To Caroline, Kathy, and Jacqueline, as Heidi Klum used to say to losers in Project Runway, “You’re out.” Instead, Caroline’s sister, Dina Manzo, has returned to the show and is joined by three new housewives, Amber, another Teresa (this one pronounced Ter-ess-a) and her twin, Nicole. Of course, Melissa Gorga and her horndog hubbie, Joe, are back. But what would RHONJ be without Teresa & Joe Guidice and their drama with federal fraud charges? The episode opens with a rundown of their current court battles. T is talking on the phone about the rumors while she’s making gravy on the stove. Not to stir the pot, but facing 50 years of prison time is some-a spicy meatball.
Then we go back to the prior three months when things were a little more lighthearted and Joe was threatening his smart-mouthed daughter, Melania, to do her homework or she wasn’t “gonna eat for a week.” C’mon, Joe, an Italian can’t withhold food from his child no more than Kim Kardashian can withhold posting selfies on Instagram.
Dina comes to visit Teresa, bringing her a guardian angel bracelet her mother made. It’s nice, but it isn’t quite as glittery as the sequined top Teresa is wearing as she toils in her kitchen. Dina tells us, “The bitch is back and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my a__.” Well, and a warm hello to you too, Dina. Dina is going through some issues with her husband, Tommy. “I’m pretty Zen until you ---- with me,” Dina advises, so we know Tommy must’ve been getting on Dina’s last chakra. We learn that Tommy has a penchant for buying purses for young girls with big boobs. Aw, c’mon, Dina, have a heart. Those poor girls need those purses to carry their phones. Samsung Galaxy 5s are just too big to carry in their cleavage. Dina has been on a spiritual quest so she took a trip to a Mongolian yurt, but only stayed half the time she was supposed to. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she was forced to leave early. She ran out of lip liner. And the Sephora in Mongolia didn’t carry Bobbi Brown. Seems she’s struggling with whether she should divorce Tommy or stay separated from him so she has an excuse not to get naked with anyone new. Hey, Dina, I don’t know if you took a gander at some of those middle-aged guys on eHarmony lately, but your naked body should not be one to be worried about.
Melissa and Teresa are in a good place now. We see Melissa, who is blonde now, with her sex-crazed husband, Joe, in the kitchen where he’s whipping up dinner along with some delusional self-proclamations about being “sexy and hot.” Joe, here’s some advice: Once a guy declares himself to be “sexy and hot,” he officially stops being those very things. So try eating some humble pie instead and you might get some other just desserts.
At last, we are introduced to the new crew members. Amber is Melissa’s friend from way back and she lives with her husband, Jim, and four kids in an ostentatious house in Colts Neck that is decorated with humongous urns of silk flower arrangements. It looks like the Dollar Store exploded and spewed out its contents of dahlias, peonies, and hydrangeas into the entire first floor. Amber is a control freak who proudly declares that kids are a reflection of one’s parenting skills. She tells us this as one of her children is picking her nose.
Then we get to meet the identical twins – Teresa (pronounced Ter-ess-a because that gives her hope it makes a typical Italian Jersey girl name sound like it might belong to a European movie star) and Nicole. Teresa is married to Rino who owns two restaurants and makes Kathy’s husband, Richie, from last season, seem like a class act. Rino and Teresa were married, got divorced, and remarried. That’s like jumping off the Titanic then climbing back on because you liked what the band was playing. Rino likes to tell jokes like, “I got circumcised when I was 27. I told the doctor to keep the tip.” Bada boom. Hey folks, Rino will be here all week – at his own restaurant. Try the veal. Or, as the case may be, try the ham.
Nicole is a real girl’s girl. She’s divorced, but wants to get married again. She’s been dating her boyfriend, Bobby, for a few months. Nicole declares, “A woman needs two things: Dunkin donuts and oral sex.” And lip liner, Nicole – don’t forget the lip liner. The best part was, in fortuitous coincidence, a commercial spot for Dunkin Donuts ran during the episode!
Amber is having a Harvest Party so we see the Housewives getting ready. Teresa goes over to Dina’s to help her pick out something to wear. Dina’s closet has a “leopard section.” You know you must be from Jersey if you have your outfits segmented into animal prints. We hear Teresa say, “Something looks like a dead animal” as the camera captures Dina’s scary furless cat come into view. That thing still gives me nightmares from earlier seasons. It looks like living roadkill.
Amber is a gracious host as her adorable children take the hands of guests to escort them into the party. She does confront her old buddy, Melissa, though, about not reaching out to her when she had breast cancer. Melissa claims she didn’t know about it, but Amber said Melissa mentioned it on Facebook. Listen, Amber, you are a courageous woman to go through what you did and we applaud you, but give Melissa a break. People also post the kind of pancakes they had at IHOP on Facebook, so it’s hard to remember every little thing. Amber is not pleased with the behavior of some of her guests who track snow into her home. “Italians are taught to be respectful in people’s homes.” Thank goodness, that at least Ter-ess-a brings a little respect to the mix. When she’s leaving the party, she looks into the closet for her wrap and tells Rino, “I think the “f----- little kid took my shawl.”
The episode closes with the Giudice family celebrating Joe’s mother’s 80th birthday. Joe makes a heartfelt toast telling everyone if his parents didn’t come over from Italy, “none of us would be here, I guess.” Shrewd deduction, Joe. It was touching when his daughter Gia complimented him on his speech as she choked back tears. He hugged her, and, despite whatever criminal charges he might be facing, it’s evident that he loves his family very much. Sadly, his father passed away this year adding to the difficult times the family has been facing. May they all find inner strength and peace – they’re going to need it with some of these people around.
I can’t wait for future episodes when Melissa and Joe go into the garbage business. If New Jersey stands out for anything, it’s garbage.
Eileen Budd, a native Italian New Jerseyean, is a comedienne and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.