Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 15 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "The Blonde Drops a Bombshell"
This week, we open with one morbidly obese Italian (Joe Giudice) and three medium-sized ones (Teresa, her mother, and her mother-in-law) going to visit the new Skinny Italian showroom. Since Teresa's Fabulicious empire has grown to include things that are typically classified as food, she now needs space for supermarket buyers to see samples. Everything looks pretty delicious, and they can use Joe's unfiled 2004-2008 tax returns to line all the lovely baskets of olives and sauces!
As they survey the scene, Teresa tells the moms that she's having dinner with her brother soon. Her mother-in-law is skeptical, but her mom seems into it. Well, technically she said "the blood never come the water, all the time the blood together, beautiful." Soooo she's either really psyched, or plotting some sort of "Dexter"-esque murder.
Speaking of Teresa's brother, he's currently having some special time with Chris Laurita. They pour some wine and discuss their problems, sort of like "Sex and the City" if nobody shaved their legs and everyone dressed like Miranda. Turns out Joe had a rough day at work because something went wrong at the construction site of his new building. "We go to measure," he explains, "and we're short!" Kinda sounds like a typical doctor's office visit for our little pal, am I right?! Chris goes on to explain that things are going well with Blk., the alkaline fulvic trace mineral infused water he and the Manzo boys are contractually obligated to mention at least two times per episode. Apparently it's doing so well that they are launching a few more kinds. He doesn't mention the other flavors because this show is only an hour, and Blk. must legally use 90 words in every title or else Caroline Manzo jumps out and threatens to replicate her hair color on your head.
Chris says that the company is doing a big "Knock Out Autism" event that will include a basketball game and a speech from the great orator Jacqueline Laurita. Though Chris wants her to face her public speaking fears, Jacqueline is hesitant. She's trying to juggle her desire to be more vocal in the autism community with the inevitable cruelty of people who say she's "putting her son's autism out there" for personal gain.
While Jacqueline's stuck between a rock and a hard place, Kathy's out with her husband Rich ... which is basically the same thing. Some random event planner has gotten Kathy an in-store at Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC, and she's so psyched that her ricotta's showing.
Across town, the Giudices and Gorgas (and momma Gorga) are having a family lunch at a restaurant that accurately describes this situation: Rare. Momma Gorga is on fire, telling Melissa that she has a "big tongue," but that Terersa has one "more longer than [Melissa's]." Then, Teresa and Melissa literally kiss and make up, and Joe Gorga struggles to deal with the complicated feelings that a sister-on-wife smooch brings up in his pants heart.
Later, Teresa heads over to Jacqueline's house for the first time in ages. They quite literally horse around, as Jacqueline has invested in a horse mask for some inexplicable reason. Teresa also gets a chance to bond with Nick, who is no longer the baby she remembers. Meanwhile, at the Giudice household, Joe and Rosie are having a very intelligent discussion about Joe's desire for a son. Joe explains that perhaps he could take Teresa's eggs and also his eggs and put them in a lady. He says it super la-de-da, as if perhaps he'll do this after eating an omelet, but before having some bacon. "It's not gonna change the baby's looks, right? Do I have eggs too?" he asks. Then, since Rosie is not terribly good at "medical stuff," they high-five and drop the subject.
If anyone ever needed an argument for why forced sterilization is a good idea in select individuals, they should just take this minute of dialogue.
Back at Jacqueline's, the upcoming speech has her in a tizzy. Thankfully, clever and witty Teresa has come over to help her write a really impressive speech. It's honestly like the blind and unattractive leading the blind and unattractive. In his interview, even Jacqueline's No. 1 fan (her husband Chris) can't discuss the situation without laughing himself into tears.
Luckily, Teresa has a very good suggestion for how Jacqueline should begin. "Hi, I'm Jacqueline Laurita, say I'm gonna tell you ... tell you how um, my story. Not the story, I want to tell you uhm." Then, apparently Jacqueline is supposed to stare vacuously at the audience and lift her hairline by moving her eyebrows up and down. Overall, I think it's actually a good move: donations will probably flow in, if only to put Jacqueline out of her misery and get her off stage.
Speaking of people who shouldn't be on stage, let's see how Melissa's music career isn't progressing. She and Joe are in NYC meeting with Johnny Wright. He's actually super legit; he manages Justin Timberlake, though apparently he has 10 minutes to pretend to care about the vocal equivalent of a charity case. He tells Melissa that "the music industry doesn't care about your family," and that she'd better damn be ready to make sacrifices if she is truly passionate about the biz. Melissa swallows hard and says she's a wife and a mother first; she's not going to put anything in front of her kids. Then, Johnny Wright tells her that all the clubby music she's auto-tuning is a total misrepresentation of her, and she should probably try to make a statement that represents what her life is right now. Soo, basically her next track will be less "On Display" and more "Uh, Just Kinda Window Shopping."
At Kathy's house, reality is also setting in ... and it's not pretty. Just when you think waking up to Rich's face has got to be the worst part of every morning, things take an even more bloated turn.
With a million things to do before her event, Kathy (wrongly) assumes that Rich and the kids will help out. Instead, as she uses the most ancient curling iron to make her mom's scalp more visible to the world, Rich stumbles into the room with her cards and spills them all over the floor. It's one of the mostly obviously per-planned slap-stick moments I've ever seen, and even Kathy's "shocked" reply seems rehearsed. It's like they've found their "relatable" story line ("We're Unhappily Married, Just Like YOU!") and are sticking to it in hopes of a spin-off in which they have a cannoli-flavored divorce.
Because Johnny Wright really wants Melissa to fail, he brings a 12-year-old song writer named Justin Thorne over to Melissa's in-home studio. Now, the only way to explain Justin Throne's flowery button-up top and vaguely Western jean jacket is to say that suddenly, Rosie's shirts -- the ones that resemble wearable hotel couches -- seem couture.
The song is called "Never Let Me Go," which, coincidentally, is what Melissa begs her fading youth every day. After some hemming and hawing, she finally unleashes the beast. By "the beast" I mean her voice, and by "her voice" I mean one of the most horrifying sounds ever. Honestly, I think chainsaw massacre scenes in horror movies are more melodic than Melissa's guttural animal calls. It's like she is at once trying to record a song and mimic a bunch of pigs fighting for the sunny spot in a pile of slop. Plus, though the words pretty much all rhyme with "go," she can't get them down.
Johnny seems to be enjoying this disaster, and I'm starting to wonder if this is some twisted form of relaxation for him. He says there's not much he can do for her in New Jersey, and gives her an ultimatum: come to his compound in Orlando, Florida or find someone else willing to produce her. "The after-school sessions are over," he says bluntly.
In New York City, Kathy's dream is also shattering. Kathy needs a big turnout so that Dylan's will carry her line, but she's got a total of zero-non family members in attendance. Finally, sweet Jacqueline walks in. "Nobody cares what you do, Kathy!" she says cheerfully as she mainlines a pastry bag. Soon, the rest of the gang (minus Caroline who has a massive migraine) walks in. Teresa thinks the whole affair is laughable, asking "are they edible?" in her interview and scoffing at the fledgling company. It's quite interesting, actually, that she's so oppositional when it comes to Kathy's endeavors, and yet so incredibly helpful to Jacqueline. Perhaps it's because Jacqueline's success could in no way dwarf hers, while Kathy's could pose a threat in their shared culinary field?
Even though everyone is late and cranky, Kathy takes the shred of support, wraps it in some fried dough ... and let's it go to all of their asses.
Once the sugar high has worn off, it's time for Jacqueline and Chris' big event. With over 150 kids registered, it's a success ... and because Kathy's not involved, the whole cast comes out with bells on. Unfortunately, poor Jacqueline is shaking on the sidelines ahead of her big moment. She's weeping seconds before her introduction, but then pulls it together.
As she speaks about her son, her voice breaks. Still, she remains composed and really pulls off a concise, emotional speech. It's a lovely moment that totally melts the audience, and even I'm rendered incapable of making fun of her ... for at least the next sentence.
After they've dried their tears and Melissa has reapplied her mask, she and Joe head out to Chakra for a date. I'm always so amused by the irony of all these restaurant names; in the Sanskrit sources, "chakra" means an endless rotation ... and things are about to come full circle soon.
As Melissa's steak is delivered, she notices another undercooked bag of meat at the bar: Penny! Even though Melissa and Teresa made a pact to approach their detractors as a group, she can't help but go and say hi -- especially because it seemed like Penny "had more to say" last time.
Penny says Melissa was totally right, and that contrary to Teresa, it's not Jan or Kim pulling the strings. "It was your sister," Penny says. Melissa's eyes bug out like she's taking lessons from Kathy, and Joe goes as white as a very tan person can. "She asked me who BEEP was, and then she said to me 'can you confront my brother about it.'"
Penny then says that Teresa's whole "we're not friends, I don't know this woman" act was as fake as the synthetic hair glued to Penny's head. Penny goes on to say that she has Teresa's "house number AND cell number," because apparently that's the Jersey equivalent to swearing a friendship oath in blood.
Penny says she won't take the bullet for everything, and then throws her husband under the bus. I don't see a ring on her finger and she has a face that I didn't think anyone could love, but apparently there's a lid for every pot. Penny's random husband has been tormenting Melissa on Twitter (@JohnnyTheGrk if you want to tell him to get a life, or introduce him to punctuation and spacing), and apparently he's also getting texts directly from Teresa. "She invites me to places, I don't just appear," Penny says. In fact, she explains, her beloved @JohnnyTheGrk set up a few appearances for Teresa. I guess this is the last fabulicious nail in Teresa's coffin. That hairline was born to rise again as a vampire.
Joe notes that Penny looks like a "train wreck" (I'd say more "what the undead would look like if they discovered bleach blonde kits") so normally you wouldn't take her seriously. "But in this case," he notes, "she knows too much. And that's the type of person that will go and do someone's dirty work."
Though Teresa obviously orchestrated a hot mess of rumors and lies, Penny says that it's all over now. "She asked me to squash it" she says seriously, as if this is her day job and she's handing in her final report. It's kind of terrifying that Penny is taking her role in this so seriously, and judging from her makeup and clothes, she's definitely not being compensated. The shit has pretty much hit the fan ... and since nobody on this whole damn show is over like, 5'3'', I have no clue who is going to clean it up now.
Think Penny's telling the truth? Has Teresa been behind the rumors all along? I'd love to hear your take. Leave a comment below or tweet me @sydneyraylevin.
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