In her groundbreaking novel, The Feminine Mystique, acclaimed feminist Betty Friedan asserts, “In the fifteen years after World War II, this mystique of feminine fulfillment became the cherished and self-perpetuating core of contemporary American culture. Millions of women lived their lives in the image of those pretty pictures of the American suburban housewife, kissing their husbands goodbye in front of the picture window, depositing their station wagons full of children at school, and smiling as they ran the new electric waxer over the spotless kitchen floor. They baked their own bread, sewed their own and their children’s clothes, kept their new washing machines and dryers running all day. They changed the sheets on the beds twice a week instead of once, took the rug hooking class in adult education, and pitied their poor frustrated mothers, who had dreamed of having a career. Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition to have five children and a beautiful house, their only fight to get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make the major decisions. They gloried in their role as women, and wrote proudly on the census blank: ‘Occupation: housewife.’” In one paragraph, Betty Friedan has summarized the lives of several of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and this particular ambition to be the perfect wife and mother, aka the perfect New Jersey housewife, has caused quite the raucous!
In the third episode of RHONJ, we see that Caroline Manzo helps move her two boys into their new apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey (the Manhattan of New Jersey, not). And she seems pretty good with the move, sort of like the syndrome known as “empty nest” hasn’t officially hit her yet. After all, Lauren is still living at home, so Caroline’s nest isn’t that empty. While they’re moving, Lauren and Albie have a little Vito-confrontation, since Lauren talks about moving in with and eventually marrying Chris’s best friend, Vito (Vito has been a Manzo sore-point since last season). Sternly, Caroline reminds her children that if they aren’t “there for each other”, she will “kill” them. And I’m not surprised by that. I think Caroline would put her children’s lives in check if they ever got into serious discord (so they don’t end up like Teresa and her brother).
The only real surprise of the day is when Albie and Chris’s gay bff, Greg, inform Caroline that he’ll be living in the apartment too (along with his ornately dressed Chihuahua). Now, I’d be lying if I said I had no idea who Greg is. Furthermore, I’d be lying if I said that my gay-husband alarm didn’t sound off like DING DING DING (siren-status) in Season 1 when I first saw Greg having dinner with the Manzos in one random episode. Lastly, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been following Greg on Twitter for the past year just so I could keep up with his royal hotness (@GreggyBennett), as well as all of the Chris-Albie antics (they’re entertaining!). Those would all be lies, and I’m no liar. Just so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications, let it be known that GREG IS HOT. Is that clear to everyone? Hands-down, the funniest thing Christopher Manzo has said all season (yes, funnier than that “hilarious” Cajun-accent bit) is the “Mister” comment, where he referred to Greg as his “man-sister,” hence “mister.” Since Caroline has known Greg for several years, it seems like he’s one “mister” who has passed the ultra-difficult Caroline Manzo character exam. Seriously, Caroline should screen candidates for national security or something, because she is TOUGH. We’ll get back to Caroline’s character-screening in a few paragraphs, but I need to address something far more serious than character; I need to address Caroline’s hair in the boutique clip.
Appropriately, fresh off the subject of “Mister,” I wasn’t too pleased with Caroline’s very “misterish” Annie Lenox-inspired, hyper-slicked back hair. Don’t get me wrong: I love a woman with short hair. From Dolores O’Riordan to Sinead O’Connor (Irish Queens), I adore short hair on a woman, but Caroline’s hair wasn’t as cute or pixieish or queenly as it was so very, very butch. During the entire boutique clip, I kept staring at Caroline’s hair thinking, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY, tell me, WHYYYYYYYYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYY.” However, when it comes to Annie-Lennox inspired hair cuts, to each their own. Who am I to judge? Aside from the fact that I’m constantly congratulated on my rockin’ hair, I’m no hair-snob. Usually, Caroline’s hair is fabulous, but I hate that Caroline’s hair made Kim D.’s hair look positively posh in comparison. That was not alright with me.
Moreover, was it alright (and was it okay) that Teresa didn’t know how to pronounce cumin? Considering she has a cook book on the New York Times Best Sellers List, probably not, but it is what it is. Sexually explicit innuendo aside, it’s like “human” with a “c” for the record, Tre. My favorite part of the photo shoot was when Teresa interrupted the photographer to answer a call from Joe, which she put on speaker. You could clearly see how awkward it made the photographer feel, since he clearly needed to hear the conversation between Joe and Teresa. Quickly changing the subject, I loved how the photographer didn’t even engage and was like, “anyway, so how does this pasta look?” I love Teresa, but she needs to learn how to let some calls go to voicemail occasionally. In that particular scene, my favorite part was Teresa’s explanation of how she came up with the name for her second cookbook, “Fabulicious”: “My girls say fabulous, of course all my food is delicious, so of course I put fabulous and delicious together.” In typical dry-Teresa form, she absolutely enchanted me with her hyper-sophisticated, mathematical breakdown of the formula for “Fabulicious,” and I love her for that.
What wasn’t so “fabulicious” was Teresa’s letter to her Brother, which she was able to complete at the great assistance of Jacqueline and Caroline. Truly, I felt bad for Jacqueline. Poor thing was just trying to help her best girlfriend out and steer her in the right direction when she agreed to help Teresa write her brother a letter, which turned into an all day letter-writing seminar. After using approximately every single piece of green stationery in the state of New Jersey, Teresa finally finished her letter to her brother, and I was proud of her. She probably wanted to write a few choice phrases, but Caroline and Jacqueline guided Teresa in the correct communicative direction. Although it really wasn’t all Jacqueline’s idea, since we have to give some credit to Jacqueline’s psychic adviser, who had less to say about Jacqueline and more to say about Jacqueline’s best friend as well as her daughter, Ashley.
The scene where Jacqueline asks her father what she should do about Ashley’s behavior broke my heart! The fact that they chalked up Ashley’s lack of ambition and direction to a “broken home” seemed very misguided. There are plenty of children who grow up in broken homes who matriculate at great colleges and subsequently great careers (re: me and a lot of my friends), so I was disappointed that Jacqueline took so much responsibility for Ashley’s poor choices. It was as if she internalized the ideals of the Feminine Mystique and couldn’t disavow her own culpability as a mother for her daughter’s poor choices. However, when Jacqueline said that she “felt sick” to her stomach when she heard Ashley complaining about commuting to work every day at 6am (“like normal people do”), I felt a glimmer of hope for Jacqueline, since it seemed like she was aware of exactly how entitled her daughter was behaving with the request for the “apartment in the city” so she no longer has to commute.
One housewife who will be commuting to the city in style is Kathy. As she’s demanding her husband to leave the kitchen (she hates it when he’s in there, like let her do her thing for God’s sakes! Men don’t belong in kitchens!), he asks her to go outside since he has something there waiting for her in the driveway. Since she’s been so stressed out with all of the Gorga drama, Kathy’s husband wanted to do something nice for her, so he surprised her with a new Alabaster White Mercedes Benz S550 4Matic with the AMG Sport Package (I don’t religiously read Motor Trend or anything). To all of the husbands out there reading this: if you’re wife ever gets into an argument with her cousin, please be sure to buy (or lease) her a $90,000 German automobile so she can get her mind off that kind of stress! And nothing was more stressful for Kathy than the Caroline Manzo “sit down.” I couldn’t help but giggle when Kathy tried to explain that her “intentions were good” in trying to confront Teresa about her family discord at the Posch Fashion Show, while Caroline simply replied, “I don’t care!” You have to love Caroline for her fierce loyalty. She says, “Teresa and I aren’t soul sisters or bosom buddies, but she’s my friend.” And that’s all she needs to be for Caroline to have her back unconditionally. This is a life lesson: if you want one person on your team, it’s Caroline Manzo.
One person who couldn’t take one for the team was Melissa, literally. I couldn’t stomach her husband giving her the cold shoulder, simply because she wouldn’t have sex with him. Let’s forget the fact that she has three young, rambunctious children, because if Joe wants it, he wants it, and it’s her job to give it to him, capiche? And how dare she not sleep with her husband for an entire four days in a row! The audacity of a wife not having sex with her husband for four days in a row is definitely grounds for divorce or disrespect. Once again, it’s not even Joe Gorga’s fault. Yet again, he doesn’t take responsibility for his questionable behavior, and instead, he blames his father: “In the Gorga family, we’re known for our sex drive. Our father, he’s a very sexual man (fist held up).” First of all, I died in three different ways when Joe elaborated on his sexual frustration: 1. When he held his fist up in a phallic manner and proclaimed that the Gorga men need sex, no questions asked, I died. 2. When he referred to his own daughter as a “blocker,” since she “blocks” him and Melissa from having sex when she sleeps in their bed, I also died. 3. When he referred to his man-fluid as “poison”, since that’s a great way to think about male biological fluid (excuse me for referring to semen as “male biological fluid” but I don’t write about semen all that often), I died a true death. Seriously, I will never be able to say the word poison again without thinking of Joe Gorga. From now on, the term “Box Office Poison” will have a whole new meaning for me.
In the final scene of the third episode, we see that Joe and Melissa return home from their couples run to find the letter that Teresa worked so hard on writing. In the letter, Teresa tries to repair the rift between her and her brother with a narrative of sincere, heartfelt words. Nonetheless, Joe Gorga seems unreceptive, and he says that “writing letters are bullsh***.” Clearly, he’s never read the Letters of Abelard and Eloise. Realizing that this conflict needs to officially end so their children can actually bond and they can reunite their fractured family, Melissa asks her husband if he can ever truly forgive his sister, and he says, “I don’t know.” Maybe he has too much poison inside of him still? I’m not sure, but he goes on to say that the only way he could ever repair his relationship with his sister is “if she becomes Teresa Gorga (as opposed to Giudice, I presume), the one I knew…” That’s like saying, “I can only forgive Marilyn if she becomes Norma Jean Baker, the one I knew…” You can’t ask a star to dim their shine just for your own selfish reasons. Maybe Teresa is just too fabulicious for Joe? Maybe all the poison has made him lose his mind (and his capacity for forgiveness)? I don’t know, but I certainly hope they can work it out, and I am certainly looking forward to finding out if the forgiveness invades Franklin Lakes. Stay tuned for more recaps from The Real Housewives of New Jersey.