Welcome back to New Jersey, home of the leading ladies of one of Bravo’s East-Coast Housewives iterations. Before moving ahead with season 7, we have to look back…to Danbury Federal Correctional Institution…on Dec. 23, 2015…at 5:40 a.m. “It felt like a bad dream — all of it,” narrates Teresa Giudice. She is, of course, referring to her incarceration. We’re taken down a black-and-white rabbit hole, complete with flashes of the sibling rivalry between the “Skinny Italian” and her foot-loving brother, Joe Gorga. Ex-BFF and returning queen Jacqueline Laurita apparently managed to shed some tears for Teresa’s journey to prison the year before as well. All of this Dateline-meets-20/20 footage acts as a guidepost to the Dec. 23 prison release of the housewife.
But before we can get to the homecoming, we instead have to jump back two weeks. Queue the theme song, grab a cannoli, and pick your favorite tagline: Season 7 starts now.
The theme of looking back continues when Melissa Gorga re-introduces us to her family, acting as the Ghost of Christmas Past. It wouldn’t be a flashback without a glimpse of Joe grabbing her butt though, right? Melissa plans on opening a boutique called “Envy by Melissa Gorga,” which should be referred to as “Kyle by Alene Too, Melissa as Well: Jersey Edition.” Working with her hubby as the contractor, Melissa also has her assistant (business partner?), who looks like a mixture of Kim D. and Kim G. Momma wants the respect her children give their dad, and honestly, the lady deserves it. Although I may not love her music career (who among us can’t stop singing “On Display,” though?), I do appreciate her ability to power through family troubles and her husband’s constant need to rid poison from his body.
Now, everyone grab a box of tissues while we talk about Jacqueline and her son, Nicholas. The adorable 6-year-old was diagnosed with autism in the last season we saw the OG housewife, and she is proud to announce he’s made great strides. Acting as the Greek chorus for every viewer, Nicholas tells his daddy he loves donuts. When Nicholas isn’t making me weep in joy, he’s riding bikes, reading books, and of course, eating donuts while telling his family, “I love you.”
Alert! We have a new housewife! Her name is Dolores Catania, and she looks mysteriously like Dina Manzo. She’s an old friend of Jacqueline, Teresa, Dina, and Caroline’s, but Jacqueline warns everyone to not piss her off due to her Patterson upbringing. We later learn she was found eating from a box of donuts in front of her ex-fiancé’s house, so she’s pretty much better than all of us could ever hope to be.
After her introduction, Dolores goes to Rails Steakhouse with Jacqueline; they’re ready for a night out with their third partner in crime, and another new housewife, Siggy Flicker. Her introduction is like the opening of Mommie Dearest: quick cuts to a mysterious woman with a scarf-wrapped head and sunglasses disguising her face that forces me to scream, “Is it Faye Dunaway?!” I already love her, and it’s because of the first thing that comes out of her mouth: “I had a facelift.” She then orders lobster bisque and sips it through a straw, as any lady who lunches would after a surgery.
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It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little touch of forgiveness, and we’re treated to just that when Jacqueline reveals her newfound loving relationship with her daughter, Ashley. It’s a hard contrast watching this smiling and mature Ashley in an ugly Christmas sweater, versus the horror flashback of Jacqueline telling her to “get of my goddamn house.” All of that is in the past now that Ashley is a certified beauty technician and has a new boyfriend named Pete. On a sad note, Chris Laurita tells us he lost the black-water business (but it seemed so lucrative!) and now his family has been forced to downsize in any way they can, from getting a smaller mansion to selling their designer watches. To commemorate, the Lauritas have decided to have a party. Must be that extra watch money funding this shindig.
NEXT: Welcome home, Tre