Jacqueline plans a big, multi-family field day that ends in tears. But really, a field day? So many puns...

By Stephan Lee
May 21, 2012 at 09:12 PM EDT
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Ouch, RHONJ. You just hurt my soul. It’s one thing when a middle-aged woman’s horrible behavior is put on display for snarky Bravo viewers’ judgment, but when the episode’s dramatic set piece centers on a 10-year-old girl’s meltdown, nobody wins.

Of course, we didn’t get a much-needed respite from the Giudice-Gorga adult sibling drama. Teresa brought up the showdown at Kathy’s pool party to Juicy Joe, which wasn’t a good idea. (Wasn’t Teresa the one who told Gorgo that he shouldn’t tell his wife everything? The hypocrisy was almost too obvious.) Juicy Joe went on an F-bomb-laden rant about Teresa’s brother and his wife, and his threatening tirade actually made me feel sorry for Teresa. Some disturbing bits:

“When I say something, you listen and shut up!”

“Even if your mother or father say something, I’m kicking them out of the house … I’ll end up leaving you as well.”

In a move that should surprise no one, Teresa defended her husband’s borderline-abusive words, explaining that that’s just Juicy when he gets angry. “Knock on wood, we never fight,” Teresa said, while rapping her knuckles against her own head. Maybe Teresa actually has a sense of humor about her own thickheadedness — or maybe she just doesn’t understand what “knock on wood” means.

The two endomorphic Manzos, Lauren and Papa Albert, decided to burn approximately 12 calories by hitting golf balls at the driving range. Caroline reminded us for the 40th time this season that when she was Lauren’s age, she was stick-thin, and said, “Lauren is Albert in a dress.” God, that’s harsh. Albert joked that he was actually happy that Lauren was chubby in high school, because “boys want to be friends with chubby chicks, not go out with them.” Double ouch. Perhaps the saddest, most hilarious moment of the episode came when the photo of Lauren and Albie at prom together flashed on the screen. Going to prom with a sibling is just… brutal. I thought that only happened in 80s teen movies to girls with dental headgear. When her brothers were giving Lauren a hard time about her diet, Caroline reprimanded her, not the boys. Lauren really is the real-life Meg Griffin. No one in her family seems to be truly on her side, except, I guess, Jacqueline, who enjoys spending time with a 20-something girl who doesn’t hate her for a change.

NEXT: You all knew a kid just like Gia when you were growing up, right? She’d flip the Clue board and go crying to her mom if she lost, and then her mother would come in and punish you for cheating?

Little Gia threw Teresa for a maternal loop by asking for her first training bra. Teresa’s reaction was almost cute at points, but at others, it hinted at the source of her tendency not to acknowledge reality even when it knocks her on her wooden head. She explained that “Italian women don’t talk about things like this,” and said that in her family, they thought tampons were a “no-no” because of insertion. Also, it was deeply disturbing how blasé Gia was when she mouthed off about Teresa’s boob job.

But then at Jacqueline’s field day, Gia reminded everyone that she wasn’t mature enough to handle a lot of things, let alone wear a bra. After every event — a tug-of-war, three-legged race, and potato sack relay — she pouted or tearfully accused her uncle Joe of cheating. Okay, so Joe was kind of cheating — but even Gia is a tad too old to have a meltdown like that. Clearly, some of that anger came from the kind of information Teresa had been feeding to her about Joe and Melissa — that they’re not to be trusted.

I did agree with Jacqueline and Caroline that Gia’s behavior was a bit alarming. She seemed to be adopting her parents’ mindset that whenever something goes wrong, it’s everyone else’s fault. But I couldn’t take sides in the issue of whether it was right for Jacqueline and Caroline to pretty much corner her. Jacqueline’s choice in book — I wonder if she actually had Help Me Be Good: Being a Bad Sport lying around or if a production assistant had the inspired idea to run to the public library — was quite entertaining, but I’m not sure if she and Caroline had entirely positive intentions in lecturing Gia.

The real villain in all of this, though, was Teresa. She swooped in to assure Gia that Joe was in fact cheating, and Jacqueline was wrong to read that book to her. Gia wailing that having to hear her own behavior being read aloud from a book was “TORTURRREEEEEE” suggested that she’s never been taught to feel remorse or to apologize — just like Teresa! Teresa was totally out-of-line to say, “I feel bad for Ashley” in reference to Jacqueline’s parenting. Just wait another five years before making a judgment like that again. Plus, Teresa’s comment — “I’m being a team player but I’d rather be down shore too” — was so typical of her, and so infuriating. Just like that, another wedge was planted between Teresa and the other ladies.

Overall, this episode had all the ingredients to be really entertaining. I mean, a big Jersey field day should have been golden, especially with Greg the Giant hanging around. (Speaking of which, it really bothered me that he wasn’t placed in the back for tug-of-war. Shouldn’t the biggest guy be the anchor?) But the fact that a 10-year-old became the focus sullied the whole thing for me. Gia really should be taken off this show.

Were Jacqueline and Caroline out of line? Or was Gia truly being a brat, 10 years old or not? Is Teresa doing her daughter any favors by always taking her side? Do you think Gabriela, the cutest and best-behaved Giudice girl, was secretly adopted?

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