Last night’s episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey was a pleasant reminder of what this show used to be. You know, when people got along, had fun, and didn’t take every side-eye so seriously they were declaring it a nuclear state of emergency. I mean there was a time when the ladies of RHONJ didn’t spend countless episodes dissecting and cataloging every tabloid edition published in the last year to decipher just how much one said RHONJ hates another said RHONJ.

Oh, yes… that show once existed and I think last night proved it could exist again. Here is my two step plan to eradicating the petty, hateful, and mundane drama on this show: 1) take everyone out of Jersey and give them more to worry about than spray tanning and meatballs 2) Pay them only $1 per season until they agree to get along, act civilized, and go hang out at Chateau kvetching about Danielle Staub. See – not so hard, right?

So the whole gang embarked on a cross-country trek to Napa where the Blk.-meisters were to meet with Vivendi winery for a distribution deal. As Hurricane Irene is raging on the horizon, the packing commences. Everyone feigns concern about leaving their small children at home while they cavort around in the great wild west. Except for Caroline Manzo – she’s bringing her small children with her.


Teresa Giu-whatchamacallit instructs the girls to tie themselves to the rafters if it gets like super wet and rainy-ee. Remember, she advises ‘All my padded bras can double as floaties. And use extra hairspray for the high winds!’

Teresa tells us a hurricane is like bad, right. I mean she has a third cousin named Irene who, like, cries a lot and is sort of psycho – and that’s kinda like a hurricane, right? So Teresa doesn’t think it should be a big deal – just annoying and wet. With winds. Which is bad for her hair.

She gets right back to packing sequins and string bikinis and vaginal lube – all items one needs for a camping trip. Over at Jacqueline Laurita‘s she’s in a similar predicament and debating the merits of platforms vs. other platforms. Clearly these ladies have never turned on the weather channel and the concept of hiking means a broken escalator at the mall. Odd that ALL of them have been to the Giucoochie’s cabin where there is, you know, woods. Minor details.

Melissa Gorga is stuffing one bikini after another in a suitcase. She has an endorsement deal with L*Space Swim so she has to pimp the product every episode. Bring on the inappropriate fondling scenes. Melissa wants this trip to be like Troop Beverly Hills. Hey, they both have cookie drama!

In the middle of all this Albie has an important announcement to make: he is asking Lindsay (the girlfriend) to move in with her. And he asks her while Chris, Greggy, and the Bravo cameras are standing there gawking at the two of them. So, that should have been a dead giveaway Albie is not ready for a serious relationship, Linds! Albie is afraid to tell his mommy about his new living arrangement.

Because of Hurricane Irene everyone has to take this crazy circuitous route. Driving to Pittsburgh, flying to someplace, then flying another someplace, arriving in San Fran, then driving to get the RVs. Bravo is really desperate to get these peeps on the RV for drama!

There are hilarious cartoon diagrams of everyone getting their travel on. Predictably the Gorgadices incur a series of hijinks: some drama in the McDonald’s drive-thru, late arrival, and some roadside pee stops. HOW MANY TIMES do we have to see a Gorgadice man pee on the side of the road? Dreams Do Come True… if I never have to see that again.

Chris Laurita is hopeful this trip will give everyone the opportunity to realize they are fighting over over petty slights. Teresa and Melissa are totally prepared for camping. One is wearing “aztec-y” stilettos and the other, a tube top. Teresa explains that there’s like totally “Indians” out west right which is why she dressed “aztec-y”.

OK, couple of points here… 1) Is Teresa planning to visit a reservation? I know she realizes there are many types of people out west – not just “Indians.” Hopefully she’ll win some money at a casino to pay back her debts if she does so visit a reservation. 2) No one – not ancient Aztec nor Native American would wear those tacky-ass shoes. 3) I refuse to believe she graduated from the 8th grade.

Teresa‘s culturally insensitive talk is interrupted by the sudden desire to watch a YouTube video of cows mating. Contemplating her shoes, Teresa misses all the action. This was the first time I realized Albert Sr. had come on the trip.

Arriving at Camping World, everyone acts as if they’ve never been in a store before. I suppose with all the financial crisis these people are wrestling with it is the rare opportunity to go shopping – and it showed. Kathy Wakile hops on a giant tricycle and Teresa is running around in her stilettos looking for Scrabble. Um… you have to use words that are actually IN the dictionary when playing Scrabble.

So they are all throwing anything they can find in the cart like this is Supermarket Sweep. Melissa grabs zebra print place mats and this puts Real Housewives of Orange County‘s glamping to shame. Caroline ignores Teresa completely when she asks her a question. That’s really mature, Caroline.

I still don’t understand why it takes $5k to get supplies for a rented luxury RV?  Who is paying for this, oh bankrupt ones?

Everyone gets on the RVs; there is drama of settling in, deciding who is driving, and whose stuff belongs to whom. The Gorgas and Giudices are one RV. The Wakiles with Greggy and Vito on another. And on RV three are the Manzos and Lauritas. Apparently Lauren can’t travel with Vito and the Manzo spawn must ride with their parents.

Caroline steals all Vito‘s sausage and cheese – which I’m surprised Lauren is allowing on the RV. Oh, well it will give her another opportunity to talk about food and dieting and how everyone is snarfing mozzarella around her. Joe Giudice proves the feud is immune to him as he negotiates a sausage for silence. I think we know how prison is going to go for Juicy! Too crass?

Caroline apparently still likes Juicy, but Teresa – not so much. Makes zero sense to me.

Waiting for takeoff, Teresa is having some issues in the ladies room. “I don’t wanna poop in the RV,” she wails. Melissa screams “Just push it out!” Chris L frantically tries to contact the Gorgadices to get the caravan on it’s way. Juicy takes the mic to announce Teresa is having a “s#*! explosion.”

So… who wants to eat Fabulicious or Fabellini after this scene? Poison Gorga is driving and screw roads – he goes right over the grass while Teresa and Melissa shriek and laugh. “Owwwww Mai Gawd,” they scream in unison. See – fun already! Bonding by Bravo.

On Manzorita RV the talk is, of course, Teresa. Jacqueline is surprised by how nice and easy-going Teresa is being. Chris is hopeful Teresa and Jacqueline can sincerely mend their relationship. Caroline  is not supportive of this course of action and also has no interest in a friendship with Teresa. Later Teresa admits she thinks Jacqueline was heavily influenced by Caroline and that is what made their friendship fall apart. I can’t say I disagree! Teresa is Danielle 2.0.

Driving proves treacherous and quite alarming but finally they arrive at a beautiful, scenic… parking lot. Huh? Teresa is not a happy camper. At. All. And later while meeting their campground neighbors she tells them repeatedly that this is no place for camping – this is a place where Wal-marts and other stores bearing glitter, sequins, and other tack go. Melissa has the decency to be embarrassed – but her face says ‘I agree, sis.’

The poor Manzo spawn are forced to sleep outside in a tent. Couldn’t they get their own RV? A blk. decorated one? While putting up the tent, no one can figure out how the curved polls go. Someone has the unwise idea to give Juicy the instruction manual to read – he needs to borrow The Caroline‘s glasses and I must say he looks stunning. How many guidos does it take to put up a tent? At least 6.

Caroline admits she has no problem with Juicy. Again… that makes no sense. Teresa is making the rounds and she comes in peace. She has a bonding moment with Richie when they both agree they’d rather be on the beach than actually working for their vacation.

Teresa and Kathy have a heart-to-heart about cookie-gate. Teresa, proving that she can be an adult and communicate effectively, calmly states that Kathy upset her at the book signing. Kathy says seeing the photos merely brought her back to recipes her mom made and she never meant an offense. Teresa seems to be OK with that and the talk goes drama-less.

Kathy tells us the recipes were shared as their moms used to bake together.

Richie muses that the families used to be close, but no one can sustain a long friendship with Teresa because one day she just has a problem with you out of the blue.

The next morning everyone wakes up in their respective RVs and Juicy has turned up the heat to 101 in the Gorgadice RV. It got so hot Teresa vacated the bed and Poison suffered hot flashes.

Teresa and Melissa hop in bed with Juicy and start feeling each other’s bubbies up under their jammies. They compare whose bubbies feel more fake. Teresa claims she is wearing a bra and Melissa jokes hers are “real.” Teresa, through her Wizard of Oz flying monkeys get-up, tells us Melissa is a toucher and used to grab her butt a lot.

Then Poison whips out “Tarzan” and flashes Chris Manzo through the window of his RV. Melissa is sick of Tarzan. Me too – Tarzan needs to go back to the jungle and stay there.

Making things worse, Richie lets his morning wood hang out for Melissa to see as she meanders over to the Wakile RV to say morning to Greg. Not the type of good morning anyone wants to see. I suppose Richie pops more than his collar in an attempt to seem relevant.

Kathy consults with Caroline and Jacqueline about her talk with Teresa. She shares that Teresa is hurt by her argument with them and Caroline wants Kathy to keep her issues – and reconciliations – with Teresa separate from theirs. Kathy agrees that’s fine, but reminds them that they had a long friendship with many fun times.

Then things get boring, so Melissa and Teresa go for a walk on the beach. They are so cute together in their PJs and based on these sweet scenes I am reminded once again that this feud seems too drama-laden to be real. Did someone watch many years of Days of Our Lives before signing onto RHONJ?

Melissa and Teresa practice their “I feel” statements and use active listening to have a major break-thru. Teresa shares that she spoke with Kathy and using her interpretive hearing skills, Kathy basically accused her of stealing her mom’s recipes.

Weeeeeellll… Melissa says, Kathy did tell her that Teresa’s mom called Kathy’s mom – recently – and asked for the cookie recipe. NOW… this leads me to a couple of different conclusions: 1) Teresa’s mom didn’t have the recipe any more and couldn’t remember it exactly, but Teresa recalled it from her childhood. 2) Kathy was intentionally being spiteful about the comment at the book signing 3) Teresa did use the recipe with no intention of crediting Kathy’s mom. And does it matter being that this is a fam-uh-lee cookbook? Apparently, so.

And cookie-gate rages on.

Then Melissa does something very important. She confronts Teresa about the multiple issues she has with everyone and suggests, that maybe, just maybe the common denominator in all these situations is Teresa. So perhaps, just perhaps, something she is doing is causing friction with people.

Teresa initially balks but then seems to have a realization that Melissa isn’t accusing her of anything, but that they are discussing the situation like normal people. Like two adults. Were you shocked? I was.

“If you have a problem, say it to the person and be done with it. Don’t hold grudges. I don’t hold grudges,” Teresa tells Melissa in response, adding that she doesn’t understand the cookbook nonsense since she apologized several times. It’s true… I mean how many MORE apologies does Caroline need? And really at this point Caroine has been trashing Teresa for months which is way more rude than a couple cookbook snipes.

Teresa brings it back to the photo of her and Caroline in the book and Melissa stops her – real and honestly – by saying she just can’t keep using this photo as proof she cares about Caroline. Teresa and Melissa were acting so normal – and comfortable – with each other it again makes me suspect.

Teresa seems genuinely perplexed about where things went wrong with Jacqueline and Melissa doesn’t seem to disagree. Teresa vows in the next book, she’s not writing about anyone.

Melissa calls it a “breakthrough moment.” We’ll see… I wonder who is going to pulverize this conversation first and make it about something it totally wasn’t. Editing magic! And for the record – I thought Melissa had great advice and this was a fantastic moment between two sister-in-laws who clearly could (and would) like each other a great deal if they stopped letting petty slights and silly one-upmanship interfere. Too bad we know things go terribly awry.

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