The Real Housewives of New Jersey recap: 'Reunion, Part 1'
It’s the best time of the year, you guys: reunion season! Teresa is blond (it looks good!), Danielle Staub has a bob (it looks good!), and Siggy is dressed like a pretty pretty princess in a Barbie-inspired ball gown (I’d rather say nothing here if that’s okay!). Right off the bat you can tell this is going to be a dramatic one, because Andy Cohen opens the show by talking about the cast changes this season, most notably that Jacqueline didn’t return — to which Teresa says, “Thank God.” (I’d actually forgotten where they left things, mostly because who cares, but it was a nice scene setter.) Teresa’s in full-blown sass mode from there on out, telling Andy she wants to make out with him and pressing him for compliments on her dress.
But we start out slow, as we have all season long, hearing about how Envy is going for Melissa Gorga (really well, she says) and getting an update on how she and Teresa are doing. “No one’s gonna ever come between us again,” Melissa says. Teresa’s face, in response, is blank. Yeah, same. Their detente doesn’t feel what I would call permanent — they never seem totally fine, only better than they were, with a just barely palpable tension right below the surface. They’re only completely aligned when facing a common enemy, like Kim D, whom Teresa has very graciously chosen to forget was once an ally of Teresa’s, on a mission to spread the Melissa-was-a-stripper rumor.
Andy quickly gets to the most pressing issue of the season: the fact that the addition of Margaret means we now have three Househusbands named Joe (who are all contractors, which I hadn’t realized). Focusing on Margaret at all leads into what will obviously be the crux of this reunion: her feud with Siggy. And things get very nasty very fast: “The only genuine thing you said to me this entire season is that you want to destroy me, and you’ve tried to do it the entire season,” Margaret says. “Yes, yes, yes,” Siggy confirms as she speaks, which elicits the most intense rageface we’ve ever seen from Margaret, who starts barking: “Bring it, bring it.” Siggy, to her, is someone who challenged her character all season long — most notably by accusing her (unwarrantedly, I think) of anti-Semitism, putting her relationships and business in jeopardy. Margaret has finally really had it, and my money’s on extensions flying by episode’s end. The good news is that we’re saved by the bell — that is, Melissa’s phone, which is ringing. Who’s on the line? Ramona Singer, whom Melissa has in her phone as “Romana.” God I miss the women of NYC, in particular the Mexico versions of Luann and Sonja.
After some catchup with Teresa (yes she thinks Joe will come back from prison a changed man, no she’s never considered leaving him), it’s right back to Siggy and Margaret. The season’s main conflict is writ large here, with the accusations and deflections bouncing back and forth so quickly that it’s hard to keep track of them. What I do know is that the entire exchange culminates in what is perhaps the dumbest takedown in all Housewives history, from Siggy: “Don’t talk about my foyer and I won’t talk about your foyer.” Wow. Folks, Siggy is bonkers. Not unsympathetic and not unfun, but boy oy boy is she a fruit loop. I would never criticize someone for being sensitive, but what’s becoming clear is that Siggy isn’t just sensitive, she’s sensitive about everything, at all times. When she is pushed, she gets defensive and will lash out at any perceived slight, no matter how big or small, with the same amount of ferocity. It would be Trumpian if it were not for her selective memory — that is, she does not lash out at everyone equally. For example, Melissa also made fun of Siggy’s foyer — that would be the one strewn with photographic evidence of Siggy’s different personalities — but Siggy’s not interested in taking aim at Melissa. It doesn’t jibe with the story line she’s created for herself — that Margaret is a bully who will not relent — and so she ignores it. But if anyone seems like a bully here, it’s Siggy.
Season guest player Danielle Staub joins the gals on the couch, and when she enters, Dolores — a.k.a. the best person on the planet — says to her, “You know how I feel about you — you look amazing,” as in, “I have no reason to lie because I hate your ugly guts, so you know I’m being genuine when I say you look hot.” God I love this woman. (Recap continues on page 2)
After a brief trip down memory lane via clips (from “prostitution whore” to the present), Andy asks Danielle and Teresa about the last time Danielle attended a reunion, wherein Danielle accused Teresa about not going to see her nephew in the hospital when he was born, and Teresa tossed Andy Cohen like a rag doll. Turns out that all went down because Melissa (who we didn’t know yet) had reached out to Danielle on Facebook and vented about her sister-in-law. Wow. It’s rare we get such unvarnished behind-the-scenes access to the ’wives, and I guess I can’t say for sure, but I bet now that Real Housewives is a bona fide franchise powerhouse, the women are much more guarded. To think of a young Melissa Gorga putting her trust in Danielle Staub to vent about Danielle’s nemesis on Facebook is almost incomprehensible. It wasn’t super early days for reality TV, but still: It was a different time. A time in which Melissa Gorga confided in Danielle Staub on a social media platform about her sister-in-law.
Speaking of different times, I’d completely forgotten this next part, and it’s important. (Well, “important.”) Melissa Gorga and a viewer both ask different versions of the same question, which is this: Back when Danielle and Teresa were feuding all those years ago, what exactly had Danielle done to Teresa to cause all that rage? “You were, like, putting my husband down,” Teresa says, to which Danielle responds, “It was after he did a gay slur, though,” which I’d completely forgotten, and now I’m horrified and angry all over again. “Let’s not go there,” Teresa says, pivoting quickly to some other reason for her season-2 ire, ostensibly to shift attention away from Joe Giudice’s homophobia. Andy Cohen pressed Giudice on his repeated use of gay slurs back in 2012, and his response was, “Growing up, we always used the word…we call each other ‘f—ot,’ ‘homo,’ or whatever, doesn’t mean anything. We were friends. We call each other names all the time, it doesn’t mean we’re gay.” Uh…great apology, bro. I feel totally comfortable now.
Next we find out that Danielle Staub and her boyfriend had sex at the opening of Gorga’s, and Siggy and Dolores deliver the one-two punch of both slutshaming and class-shaming her, which makes them — not Danielle — look bad. (The only part of the story I take issue with is the fact that Danielle first asked Teresa for permission to have sex in her restaurant, which is super weird.) But back to Siggy and Dolores: Get a life, ladies. What’s the big deal? But also? Please keep talking about it instead of The Great Cake Incident of 2017, which is what’s up next. Ugh, with the cake. Round and round we go about that effing cake, with Siggy continuing her holier-than-thou schtick and even saying that she publicly shamed Melissa about the cake at her party to get a laugh, not to actually humiliate her. Even if that were true (it’s not), how would that be any better? Even if she did it for a laugh but the result was Melissa’s humiliation, then that’s worth apologizing for. Siggy, accountability — look it up.
Margaret tells Siggy she should be on The Real Housewives of Bellevue (non-metropolitan New York-based viewers, Bellevue is a hospital with a well-known mental health wing), and Siggy calls Margaret thirsty. No one looks great, but Siggy looks the worst. She is clearly a student of the Joe Giudice School of Apologies, which means the furthest she will go is to say she’s sorry if Melissa’s feelings were hurt, which 100 percent does not count.
Ooh, Kim D’s here! “Don’t get off that couch,” Andy warns Teresa, and it must be opposite day in her head, because she’s up off that couch and lunging for her nemesis quicker than a Siggy mood swing. We’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens — though we know from the preview that one of the things is Teresa accusing Kim D of being a madam (which is fascinating but probably not steeped in any sort of reality). Only one more reunion episode this time around, so Margaret and Siggy will have to pack a lot of insults into a pretty short timeframe. Hopefully Siggy’s will make more sense this time. (Something about Margaret getting Siggy’s number in Afghanistan? I don’t know.)