Hello, readers! If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been watching Real Housewives for so long that you’re feeling a bit nostalgic by now. It’s been 17 years since the franchise came to be. And the early seasons gave us so much. Gretchen Rossi allegedly at Bass Lake. Alex McCord trying to survive in Brooklyn. Kyle Richards being told that her husband will never emotionally fulfill her. KNOW THAT.
The early episodes had everything I could want in a reality show. And since a lot of the current seasons have felt so incredibly inauthentic, I decided to utilize that Peacock subscription I have. That’s right – I’m watching the some Real Housewives classic episodes and bringing you along for the ride.
Given that Real Housewives of New Jersey is currently airing its 13th season and Teresa Giudice is still at odds with brother Joe Gorga and his wife Melissa Gorga, I wanted to go back to where it all began.
We open with Tre and husband “Juicy” Joe Giudice in a completely different place than the previous seasons. La famiglia has filed for bankruptcy, leading Juicy to open a pizzeria to try and make some cash. His construction business is out and pepperoni is in.
Since we know what is coming down the line, the foreshadowing is almost painful. But Tre, like us viewers, was blissfully unaware as she tells us “mama’s bringing home the bacon.” Teresa’s Skinny Italian books are selling like
hot cakes fresh pizzelles at the Sunday morning market in South Philadelphia.
But before we dive too deep into Teresa’s life, it’s at this point that I realize we are still stuck with the Manzo family. Dina Manzo wisely hightailed it out of there already, but Caroline Manzo and company remain. And maybe to fill in for the lack of Dina, we have to sit through A LOT of Sunday dinners with these jokers.
Full disclosure – Caroline is one of my least favorite housewives. Possibly ever. She was always overbearing and obsessed with presenting herself as the HBIC (Head Bafangool In Charge).
Now let’s pause right here before you guys yell at me for too many Italian jokes. These are my people – I am an Italian American who spent many years of my life living around one of the most well-known Italian American communities in the U.S. And no, it’s not Franklin Lakes. PLEASE. So while I might not have ties to the
mob Brownstone, when many of you were bringing PB&J sandwiches to school, I had linguine and white clam sauce packed in my Strawberry Shortcake lunch box. Moving on.
I guess the Middle Manzo, Chris Manzo, has officially abandoned his dream of opening a stripper car wash. So Caroline is forced to put her money in other places to support her kids, like getting Chris and Elder Manzo, Albie Manzo, their own apartment. Albie is still sort of pursuing a law degree and Middle Manzo is…erm…we don’t know. Probably cooking up another business idea like an all-you-can-eat lasagna burlesque show. Or something equally stupid like black drinking water.
Jacqueline Laurita (another non-favorite) is busy with her own kids. Mainly, her eldest dorter/extreme extension puller
Ashley Ashlee Holmes Malleo. Ashlee landed herself a cushy little job at Lizzie Grubman (remember her?) PR in the Big Apple! Surely by her own merit. But when Jacqueline comes to visit, we quickly find out that Ashlee hasn’t been coming to work on time. Or at all. Plot twist – the job in an unpaid internship. So not to be on the wrong side of Laurita history here but….I can kind of see why Ashlee isn’t exactly motivated.
Meet The Gorgas
Now the moment you have all been waiting for. Let me introduce you to Melissa “Thank you, Jesus” Gorga. She confidently tells us that she’s living the American dream. That is if your American dream is being saddled with a man-child of a husband who opens his first on-camera scene by telling you that he wants to rub lotion on your butt cheeks.
Does Melissa care? No! Because Joe is the bestest of developers in New Jersey. He built Melissa a 15,000 square foot mansion that is like a Colonial, Mediterranean, Cape Cod Victorian with a dash of Italian cathedral fit for a queen. And the fact that Teresa didn’t even tell Melissa how nice it was? Just another slight in Melissa’s eyes. But I’m really going to need Melissa to explore the “why” on this one.
As for the rest of Melissa’s dream life? She must keep the kids clean, have dinner on the table all while catering to Joe’s needs, as if he is her fourth child. Melissa can’t even give her kids a bath without Joe whining that he doesn’t get the same treatment. Barf.
But Melissa justifies his behavior by saying they are ITALIAN (as if we didn’t know) and she was taught to be a cook in the kitchen, a lady in the parlor and a wh-re in the bedroom. Hey, if that’s your bag, by all means. But Melissa is leaning so far into the idea of catering to Joe’s misogyny, she can’t even brag with the proper vocabulary when she says Joe has an amazing “work ethnic.” Bless her heart. Or as we Italians like to say, “Santa Maria!”
Anyway, cleaning is “for the women,” but Joe lets Melissa take a seat long enough to talk about Joey 2.0’s christening. Melissa is excited about welcoming her son into “God’s Kingdom.” But God’s Kingdom doesn’t leave much room for sister-in-laws who aren’t supportive enough to tell you that your not beautiful home is beautiful. Straight to confession for you, Teresa!
Now I am forced against my will to meet Kathy Wakile, which means we have to meet her husband, Rich Wakile. I could have lived my whole life without ever knowing that this man existed and I would die happy. In fact, I want a time machine so I can go back, break into Bravo headquarters and beg the casting people to make a better decision. With that said, I have zero interest in forcing their scenes on you so let’s fast forward to what you really came her for – the christening.
The day has arrived and Tre is rushing around her house like she’s backstage at a Posche fashion show preparing to walk the runway. While she juggles getting her girls matching purses and feathered headbands, Juicy is nowhere to be found. Turns out, he’s on the crapper with a “tummy ache.” Tre’s words, not mine, ok? While faking diarrhea is one of the oldest tricks in the book, Teresa buys it and lets him be. At least he didn’t Joe Gorga the situation and ask her to get him some pepto and rub his tum tum. Because you know that’s what the Gorgas would be doing.
So Tre is late to the church and not only because she’s juggling 5,000 things but because Melissa has stolen her hairdresser for the earlier part of the day. Teresa was left second in line to receive her sausage curls. Which isn’t a bad thing because despite being sprayed through a whole ozone layer, Melissa’s have already wilted by the time Baby Joey gets water poured over his head. Count your blessings, Teresa.
Naturally, Joe and Melissa are seething that Tre is late and has almost missed Baby Joey, decked out in a tiny Chef Boyardee hat, receiving his ticket to God’s Kingdom. If God’s Kingdom requires proper passage in the form of attending the ceremony, then Teresa was stuck on the Garden State Expressway. And Juicy will be heading straight to hell riding a toilet.
At the reception, things are frostier than one of the religious ice sculptures Melissa painstakingly picked out in between lady-ing up her parlor and buying what appears to be a special edition mother-of-the-baby christening dress.
Juicy finally shows up, right in time for shots, which Joe tries to push on him. But Juicy is committed to his fake digestive issues and declines. Which just further enrages Joe.
Meanwhile, at God’s chosen table, Melissa, Kathy and Richie gossip about Teresa. Joe is back in his seat, slurring about how Teresa ignores him and Juicy has turned his father against him. You know, his beloved father who wasn’t even seated at his table….yeah, that one.
The party is now in full swing and the strobe lights are brighter than the Star of Bethlehem. Baby Chef Boyardee is officially going to heaven one day and that means….MORE SHOTS.
After Teresa and Juicy commit the ultimate sin of dancing with Chef Boyarbabee, the day takes a turn. Apparently, this is a big no-no. Not to be confused with Nonno.
As Joe sloppily complains about Tre, she unsuspectingly comes to congratulate the Gorgas on this holy occasion. To which Joe tells her to walk away and calls her garbage. Gasp! Jesus would never!
Joe then goes nuts. And I mean, NUTS. Nuttier than a biscotti, people. He bangs his tiny fists on the table, which significantly heightens the aggression. Juicy is drawn to the over-display of masculinity like Richie is to an inappropriate joke. As Tre walks away, Joe charges Juicy.
Now there appears to be some debate here about whether or not Joe charged Juicy or Juicy charged Joe. Obviously, they both have different takes. I rewound it a few times and analyzed the tape harder than the refs at the Super Bowl.
Who flubbed the last call against the Eagles costing them the win, btw. My takeaway was that Joe was the charger and Juicy was the chargee. That’s my official play call. But I believe the debate still rages on today.
Regardless of who started this mess, Joe is all hopped up on the body and blood of Christ he received at the church and nothing can stop him. Making matters worse, the rest of the menfolk are all too happy to jump into the fray. Bravo cameramen are knocked over and Melissa is practically thrown off her
stripper heels by her own husband, who continues to go after Juicy.
This display is toxic masculinity at it’s finest. These men haven’t been this mad since it was announced that they wouldn’t be making any more Rocky movies. And they are all taking it out on each other. And the dessert table. What a waste of perfectly good cannolis, ammirite?
Nonno is shook seeing the violence that has unfolded. Tre checks on him to make sure he is ok. Joe on the other hand, drags him outside to scream at him in front of a crowd. The facade of a tight-knit Italian family has been wiped away with less effort than it takes for Melissa to remove the unimaginable amounts of bronzer from her face.
In the distance, a melting ice sculpture in the shape of a cross serves as a metaphor for the episode. Even the most holy of things aren’t sacred when it comes to reality television. It’s a lesson this “fambily” will have to learn over and over again. Thankfully not at another christening.
TELL US – WHO CHARGED WHO – JUICY OR JOE GORGA? ARE YOU TEAM TRE OR TEAM MELISSA? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS WHAT CLASSIC EPISODE YOU WANT ME TO RECAP NEXT!
[Photo Credit: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images]