'Real Housewives of New Jersey' Season 5 premiere recap: A broken family
"Sandy, you're a b****"
Okay, but on a serious note -- The premiere started with a somber tone, checking in with the women after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in November 2012. Kathy Wakile and hubby Rich drove around Seaside Heights until the National Guard wouldn't let them go any further. Rich commented, "I can't believe this is happening in the United States of America." Huh?
Melissa and Joe Gorga, as well as Teresa and Joe Giudice, take stock of their shore homes and it's truly a bummer that their residences were wrecked, but then you remember that it's just their second home and some people were left with zero and you feel a bit better. Also, Teresa says something like she "definitely would've drownded" if she were there.
Also, somehow it stimulated the economy? Though, I'm assuming that was only true for people who build homes. And still had one.
The end of last season left Teresa and Joe's marriage in apparent dire straits. Remember that ugly phone call Joe made?
Ah, true love. Teresa affirms: "Things are really good between me and my husband, but I would have to say our toughest year was last year." So, forget all about that silliness, America. It's fixed!
This season is clearly going to be damage control for Teresa. Mama's got to sell cookbooks and she can't do that if the country thinks she's a villain! In the aftermath of Sandy, Teresa's arranged for her household to donate all the things they don't want anymore to the people who've lost everything. It's a nice gesture, but I can't help but be convinced it's a gesture motivated by the cameras.
We'll get to the meat of the episode (Teresa vs. Melissa) in just a second, but let's talk about Gia for just a second. Ah, dear Gia Giudice. Teresa takes her eldest daughter, whose moments in tonight's premiere proved that she's just about over it, on a shopping trip because she's about to turn 12. (A good reason to spend money. My birthday's in four months, Mom. I can has clothes?) While shopping, Gia tells her mother, "Can you not do that squeaky voice? It irritates me so much." A nation applauds.
Gia continues to wins all the points when she shuts her mom down regarding leopard print, boldly tells her mom she likes a boy and he likes her, and stares her younger sisters down like the wolves they are. Gia also proves she's not a dumb kid anymore when it comes to the family drama, even handling her mom's text messages with Melissa. This display only continues to detract Teresa's points, however, by proving that her ill will towards her sister-in-law isn't hidden from her children -- you know, the woman's nieces. Not cool, Teresa.
The only check-in with lovely Jacqueline Laurita tonight surrounded an update on 3-year-old son Nicholas' autism, which I won't be joking about with a GIF. It's a really touching peek into the struggle parents face when dealing with children who've lost language. During a talking head, Jacqueline, fighting back tears, says, "You want someone to hand you a highlighted map, like, 'This is the path you need to take and at the end of this path, your son's recovered.' But there is no exact path." It's moving, and her and husband Chris' dedication to finding a manageable living situation with Nick is heartwarming.
Beyond the trip to the ravaged Jersey Shore, our only other check-in with Kathy revolves around scene-stealing sister Rosie and her dating life. While making dinner with their mom, Kathy asks Rosie whether she's sought out alternative methods to meeting women, rather than just bars. Rosie takes the opportunity to rail against online dating: "I won't go online, they're all freaks. One time I did that and she told me she was blonde, killer smile. I was all gung-ho and there's this 300-pound bleach blonde with rotten f***ing teeth, smiling at me."
Mother Superior of NJ, Caroline Manzo, invites Joe and Melissa over to her apartment in Hoboken. That's right, she and hubby Al are leasing an apartment in the city because they're considering downsizing and they want to get a handle on whether they're into apartment-living or not. I get a sense there's more to this story, but who am I to judge? I'll let Melissa do that for me. "Her two boys live in this town and she ran to them."
The Gorga-Giudice black hole
Melissa's entire story tonight is tied into this drama, so let's just dig into it. As Teresa reveals at the top of the episode, her baby brother Joe hasn't called her once since the terror that was Hurricane Sandy, and, as Joe Gorga retorts, she hasn't called either. They've not seen each other in a year. This isn't ending anytime soon.
While the Giudice clan is prepping to assault the newly homeless with their tacky wares, Teresa and monster child Milania -- oh, you remember Milania, right? Let's refresh.
Anyway, Milania and Teresa have this (totally not-planned) conversation about how Milania misses her cousin Antonia and specifically asks her mom, "Don't you miss your brother?" Teresa just stares blankly at her daughter, blinking every now and then. Parenting is hard.
We come to learn that Antonia has written Milania a letter as a part of a homework assignment that I still don't understand, which allows for Melissa and Joe to remind us their side of the familial discord. Melissa lets Antonia mail the letter to Milania, which is sweet -- until Antonia reminds her mom they only live next door and then the whole mailing thing seems silly and childish.
Milania gets her letter and her reaction is like watching a stray dog learn love. (It's really heartwarming.) And then Gia goes and tries to ruin it, telling her sisters that her aunt didn't invite them to their cousin's birthday party. (A fact she learned on Twitter. At age 11.) Watching Milania try to understand that hurt me. Watching Teresa not even reprimand her daughter for dropping that rude bomb hurt more.
Melissa and Teresa engage in some sort of standoff, where each want a play date between their daughters (who both achingly miss their cousin) to happen on their terms. It's uncomfortable and ugly and embarrassing. It's Bravo! Teresa and Juicy Joe say "we're all just dust in the air" which I guess is sort of a Kansas lyric?
Jacqueline wins the night with this line after Caroline plays gossip with her: "I'm tired of listening to Gorga-Giudice family drama. It's right up there on my priority list with bleaching my a**hole." You and me both, sister.
Teresa and Melissa finally agree to meet on neutral territory -- a tacky beaded jewelry-making place. It's a cute idea, from Melissa. So, naturally, Teresa hates it. "This f***ing bead store better be good. Yeah right..." What a good sport.
En route, Milania says the best line she's ever said in her young life, counting her demand from pizza from a troll: "I hate my nose hair. I need my nose hair gone." Why is child aware of their nose hair? I don't even care. It's incredible. Then Juicy Joe calls Melissa "Horsey Face" while on the phone with his daughter. What a charmer.
Can we talk about the moment with Melissa and Teresa are finally face-to-face? My TV grew frost, it was so cold.
Call the U.N.
In the course of the summit, it was revealed that Melissa and Teresa had coincidentally planned Antonia and Gabriella's communion ceremonies for the same day. Seriously, this was scarier than North Korean bomb threats. Melissa, tired of rolling over for her bullying sister-in-law, held her ground, prompting Teresa to offer to try to move Gabriella's, "to be the bigger person." As if Melissa had purposely and maliciously booked Antonia's on the same day. The women ended the play date, with each child begging for more time with their cousin. It was depressing. (Remember when this show was fun? When it wasn't about the slow death of a family thanks to sudden fame?)
At the same time, Joe Gorga is meeting with Caroline. The two have developed an adorable sibling relationship, but I'm not sure Caroline ought to be inserting herself back into this ridiculous drama. That being said, Joe enlists Caroline to talk to his sister. "I thought I was out, and I'm getting pulled back in because I care about you," she says. Or because the paycheck. One or the other.
Coming up this season:
- Nearly every couple has marital issues. Hooray?
- Melissa drives a tractor.
- Jacqueline and demon spawn Ashley seem to patch things up. Real hooray.
- Milania climbs a stripper pole around the entire cast, mocking her aunt. This family is done.
Did you enjoy your trip back to New Jersey, "Housewives" fans? Are you in for the Season 5 long haul or has the family drama gotten too depressing?