The word “climax” may elicit many different associations for some of you. Please remove your minds from the gutter for a second, because I’m referencing the omnipotent literary climax. And don’t think that I’m trying to literary-manipulate you guys by strategically using the word “omnipotent” (emphasis on the potent), because I’m not. The focus of this sentiment is the definition of a climax. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the word climax may be defined as “the point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action (as of a play)”. In order to comment on the implicit meaning of a climax, it’s important to define its complete opposite: the anticlimax.
In that regard, the sixth episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey is the truest example of an anticlimax, because it’s the most anticlimactic episode of all season. At various points in the sixth episode, I found myself clicking on my remote control, hoping to activate the “Gorga-switch.” Initially referenced in an episode of Watch What Happens Live with Bravo’s loveable, sometimes inappropriate, though perpetually “wonk-eyed” executive, Andy Cohen, the “Gorga-Switchwas defined as the moment when Teresa or her brother Joe completely lose their sanity for a split second and flip out on anyone who has accidentally activated said mechanism. Unfortunately, despite my many attempts throughout the entire duration of the sixth episode of RHONJ, I couldn’t activate the Gorga-Switch from my remote control.
Remember the good old days when flipping the Gorga-switch was super easy? It seemed like all you had to say was “pay attention puh-lease,” and then instantaneously watch the dinner table flip over in front you, while Teresa screamed “Prostitution Whore!” at you. And as long as we’re going down the Garden State Memory Highway, how about the time the Gorga-Switch was activated at a New Jersey country club, culminating with Teresa frantically chasing Danielle Staub around while screaming, “Did you forget I’m from Paterson, girlfriend?” In the most heightened, climactic ending of all, Danielle left that New Jersey country club minus her dignity and one of her weave strands. Sadly, I haven’t even heard so much as a “Milania, do fabulous for Mommy” all season. As much as I have prayed for an indecent moment (or even a “Milania, do fabulous” moment), there was nothing but civility, decency, “making up” and pardon my yawn, but that’s just boring!
And I’m not the only person who feels that way. As a self-proclaimed Real Housewives Realogist, I like to keep current on all things “Housewives,” so I can properly recognize and comment on climactic “housewives” situations, because that’s what being a Housewives Realogist is all about. Having professionally “interviewed” (gossiping on the phone and chatting on Facebook) several people over the past month, many people have spoken to me about their dissatisfaction with the anticlimactic nature of this season of RHONJ. Specifically, several of my friends feel that the very first episode of RHONJ was so heightened, so climactic, so “over-the-top” that it’s been difficult for the other episodes to live up to the first episode’s dramatic legacy. Nonetheless, I am happy to see the beginning of some attempts at Gorga familial harmony, although I’m skeptical that any of those attempts will result in anything other than a refrain from fist fighting at future family Christenings.
On a more positive note, Caroline Manzo’s radio career seems to be taking off, sorta in the same way that “airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars”, to reference an overplayed hip hop-meets-rock collaboration. For the very first time in RHONJ history, we meet a friend of Caroline’s who isn’t directly related to her by DNA or marriage. I only write that because we never see Caroline hanging out with anyone but Jacqueline or Teresa on camera. Typically, Caroline is reserved with outsiders, and she’s been overly skeptical of other “characters” like Kim G. and Kathy Wakile (rightfully so in Kim G.’s situation). So it’s nice to see that Caroline’s friend Dolores, who looks kind of like a broker version of Faye Resnick (Kyle Richards’ BFF on RHOBH, aka “the morally corrupt Faye Resnick”), comes over to discuss Caroline’s new radio show, “Caroline Rules.”
Speaking to the “small town” nature of Franklin Lakes, Dolores seems to be pretty informed on all things “Giudice” as she brings up the impending auction of all of Teresa’s furniture as part of her bankruptcy proceedings. Dolores isn’t the only person discussing this, as several people are featured discussing Teresa’s financial woes in this episode. Wisely, Caroline says, “At the end of the day all that matters [is that] you have your health, you have your family, [and] everything else is just stuff.” And I completely agree. Milania Giudice doesn’t need a ton of or “stuff,” or rather a ton of gold furniture and many faux-Louis XIV commodes and tables to “do fabulous for Mommy,” she just needs a loving, supportive family behind her. The only member of Milania’s family who isn’t so supportive is her Uncle Joe.
As Joe gets ready for his big dinner-confrontation with Teresa, we see Melissa helping him get ready in his finest New Jersey swag, which consists of a half-tucked button down shirt with a sterling silver cross underneath. I’m not saying that rocking that look is tacky and contrived, I’m just saying it’s hideous meets ridiculous. Just kidding: it’s just ridiculous. I was semi-hoping for Melissa to be like, “Joe, what are you doing with your shirt there?” But I suppose I can’t really expect much from “Miss Pink Chinchilla Coat” herself. Questionable fashion seems to be a theme with the Gorgas, as Joe fondly recalls when he first saw Melissa in Cancun wearing a leopard print bikini. How romantic, right? It seemed very “I loved you before I met you”, except more like baby oil, jello shots and unprotected sex. Again, I’m not saying leopard print bikinis are tacky, specifically if you’re comparing them to pink Chinchilla coats; they’re just not my style. No offense to those who rock the leopard bikini look. That’s just my version of “telling it how it is”, which Joe Gorga cites as Teresa’s biggest fault.
During the confrontation/dinner, Teresa refrains from telling it how it is to the best of her ability. She sits back and lets her brother accuse of her of being a bad sister and aunt. When she reacts stunned, Joe annoyingly badgers Teresa to not make faces because “this is an adult conversation.” Clearly in Joe Gorga’s world, adults don’t take any personal responsibility for their own actions and selectively blame other people for their circumstances. As Joe continues to accuse his sister of some truly horrendous things, I kept thinking it seemed odd that Teresa didn’t stand up for herself more. While I kept clicking on my remote control, hoping that I could activate the Gorga-Switch, Teresa barely reacted at all. At one point in the conversation, Joe calls Teresa “fake” and he holds her responsible for everything that’s gone down between them. In fact, most of Joe’s theories on his familial discord are pretty outrageous and hold Teresa at full fault.
When Teresa insists that their falling out resulted from Melissa’s putting a “wedge” in between them, Joe wouldn’t listen to any of it. Instead, he blames it all on Teresa and Joe Giudice. Perhaps my favorite of Joe Gorga’s theories is that Teresa created an acrimonious situation between him and her husband by constantly boosting him up in front of her husband. It’s very scientific, obviously. The mathematical formula for Joe’s logic is as follows: “I say + my Brother is great = my Husband hates my brother forever”. Insisting that she was genuinely “proud” of her brother’s accomplishments, Teresa defends her position against her brother’s ridiculous accusations. Although Teresa does admit that when she first got married, she did put her brother before her husband.
Illuminating her beef with her cousin Kathy a little more, Teresa goes on to say, “You know who used to always tell me that I shouldn’t have did that? Kathy! Kathy always used to say, ‘No, you should put your husband first’… Kathy’s my first cousin. She took me to my sweet 16 party. She did my hair, she did my make up for it. She was like the sister I never had. But she’s two faced. She knew me and Melissa weren’t the best of friends. And she started hanging out with Melissa. So that’s what made me see that she was trying to get to me, which to tell you the truth, kinda did me a favor, because now I don’t have to hang out with them at all!” Seeing the picture of Kathy with her “Joan Cusak-in-Working Girl-gone wrong hair” convinced me that Kathy is not someone to be trusted with hair (or friendship). Teresa doesn’t need those types of friends anyway, so Kathy can save that big Joan Cusakian hair and bad make up for someone who can appreciate it more (like Melissa).
Furthermore, Teresa does know how to express herself (when she’s not screaming, chasing, or flipping tables), which is why I’m bothered by Joe Gorga trying to disempower Teresa’s ability to “tell it how it is”. In a post-modern, post-feminist media age, it seems interesting that one of the central male characters on a reality television show is attempting to silence one of the most powerful female voices on said show. In their article on “Feminist Television Criticism”, Janet McCabe and Kim Akass address their ambivalence of the various representations of the female voice in the post-modern age of television: “How do we theorise – or even explain – our pleasurable investment in patriarchal fantasies that feminism has long told us to abandon?” Similarly, I find myself wanting Teresa to tone it down – just as the rational voice of the patriarchy, Joe Gorga, urges her to do – so that Teresa can make amends with her sister-in-law and unite her fractured family. On the other end of the spectrum, I find myself yearning for Teresa Giudice to keep on “telling it how it is” since she represents a strong female voice on RHONJ.
In terms of “telling it how it is”, it’s relevant to state that while Teresa may not constantly observe the difference between past and present tenses, she does know how to speak some truth. One would think that Joe Gorga might be more sympathetic to his sister, considering that he was “her life” and given her current financial issues, but Joe can’t seem to forgive and forget (neglecting the symbolism of that silver cross he wears underneath his shirt). Again selectively blaming his sister, Joe insists that the reason Melissa and Teresa don’t get along is because they’re too similar. In the most grammatically erroneous New Jersey vernacular of the sixth episode, Joe says, “The problem is, you’s a both the same way. You’s like the same things. You’s a both flashy. It got a little competitive.” Grammatical incoherence aside, perhaps Joe has a point. Perhaps Melissa and Teresa’s conflict stems from their inherent likeness rather than their inherent difference. At the end of the dinner, Teresa steps up to the maturity plate and tells her brother that she’ll “make it better”.
On the subject of better, I hope Albert Manzo has better nicknames for Caroline other than “chubz”. Coincidentally, “Chubz” was the name of my boyhood friend’s Shar-Pei. Telling it how it is: I did cringe a little bit when Albert said the word “chubz”, but he and Caroline seem to lovingly, jokingly mock each other a lot so it wasn’t really that big of a deal. I just can’t imagine that a grown-ass woman who has recently lost 20-30 lbs wants to be called “chubz” by her husband. And I can’t imagine that a grown-ass woman wants to be called “chubz” just as she’s leaving the house; nervously embarking on her first real radio gig after never having worked in radio (ever).
Seeing Caroline nervous for her radio gig was definitely another RHONJ first. Typically, Caroline is pretty stoic and unaffected, but she was definitely a bucket of nerves as she was preparing for the first radio airing of Caroline Rules. Luckily she had her daughter Lauren there to support her, decked out in her black, shiny, faux-alligatoresque coat and knee high brown boots. While I’m not a fashion blogger, I couldn’t really live with myself if I didn’t comment on the horrendous nature of that black-brown combo. I love Lauren Manzo but that was just not cute. And Caroline certainly didn’t need any distractions of the “not cute” nature by her daughter on her big day!
By far, the biggest day in this episode was the day that Teresa and Melissa came together to hash things out at Jacqueline’s house. Jacqueline – being the good, solid, reasonable friend that she is -offered up her home as a neutral place where Teresa and Melissa could talk. I’m going have to assume that she selected a room in her house where she didn’t care if any of her personal items or collectibles were smashed or broken. Meanwhile Kathy, swathed in her finest Indiana Jones-chic, shows up to Melissa’s house just as she’s about to leave for her Teresa sit down. Despite their most valiant and drama-inciting efforts, Melissa seems totally together as she gets ready for her big Teresa-meet up.
From the previews of next week’s episode, it does not look like there will be any fist fights or anything but one can never be certain with this group. When Caroline asks Teresa how she’s doing just before her sit down, Teresa insists that she’s “as calm and cool as a whistle”. The distinctly un-analogous nature of that analogy is perfect because whistles are loud, high-pitched, denote danger or even climax. So I do actually hope Teresa means what she says by “calm and cool as a whistle”. In the meantime, I’ll be clicking on every remote control in my house, hoping to ignite the Gorga-switch for next week’s episode. Stay tuned for more recaps of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Image via BravoTV.com