This is episode seven, which historically means we’ve just about reached the midway point of an RHONJ season (following the early years, their later seasons have historically been shorter than the other franchises in the Housewives universe). And following a promising early start – Dolores versus Jen Aydin! A fun but not toxic mozzarella party! – what has this season accomplished?
Just the same old stops and starts as usual, it seems. While Jackie’s been demoted and we’ve gotten two new, younger full-time housewives (Danielle and Rachel) and one awesome new friend-of (Jen F.), the show is just as tribal as ever. Here is what the new blood cannot bring: change. Danielle is a lapdog for Jen A. and Teresa (largely by refusing to empathize with Melissa and by going after Jackie), and Rachel is happy to stick up for Marge and Melissa. And so the wheels, they keep spinning.
Team Tre – Jen A. and Teresa – are at Jewelry Expo as she buys bracelets for her bridesmaids. Is this the place in Long Island owned by Jen’s cousins? She mentioned it several seasons back. Olive branch be darned, the two complain about Marge being devious and how Melissa and Joe are scared of her because she must have dirt on them. Again, pot calling the kettle big-haired. And also, people hang out with Marge because she is smart and funny. They don’t hang out with women like you, Jen A., because you’re a mean girl and a threat. These women took the advice Teresa had given about Marge, and did it about you: they did their homework.
Then it’s time for the season’s “small trip,” which again is to the Jersey Shore. Jen A. now owns a “townhouse” right by the boardwalk, and she acknowledges that she kept all the furniture from the previous owners like only someone who didn’t need to do such a thing would find embarrassing. Rachel also has a shore house, and she is stuck with Dolores, who didn’t want to stay with Frank and Brittany because Paulie was supposed to join her but didn’t at the last moment. (Is this because of his heart issues? Should she be with him?)
In exhibit JKLMNOP of her protesting too much, Tre mentions that she didn’t get invited to stay with Joe and Melissa, with whom is currently not really talking, and says she’s never spent the night there. Then, this: she also says that Gia asked to use the house and “Melissa said no.”
This, This. THIS. This is Tre taking any situation and turning it into a slight against her. Gia has never mentioned asking for this. In fact, she says that they haven’t even talked since Luis entered the family. So what is the real story here? Did Gia randomly text because she and her sorority friends needed a place to crash at the last minute, when there wasn’t room? Or when there was no one to supervise a group of underage women with alcohol? Again, these distorted details make me distrust everything. Because that’s a big claim to make that flies in the face of what we keep being told about the relationship between the Gorgas.
And it’s this kind of thing that Marge refers to as an “arsenal” – a trove where someone keeps grievances to have at the ready in order to play victim when they’re really playing the bully. Melissa tells her she doesn’t know what that is (she thinks it might be a book!). “Her and Teresa are a lot more alike than they think they are,” Marge jokes during a confessional. Ha!
Score another demerit for Tre when Marge confronts her about the “advice” she gave Rachel, saying Marge is a better friend than enemy at the episode’s big party at Chez Gorga (and score a point for Melissa, because the food and décor looks awesome). Instead of taking any accountability, as usual, Tre deflects and (wait for it) turns the tables on them and blames Rachel for opening her mouth. Um, Tre, whether you cop to it or not, these are your words and this is your doing. Rachel, meanwhile, bravely doesn’t back down and says she was just saying what she had been told. I guess the therapy will take a while longer to take.
But (gasp!) I’ll also give Teresa herself a point when she explains why she didn’t invite Melissa’s family to her (Bravo-funded) wedding. Again, she hadn’t mentioned this before, but acknowledges that Donna Marco and Kim and Lysa had posted things on social media against Teresa in the past. That’s why Teresa didn’t invite them, because she’s hanging onto a decade-old grudge. Fair – but again, how come this hasn’t come up at all amid all the laundry that’s been aired over eleven years?
Danielle, meanwhile, puts up her own victim-villain business with this slow-burning conflict between her and Jackie. At this party, Jackie mentions Danielle’s supposed rift with her brother and sister-in-law, saying the commonsensical thing: that there must be more to the story than being blocked on Instagram. She says Danielle just isn’t sharing that part (and why would she? Her current narrative lets her sidle right up to Tre) of the story. Danielle again says “I hear my name!” and the Staten Island accent gets a thousand times thicker. She storms out and Tre, she of the “You’ve gotta leave with them if you came with them” mantra, leaves too, and Danielle says it brings her back to a time when she was young and felt bullied. The photos must be from the late 1990s or early 2000s, but they look like they are the test photos Thomas Edison first tried out.
But it looks like Danielle’s victim campaign is just getting started – next week her complaints even cause Tre to lob an f-bomb at Jackie again. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to take it.
See you next week!