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It makes sense that Teresa Guidice would be the centerpiece of the newest season of the Real Housewives of New Jersey given the fact she initiated the Table Flip Heard Round the (Bravo) World and the endearing term "prostitution whore!" Though it was two seasons ago, the feisty brunette allowed her temper to flare so dramatically on camera that it instantly upped the ante on the kind of drama that audiences could expect on the multi-city series. And last season's unified hatred by the New Jersey cast of the creepily vindictive Danielle Staub even brought about a scrappy scuffle that ended in clumps of hair getting yanked out, a la Bad Girls Club.

For this season of the New Jersey offshoot, Danielle had apparently "moved out of the area and out of our lives for good," as Jacqueline vaguely informs. This means the circle needed — what else — new blood! And the producers must have patted themselves on the back heartily for uncovering a nasty rift between Teresa and her previously unmentioned brother Joe that looks to be the spotlight of the season, if the premiere episode was any indictor.


In fact, Bravo even broke with Housewives format to show the episode's eventual fist fight — at a baby's christening, no less — just a few minutes in, before rewinding a week to show the events that led up to it. Essentially, it boiled down to an incredibly hard to decipher feud between Teresa, her husband, her brother (both named Joe), and her brother's wife, Melissa over what can only be described as "family allegiance" issues. There also seemed to be some larger element involving Teresa and her brother Joe's ailing father and his closeness with his daughter's husband.

Really, the reasoning behind their issues is extraneous detail given how visibly delighted Teresa's brother and his wife were to be a part of the hit series. Every moment the two were on camera they all but squealed with elation, giving away their newness under the reality microscope. Melissa pranced around her 15,000 square-foot home (a virtual carbon copy of her sister-in-law’s), preening in the mirror for the cameras while her husband did his best dramatic interpretation of "jilted brother" during his testimonials.

Away from the hotly brewing drama between Teresa and her family, the rest of the New Jersey cast was decidedly snoozy by comparison. Caroline and her clan were given a much-too-long segment attempting to cook a Southern dinner with everyone in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Jacqueline and her husband Chris tried to help guide her 19-year-old daughter Ashley with her internship for celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman, of all people, and her increasing desire to move to the city.

A delightful addition to the clan this seasons circled back to Teresa, of course, with her first cousin Kathy and her husband Rich. The two seemed simultaneously kooky and level-headed among the group, caught between Teresa and Joe's long-standing dysfunction. If nothing else, the lack of explanation for her biking in frigid weather to a fish market to eat oysters and moan with delight over their taste while waxing poetic about the importance of cooking was reason enough to have her. Also, Rich's obviously prompted statement: "Am I hot for Kathy? Sizzling. Sizzling."


If Bravo wanted to remind viewers that they capitalized on the New Jersey-Italian reality world before those crazy MTV guidos showed up on the block, this episode already had it in the bag. Outside of the sea of tan faces and feather-and-jewel-covered dresses, the number of times the word "family" was used in the episode will make for one of the easiest drinking games ever over the course of the season.

And the final christening showdown that took place at the episode's end was one for the record books, folks. The hot-blooded tempers on display weren't for the faint of heart and it easily served as one of the nastiest fights of the entire series. In all of the scuffling, the camera men actually got knocked over and made it hard to even sort out the details of what happened. The only clear thing was seeing Teresa's brother get glassy-eyed drunk and call his sister "garbage" to spark the row. But let's just say phrases like this were exchanged: "I'll fucking kill every one of yous!" and "You're my faaaaather!!" Also, don't forget when fists pounded a table where an elderly man tried to quietly eat his dinner.


While the fight was undoubtedly a messy and ugly scene — a man even stood on a chair next to an ice sculpture of a cross to scream, "This is a kid's christening!!"— it cut to the heart of what makes the New Jersey season unique among the Housewives franchises: showing actual family members sorting through their real-life nitty gritty rather than the obvious assemblage of five random women who clearly knew nothing about each other prior to cameras rolling. And, yep, you caught the magic word in there: drink!

Stray observations:
- Little baby Giuseppe’s painting at the christening –- true art!!!
- Juicy Joe runs a pizzeria now? And remind us why it wasn't called Juicy Joe's Pizza? Oh, cause that sounds gross? Ok.
- How creepy is Lizzie Grubman shoe-horning her way between Ashley and her mom that she just met?
- Joe telling his wife Melissa she has dry butt cheeks in order to let him rub lotion on them is pure romance.
- Let's hope this hilarious Cajun character the Manzos are so delighted by doesn't rear its head again.
- Real yelling in Italian! Not that anyone suspected this clan to be fakers but it's nice to know that in the middle of a wild fight, that's the go-to language. Maybe they think it's code and Bravo won't hire translators?


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