Why RHONJ Fans Yearn for the Good Old Days

True RHONJ fans miss the early years of the show.
Photo Credit: Andrei Jackamets/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Just like most of my readers, I am a forever fan of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. What started a simple added city exploited in a cult following. I have never missed an episode, even during the season we tried to forget (I’m looking at you, Season 6 and Season 7). As Season 11 started up, I felt like the Garden State franchise was finally picking up momentum again. The series had once again found a good cast, humor, fun, and the right level of drama. But after Season 13 concluded, I just couldn’t kick the feeling we had entered a dark era with RHONJ. Now, more often than not, I find myself wishing for the good old days with the rest of the OG RHONJ fans.  

Family matters to RHONJ fans

Jennifer Aydin and Teresa Giudice with their husbands at BravoCon 2023.
Photo Credit: Bravo Media

When Season 1 first aired in 2009, the Real Housewives of New Jersey was all about family. At the time most of the actual class was related. And if they weren’t blood relatives, they had strong friendship bonds. The nostalgia that the first few seasons delivered was unparalleled and currently has us yearning for the good old days. The warm lighting of the Jersey dinner helped each scene feel more intimate, especially when Teresa Giudice screamed “Prostitution Whore” at the top of her lungs. 

I would dare to argue that the quality of casting was higher, which, in turn, made the show more watchable. It all came down to a whole lot more realness and a lot less thirst. The early seasons were back in a time when Dina Manzo was meant to be the main character, supplemented by Caroline Manzo as her big sister/the muscle. Teresa was the class clown. Jaqueline Laurita was Switzerland. And Danielle Staub was the antagonist. The characters just worked. 

What happened, RHONJ fans want to know!

Dolores Catania, Jennifer Aydin, and Teresa Giudice of RHONJ.
Photo Credit: Bravo Media

The women don’t feel like friends anymore let alone people who care about what happens to the other. Hell, they don’t even care to be acquaintances. There are currently zero stakes in this group. The severe lack of chemistry is bringing the franchise down and, in turn, is driving away loyal viewers. Right now, it feels like the show is more about competing to get camera time. The women are willing to say and do just about anything to make sure they stay in that limelight. And while that may be just fine for the network I never agreed to watch a show about drawing first blood.  

Watching Season 14 has been hard; almost like a breakup. More and more, it feels like each woman has their agenda. Melissa Gorga not speaking to Teresa is a calculated move. Of course, she probably wishes she could have a Lisa Barlow hot mic moment but she is currently taking the high ground. The last straw for me was the lack of reunion. Instead, we are getting the two sides’ opinions on the final Rails scene. Honestly, I’ll pass. The fact that none of these women can stand each other long enough to film a reunion is pathetic. 

Out with the old

Melissa Gorga on WWHL.
Photo Credit: Bravo Media

It has become painfully obvious that my fellow RHONJ fans and I will not be getting the good old days of the Real Housewives of New Jersey like we once hoped. At this rate, I am not even sure that this particular group of women could pull it off. So now, like many other viewers, I am leaning towards a total reboot. Instead of a total rehaul, let’s have Bravo gradually start to introduce one or two each year as they slowly replace the OGs who have put the network in a chokehold. 

I have to face the facts. The current format of the Bravo series is no longer a viable option. Let’s go back to the roots of what once made the show great: a solid cast with real friendships, marriages, comedic timing, and, of course, real drama within their lives. 

I miss being able to tune in and feel instantly and emotionally connected to the women on my screen. I want to root for them. I don’t want to have to head down to my local race track to bet money on their physical brawls. Until that happens, I will begrudgingly still be watching Season 14 and supplementing my disappointment with binging Season 1. 

Stream previous seasons of RHONJ on Peacock.