The title of this week’s episode, “Fauxpology,” is clearly meant to reference Siggy’s wishy-washy mea culpa to Margaret. But I think it could also reference Margaret’s apology, which the group widely held to be THE BEST AND BRAVEST APOLOGY IN THE HISTORY OF APOLOGIES but to which I say “meh.” We’ll get to that in a bit.
We’re still in Milan, and it was just last night in Housewives time that Siggy accused Margaret of being anti-Semitic. Today, Margaret, Dolores and Teresa are going grocery shopping with a delightful chef named Alberto Barone, then retiring to his house to cook dinner for everyone; Melissa, meanwhile, meets Danielle and Siggy to bike around Milan. That means Siggy is defying Michael Campanella angling for more screen time staying in Italy in the hopes of salvaging the trip and mending fences with Margaret. After an entire season of basically just going to restaurants and yelling at one another, it’s nice to see the gals engaging in actual activities. Plus, Teresa gets to work out her sexual frustration on a beef tartare! Terrific!
After a solid five minutes of biking, Melissa, Danielle and Siggy stop in a park to have a picnic. There’s champagne, strawberries and lots and lots of salt — from Siggy’s tears. The one thing she cannot tolerate, she says, is meanness, and Margaret has been insensitive and harsh to her. I CANNOT WITH THIS ANYMORE. I’m not sure why this feud seems so tiresome to me. Many of the Housewives franchises focus on one or more rifts over the course of a season, hashing and rehashing every wrong that’s been committed, and I am almost always there for it. But there’s something exhausting about Siggy’s persistence. If she were a fictional character, she’s what I would describe as “one-note.” Honestly, I’d rather see her get butt pellets again than have to hear one more time about how horrible Margaret is. STOP TRYING TO BE FRIENDS. There. Problem solved. Next!
Oh god, I take it all back, because what Siggy says next actually makes sense: “From the time I was a young girl, the Holocaust was part of who I am. I gave [Margaret] an opportunity to say, ‘Maybe I used that in poor taste,’” she says to Melissa and Danielle. Siggy’s parents are survivors, and even if they weren’t, we can all agree, again, that Margaret should have never brought up Hitler in a dumb fight about a Posche fashion show. So I understand that. And I also understand why Siggy feels like she’s not quite getting what she needs from her friends, which is for one of them to stop worrying so much about Siggy and Margaret meeting halfway and instead stand up and say, “Margaret, that was a stupid thing to say. Apologize to Siggy.” The problem of course is that Siggy’s now The Jersey Girl Who Cried Wolf: She spent so much time carrying on about cake and manners and SexEchef (remember him?) that now that she has an honest grievance about something that hurt her deeply, nobody’s really listening.
It’s dinnertime, and Margaret and Siggy can barely look at each other (presumably because of their feud but possibly because Margaret is wearing a blindingly ugly yellow slip that I wouldn’t want to look at either). Margaret has decided she’s not going to say a word during dinner, and Siggy just wants to get through the meal “without any confrontation,” which…sure. Let’s see how that goes.
Melissa — the biggest proponent of the two women meeting halfway — is concerned about Margaret’s silence, and beckons Pigtails outside to make sure she’s okay. This, to me, is sweet but a mistake. LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE, MELISSA. Then again, I’m coming at this as a person very concerned about them missing the prosciutto-and-melon course and not at all concerned about Margaret feeling better. (My biggest worry when they were ejected from the restaurant last week was OH MY GOD DID THEY EVEN GET TO EAT ANYTHING?!?)
When they rejoin the dinner, Siggy is trying to explain to the group why Hitler is such a trigger word for her (that this needs explaining to anyone makes me worry), and Teresa says that she gets it because for the longest time she didn’t want to hear the word “jail.” Remember: Teresa only ever speaks of “going away” or Joe being “away,” as if he is on the world’s longest business trip. So this is a big moment for her. Whether it rises to the level of Hitler…I guess it’s not for me to judge what a word means to another person, so I won’t. And bless her, at least she’s trying to relate. “Teresa saying her trigger word is jail makes total sense to me,” Margaret says in her confessional. “It was so horrific what she had to go through.” Pay attention to this next part: “Siggy saying ‘Hitler’ is her trigger word — even though I can’t understand it [bolding mine] — she says that word hurts her, so I’m never going to use it in her presence again.”
Where do I begin? First, great, never use it in Siggy’s presence again. Good idea. Second, let’s clear something up: Hitler is a name, not a word. It is the name of a person who annihilated 11 million people, including 6 million Jews. Two of the Jews he was trying to annihilate? Siggy’s parents. But you don’t understand why Siggy reacts to that word, Margaret? YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND? I am swiftly moving over from the side of thinking Siggy is a bit bonkers and out of line and starting to understand where she’s coming from. Mostly, I AM REALLY ANGRY THAT A SHOW I WATCH PURELY FOR THE HILARIOUS ACCENTS AND TERRIBLE CLOTHES AND NONSENSE FIGHTING HAS MADE ME USE ALL CAPS AND TALK ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST.
Here’s the problem with Margaret’s “even though I can’t understand it.” She lobbed the mention of Hitler at Siggy as an example of someone very bad, as a parallel to Kim D. “Hitler wouldn’t have killed me, does that make him a good person?” is what she said. That is, she used an example that she knew would resonate to make a point. Now suddenly she doesn’t understand why Siggy is so upset? Nope. Margaret used that example precisely because she understands it.
And so does Siggy. Margaret apologizes to her by saying that she didn’t realize Hitler was a trigger word for Siggy and would have never used it if she’d known. But here’s the thing: “Trigger” word was merely an easy way for Siggy to explain her pain, and Margaret’s apology completely misses the point. Siggy is silent in the face of Margaret’s mea culpa because it isn’t really one. Siggy could never possibly be friends with someone who doesn’t understand that tossing off Hitler as if he were just some random example of a bad dude and not one of the absolute WORST dudes in the history of the world (with particularly personal resonance for the daughter of survivors) is simply not okay. And that right there is why they can never be friends. I finally get it. And if I have to choose a side right now, then I choose Siggy’s.
The rest of the women do not. Danielle Staub thanks Margaret for being brave (OH MY GOD SHUT UP, DANIELLE), and Teresa says the apology “brought friggin’ tears” to her eyes. I really wish Siggy had taken Michael Campanella’s advice and gotten the hell out of there. But the next day she acknowledges to Danielle that she thought Margaret said a nice thing to her, which makes Siggy a bigger person than I am. And which sets Danielle off on a tangent about Margaret’s courage and how it would have been nice for Siggy to also apologize. (Cue the biggest eye roll you’ve ever seen from Dolores. God I love this woman.) (Recap continues on page 2)
Siggy and Teresa walk to a church so they can pay tribute to Teresa’s mom, and Siggy, batting 1,000 this ep, tells Teresa that she knows she’s angry that she was away (in jail) when her mom passed away, but that gave her mother the opportunity to bond with her girls, which is such a sweet thing to point out. I’ve gotten so used to Siggy turning things around to be about her that I half expected her to say, “You think it’s sad that your mom died? What about when you threw the cake!” But I think petty Siggy is gone, and we’re getting back to that lovable mensch who sipped soup through a straw at Rails. We’ve missed you!!!
And finally, we are there: the last supper, and likely where (as we know from previews) Margaret is going to ask Siggy point blank if she really thinks she’s anti-Semitic. First Siggy thanks Margaret for the apology, which is nice, but then we quickly get to it: Does Siggy truly think Margaret is anti-Semitic? Margaret’s biggest worry is what an accusation like that could do to her, and of course it should be: No one who isn’t an anti-Semite should be branded one (and for the record, I still don’t think Margaret’s anti-Semitic, I’m simply starting to see the lack of empathy Siggy so often talks about). So what gives: casually tossed-out insult or actual belief on Siggy’s part?
Her answer? Hedge. “I want to believe with all my heart and soul that you are not anti-Semitic,” Siggy says. “Where I came up with that was not out of the sky. All these moments of me feeling attacked by Margaret and then the Hitler statement, I said well, maybe you’re just anti-Semitic. That’s where it came from. But if I hurt your feelings, I apologize for that.”
“Don’t apologize for the way I feel,” Margaret fumes in her confessional, “apologize for what you’ve done. That’s Apology 101.” BUT SHE DID THE SAME EXACT THING OH MY GOD. I get it, truly I do. She’s worried about her livelihood. (I thought this Vulture piece that went live ahead of last week’s episode, wherein Margaret casually drops into conversation that all of her many Jewish friends come over on Christmas, spoke to that. And she again mentions tonight that all of her friends are Jewish, which I believe. She should ask them if “Hitler” is a trigger word for them.) Siggy is telling Margaret that she’d felt bullied by her for a while, and then when Margaret casually mentioned Hitler, something coalesced in her brain, something along the lines of, “Maybe she doesn’t like me because I’m Jewish.” Nevertheless, Siggy finally says it: “I don’t think that you’re anti-Semitic.
One crime absolved, another brought back to the surface, because not 30 seconds later, Siggy echoes what Dolores said last week: “I do think you’re anti-Siggy.” Margaret is no longer an anti-Semite in her eyes, but she’s still not a nice person and hasn’t treated her kindly this season. So here we go again. We’ll be back in New Jersey next week, where I either need for Margaret and Siggy to steer clear of each other or like, work things out in some sort of non-violent fight club. Either way, arrivederci, Milano! Sorry for all the broken glasses.