Last season on the Real Housewives of New Jersey we watched the Joes battle it out while bestselling cookbook author, Teresa Giudice, butchered the pronunciation of common spices and had a bikini wearing dance-off with Melissa. Ashlee did absolutely nothing and Jacqueline no-showed the reunion episode.
Let’s kick off season 4, shall we?
The long awaited premiere begins with Kathy and Melissa as they celebrate the arrival of summer with extended family. But fun in the sun without drama seems a bit too normal so Rich makes the first move asking Kathy, “Did you get that recipe from Teresa’s new cookbook?”
Melissa was part of the cookbook carnage and tells us via private interview, “From my personal experience, if Teresa is writing about you it’s because she’s threatened. But I’m not going to let that ruin what we’re trying to do. I’m not even going to tell Joe about it.”
But Rich will.
He shouts across the backyard, “Hey Joe, come ova heeya.” Joe Gorga waits for Rich to find the passage and choose a more literary relative to read aloud.
“My baby sister-in-law copies everything I do down to the shoes I wear and the chairs on my front porch. You know what they say; you can’t pick your family.”
Then Melissa takes her peacemaking to a whole new level and starts spewing lies.
“It’s not that big of an attack to say that I copy off of her to be honest with you.”
Melissa, this whole turning the other cheek thing is getting old. I’d rather my sister-in-law flip me off and hurl an f-bomb at me than say I copied her.
Rich says what Melissa is thinking, “I think we should burn the b**** on the stake.”
Transition to Joe Gorga on that familiar reality television couch.
“What Teresa wrote in the cookbook doesn’t surprise me but it’s not enough for us to ‘rehatch’ any problems that we have.”
I’m pretty sure he meant, “rehash” and I’m totally positive I want to know where these people were educated. If private schools were involved, someone should be getting a refund. Just sayin’.
Meanwhile, at Jacqueline’s house, the Manzo and Giudice families have arrived to play their own version of the Hunger Games leaving only one survivor for dinner marking the first time Caroline and Teresa have seen each other since Teresa launched her passive aggressive cookbook insults including, “Caroline Manzo is about as Italian as the Olive Garden,” and something about Caroline being “only 1/16th Italian.”
Teresa wants to clear the air so she escorts Mrs. Manzo outside for a one-on-one talk.
CUT! Quick break:
Teresa, listen. All you have to do is throw your ghostwriter under the bus. You know something like, “I obviously didn’t write the book, as evidenced by my regular use of the word ‘ingredients-es’ and lack of familiarity with cumin. Then you can say you’re totally pissed at the real writer and seal the deal by blaming yourself with a tear rolling down your face, “I’m so disappointed in myself for not reading the book before it was released.”
You can do it. ACTION.
Theresa sits next to Caroline and ad-libs like we never even had the conversation above, “You know my book, right? I think you misread it because if you really read it good, I didn’t insult you.”
Then Teresa continues to focus on the only thing that truly matters; herself, “If I didn’t care, do you think my heart would be beating like this? This isn’t healthy for me.” And she closes with, “I stand by whatever I wrote in my book 110%. I mean, you can’t talk me down for writing exactly how I feel.”
Caroline must be doing a ton of yoga because she never leaps across the porch to strangle Giudice. Instead, she calmly tells viewers, “You have to pick your battles so I’d rather just co-exist.”
Then, in a move that leaves sane people wondering if Teresa is evil or just stupid, she pulls the cookbook out of her ginormous bag and presents it to Caroline, “This is a family cookbook, I wanted to give it to you personally.”
A real Italian would have chunked the bestseller at Teresa’s head, aiming for the eye, but remember, Caroline is only 1/16th Italian so she accepts the book sans all violent behavior.
After a glimpse of Kathy and Melissa packing leopard print swimwear for a big family trip to the Jersey shore, Bravo gives us a front row seat to the chaos at Chateau Giudice where the joyous laughter of children and their disrespectful back-talking echoes through the barren hallways.
It might look like Teresa has it under control but she reveals to viewers.
“I’ve had a tough year with my husband getting arrested and the tabloids were out there saying we’re going to get divorced and Joe was cheating on me but he’s very focused on helping me around the house. I’d rather have Joe than a nanny.”
Really? I’d rather have a nasty rash and a hobo. But that’s just me.
Next, Ashlee has dyed her hair super blonde, gotten a few tats, and shows us that she doesn’t know how to operate a vacuum cleaner.
Which explains why Jacqueline’s life coach is making house calls. He wants to know how things are going between Jac and Ashlee. Jacqueline tells him that Ash still isn’t working and often calls drunk from the city needing a ride home. I’d be equally as concerned about the hair but there’s no mention of it.
The life coach listens carefully and then reveals the wisdom he’ll be sending an invoice for, “She needs to spread her wings and do her own thing.” Jac, forward that bill to Bravo. Seriously.
Back to the Gorga master bedroom closet where Joe tells Melissa what Teresa said recently, “If a richer guy came along, your wife would leave you and go with him.”
I’m from Dallas but I’m almost positive that the majority of Jersey women would get a running start, slide down the iron railing, sock-skate across the marble entry, land in the Range Rover and drive like a bat out of hell to the Giudice home, where Teresa’s hair extensions would be removed in one yank.
But Melissa’s grace, comparatively speaking, shines through and she continues to pack.
Next we’re in the Giudice family SUV on the way to the shore. But instead of singing show tunes, Teresa is asking her husband who he was with last night. He’s vague and answers with stuff like, “Some girls, I forget their names.” But Teresa didn’t have to rip his head off because 11 year-old Gia is on duty in the backseat, “Oh dad, really, ladies?”
Joe sees that his daughter needs security and reassurance.
“Yeah, it was business, Gia, so shut up.”
Next, we’re with Caroline at Dr. Dov Rand’s office where she’s expressing worry about the frequency of her migraine headaches. She tells him about her lack of patience, mood swings and mind racing. The doc seems to think these are symptoms of menopause; I think it’s symptomatic of living in a state full of loud-mouthed, grammatically incorrect people telling each other to shut up.
Cut to Teresa explaining her practical view on their modest beach property, “It’s alls you need in a shore house.”
This is getting difficult, Teresa. I don’t want to alter your quotes but I also don’t want readers to think I’m a total idiot so you’re forcing me to be the grammar police: It’s “all” not “alls.” K?
Joe pulls out what appears to be a blowup swimming pool that was recently inhabited by rodents. Teresa states the obvious, “The mouses ate it.”
OMG, it’s mice, Teresa. Mice.
Once they’re settled in the family vacay home, somewhere in dangerously close proximity to The Situation, Teresa approaches her husbnad to discuss Gia. She tells him it’s hard on their daughter to see magazine covers saying things about her dad going to jail and cheating. Teresa’s honest effort to engage in parenting dialogue is blown off by Joe who seems to think he’s on the set of the Sopranos, “It’s the life you chose.”
Teresa: She’ll keep asking about the cheating. She thought that daddy was cheating.
Joe: It is what it is.
Teresa: I support you in everything and I love you.
Joe: What are you gonna do?
It’s like communicating with a caveman.
Over at Kathy’s borrowed shorefront property, Melissa tells the fam that she saw Teresa on the cover of a magazine, she’d been interviewed about her fears of being alone if Joe Giudice went to jail. Brother Joe is saddened.
The next day on the beach, Teresa sits down next to her brother in the blazing sun, both unfazed by cancer research. He mentions reading the In Touch magazine article and makes it clear that he’ll support her financially if her husband goes to jail. She responds as if he’s just said, “Hey, if you need a postage stamp, I’m here for you.”
Back in Franklin Lakes, Ashlee is in her room on the phone with a friend talking about getting some body piercing. Her step dad calls her in to the kitchen and presents a plan for her to go live with her aunt and uncle.
“I would like you to go to Vegas and I want you to leave tomorrow.”
I want someone to say that to me. Just once.
Ashlee acts like he said she’s going to Idaho, “You’re kidding.” But I don’t think he is, Ash.
“If you don’t do it, I’m throwing you out tomorrow. That means you lose everything.”
She processes the information and the impact it will have on her future, “So I’ll need to cancel all my plans?” Uh, yeah, Ashlee, the piercing is off.
Previews of next week indicate that the cookbook controversy won’t be over anytime soon, and that Ashlee wasn’t being punked, she really is gettin’ the boot.