We open with Melissa Gorga watching the news of Teresa and Joe heading to court to plead guilty to a 41-count federal indictment for a staggering number of financial frauds. Melissa, proving she’s no more an actress than a pop star, pretends to be shocked and worried for Teresa. Melissa vows to be there for Teresa.
She calls her on the phone where Teresa is stirring a pot of colored water on the stove because the script read ‘pretend to cook ingredientzes’. Melissa expresses her concern and Teresa says they haven’t pled to anything yet, while Gia sits there with tears filling her eyes. I am really sad to see that reports were true and Teresa will indeed be filming how the legal situation affects her daughters.
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Can we take a moment to address Melissa’s new ‘goth’ makeup look complete with purple lipstick. Girl… step away from Sephora. Back the hell up. Also, your opening credits dress is desperate.
And three months earlier…
Dina Manzo comes over to bring Teresa a peaceful orchid. I missed Dina – I know she bought all her zen at Pier One Imports, but she’s funny and I think her friendship with Teresa is genuine. Dina reveals that yeah, zen means she’ll cut a bitch with a tarot card. Also, Dina is separated from Tommy because he likes to spend his extra time with some much-younger
twinks ladies instead of at home petting hairless cats and sniffing Costco tranquility candles. Nice to see Dina finally admit that Tommy is a c-t0-the-cheater! However, they’re still living together and she’s not ready to get a divorce - just yet. Because Baby I got your money!
Speaking of money, Teresa complains about all the money she has to spend paying her lawyers. Lawyers she had to hire because she STOLE MONEY. Here’s a tip: don’t steal money. Dina is sympathetic. I want to reach through my TV and yank a weave. “I had a normal life,” Teresa whines, “and then all this stuff happened.” Excuse me – “normal” people don’t commit mortgage fraud and falsify W-2s. Normal people shop at Target instead of stealing money from the government to finance your collection of gold sparkle dining room chairs and spandex leopard-print.
Melissa and Teresa are trying hard for the kids to be nice. As Teresa explains, she has bigger fish to fry than Melissa – like the federal government! They take Milania and Antonia to cheerleading where they compete over whose 8-year-old can twerk more better. Even if this is completely fake, I like them getting along much better: Terlissa The Two-Foreheaded Beast 4 Eva. Melissa’s old friend Amber Marchese is throwing a fall harvest party and she invites Teresa – and Teresa wants to invite her security blanket, Dina. I see Teresa will be sticking very close to Dina this season in the hopes of keeping her ish together, acting right, and being ‘good’.
Then we meet Amber! Amber went to Columbia University, used to party with Melissa
when she worked at Lookers was known as Missy Marco. Amber is a perfectionist, except when it comes to her makeup, she has four kids, and she lost touch with Melissa when Melissa got married. Right from the gate Amber throws Melissa under the bus, stating while she went to college and got a job, Melissa married for money which was always Melissa’s goal. And finally a little validation for ole’ Teresa who has been saying that alllll along!
To prepare for this harvest party Amber’s husband shows up with a giant pig carcass so they can do a pig roast. And Amber freaks out. How is Amber going to survive on RHONJ if she’s so afraid of pigs? #Juicy #Poison #Rino #Richie #Tommy #WhodIMiss?
Since new and improved crisis PR-coached Teresa needs to have something going on besides ‘Whaaaaah I’m going to jail and I don’t wanna… ‘ she’s started a dessert line. She makes the girls help her assemble tiramisu. From a package. “The tiramisi are ashtranomeecal,” Teresa gushes as Gia sneers. How long did Teresa rehearse trying to say “astronomical”? You could tell she was trying so hard! Poor Gia is still the grownup in this household. And I don’t know where Gabriella came from – I mean she’s like 10 and isn’t illiteratizes, isn’t pummeling people, and is quiet. That child so did not spawn from a Gorga or a Giudice.
Milania, true to form, isn’t behaving. “I can do whatever I want and you can’t,” Melania snaps at Teresa. Oh honey… that attitude will land you in the cell right next to mommy. Still – I love that little Juicy Jr imp.
Finally we meet Teresa Aprea, pronounced TerEHHSSSSSSa – great another pronunciation-challenged Teresa on RHONJ! Teressssa is married to Rino and they own a bunch of restaurants. Teressssa and Rino were married a long time ago, divorced, and then re-married. Teressssa also has a twin named Nicole Napolitano, who is divorced and dating a younger man who seems skeevy. They look so much alike they wore name tags through school. Things the twins have in common: shrieky voices, highlighter orange skin tone, blusher abuse, bad taste in men. Rino is wearing buttercream yellow like this is Good Fellas. This is Poison in 20 years.
The twins are friends with Amber, although they’re quite different. It turns out Nicole (or Teresssa – I really can’t tell them apart – bring back the name tags!) invited all these extra couples and OCD Amber is freaking out.
Poison doesn’t want to go to the party, he wants to stay home and inject Melissa with his secret sauce. When forced to choose between confronting a former friend-turned-enemy and her sister-in-law-turned-enemy-turned-forced-to-get-along-with-reality-tv-costar, Melissa chooses the latter. At the party, I realize Nicole is the more orange of the two twins – her skin is more like burnt sienna. Amber’s house looks like it was decorated in 1995 – and those wreathes are tacky.
On the way to the party, Teresa worries about being judged because of her indictments. Dina tells her to keep her head held high. “It happens to a lot of people,” explains Teresa, “it’s just cause we’re in the public eye.” Yeah – like 3/4 of the people I know have committed federal fraud. You know, it’s like no big. You go to yoga, you eat dinner, you get indicted… whatevs! Orange is the new black, y’all! Oh wait – see that’s a show I watch, not live. Big distinction, huge! #TeresaInDenialAsUsual
As Teresa walks in everyone stares. Then the new vs. old vs. rehashed RHONJ stand around awkwardly mingling in a bump-itted orange clump. Dina and Nicole connect over being divorced and Amber and Dina bond over cancer. Amber is a breast cancer survivor, being diagnosed at 32. She is five years in remission and worries that her children might not see her grow up. It’s a pretty staggering story.
And Teresa, shockingly, is getting along with Teressssa as they connect over food. The only person not getting along with anyone is odd orange out, Melissa!
Amber confronts Melissa about ditching their friendship when she got married and never reaching out when she learned Amber had cancer. Melissa denies knowing Amber had cancer, but Amber claims Melissa sent her a Facebook message asking if she was OK, which Amber has since deleted. Melissa denies ever sending the message and claims she lost touch with all their mutual friends. This story is rather suspiciously similar to Danielle Staub’s. It seems Melissa likes a little on the DL Facebooking – she should have been using that time to practice her singing!
Melissa complains to Dina and Teresa that Amber is accusing her of stuff she didn’t do. And here comes the Melissa Gorga Victim Act. Someone else is accusing Melissa of something she, of course, did not do. This year’s perpetrator: Amber. Too many skeletons, Melissa, and too many red flags.
Finally, the entire Giudice family gets together to take a family portrait for Joe’s grandmother, but Teresa candidly reveals that the portrait is really for Joe, because it is implied his family has accepted he will be going “away”. I love how upfront Teresa is finally being about her life and I love seeing the big Italian family. It is so sad that Teresa and Joe have scarified all that love and family for money. Hindsight really is 20/20. Still, I have a soft spot for Juicy and I feel really sad for his parents and daughters. It’s humbling to see that his family has accepted his fate and are just trying to get through day-by-day as they prepare for the inevitable.
Joe makes a moving speech about how much love his family has and how they have always stood by him, despite how different everyone is. “We’ve got doctors, hygienists
, and lawyers,” he adds – and also felons, Juicy! Diversity! Afterwards Gia cries and Joe comforts her, crying too. Gia knows exactly what’s happening. Joe’s father Frank comes over and reminds Joe he will always love him and Gia too. Teresa, Joe, Gia, and Frank hug and it truly felt like a goodbye; as if everyone realizing that this is the end of an era and nothing will be the same. Sadly, Joe’s father passed away recently which made the moment even more bittersweet.
This season of RHONJ certainly seems like a departure to what we’ve been subjected to the last few seasons and I am ready. It seems more raw, more honest, more sad and heartbreaking, but also more fun, silly, and outrageous. Rumors of new producers majorly shaking things up must be true, because for the first time in seasons I am excited. Get your wine AND your tissues ready because we’re in for a wild ride!
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Photo Credit: Alex Martinez/Bravo