It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas on last night's episode of Orange You Glad, with trees decorated and a general holiday cheer filling the air. Though there was also a chill, a deep sad wintry shudder that drafted through Franklin Lakes.
You remember of course the great crack we heard but a few months ago, as the mighty House Manzo was torn apart. The house's two sons — shining butterscotch godling Albie and gnarled, fetid dark prince Christopher — decided to strike out on their own, renting a highrise apartment and moving in with their eunuch manservant Gregor. There was much rejoicing at this, the possibility-laden excitement of two proud young men (and one eunuch) striking out on their own. But lost amid all the fanfare was the dark-haired princess standing in a corner, glowering through tears. The princes, you see, had forgotten their dear sister, lonely Lauren, sad to be left behind, all alone in dusty old Castle Brownstone.
So that was one of the sad emotional things of the episode, that Lauren feels left out now that Albie and Chris have their own fun, independent life while she's stuck at home doing nothing. Which is slightly confusing, because is there some reason Lauren can't herself move out of her parents' house? Isn't she of age and gainfully employed? It was strange, that practical aspect of the problem. But emotionally, yes, I get it. I get why it sucks that Albie and Chris have to make plans with Lauren rather than just hang out. That's tough, that realization that you suddenly have to work at something that had previously been easy. And Albie, Chris, and Greg are a fun bunch — Gregor the Eunuch does a funny "Jersey guy" voice and bought weird green feather Christmas trees, Chris has a darting snakelike sense of humor that is enjoyable when not scary, and of course Albie brings light and warmth to the world — so I totally understand why Lauren would be upset.
What I don't understand is her manifesting her upsetness in the way that she does. She gets mad. She gets mad in this way that isn't going to win her any support or sympathy or anything. Even Mama Caroline, so fiercely protective of all her cubs, thinks Lauren is being a big crybaby about this whole thing, and she told her so. Everyone went over to the bachelor sky loft to help decorate for Christmas, and between one-liners and other various zingers, Lauren picked a fight about how no one ever calls her and everyone hates her so why doesn't she just go eat worms. Caroline rolled her eyes and said "She acts like she's sitting up all alone in her room, saying 'Nobody loves me'..." and it was the kind of thing that's funny but is also annoying, because I wish these Manzos would stop doing my job for me. If you appropriately analyze your friends and family, and do so with a little bit of humor, then what is a recapper to do? Why aren't you people crazy and sniveling and dumb and devious like the rest of these skunks? I've just about had it with you Manzo jerks, being all normal and rational and I daresay charming. It's really insulting to me and the rest of the recapping community. (Is there a community? I hope there's not a community. If there's a recapping community it spells bad things for the world.) Start being awful people right this instant or I'll be forced to do I don't know what. In the end, as if to prove their infuriating decency, Albie presented Lauren with a key to the apartment. A nice gesture. But maybe still an empty one. Will she really just show up if she's not been called and invited? That doesn't seem all that likely. But yes, what a thoughtful thing to do, Manzo boys (and eunuch). How human and regular that was.
Actually, truth be told, everyone else was pretty sane this episode too. It was a quiet sort of episode. Jacqueline was all in a tizzy because she was hosting a holiday cocktail party for everyone on the show, which meant that Teresa and Melissa Gorgon would be in the same room, and oh sweet St. Christopher what if they get in a fight and Teresa throws a table through a wall and then Melissa unhinges her jaw and issues a sing-blast so powerful that Teresa goes sailing through the French doors and then everything's ruined? Jacqueline really didn't want that to happen. But she was also forced, by both TV show contracts and a general clawing need for Drama and Plot, to have them both over, so she did.
As it turns out everything went mostly OK. There was one brief thing where Melissa said "Oh and Teresa was all 'I'm losing a brother, I'm losing a brother' when me and Joe got married, and I was like 'But you're getting a sister!'" And then Teresa had to respond and they went back and forth doing that "I'm annoyed but I'm talking faux sweetly as a way to convey that I am annoyed" kind of thing and it was totes awkward for a little bit, but other than that? Things went fine. There was a horribly disgusting moment where Teresa was joking about having a threesome with her husband and Gregor the Eunuch and everyone was like "Uhhhhh" while Teresa and Joe giggled and it was just very strange. That's what you talk about at a family function? I mean, that's what you say in front of your friends' kids, grown or not? It was just very upsetting. But everyone seemed OK with it, so I guess different strokes for different folks. Ew. Strokes.
Then for some reason Joe Gorgon decided to put on a sparkly ladies onesie and run around, which makes two times that this guy has dressed in drag on this show. He really seems to like it! I wonder if he ever sneaks into Melissa's closet-room when she's not around and tries on her things, ooing and ahhing at at the lush fabrics of dresses, trying to squeeze his meatballish feet into her fancy shoes. I wonder too if that's what he's thinking about when he watches his wife sing, imagining not her on a stage in a fabulous costume, banging out high notes, but rather himself, gloriously bewigged with bangly earrings, entertaining a crowd with his powerful alto. I think that's maybe why Joe Gorgon is so into Melissa's singing career. It's a way to live vicariously. My, he and Teresa really aren't much different, are they? Melissa is Joe's Gia, an avatar with which to experience all the glitzy joys of being a STAH.
Joe is so invested in this dream that he's decided, upon hearing from one random music producer that Melissa is a good singer (and, really, she's not bad), to build her a big recording studio in the basement. It was going to be his wine room, he explained, but he'll defer that dream, let it raisin on the vine, to help his wife with hers. Of course it's his dream too, but she don't have to know that. The studio seems like it's going to be an elaborate, if oddly proportioned, affair. The little singing booth Joe plans to build is no bigger than a telephone booth, which if you remember what those looked like, were not very big. Melissa was a little concerned about the size, but Joe was sure it was going to work. How does Joe know how to build a recording studio anyway? He seemed to have a whole concept and everything. He had two Italian workmen down there and he was confidently rattling away in the old tongue about where things should be, glass walls here and there, booths and mirrors. Yes, trick mirrors to be exact, one-way mirrors. Joe explained to Melissa that this hidden room would exist so he could spy on Melissa, make sure she wasn't getting too friendly with the music producers. But after Melissa went upstairs one of the Italians turned to him and said, in clear perfect English, "So you want a masturbatorium?" There was a slight, stunted pause and then Joe looked down at the ground and quietly mumbled "Yes, I'd like one of those please." So it will be built! And Melissa will record her horrible gorgon's song, luring men to her house (I'm mixing my Greek metaphors here, I know) and, I dunno, singing more to them, while Joe dances oblivious in his little private room, loving the twirl of the dress he's wearing, hands gleefully playing with the long curls of his wig. A happy family picture, really. Nice to be building things.
Speaking of building things, remember that Cathy and Jeff Gourdbloom were going to make a restaurant? Yeah, Cathy was like "I want to start doing dessert catering" so naturally her husband said "Why not open a full-service restaurant?" Because that's the next logical step. From small-time dessert catering to incredibly risky, unendingly complex business venture. But ah well, Cathy was intrigued by the go-for-broke idea, so she, dressed like Annie Hall's gay brother, and Gourdbloom went looking for restaurant spaces. They found a really nice one with classy decorations and no carpeting on the floors and a big, shiny stainless kitchen, but it was maybe too big? That was actually Gourdbloom's worry, that it wasn't the little trattoria he'd had in mind, so it was nice to see him have some sense about this. In the end, though, I don't think this restaurant thing is going to happen. They went and consulted with Padre Manzo and he laughed, actually laughed, and said "No, no, you do not want to open a restaurant together. No." He told Cathy to do her catering thing and focus on that and see if she can't build, step by step, from there. Which, again with the sense-making, Manzos! It's really too much. Stop it. You're ruining everyone's fun.
Thank god, at least, for Kim G. Yes the four-hundred-year-old former Gidget extra popped up this week, because I guess everyone felt like they needed a booster shot of dramz. And they weren't wrong! Jacqueline went over to talk to Kim because... oh whatever, no reason, just because. And Kim was very excited to see her! And, y'know, the cameras. She was excited to see those too. She was so excited that, like a dog who pees on the floor every time the doorbell rings because they just can't contain themselves, Kim blurted out, strangely, "I had a brain tumor!" Well, OK, it came with a little more context than that, but for the most part she was just standing on a stairwell and then all of a sudden was all choked up about a brain tumor and making Jacqueline feel the back of her head to see where they had opened her skull. And, I mean yes, obviously if I had to pick out anyone on this show who had probably had brain surgery at some point, I would of course pick Kim every time. So it really wasn't that surprising now that she told us. Obviously she's better now, so that's very good, but poor Kim really did seem to enjoy the telling of the tale, didn't she? The breathless voice, the little Streepian up-note whine, a little trill of anxious desperation. She loved it, probably wished she was wearing a silk robe and a turban. "Come, let's sit in the lemon garden," she would have said if she lived in some slightly overgrown Beverly Hills jungle mansion. But as she was stuck in New Jersey at the moment, she just led Jacqueline over to a sofa and played her a voicemail from some lady who hates Teresa.
Teresa is Kim G.'s sworn enemy, because Teresa once called her old (this was a good excuse to replay the footage of Kim G.'s ass hanging out of her underpants at that stripper camp Danielle took her to) and also there was some thing where Kim G. was hanging out with the wife of Joe's former business partner's lawyer or accountant or something? It was all very muddled. The point was that apparently Teresa confronted this lady about hanging around with Kim, because she hates Kim (I mean, I think she's right to innately hate a 3,000-year-old mummy, I think we all kind of hate mummies, because they're scary) and how dare Joe's dentist's nephew's boyfriend's best girl friend from grammar school hang out with someone that Teresa hates? It's just extremely inappropriate. So Kim wanted to tell Jacqueline about how Teresa totally freaked out, but meanwhile Teresa was back at her house (or somewhere) saying that she was totally polite and then Joe is in another room saying that Teresa went nucking futs. It's hard to pick who to believe! I mean, of course Teresa freaked out, that's what she does, but was it provoked? We may never now. Back at Kim's house, Jacqueline cut her off mid-gossip and said "Tell your friend to shut the fuck up," and that was that, boom. Which, good. I don't want to hear more about this fight, because I hate watching a show where they just talk about a thing that happened off-camera. That is not very dramatic, TV! Don't do that.
But yes, at least Kim added a little spice to last night's proceedings. Other than its blow-up beginning, what a mild season this is, huh? Everyone's just bopping around, sure a little sad because it's the holidays and things are changing, sure a little too star-eyed about the future, sure a little too ambitious and a little too grossly sexual in front of their friends' children, but mostly everyone is making due just fine, ready for Christmas, anticipating a new year. Soon they'll be popping champagne and, for once, cheering the passing of time. Lauren sitting at home waiting for a phone call from her brothers that likely will not come, she lives an hour away after all, and an hour away might as well be a plane ride when you're young and busy being young. Joe will twirl around in his dress while Melissa sings "Auld Lang Syne" in her studio, a producer laying it down atop a sick beat. Off at her house, Jacqueline curled up asleep by the hearth, dreams fluttering across her eyelids.
And somewhere Kim G., feeling the dark troubled spot on her skull where the drills went in, pressing her fingers against it, saying to herself "Happy New Year!" and really meaning it. Then she calmly steps out of the bushes and walks toward the Giudice house, tire iron in hand, an ominous skip in her step, a cold kind of song in her heart.