame and were thrilled now, finally, to show off their own surely more luxurious lifestyle.
Their big debut came in the form of a christening party for their baby son Joe, a lavish affair at The Manor that included shimmering crystal crucifixes hung in the centerpieces, a cross-shaped cake, and a cross-shaped ice sculpture. Melissa is very religious it seems? "Are you ready to enter Jesus's Kingdom?" she cooed at her baby in the car on the way to the church, which seemed a little creepy in a "You're going to be in Heaven soon" kind of way? I think that Melissa, like her subservient deeply religious West Coast counterpart Alexis, might be putting on a bit of a show of faith.
So they zoomed off to the christening and, with an ominous wish from Joe (the father, not the baby) that there be no drama today, they entered the fray.
Meanwhile, Teresa is living a busy life. Her Joe is busy running the pizzapie parlor, shuffling around in newly jovial (Joevial?) fashion serving up pizza and sodas and strange slices of ham piled appetizingly on a plate, while Teresa has fabulous book signings in a random room of the restaurant. This particular signing was obviously staged, as it was really just Teresa sitting by herself behind a table signing weird drawings of herself, no book people in sight. But that's OK! It was all meant to show how happy and pleasant post-bankruptcy life can be, and hey they still even live in their enormous marble airplane hangar and everything. Things ain't that bad. Or so we thought.
As Melissa had alluded to before, there's some intra-family trouble. Teresa and her brother are increasingly estranged, partly because Melissa is hard to get along with (as is, I'd imagine, Teresa) and also because there's some thing where her brother Joe is jealous of her husband Joe's relationship with her father. T. Joe is maybe whispering bad things to Teresa's father about his son, which clearly displeases M. Joe. But Teresa is trying, as best as Teresa can do anything. Which is to say, not well. The day of the christening was a frenzied nightmare, with children squealing and Teresa running around half-styled (her usual hair stylist had been poached for the morning by Melissa, which Teresa found pointed and on purpose, and probably was). Also, T. Joe had a bad case of the poops and decided he wasn't going to attend the church service. He'd be there for the free booze and food party, no doubt, but he was a bit too poopy to go to church. Which, fair enough. We've all been too poopy to do one thing or another in our lives. There but for the grace of Imodium go we, I suppose. But you knew that Melissa and M. Joe would take offense to Teresa showing up with only half her family in tow (little Spumantia, Teresa's oldest and M. Joe's goddaughter, had a gymnastics competition, so could only attend the party as well), they'd perceive it as some sort of direct slight rather than just a symptom of Teresa being a dazed mess. Come on, Teresa. Get it together. For your family.
She finally staggered in late to the church service and tried to act like nothing was wrong, cooing and kissing over the baby and giving Melissa and her brother tentative hugs. It seemed that Melissa and M. Joe had started the day already mad at Teresa, so they were probably satisfied when she didn't let them down and continued to do things to confirm their disdain. The whole Giudice clan eventually assembled at the party (Teresa just had to comment on how many more people had come to her recent christening, and by "her" christening she, uh, meant her daughter's) and the booze flowed like, uh, wine, though T. Joe turned down taking a shot with M. Joe and his bellowing band of brothers, which M. Joe didn't like. Of course T. Joe didn't want to say "I don't want a shot because I have the poops," but maybe, for the sake of harmony, he could have. Oh well. Too late now. So the party went on, with everyone getting drunker and drunker, especially M. Joe, who kept making big, broad, movie-like declarations about his family, so excited was he to finally be a Character on a TV Show. His smooth bone-thick head glistened with both pride and a growing curdle of rage and the air hummed with a strange, nervous energy. Something bad was going to happen. (To be fair we already knew something bad was going to happen because we'd seen it start happening in a flash-forward prologue at the beginning of the episode.) M. Joe watched as Teresa and T. Joe danced with baby Joe, which they were only doing, Melissa surmised, to appear to be good aunt and uncle to this newest member of Jesus's Kingdom. Nothing about it was for real, Melissa was convinced, and as she kept driving these little nails in, needling to her fellow tablemates, M. Joe got drunker and madder, madder and drunker.
So when Teresa came over to say one last self-serving congratulations to the happy family, M. Joe couldn't take it anymore. "Why don't you just walk the fuck away? Do what you do every day and walk away." Teresa was shocked! Such rudeness! "Huh??" she kept asking, "Are you serious??" Then Melissa got into it, as did Melissa's nattering sister Lysa (that is not how you spell Lisa, fyi), and while Teresa should have walked away, that is not the Teresa way. No, the TT way is to engage, to grunt and hoot at her aggressor until it's actually unclear who is aggressing upon whom. Well, OK, to be fair, Teresa was walking away, until stupid drunk M. Joe said "You're fucking garbage" (whoa, unless your sister is actual garbage, if maybe you are both Garbage Pail Kids, you do not call your sister garbage) and Teresa went back up in his face and yelling began. Poor Spumantia, whom her beloved uncle M. Joe creepily dotes on, was trying to pull her mother away, pleading with them not to fight, but it was too late. The train had already skipped the rails (sorry all you MTA people this morning, heard it was brutes) and there was nothing to be done. Then, all of a sudden, the child now pushed somewhere to the side, there was a loud groan and the sound of wires snapping and before we knew what was happening, there was a flurry of fists and arms and legs and shrieks and T. Joe was barreling through the crowd and a real fight broke out.
The melee went on for some time, with people holding both the Joes back and, I think at one point but maybe I'm crazy, that someone holding a gun was tackled? It was bad, basically. Very, very bad. The fight at that point had become more about the two Joes than about Teresa, with M. Joe yelling about "My fucking father! My fucking father!" and everyone looking confused and scared and bewildered. Of course alllll the children were sobbing messes at this point, because who wouldn't be, I'm an almost-28-year-old adult and I would have been a sobbing mess by then, and some thoughtful adults (Kathy among them, I believe) decided to whisk the children away to places more pleasant. (Hopefully not Jesus's Kingdom, though.) The fight continued, with various ebbs and flows, and then at one point Teresa's old dad was in M. Joe's face and there was yelling about that, and then people scattered and diffused and M. Joe and his father had an intense confrontation that ended with M. Joe screaming "You're my father!! You're my father!!!!" in a raspy, pained wail and it was really, really, really quite embarrassing. One of M. Joe's mooks was all "C'mon, let's just go to the bar," trying to calm M. Joe down. No, mook, no! That is not where you take M. Joe right now. You take him to the drunk tank or at least to his own house and don't let him drink anymore of his curious red liquor. (I assume it was Campari?) Don't get him more to drink. He has enough booze floating around in that thumb-head of his already.
So that was basically the fight! The video above tells a better story than I can, as it's the actual story. But what a way to be back! I am a little disappointed that the inevitable yearly TeresaFight (it comes every year, like crocuses) happened so early in the season, but still what a way to come back. They're really reaching for the Beverly Hills-level stars here, and it couldn't be better timing, what with New York and Orange County droning along so dully.
I'm weirdly happy that we're back! Back to Bouffant, flubbing around like lazy flubber. Back to sweet lion angel Albie, all perfect grins and cold-hearted ambition. (Does it look to you like he got plugs or at least Rogaine or something? I noticed more hair, I think.) Back to dark, scheming Chris. Back to frustrated puppy dog Jacqueline. And welcome to you, new ladies. May the fake sun of the tanning bed shine forever on your faces and Teresa punches always rise to greet you in the kisser. Ah, New Jersey. A state away, and yet worlds apart.
Ciao for now!