Last night's episode of Jersey Devilz was about the giving of thanks, of appreciating loved ones and all the joy and comfort they bring to one's life. It was also about turkeys, about how they are living animals the same as you or me.
Yes indeed twas Thanksgivingtime in old New Jersey, and everyone was scribble-scrambling around trying to get ready for the big occasion. Well, hm, I'm not entirely sure it was actual Thanksgiving? Teresa told us that this would be her third Thanksgiving, her Friends Thanksgiving, after one with Joe's family and another with her family (minus her brother Dino the Dinosaur, obviously). Three Thanksgivings! That sounds like a children's book. Three Thanksgivings!, the story of 9-year-old Lindy Linden and her three Thanksgivings, one with her mom's family, another with her dad's family, and the third with dad's new friend Bruce-Bruce's family. It's all about divorce and changing families and it's very good and you should read it at your local library. I mean, you should if it existed. It does not exist! But I will give you a spoiler anyway: Lindy ends up eating pumpkin pie three times! She gets sick from eating so much, and so does her dog, Miles, because she was giving him scraps at all three dinners! It's great. You'd read it in a beanbag chair by the windows at your local library if you were a kid and this book really existed. Anyway.
THREE THANKSGIVINGS! That's a lot. But what can you do. It's just what Teresa wants. She likes her family and all, but she also likes her friends and likes having the cameras around, so Thanksgiving with the Manzos and the other Manzos is a necessity. This requires preparation! It is a big deal! So Teresa loaded up the car with her tubby hubby Joe and some of the children they own and they set off into the rain, down the Turnpike, whizzing past trees and cars, and followed the sound of turkeys gobble-gobbling. They were going to pick out a live turkey for slaughter for their Thanksgiving table! What a great thing to bring your children to? Oh wait, I'm now thinking that maybe they didn't bring their kids, maybe this was just a Joe and TT affair. OK, fair enough! Affair enough. So yeah, they drove over to Drumlin Farm (I wish) or wherever the fuck and walked into the place and then this weird silence descended? Did you notice that? All that awkward air that hung between Joe and TT and the weird turkey guys? I think some new editor was like Trying Something with that and I'm not sure it totally worked. But, hey, stabs at artistry are always welcome. Express yourself, Real Housewives of New Jersey editor!
After the strange silence ended, the weirdest of the weird turkey guys led them out back to the cages where they keep the living birdies, with the intention of picking a turkey for slaughter. When they got back there Joe and Teresa, every bit the adults and not overgrown sex-having kids, started making gag noises and holding their noses and saying "I'm not goin' in theah" because, obvs magovs, the whole place smelled like bird poop. That was the first sign that this trip was not going to end as planned. Then the weird turkey guy walked into the poop cage and pulled out a turkey and said "She's about 25 pounds alive..." Meaning she was less when dead. What, twenty-one grams lighter? What is the weight of a turkey soul? That is a question Teresa and Joe, large children in leather, were forced to consider as they looked at Tutu the turkey gazing at them. Teresa recognized something in those dim, black, beady eyes of Tutu's and she decided right then and there that she wasn't going to have the poor bird killed. The weird turkey guy said "Oh don't worry, they don't know what's going on," but Teresa didn't believe him. She said to us "How does he know they don't know? He doesn't talk turkey language." He might talk turkey language. We don't know that. That was pretty presumptuous, Teresa. I mean, he does work with turkeys all day. If anyone's going to be able to speak Turkeytongue it's the weird turkey guy with the turkey-killing job.
But yeah, Teresa and Joe both shook their big baby heads and said softly "No turkey... No kill turkey..." so the weird turkey man sighed, he'd been so looking forward to killing something today, and put Tutu back in her cage and they all went back into the store for another strangely muted scene. Teets and Joe bought an already dead turkey and that was that.
Meanwhile Teresa's sister-in-law, the gorgon Melissa, was getting ready for a Stinksgiving of her own. Her cousin Kathy was off making amazing looking desserts (how long until she has some pastry cookbook out? Six months?) and Melissa was shopping for food with her wonderful husband Dino. Dino the dinosaur (because he looks like a dinosaur) was not happy to be doing vagina stuff, lady business, so he was grumbling about this and that, saying he didn't wanna do stuff, much like a child. Really, Teresa and Dino are very similar. I don't know why they don't get along. Melissa just sighed and asked for more pro-zhoot and whatnot while her children marveled over a dead pig their parents said was just sleeping. "Why's his eyes open then?" asked one of the astute little ones. Dino and Melissa just laughed and carted the child away. Existential angst about dead animals was definitely a theme this week.
While Melissa and Dino were checking out, Dino said something to the checkout boy about how he's not used to shoppin' with ladies, usually the men just sit and eat and the shitty little checkout boy agreed with him. "Yeah, all the wimmin do the cooking and the guys just wait to eat, hyuh hyuh hyuh." Fuggedabout all a youse. You're all jerks to women. But Melissa loves it. She thinks it's dear. She even thinks it's cute when Dino holds up a big piece of pork butt and says to the meat guy "This is only half an assss" and then smacks it and says "I'm an ass man." She thinks that's just adorable. It's not adorable! He is smacking meat and pretending it's your butt while talking to a stranger while cameras film him for a national television show. That is not good!
What is good is Albie. Oh sweet caramel prince Albie. You may remember that Albie and his fetid, greasy runtling sibling Christopher have moved in together, into a high-rise along the river o'erlooking Manhattan. Yeah they're set up pretty sweet there. Albie's got a big manly canopy bed and many scented rubs and oils for lovemaking, there's always Sade playing in his room, and there's a chin-up bar in the doorway for particularly athletic lovemaking. It's a room befitting a terrestrial god such as Albie. Christopher's room, on the other hand, is full of chicken bones and empty Filet O' Fish cartons and there's just one bare bulb swinging from the ceiling and the only music ever playing is "Ride of the Valkyries" on a haunted-sounding warped record. It fits Christopher perfectly, but it's a shame the room has to be so close to Albie's I Dream of Jeannie-esque cushion boudoir.
Anyway, this all to say that Albie and Christopher are living the independent young bachelor lifestyle (Albie bringing different exotic girls [and one or two boys] home night after night, Christopher sitting on the sofa clipping his toenails and wheezing) and are thus setting a good example for their younger cousins. Cousins like the terrible dreadnought Bouffant. Ughhhh, Bouffant! Well, OK, so she wasn't that bad in this episode. Basically she went over to Albie and Chris's to hang out and marvel jealously at their view and the easy-breezy way they live their lives, and to get some advice. She sat on the sofa while the two brothers counseled her and in a corner their clearly gay friend sat cross-legged and held a tiny dog. I love that gay friend! He's super cute in a Jackass-y kinda way and he sits like ladies sit. Actually watching this entire scene last night I couldn't help but wish that they all had their own show. Do it, Bravo! Do it for us! I love these bozo kids. Even Bouffant! Well, I don't love her, but I love to watch her, that's for sure. And she's even getting better.
Yeah, after this sober talk with Albie and Slytherin, in which they told her save money to move to the city and be responsible and not bitch about taking the train to work, Bouffant went home and thought about things. She decided to change her ways and thus cleaned up her room and the kitchen without anyone shrieking at her to do it and she decided that she wasn't ready to move to The City just yet ("I just wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw," she said with a charmingly self-deprecating smirk). Her parents were thunderstruck and were initially convinced that Bouffant must be after something, working some angle like they used to say in White Christmas, but no, Vera-Ellen (I'm going to start calling you all Vera-Ellen now), there were no angles. Bouffant just wanted to be a good kid for the first time in her floppy life. Well, she wanted to be good for about three seconds. Her parents were pleased and felt like she was learning something (Jacqueline reminded herself to send the boys a thank you gift, maybe a set of weights for Albie and for Christopher that jar of weasel blood he's been lusting after at the curio shoppe) and things were great until Bouffant said "Yahhh.... I'm going to get things really settled... Once I get... my carrrrrr." Aw nerts. There's a car she wants now? Lady, you're never going to move to The City if you have a car. I mean, you could, but the point is you won't need one, so don't saddle yourself to that enormous piece of property. Live fancy-free on Jersey Transit and the PATH. Live like a normal person. C'mon, girl. We just saw a glimmer of it. There's probably a whole cache of normal person under all that bouffanty exterior. Dig it up, mine it. Show it to the world.
Once that business was done, it was time for the mealzzzz!!! Teresa was running around her house washing turkeys and screaming at the little girls she owns who do nothing but shriek at the walls and slap and punch and otherwise beat each other. Oh and one of them, the littlest one maybe, is always in the drawers. She's always got one sticky, plump little hand inside some kind of drawer, rummaging around for god only knows what. The car keys maybe? ("Get me outta this funhouse." - That baby.) So Teresa had her hands full, which I guess is nothing new. Over at Gorgon Manor, Melissa was doing all the cooking and cleaning while Dino got drunk with his brothers-in-law. Did you see that, everyone on this show? It's BROTHERS-in-law, not brother-in-laws. Brother-in-laws just means you have one brother who is your brother by way of several different laws. And that's not what you mean, everyone. So yeah, Dino was being a big awful galoot as always, but Melissa liked it. She liked showing off her tough husband and fancy house in front of her just-slightly-more-trashy sisters, hoop-earringed wonders with leopard print tops clinging to orangey hide. This is always how Melissa pictured Thanksgiving, a big brag party with a drunk hairy dinosaur husband.
At one point Dino stopped doing shots with the brother who is bound to him by several state and federal statutes and announced to his jiggly bride that there was an exciting surprise for her. "Oh brother," I muttered to my friend who I'd hoodwinked into watching the show with me last night. "Just another excuse to show off their wealth." Y'know? Because I thought that it'd be a new car or jewelry (as Melissa hoped it would be) or something like that, given to Melissa on that day for the express purpose of being flashy in front of her family. Tacky as always, right? Wrong!!! Turns out that Dino did something very sweet, caring, and true to the Thanksgiving holiday. Namely, he rented a mechanical bull that was parked out front. I... What? "What bettah Thanzgivin' than to have a mechanical bull in fronna ma house?" Dino wondered to us. I don't know! Is there a better Thanksgiving than knowing that the mechanical bull and its inflatable corral is safely in front of the Gorgons' house and thus not in front of yours? I think Dino was right. I'm not a hundred percent convinced that's what he meant, but let's just go with it.
Melissa tried to laugh through the obvious disappointment plummeting in her stomach and said "You're so crazy," while various people hopped aboard the bull and tried to ride. Kathy and her husband Jeff Goldblum tried to ride but instantly fell off. As did a few other people. Then everyone got bored and Melissa said "Come inside and eat everyone," which was too bad for one guy, one brother in law who had been patiently waiting his turn. "Hold on, lemme try this bitch" he said as he climbed on, and of course by the time he turned around to see who was watching (we didn't see this part, but you know this is how it happened) everyone was already mostly in the house and so there he was just creaking away on the mechanical bull, the moment totally gone, him too late as always, story of his fucking life, creak creak goes the bull, he's actually holding on pretty well, but then he feels a few raindrops and turns to the operator of the thing and says "All right, turn it off, turn it off," and when he schlumps back inside his wife says "Where have you been, you're all wet" and the poor guy just shrugs his shoulders, feels that familiar clammy weight in his chest that's been there since he dropped out of college, and says "Nowhere. I wasn't nowhere." Then it's time to eat.
Over at Teresa's things were totally chill. Everyone was giggling and having a good time, the food was good, Caroline's hair was red and fiery like Katniss and Peeta entering the stadium (look it up, Vera-Ellen), and only a few of the children Teresa found in her stomach a while back were shrieking and bashing each other. Good times! At one point the slightly awkward subject of Lauren Manzo and her sweetly oafish boyfriend Vito possibly getting married came up, something about how he'd asked her to marry him in Vegas and Lauren said no, partly because Vito hadn't asked Lauren's dad first and the camera showed old Albert Manzo clearly kind of upset about this, and it was weird. We actually saw more of Albert Sr. in this episode than normal, between this and the scene at the deli with Vito's family and Albert talking about his finances and stuff. A strange glimpse into a private man! But yeah, Vito apparently wants to get married and shockingly thinks that Lauren should be proposed to before her father is proposed to, and that doesn't fly with these Gueeds. Ah wellz. They're still a nice family.
So all of this pleasantness was obviously leading up to more talk of the TT/Dino controversy. TT had left a note at Dino's house apologizing for various things and now Dino was trying to figure out what to do about it. The debate raged on with Melissa throwing in various barbs while trying also to be diplomatic ("I'll forget the past and move on if that's what you want." ). Dino was real drunk at this point and couldn't really get into a reasoning rhythm so he just kept repeating phrases and staring mournfully at Melissa's big happy orange family. Finally the brother-in-various-laws, a real drunk one with red booze eyes and the sweaty pallor of evening, opened his mouth and you were so scared that he was going to say something really drunk and embarrassing but it actually ended up being so lucid and eloquent, if simple, and was basically like "She's your sister. Get over it. Reunite. She's your sister." Good advice, drunk weirdo!
Over at Teets', she was rehashing something about a passive aggressive housewarming card Melissa had given her last year (remember that big party with the clowns and the lights and everything? It's recapped here) that said "Congratulations on the redone house" instead of "Congratulations on the NEW house." The re-done thing was technically true, but Teresa thought it was deliberately rude and underminey, which is also true. So everyone was like "OK, Teresa, that was a shitty little thing, but c'mon." Then Teresa told a story about throwing out some cookies that Melissa brought to her house and TELLING Melissa that nobody'd eaten them and that she'd thrown them out, because she prefers Spagnoli cookies or something, and everyone rolled their eyes and was like "Teets, c'mon... Take the high road. Someone's got to." This whole exchange was awkward until Joe piped up and said "You know what? I hate Spagnoli's cookies" and from way down at the other end of the table Chris said "Yeah, they're dry!" Hahahaha. That was so great. Next to the sad mechanical bull guy, it was the best moment of the episode. Chris and Joe just wanted to talk about cookies. They didn't care for all this feelings garbage. "Yeah, they're dry!" Chris cried, almost with a sense of vindication, as if he'd had this conversation with someone before and they acted like he was crazy. Just a little human moment that I liked. Those cookies are dry! Victory!
So that's kind of how it ended! Just everyone wondering what to do about the future of TT and Dino, nothing resolved, things just hanging in midair at these two lovely dinners. I'm sure eventually everyone filed home. Back to their houses to rest and relax. Albie and Chris off to their new home in the sky, Albie calling up a few friends and telling them to bring the rocks because he's got the Disaronno, Chris holing up in his room with one of his amateur German pornographies he likes so much. Melissa and Dino sneaking out to hump up on the mechanical bull, the operator saying "Uh, I can leave..." but Dino waving him off, they like it this way, so everyone can see, see how in love they really are.
And I'll bet that Teresa sneaked out of bed and got in her car and drove through the dark November night all the way to the turkey farm. I'll bet she went around back to where those turkeys and chickens all were and she unhooked their cages, opened the doors one by one and said "Fly birdies! You're free! No one's going to kill you now!" And she watched in frustration as these dumb old birds did nothing, clucked lazily in their sleep and that was it. "Birdies, don't you want to be free??" she whispered, but they didn't respond. So she just stood there, watching the birds in their cages, knowing all their ends would be grim. And she thought about her house and her life and she wondered. She wondered so hard that she did it. She raised her arms up and, just once, flapped them to see if she might fly.