Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In Recap: ‘Tre of Life’

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Well, folks, the controversial three-part series catching up with the Giudice family since Teresa Giudice’s January incarceration is here. Who’s watching? Since we here at RT pledge to bring you the latest reality news – whatever that news may be – we’ll be recapping the Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In each week. Admittedly, this series has a lot of us questioning just how far Bravo will go to expose/support/capitalize on the misdeeds and fallout of Joe and Teresa’s crimes, as well as the sad after-effects these crimes have had on their four daughters: Gia (14), Gabriella (10), Milania (9), and Audriana (5). So, let’s take a look at how this all shakes out…

In our first shot, we’re told the series was filmed six months into Teresa’s prison sentence. Joe, who is currently without a driver’s license (due to previous suspension) counts on his side of the family to help out with the bulk of carting his daughters around, and for emotional support. As he prepares breakfast for the girls, Milania steps in to cooks the sausages. Joe says this has been the hardest year of his life with the passing of his father and Teresa’s imprisonment. He thinks Teresa is proud of his efforts at home, though, because if not, she would have probably sent him divorce papers by now.

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Today is a big day for the family: the 1-year memorial of Joe’s father’s death and Gia’s eighth grade dance. Gia joins her sisters at breakfast only to be questioned by her father about what’s on her face. “What’s on my face? A pimple!” Gia retorts. “I’m a teenager. I get pimples.” Gia asks that her father not put her in a bad mood before school, which he’s obviously already accomplished. She tells the camera that her dad’s been doing a good job, but it’s nothing like having her mom around. She’s thankful that the rest of her family has stepped in to help out in the mean time.

The girls get off to school while Joe buffs the floors in preparation for his future prison job. His cousin, also named Teresa, comes over to prepare the house with balloons for Gia’s pre-dance party tonight. Cousin Teresa has been helping out with family duties over the past months, with plenty of emails from Teresa G to guide her along. Joe says it’s funny how his wife is still basically running the whole house from prison (a word he can barely utter on camera through his thick wall of denial), emailing everyone her wishes, even down to the color of table cloths to use at Gia’s event tonight.

Joe dubs the prison Teresa is in (Danbury Penitentiary) a “low budget spa”…which is insulting, at worst, and delusional, at best. He talks a bit about his visits to Teresa with his cousin and her husband, actually breaking down in tears about how rough it’s been since January. Cousin Teresa is shocked to see Joe show emotion openly like this, commenting that it seems he really misses his wife. 

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Teresa’s very outspoken lawyer since her sentencing, James Leonard Jr (“Lenny”), pops by to visit Joe, sharing some family photos he got from Teresa on his last visit with her. Lenny anticipates that Teresa will be home on December 23, a few months after which Joe will enter prison to serve his 41-month sentence, possibly facing deportation back to Italy afterward. Lenny argues that while Teresa is a high profile inmate, she is afforded no special privileges. She has unlimited email, 300 minutes of pre-paid phone calls a month, and can watch TV (apparently, she’s all caught up on RHOA and RHOC), but has no access to the internet. “This is not a country club. This is prison,” says Lenny, in direct contradiction to Joe’s description. Lenny says Teresa lives for her visits from family on the weekends. 

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Teresa’s parents arrive next at Joe’s house, getting an update from Lenny on her welfare. Teresa’s father has not visited her in prison, but says he knows she’s “tough” and will be okay. They toast to their families, then greet the girls as they return home from school. 

Cut to the Gorga’s house, where Melissa and Joe have just heard about Gia’s dance tonight. Melissa is miffed that she’s getting this news last minute, admitting that she (and Joe) have been iced out a bit since Teresa’s lockup. She claims she wants to “do more for the kids” – drive them around, get more camera time – but Joe Giudice’s family has stepped in to do the bulk of the heavy lifting so far. Joe Gorga says his conversation with Teresa the day before she went to prison was hot and cold, with Teresa acting sweet and nasty all at once. #soundsnormal…no? But they’ve been emailing each other since then, and things have gotten better. Melissa says the Giudices know that she and Joe are there for them, but she wants to be there for them more. (No matter what’s up for grabs, doesn’t Melissa always want more of it?) 

Back at the Giudices, Teresa’s makeup artist is helping Gia prepare for her dance. Please, God, let this woman not destroy a 14-year old girl’s face just because Teresa may or may not have sent email instructions for smokey eyes, frosted lip gloss, and bump-its! Gia knows her uncle Joe and aunt Melissa are there for her, but (at least in Melissa’s case) says she’s “just not comfortable with it yet.” Wow. Gia seems to have learned healthy boundary setting, which wins her the award of Most Mature Human Being in the Giudice/Gorga tribe.

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It’s 3:30pm! Time for Teresa’s scheduled call home. She talks to the whole family on speaker phone. Gia tells her mom her makeup is done for the dance and, while Teresa says she wishes she could be there and loves her, Gia starts to cry. Teresa doesn’t want her parents to see Gia upset, but more importantly, she doesn’t want her to ruin her makeup. Teresa says she’s there for Gia in her heart while Gia silently tries to pull herself together.

As Gia goes back upstairs to get ready, Teresa talks to her younger girls. According to Gia, Teresa has been telling the younger girls she’s been “working,” which Gia says is partially true because Teresa has been keeping a diary that she’s planning to publish. Teresa signs off, noting she has to head to her exercise class. The family goes back to the business of eating and awaiting Gia’s grand entrance, which now includes a little help from Teresa’s stylist – who just showed up. For REALZ? Okay, this is happening. Teresa has sent Gia a box of roses, a hair & makeup artist, a stylist, and a blinged-out heart necklace to boot. She gets a lot done behind bars, huh? 

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As Gia makes her entrance, she looks beautiful, and Joe comments he’s proud that Gia’s remained an honor student despite the struggles she’s had to endure this year. Gia breaks down in tears again as her mom’s roses are delivered, but Joe has more practical matters on his mind. He goes out to the yard to plant a tree next to the memorial he’s built to his father. (This isn’t where he’s buried, is it!?)

Back inside, Joe dispenses his best advice to Gia before her dance. “No close up dancing!” barks Joe to Gia and her very frightened date. Perhaps, “No stealing other peoples’ money!” might be better suited? But not very event-specific, I guess. Gia survives the embarrassing moment and heads off with her date, as Milania (whose spirit has been unbroken by the fiasco, it seems) yells, “Keep your hands to yourself!” at the car pulling out of the driveway. 

As the eating and extreme state of mass denial continues inside the house, Lenny comments on how tough Teresa was the day he dropped her off at prison. Lenny says he’s never met stronger people that the Giudices. Joe and his brother, Pete, are outside at their father’s memorial. Joe is in tears again as he ponders why he has to go “through so much bullsh*t” in this life. Hmmm. Perhaps the victims of his and Teresa’s crimes are wondering the same thing these days? Except not in mansions with stylists and lawyers and cameramen prowling around? Just a thought!

On a construction site job (what job, I can’t even venture to guess) the next day, Joe gets a call from Teresa’s cousin, Rosie Pierri. She shows up minutes later to catch up with Joe, who she’s grown close to over the past few years. She’s not dating anyone right now. Joe shares that Teresa fills him in on the inmates who have sex in Danbury. Rosie wonders if Joe will “get a boyfriend” on the inside? Groan. Laughter aside, Joe reports that they’re holding up alright, but he’s only allowed to visit Teresa every other weekend (while the kids can go weekly) because he’s a felon. 

We fast forward to June 22, the day of Gia’s eighth grade graduation. Milania is acting up, so Gia plays “mom” while trying to discipline her, which is just…sad. Teresa calls and tries to intervene with Milania, but doesn’t really get anywhere. Joe notes that Milania acts out the most because she’s really sensitive, but doesn’t know how to process her emotions. (Sound familiar?) They get off the phone and head out the door. 

At the ceremony, Joe Gorga and Melissa are there, commenting that they wish Teresa were there to witness this milestone. Back at the Giudices‘ home, Gia thanks her uncle Joe for coming. Joe thinks Joe Giudice has changed a lot throughout these past six months, becoming “little mommy.” Melissa and Joe want to put their trite drama with the Giudices behind them, because family is more important than ever now. Joe Gorga never thought he’d ever have a sister sitting in jail, and knows his father’s world has been rocked by this too. Melissa comments on Gia’s strength and maturity, which is beyond her years. Well, she got that right at least.

Later that night, Teresa calls Joe to check in and…to have phone sex? Ewww. Joe suggests “couch sex” instead. Mmmkay. Teresa hopes Joe gets abs in prison, because: priorities. Teresa wants to be “married forever” to Joe, no matter what the future holds. She says it breaks her heart that she couldn’t be there for Gia’s graduation today though. Teresa says she prays to God everyday for the kids and Joe, but Joe doesn’t have a lot of hopeful words to offer back. Ending the call, Joe does say he loves Teresa more every day and promises to talk to her again tomorrow. 

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Photo Credit: Bravo

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