I…I don’t think I remember the first half of this episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and as such, I’m not sure I know where to begin. I’ve sat here and watched it three times, back to back. And it’s now one in the morning as I’m writing this, and no matter how hard I try to focus on the first thirty minutes of this episode, it gets wiped clean from my brain, like it was never there at all, by the giant, off-the-rails load of ridiculousness that is the last thirty minutes. Stuff happened. I’m sure it did. But then some more stuff happened, and that stuff was way more interesting than the first stuff. And now I’m completely disoriented, and the fact that it sounds like my upstairs neighbors are doing cartwheels through their apartment isn’t helping. At any rate, we’ll try to sort out all of the drama of the much-anticipated season finale after the jump.
So we start out getting to see a lot more of Teresa’s house than we did last week, and maybe I’m just jaded by all of the Atlanta McMansions I saw growing up, but it doesn’t seem as tacky as the vision of marble, granite, and onyx that I had in my head. Yeah, it’s way too big and will probably be filled with tacky furniture very, very soon, but the bones of the home seemed reasonable and I really liked the abalone-lined sink (even if it didn’t go that well with the granite counter tops, but that’s a gripe for a different blog). Maybe I’m feeling particularly sympathetic to wanting exactly what you want because I’m moving into a new apartment soon and I looked at about a thousand different places before I chose, but oh well. She has to live there and see it every day, and if it’s what she likes, then mazel tov.
Next, we get a minute or two clip about Caroline’s family’s new dog – picked out and trained by none other than disagraced ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik, bizarrely enough. Apparently he’s Caroline’s husband’s best friend. He’s currently under federal investigation, but those German Shepards sure are adorable (even if they will totally kill you). I doubt it will work with the Feds, but the best way to distract me from ethics violations and IRS problems is definitely with a puppy.
Uh, let’s see…Dina retires? Yeah, that happened. She decided she wants to spend more time with her daughter as her teenage years approach and that being a career woman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I think the family vs. career conflict is one that a lot of working moms deal with, and it’s not one that’s recognized often – on TV, most moms seem to juggle both effortlessly and perfectly, and it’s just not that easy in reality. So, for a brief moment, reality TV actually had something to do with reality.
Oh, speaking of teenagers, Jacqueline finally gave her daughter that white Jeep that her husband spontaneously bought a few weeks ago. They were teetering back and forth about when to give it to her, but her grades had come up during summer school so they figured they might as well. Which is also fairly realistic, particularly in communities like that. By the time the kid is 17 she’s probably already spoiled rotten, so there’s not a whole lot of point in trying to show restraint and teach the kid a lesson at the eleventh hour and make up for a childhood’s worth of shoddy parenting. If she’s got the grades, give her the car that you already bought for her. It’s not like you can take it back.
But after that, things mostly stumbled off into the realm of the ridiculous once again, and Teresa decided to have a dinner party and invite Danielle. Because NOTHING could ever go wrong with that, right? Of course not. So she plans to have it at a fancy-pants restaurants and everyone showed up in cute little dresses and she showed up with her new buhbbies, and then they all talked inappropriately (or maybe it’s just refreshingly casual?) about boobs, even the kids.
Before the dinner party, Danielle sat down with her kids and explained to them what was in the The Book and what she did in her past life (apparently “model?”), which should have been our first clue that she was planning on starting something at the dinner party. For some reason, I was blissfully unaware of what that little snippet foretold and figured that it would be loudmouthed Dina or Teresa to pick the fight, but no. After awkwardly sharing an oyster with Goomba Joe, Danielle slapped a copy of the book on the table like a cold, dead, awkward fish. And everyone was silent for a moment, and it was the calm before the storm, because then the yelling started.
A lot of it was kind of bizarre and unintelligible, but after watching it three times (I work hard for you people), this is what I gleaned: Dina was not technically the person that showed everyone at Danielle’s salon the book. It was Caroline, and Dina was THERE when it happened, although she didn’t admit that at first. I’m not entirely convinced that this distinction matters, but whatever. It seemed important to them, or at least SOME of them. Caroline, despite coming out as the head smack-talker, was actually one of the winners of this episode. She shushed everyone else as best she could when Danielle wanted to say her piece, although it only worked for so long, and that’s more than I expected from someone that’s so insular and protective of her family.
Dina, who up until this episode had been my favorite, lost some points with me. She couldn’t seem to decide whether or not she had been a part of disseminating this information about Danielle in the first place, and changing your story repeatedly in a small group of people is only going to cause a lot of problems. If you’re going to lie, for the love of God, STICK WITH YOUR LIE. Stick with it like life depends on it. Be like OJ and pledge to find the real killer.
But I’m still not convinced that Caroline or Dina or whoever did anything wrong in the first place. They weren’t making up lies about Danielle. The things they said were published in a book that was carried on Amazon.com and in their local libraries, for pete’s sake. And if I was to stumble on some information that salacious about someone I didn’t even like, the FIRST thing I would do is be on the phone to my best friend talking about it. Heck, even if it was in the middle of the night. I’d call her and wake her up, and she would do the same thing to me. And then they blabbed about it to their hair stylists, and doesn’t everyone gossip with the girl that does their hair? Maybe I’m just a bad person or maybe my friends are just particularly drama-prone, but I can’t imagine us keeping quiet if we found out that someone we knew was an ex-stripper with a criminal record.
I was hoping that Danielle would take this opportunity to put the whole ordeal behind her and move towards civility with Jacqueline’s family in order to retain her friendship, because that would have been the wise thing to do. But we know that didn’t happen, and when the finger-pointing was going full-force, Jacqueline did something I never expected – she stood up for Danielle. Apparently she was aware all along that Dina was in on the effort to spread the gossip, even if it was spearheaded by Caroline, and Jacqueline called her out in front of everyone when she tried to lie and said she had nothing to do with it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, our girl Jackie has a backbone and and is standing up to her in-laws because she knows what the truth is. Wow.
And for a second, it looked like things were going to wind down…but then Teresa woke up from whatever nap she was taking and made a hardly intelligible point about why or why not Danielle’s ex husband would have written the book in the first place if the stuff in it wasn’t true. I get what she was going for, but not everything is true just because it’s written in a book. Remember James Frey and the Oprah Book Club debacle? Sometimes us writers aren’t entirely truthful, particularly in “memoir” format. Danielle did not take kindly to that at all and snapped at her in a really condescending way and things got UGLY. Tables were flipped, names were called that I’m not allowed to repeat here, and Teresa had to be restrained by several people.
Not that I can entirely blame her – it seems like Danielle has dismissed her as an idiot for a while now, and from what I’ve seen, she’s not entirely qualified to be making that call. I doubt she’s the first one to do it to Teresa, and when someone’s coming to your dinner party and doing it in front of your friends and family, it might be time to start breaking things and making a scene. The frustration seemed pent-up, to say the very least. And then the Lauritas came through for us again – Jacqueline’s husband made everyone STFU and reminded them that this is all just petty crap blown out of proportion by some bored housewives. And that’s exactly what it is.
After that, people started to get the heck out of dodge, and we got the final update on all the girls. Both Teresa and Jacqueline got pregnant after filming and Jacqueline has already given birth. Dina has stayed retired to look after Lexi and has yet to encounter Danielle at their salon. Caroline is still Caroline and would probably cut you. No news there. I came out of the episode with a renewed respect for Jacqueline and Caroline and less affection for Dina than I had had for most of the season. My opinion about Danielle is mostly unchanged – she still seems kind of dim and sad – as is my fairly positive opinion of Teresa.
As with all Bravo shows, this isn’t really the finale – we’ve got a “director’s cut” and a reunion coming up next Tuesday, and you better believe I’ll be here for that. If past Real Housewives series have taught us anything, it’s that the reunions are always the best part anyway.