Will new housewives Melissa and Kathy bring as much drama as Danielle did? You bet your Gorga!

Greetings, Garden State fans! As a born and bred Jersey girl (Let’s hear it for Scotch Plains! Anyone? Nunzio’s pizza? Bowcraft? Okay. I agree, it’s a lame town), I’ll be your tour guide through this season’s insanity. And bongiorno, insanity! I thought that without Danielle (did she really move away as Jacqueline said? To where? Who bought her house?), the show would be a sweeter, calmer Housewives. But after tonight’s jumbo-size premiere, I think we all know that’s not going to happen. Frankly, I’m still kind of traumatized. “Life is one big test,” Caroline told her family at one point. I am not sure what questions were on that test, but I can’t help but think the entire Guidice and Gorga clans have failed.

Let’s just get the boring stuff out of the way first. And by boring, I mean anything not having to do with the Gorgas or Guidices. In seasons past, each housewife had a storyline, but it seems Caroline’s power has diminished with each pound she’s lost. The lioness of last year was reduced to simply being a weepy mom tonight. Why? Albie and Christopher decided to move out of the Manzo manor (not to be confused with the Manzo’s Manor) to which I say, it’s about time. What happened to kids moving out when they’re 18? And even though they’ve probably got pretty nice bank accounts, the boys decided to get a carpeted apartment in Hoboken instead of, say, moving across the Hudson. Is Hoboken near their jobs? Nope. Is the apartment breathtakingly gorgeous? No again. Well, at least they won’t have to brave Lincoln Tunnel traffic to make their way home in order to fling pieces of ham at each other on Sunday nights. Caroline got welled up at the thought of her boys moving out, which was equal parts endearing (she loves being a mom!) and sad (please stop being so afraid of living life with an empty nest!). Maybe she was just sad that they were moving to Hoboken. Of course, the most tragic thing of all was poor Lauren’s face when she saw her mom breaking down. I have a feeling mama won’t cry nearly as hard when she moves out.

As for Caroline’s sister-in-law Jacqueline—once the middle-woman between the crazy and the famiglia—she had nothing to do with herself but visit her ridiculous and lazy daughter Ashley (my least favorite person on any reality show ever) at Lizzie Grubman PR. How much did Bravo have to pay Lizzie Grubman to “hire” Ashley? Oh, right, as Lizzie very clearly pointed out during the staged mom visit, she’s not paying Ashley anything. “She has to come to work every day,” Lizzie told Jacqueline, as if they’re at a parent-teacher conference. You’d think the concept of “working” when you have a “job” wouldn’t be lost of that dimwit Ashley, but apparently it was. “It’s hard commuting,” she whined. “It’s, like, money to come in.” After breaking down (another great idea to do in front of your boss!) Lizzie calmed her intern down by saying “I swear you’re like a carbon copy of me,” probably meaning not one syllable of what she just uttered.

The truth is, even Caroline and Jacquline seemed bored by their storylines. When they got together, they just wanted to talk about what was going on at baby Giuseppe Gorga’s christening, held at—where else—the Manor. And what indeed was going on? And what exactly went on between new housewife Melissa Gorga and her sister-in-law Teresa to get to this point of no return?

Next: Joe Gorga has daddy issues

First, a few words about Melissa. I don’t imagine Teresa called up Andy Cohen and told him to hire her “whore in the bedroom” sister-in-law. (Sorry, Melissa, I just don’t see you as a “lady in the parlor.” Not in those outfits.) But however she found her way onto this season, Melissa is certainly the one people will be talking about. She was raised to be an Italian wife which, according to her, means having a home-cooked meal on the table, no dishes in the sink, keeping the kids clean (even when her husband makes sexually provocative comments about bathing him in front of their little ones), and being in awe of your husband’s work “ethnic.” And just in case that job description wasn’t disturbing enough, Joe added picking up things you didn’t take out to her laundry list when he informed their son that tidying is “for the women.” But Joe is in awe of Melissa too…both her work ethic and her butt cheeks which he volunteered to rub lotion on. Can people please not say things like that when cameras are around? Or ever?

According to Caroline, Melissa and Teresa are basically the same person, which may be why they hate each other. And she might be right. They both enjoy shiny, tight dresses and throwing parties. They both hire the hairstylist Evelyn. And, well, I’m sure there’s something else. Truthfully, it’s hard not to feel for Teresa whose family is now bankrupt (which looks like it’s pretty financially awesome because she can still hire stylists to come get her kids ready for a baptism!). “It’s been a bittersweet year for Joe and I. We went through a bankruptcy which was…so not good,” Teresa explained. Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another way would be to say that your husband is now working as a pizza boy. Oof. But Teresa assured us that Joe is “loving” his new career, which she euphemistically described as “the food business.”

Regardless, something bad happened between Joe’s wedding and Joe’s son’s baptism and I imagine it will take much of the season to get to the root of it all. So complex, these north Jersey folk. (Either that, or Teresa simply should have invited him to a book signing.) In case you can’t bring yourself to watch it or need to relive the baptism brawl, here are the highlights: Teresa showed up late because Joe had “the runs” (classy) and Evelyn the hairdresser was busy hair spraying (never enough!) Melissa’s hair. Teresa just wanted to dance with her brother but he wouldn’t look at her. She congratulated him. He called her trash and said to “walk the f—k away.” He banged the table like an ape and called people “garbage.” Their dad, who’d had two heart surgeries, turned white. Joe Gorga had an extreme reverse Oedipal reaction to his father (way to want to kill your mother to get at your dad!), which culminated in him crying, “Do you understand me? You’re my father!” Faces were blurred. Tears were shed. Alcohol was consumed and, in all likelihood, abused. And Melissa’s pink dress looked a little bit sadder when it was all over.

So all in all, a very depressing and disturbing episode. The only bright spot for me was Joe and Teresa’s first cousin, new housewife Kathy. Unlike Joe and Melissa, Kathy and her husband Rich (love the anecdote about her father thinking her Lebanese boyfriend was Italian!) are adorably in love. Sure, he seems like he could be a bit much (“Am I hot for my wife? Sizzling. Sizzling!”) but at least when Joe Gorga was foaming at the mouth, Rich tried to talk some sense into him. And frankly, thank God for Kathy because no one else was going to rescue poor Audriana when that melee broke out. Kathy is my pick to replace waterworks Caroline as the show’s new voice of reason. Plus, she bikes to the market. How cute is that?

So, what did you all think? Do you miss Danielle? Are you team Melissa or team Teresa? And should Albie have moved into Manhattan?