Compared to last week’s premiere of Real Housewives of New Jersey (not to mention the most recent New York episode), this week’s installment fell a little…flat. Sure, there was plenty of insanity from Danielle and enough mortifying sexual missives from Teresa to go around, but I kept waiting for that moment of genuine off-the-rails housewifery, and it didn’t quite come.
We found out a few things, however: Danielle’s daughter somehow got a photoshoot with Gilles Bensimon without marrying him (ahem, Kelly) or winning America’s Next Top Model, which I didn’t even know was possible. Jacqueline’s daughter drinks and sneaks in to clubs, just like every other dim 18-year-old girl who no longer lives with her parents. Teresa owns a SlapChop, and also her “chucky” is swollen. Yeah, I said it.
To start the episode, Danielle (who can’t tell the difference between Pucci and BCBG) met with a realtor because she has to sell her house and split the proceeds with her ex as part of her divorce settlement, and we got to see her somewhat (read: entirely) dubious powers of logic in full effect. Her house hasn’t been updated and is falling apart at the seams, but she doesn’t think that she should have to put any effort into upkeep because she doesn’t get the keep all of the profits from the sale. It apparently hasn’t occurred to her that fixing it up a little might help make the sale price higher, which makes me think that she’s possibly the only woman in the country that doesn’t watch HGTV obsessively.
In other parts of the New Jersey hinterlands, Jacqueline and Caroline ate lunch at an Italian restaurant. Of course they did. Teresa eventually decided to grace them with her presence and, immediately after sitting down, regaled them with stories of pregnancy sex. I love Teresa, if only because the only thing she can think to talk about as soon as she sees people is how her husband likes her to be on top and she’s just too lazy for it. She’s the kind of friend that you can always rely on to make you look sane by comparison, and don’t underestimate the importance of having those people around.
When Teresa stopped talking about sex long enough to shove some salad down her gullet, Caroline commandeered the conversation and decided to talk about Danielle. Jacqueline mentioned that they have traded a few text message, although they haven’t seen each other or actually talked. In La Famiglia, texting Danielle is a grievous sin against Caroline’s father-in-law or something (unless you’re Dina, then it’s fine), and Caroline promptly started talking smack about how awkward Danielle’s kids are. Caroline, look, I like you. Don’t bring the kids in to it. There are plenty of things to pick on about Danielle without picking on her kids, who seem perfectly lovely, if slightly traumatized.
Caroline and Teresa think that Danielle preys on Jacqueline because she’s the weakest link and, well, they might have a point. Danielle seems like she can’t stop obsessing about this family, who in turn can’t stop obsessing about her, and Jacqueline is the only one that will give her the time of day, which means that she’s Danielle’s way in. Of course, if the Manzos stopped talking about her and Danielle found another family to terrorize, all this show would have is Teresa, talking about her chacha and making red sauce in the driveway. And, you know, I’d probably still watch. Sad but true.
Speaking of the Manzos, Caroline’s kids had a food fight with some cold cuts that actually looked totally fun and innocent, but Caroline and her husband walked in and seemed totally displeased that this Ham Game is a recurring thing in the Manzo household. Then things got weird because Albie hates that Lauren is dating Vito, his best friend, which seems like it shouldn’t be all that big of a deal if Vito is treating her correctly. Later, Albie and Vito have a, uh, “man-to-man” talk about whether or not Lauren is allowed to choose her own relationships. The whole situation makes my feminist spidey sense tingle, despite the fact that none of it is legitimately entertaining in any way.
In other Manzo news, Jacqueline’s daughter came over to do laundry and they ended up having a deep (oh, fine, it wasn’t deep at all) conversation about drinking and driving and all of those things. If you have a child that has graduated high school, they drink. Even the good ones, of which Ashley is not. There’s virtually nothing you can do about it, and on this subject, I know of which I speak.
What you can do, however, is stop doing their laundry and giving them money if they’re not doing anything with themselves besides drinking. Dina later advised Jacqueline to beat her, which might not be a bad idea, particularly since Ashley is over 18 and it wouldn’t be child abuse. Just, you know, assault. But she could probably plead to lower charges and get probation or something, so maybe they’re saving that for the finale?
Somehow, and I can’t even imagine how, Danielle has managed to screw up her kids less than Jacqueline. For the moment, anyway. Danielle’s older daughter, Christine, got signed to a modeling contract by IMG, which is really kind of awesome. Her daughter is completely gorgeous and looks a bit like Jessica Stam, so I don’t doubt that she could have gotten signed without being on reality TV, but it can’t hurt, right? They conveniently left out the part where they tell her to lose ten pounds, which I’m sure happened, because this is the modeling industry and Danielle’s daughter looks physically healthy. That’s not the image those people want!
In other model news, Teresa’s daughter Gia also has a try-out for fashion week, apparently for a mom-and-daughter look or something. After showing Gia being a cute 8-year-old and doing a totally serviceable approximation of a runway walk at the casting agency, the producers cut straight to a shot of Danielle saying that Gia doesn’t have what it takes and she’s not a model. Remember earlier in this recap when I had some sympathy for Danielle because Caroline was picking on her kids? Well, in true Danielle fashion, she totally squandered it right there. Gia does, in fact, get the job.
In a bit of Housewife cross-pollination, Gilles Bensimon (Kelly’s ex-husband, whose sanity must be questioned because he was apparently married to her for more than, like, 30 seconds) shot Danielle’s daughter for the cover of Fashion Week Daily and she looked pretty fantastic. For her part, Danielle told Gilles that she thought he was God and couldn’t stop squealing and embarrassing her daughter, and then she jumped in to the shoot herself. Christine seemed to handle all of that pretty well, mostly because I suspect that she has to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. Poor kid. I hope she gets out as soon as humanly possible.
To celebrate Christine’s modeling debut, Danielle decided to throw a little party, because we can’t have an episode of Real Housewives without a party. The thing is, though, she decided to not invite her daughter, who was ostensibly the one whose accomplishments were being celebrated. No, no, Danielle was throwing the party to celebrate her own accomplishments, namely her ability to birth a pretty child. Bravo, Danielle. That’s really something.
Anyway, Danielle set about creating a guest list for her little shindig, and she wanted to invite Dina and Jacqueline, who both graciously declined. I have an issue with the reason that Jacqueline didn’t go, however – blaming your husband for not allowing you to be friends with someone is kind of pathetic. Either you actually want to be friends with the person and you need to stand up to your husband and tell him that you can pick your own friends, or you don’t actually want to be friends with the person and you need to stop using your husband as an excuse and just fess up to it. Pick one. Either is a valid choice, Jacqueline, but letting your husband act like your father is not an option.
For someone that doesn’t seem to have any friends, a lot of people came to Danielle’s little self-esteem lunch, which I suppose only proves that people will go out of their way for free food. That awful Kim person from the last episode, the one with the bad dye job and the spelling deficiency, had no qualms about showing up to eat the free food at Danielle’s luncheon, despite the fact that she not long ago publicly ranted about how she doesn’t like her and how Danielle owes her money. Stay classy, Kim.
Speaking of classy, Danielle got up to show off the little magazine and, after doing so, called out the fact that she had kept two seats empty for Dina and Jacqueline, despite the fact that they both declined well in advance and didn’t just, you know, skip out at the last minute. And then she picked another random guest to accuse of being friends with Caroline, and when said guest clarified that their kids were friends but she didn’t really know her, everyone clapped. It was a little sad that, even though Danielle was supposed to be celebrating her daughter (ok, nevermind, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face), she couldn’t help but make the whole thing about the Manzos. Can we skip this stuff and get back to the brawling? Please? If I have to hear Danielle talking about wishing everyone “love and light” for the rest of the season, I’m going to puke.