Let’s dispense with the boring, non-Danielle parts of this episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey quickly. First, Dina is sad because she has to send her daughter/best buddy to Cyprus. It’s actually kind of sweet, although Dina appears to be a huge xenophobe, because she actually seems like she’ll worry for her daughter and miss spending time with her. Aww, that’s cute. Jacqueline still can’t get pregnant (although she did about 9 months ago and is due any day now). Teresa and Goomba Johnny or whoever her husband is decide that it’d be fun for everyone to take dance classes, since the teevee told her that dancing was fun, and they all go and do it (except for Dina, who was probably at home continually rolling her eyes). And Danielle is totally creepy about both the dance instructor and Caroline’s son Albie.
This teaches us an important lesson for the rest of the show: Danielle will hit on anything with external genitalia. She also pisses off Goomba Johnny, who was acting exactly as you’d expect him to act by calling the dance instructor gay,* and then insults Teresa for being married to him. Which brings us to the best part of the entire episode, and the drama that we’ve all been waiting for: everyone freakin’ hates Danielle.
Oops, did I call her Danielle? Because her name is Beverly Merrill. Well, it WAS, anyway. Back in the day, Bev was a north Jersey stripper (and apparently a big fan of cocaine, but that’s not an enormous surprise if you know or remember anything about the 80s) who danced under the name Danielle. She was arrested in 1986 by federal agents and accused of helping her boyfriend kidnap, torture, and hold for ransom the son of some guy that owed her boyfriend a considerable sum of money. By the time her charges came up, she had shacked up with her new boyfriend (Kevin Maher, a con-man-turned-police-informant and the subject of Cop Without a Badge, the book from whence all this information came) and he used his connections to get her off relatively easily. Although he was shacked up with and eventually married Danielle, Maher was still married to his previous wife, with whom he had a child, which just proves what classy people we’re dealing with here.
Maher eventually divorced his first wife, at which point his marriage to Danielle became legal, and don’t think for a second that that makes the whole con-man/stripper marriage any less slimy. At some point, Maher decided he needed to father another child (because that’s exactly what the world needs) and divorced our girl Bev because she wasn’t “mother material.” And when a coke-fiend turncoat con-man thinks that you’re not mature or stable enough to have his children, well, I think you have to reevaluate your lifetime decision-making up until that point.
Never one for introspection, though, Danielle legally changed her name, kept strippin’, and eventually found a rich (and probably dumb) guy to knock her up a few times before he realized what a horrific decision he had made. Her kids, at least the older one (the little one doesn’t say much), apparently got some intelligent DNA from somewhere, though – they appear to realize that their mother is an infantile idiot that isn’t going to be much of a help in the rest of their lives.
One of the reasons that I think Danielle is probably brain dead is that she seems surprised that A) the book (with her picture printed in it) surfaced among her group of friends at all and B) that they all discussed it a bit among themselves before asking her about it. Let’s think about this logically: when you find out that a woman you don’t even like has a past that involves violent crime, drug trafficking, and the involvement of the federal authorities, you don’t run immediately towards her, waving a copy of her mug shot and asking questions. You regroup with the people that you actually like and trust and see if anyone else has heard the same thing or knows any additional information before you go to the personal with the criminal past. In some lame attempt to settle things once and for all, she forces Jacqueline in to some sort of awkward champagne toast over loyalties, like a toast is akin to a signed contract or Jackie is going to sell out their rich family for a dim ex-stripper.
All of this just goes to show you, folks: in the age of reality TV and Google, there’s no use in trying to hide your past, particularly if it involves legal documents that are public record. At a certain point, you have to own it, even if it’s unpleasant. If you don’t want your kids to know that you were a coked-up loser in the past, don’t volunteer yourself for massive public scrutiny. It seems fairly obvious and simple to me. Of course, it also seems like some of the obvious and simple things in life have completely escaped Danielle.
The whole thing ends with Danielle and her gay bestie calling Dina fat (Dina is not fat) and otherwise acting like children, but what do you expect? According to Caroline, it wasn’t Dina that even found the book, so I’m not exactly sure why Danielle is trying to pin it on her. And ultimately, it’s all Danielle’s problem anyway – lay down with dogs, you’re going to get fleas. If it’s the truth, it’s not anyone else’s fault for pointing it out.
*Danielle was totally right about the fact that Teresa’s husband was offensive and bigoted in his comments. So, you know, +1 for her. She actually got SOMETHING right, although I’m not sure why anyone would expect him to be anything less than offensive and ignorant.