Accusations get ugly on the Housewives' Italian getaway
It’s trip time! We’ve hit the point in the season when the ’wives get to take their fighting to another place, and this year it’s Italy because Margaret has important fashion business to attend to and Melissa wants to observe. Personally, I’m happy for them, because it always seems like while the other Housewives casts are jetting off to Bali and Iceland and Hong Kong, the Jersey crew is, like, put on a boat in the East River or led to an apartment in Vermont. These women deserve a real trip! (I mean, all of us probably deserve a real trip more, but you know what I mean. “Deserve.”) Once we’re on the plane, you’ll notice they’re in economy plus — or maybe even economy? I’m pretty sure that whenever Kyle Richards and the rest of the Beverly Hills set travel they get business class. Lisa Vanderpump would not abide by economy plus. Justice for Jersey!
Michael Campanella helps Siggy pack because she’s only 3 years old and can’t do it by herself. Michael Campanella hates packing, but Siggy insists. On the list of things in my life that would spike my anxiety, having someone help me pack is top 10. Why on earth would you want your husband to help you? Ah, I see: It’s so she has a sounding board on which to bounce her Margaret rage. Siggy’s offended that when she defended her decision to attend the Posche fashion show because Kim D. hadn’t done anything to her personally, Margaret weighed in with this gem: “Siggy, Hitler would have not killed me — does that make him a good person?” Listen, it’s true, the blond one would have been spared, but that’s sort of beside the point: It was a stupid thing to say. Comparing Hitler to pretty much anyone is not a road one should go down. But I don’t believe it was more than a stupid thing to say. That is, I think Margaret showed an error in judgment, which hopefully she’ll cop to, but I don’t think she displayed any latent anti-Semitism, which is where I’m guessing this is headed, even though Siggy says she’s not going to bring it up in Italy. WE’LL SEE.
Once they’re in Milan, the group splits into factions: Margaret and Teresa have to go to a showroom to work, Siggy and Dolores want to shop, and Teresa and Danielle want to grab some lunch (lunch for these two is an Aperol Spritz, which is precisely what I would want for lunch in Milan, just plus an enormous bowl of fettucine). Not to bring in the other Housewives franchises too much, but Ramona Singer could learn a thing or two about hotel etiquette from these women. Instead of running around and claiming the biggest and best rooms because of some manufactured sense of entitlement, these broads simply draw keys at random. Amazing. No less than 50 percent of this past season of New York was centered around Ramona’s insanity on the topic of choosing a room on a trip.
Once the women split up, each twosome (obviously) ends up talking about the others. They may be cordial when it comes to hotel rooms, but the underlying tension is bubbling up, and my money’s on a big blowup at dinner. I’m not psychic or anything — we saw Danielle Staub losing it in a restaurant in last week’s preview. In fact, Siggy tells Dolores that she’s going to confront Margaret about her Hitler comment: “What kind of person has Hitler on her mind?” Siggy says, which…ugh, Siggy, no. Abort! Abort!
At the Spring UP showroom, Melissa and Margaret marvel at all the furry sweaters and khaki sweatsuits — “We don’t have this by us,” they say, which leads me to wonder if they’ve ever (a) been out of the house or (b) crossed the river into New York — and that right there is the entirety of the business they traveled to Italy to do before it’s time for dinner. Teresa, thanks to Danielle, has changed her mind about forgiving Siggy, but dinner starts out friendly enough, with the gals pouring wax on each other (as all women do when we’re at dinner together) and just enjoying each other’s company — along with a “rainbow” lesson from Danielle Staub that I could have gone my entire life without hearing. But the fun is over as quickly as Melissa and Margaret’s visit to the showroom because Siggy wants to address the elephant in the room. (Do you think in 100 years people will be like, “Where does that expression come from/what’s an elephant?”) (Recap continues on page 2)
I’ll spare you the details of the accusations that fly because it’s standard Housewives back-and-forth, with multiple parties accused of disloyalty. Round and round we go until we land on Hitler. “Unless we’re discussing the Holocaust, Hitler’s name should not come up,” Siggy says. Margaret does herself no favors by (a) stating that she needed an evil person to compare Kim D. to so what’s the big deal (honey, I can think of loads of other bad guys to namedrop) and (b) accidentally misquoting herself, changing “Hitler would not have killed me” to “Hitler would have been good to me.” Oof, Margaret, careful. Things get uglier when Margaret defends herself by saying that her kids are Jewish, and Siggy says you can marry a Jewish person and still hate them, implying that Margaret does. (Do I need to state here that I’m Jewish? Is that relevant? I honestly don’t know. But this entire conversation makes me uncomfortable.) “You’re anti-Semitic,” Siggy finally says, and there it is.
I think this was a cheap shot and, at least based on the footage we’ve seen, completely unfounded. It does Jews no service to accuse people who aren’t anti-Semitic of being anti-Semitic when there are so many actual anti-Semites in the world to focus on! (Charlottesville happened this year, in case anyone’s forgotten.) I don’t like this. It’s a horrible accusation to lob at someone just because you don’t like them. Margaret, understandably, freaks out, stands up, and starts ranting. “Tell the bitch to sit down,” Siggy says, which is pretty out of character for her. “He is a historic figure!” Danielle offers about Hitler. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. In the realm of people I’m uncomfortable weighing in on issues of anti-Semitism or really anything complex and serious, Danielle Staub is up there. (She and Teresa seem to have trouble even pronouncing it.)
The B-word is flying everywhere and then so are glasses (Danielle’s the one throwing) and suddenly I miss the more innocent time of the season’s beginning, when the only thing being thrown was cake, not glassware and accusations of bigotry. Instead of this tit-for-tat “when did you stick up for me?” thing they’ve all been doing for weeks, I’d like for them to all step back and realize every single one of them is acting like a lunatic. If we were giving awards for the least unhinged, that’d go to Melissa Gorga, who pleads with Siggy in the restaurant before they’re ejected, “Please, stop with this mouth.”
The next day, Melissa, Teresa, Margaret, and Dolores head out on a canal tour; Siggy and Danielle, too traumatized from the previous night’s activities, stay behind and plan to meet up to clear the air. Siggy apologizes for dismissing Danielle then quickly turns things around to make them about herself and, particularly, everything Margaret has done to her. Danielle handles herself nicely here, accepting Siggy’s apology but not letting her off the hook completely — “You hurt my feelings prior to that; last night you unhinged me” — and also taking up for Margaret.
Meanwhile, the Canal Crew is talking about the same stuff. “I don’t think you’re anti-Semitic,” Dolores tells Margaret. “I think you’re anti-Siggy, though,” which…true (and not at all the same thing). What the two groups agree on is that Margaret and Siggy will never see eye to eye, and that’s probably true, too. And you know what? That’s okay! “She just does not like you,” Michael Campanella echoes on the phone with Siggy. It’s a hard-learned lesson, particularly for women, that you don’t have to like everyone. Hopefully, Margaret and Siggy will get more comfortable with that idea instead of continuing to try to be buddies. And if they can’t, I can send them my shrink’s number.
Next week Margaret asks Siggy whether she truly thinks she’s anti-Semitic, and I’m guessing that her answer will be no. I think the bigger issue — perhaps the biggest issue of the season — is Siggy’s narcissism. She seems to lack the ability to understand that not everything is about her and not everyone will like her. It’s hard to square this season’s Siggy with the Siggy of yore, the breath of fresh air that strutted into Rails in a babushka and sipped soup through a straw so as not to aggravate her recent face-lift. This new Siggy takes herself too seriously and seems too concerned with grabbing the spotlight. Here’s hoping she chills by the reunion, or at least by next season.