On the fifth episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, we are treated to the fresh sounds of New Jersey’s most recent aspiring songstress, Melissa Gorga. Move over all other singer-Housewives, i.e. Kim Zolciak (RHOATL), Danielle Staub (RHONJ), Countess LuAnn (RHONYC), and Gretchen Rossi (RHOC), Melissa can actually sing without the help of the ever-so-popular “autotune” feature that so many housewives love. While she’s no Jillian Staub (Danielle Staub’s youngest daughter), who shut it down last season of RHONJ with her heart-felt ballad, “You’re my Sister,” Melissa does have some pretty decent pipes on her. Like a beautiful singing canary (in her cage), we hear Melissa singing her rendition of “Amazing Grace” (as she’s shown putting away clothes). While Melissa does have a very beautiful voice, she lacks some lyrical awareness. In an almost Christina Aguilerian manner, M-tine accidentally calls herself a medieval slur while serenading her house (The House of Gorga) with her rendition of “Amazing Grace.” With all of her “Thank You, JEEEEEEEEESUS” (palms raised to the marble ceiling-sky), you’d think Melissa would know that the lyric to one of the most famous religious ballads of all time, but I could see how one might confuse “wretch” with “wench.” Maybe it was just one of those “art imitating life” moments.
On the subject of medieval, Joe Gorga talks about how he wants to be “Melissa’s Father,” since Melissa’s father was her biggest supporter. Note that he didn’t say he wants to be “like Melissa’s Father,” but quite literally, he wants to be “Melissa’s Father.” That was probably the most overtly Freudian Slip Joe Gorga let out all season, and it was appropriately, expectedly creepy in tone. Complimenting her husband’s support of her dream, Melissa affirms that Joe is breaking the mold of “Italian husbands,” since he actually wants to support his wife in something other than serving him. While Melissa admits, “Joe likes me pregnant, cooking in the kitchen,” she still thinks it’s “amazing” that Joe wants to support her singing career. It seems like Melissa has some real talent, so it’s nice to see a New Jersey husband supporting his wife’s dreams, rather than trying to hold an Italian sister down. Although Joe tells Melissa that her singing will be “part time.” Joe goes on to say, “it’s not your life, it’s not your livelihood, it’s not your money,” so singing will strictly be a side hobby, since he feels that Melissa shouldn’t aspire to earn any actual money or fulfill her dream to its full potential or anything. Like a little canary singing in her cage, Joe wants to keep Melissa’s talent to a minimum. Perhaps he’s nervous about her spreading her wings too far? It’s obvious that Melissa’s talent is boundless, since she’s the full package with the voice, the looks, and the heart; but I wonder if she’ll be able to transcend into the next realm of existence if she stays cooped up in her marble cage.
Hearing Melissa’s sister, Lysa, call her a “little show doll,” and hearing Melissa affirm that sentiment as well, I was reminded of the famous 19th century play, “A Doll’s House,” written by Swedish playright, Henrik Ibsen. Although Henrik Ibsen denied he was attempting to further “women’s rights,” the theme of the play is very relevant to the early feminist movement, when women began realizing they could be more than just housewives. In “A Doll’s House,” a Victorian woman, Nora, struggles with her role as a Victorian wife to a very dominant, protective man, Torvald. Throughout the play, Nora only lives to serve Torvald. And Torvald refers to Nora as his “little singing-bird.” Consistently, Nora struggles with being a subservient, good wife, trying her best to live up to all of the social norms of being a good wife and mother in 19th century Sweden.
In the last act of the play, Nora comes to the realization that her marriage and her life are a sham, and that she’s been treated as a “doll” living in “a doll’s house.” Nora tells her husband: “No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has never really been so. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our home has been nothing but a play room. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it [was] great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it [was] great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.” At the end of the play, Nora leaves Torvald and the comfortable life she led with him, because she realizes that her husband didn’t really love her, that he “only thought it pleasant to be in love” with her. I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “What the hell is Edward talking about with all of this ‘A Doll’s House’ business?” Well, to that I would say: put on your Chinchilla coat, get in your white Range Rover, and drive yourself down to the “Books-a-Million” at the Paramus Park Mall and pick up a copy of “A Doll’s House,” read it thoroughly and then tell me that you don’t see the very obvious parallels. Interestingly, I’m comparing a marriage in 19th Century Sweden to a marriage in 21st Century New Jersey, but it’s merely a comparison, not a literal interpretation.
One marriage that’s decidedly more 21st Century is that of Caroline Manzo and her supportive husband, Albert. As they’re out playing golf, it seems like Albert is doing his best not to strike Caroline with one of his golf clubs, since Caroline complains about the weather. Caroline admits that she’s out of place at the golf course too, proclaiming golf to be “the stupidest game in the world.” I’m not really going to disagree with her on that point either. Breaking my heart into multiple pieces, Caroline wholeheartedly admits that she’s suffering from the overly pervasive “empty nest syndrome,” since “it’s sad to think that there is no laundry [to do], no food [to cook], no laughter [in the house].” Basically, all of her little birds have left the nest, except her daughter, Lauren. Realizing that she needs to do something with her time, Caroline talks to Albert about possibly seeking out some form of work, and Albert suggests she become a radio talk show host, since her advice blog has recently started to blow up. Caroline admits that Albert is her “biggest cheerleader in life,” and that he tells her a million times a day that he “loves” her and “how beautiful” she is. In typical self-deprecating Mama Caroline-form, Caroline wonders if “maybe [Albert] needs glasses,” but that “he’s ain’t never getting them” even if he does. It’s actually really sweet to see how supportive Albert and Caroline are with each other, like giving me a sweet tooth. Since Caroline is definitely an excellent person to give advice (with her abundance of common sense and “life experience”), it seems like she’d be a natural on the radio. Unlike some husbands, Albert encourages Caroline to take her talent to a completely “different level,” rather than just a hobby, so Caroline works towards doing that.
On a whole different level (of manipulation), Ashley Holmes has figured out a way to finagle a new Jeep Wrangler out of her step-father, Chris Laurita, much to Jacqueline’s chagrin. Visibly, Jacqueline is very skeptical of Ashley’s intentions, and rightfully so. The worst part of the whole experience is when they drive Ashley down to the Jeep dealer and she refuses to give her step-dad, Chris, the spare key to her Jeep. After the man had brokered the entire deal for her, Ashley still acted like a complete brat, and it was hard to watch poor Jacqueline (giving herself the sign of the cross) sign that loan document knowing her daughter didn’t really deserve that Jeep. According to Jacqueline, “all my kids need me for different reasons, Ashley just needs me for rides…and money…other than that she has no use for me.” Channeling Spike Lee, Jacqueline hugs Ashley as she gets in her new Jeep, and she tells her: “Do the right thing.” And Jacqueline’s right; it’s about time for Ashley to start doing the right thing. Maybe Ashley can start by picking up a clue on how to be a more grateful daughter while she’s out in her new Jeep?
One person who dropped a lot of insightful clues this episode is Kathy Wakile. Kathy drops some knowledge on us when she says, “Women, when [we are] young, we have our own determination to have our careers and our own goals. And then we fall in love…and we have a family. Sometimes, you forget about yourself, and you start fulfilling the needs of your household. But that dream is still very real to you; it’s just dormant.” As the camera flashes between Kathy’s commentary on the state of the New Jersey female and Melissa’s singing, it seems like Melissa is the living reality of this conundrum. Discussing her own role in her household, Kathy lays it out very clear: “Listen, [Rich’s] obviously the head of the household. Take it! I don’t want to be the head! I like being the neck, because without the neck, the head doesn’t go anywhere.” I actually really enjoyed Kathy’s impression of the neck controlling the head’s lateral movements, because that’s what necks do! They turn 180 degrees from the right to the left, to the left to the right, so I’m glad I know where Kathy stands on the whole head to neck symbolism in her household. When she’s not snapping her neck in a circular motion, Kathy seems to be a really good mom, and I appreciated her innovative approach to steer her children in the right direction by having them sign behavioral “contracts.” Although when Rich asks his son, Joe, “are we boring you?” I clapped at the television when Joe answered, “A little bit.” I couldn’t agree with you more, Joe. Also, Joe’s honesty about drinking when he gets to be “a senior, possibly a junior” in high school, was really refreshing. I think Joe Wakile has quickly become my new favorite “real kid” of New Jersey, as he keeps it real (on the consistent). I’d be curious to hear Joe’s thoughts on the shrine to his sister in her cowboy hat in the entry corridor of their house.
Perhaps the realest kid of New Jersey, Gia Giudice, kept it extra real this episode with all of her Uncle Joe commentary. Throughout her entire gymnastics competition, she kept asking, “where’s Zio Joe?” Rather than focusing on her A-game (as she usually does), Gia focused on the notable absence of her Zio Joe. Teresa certainly didn’t forget to rub it in her brother’s face either, just as soon as he arrived to the competition. Perhaps Teresa shouldn’t have egged Gia on to guilt her Zio Joe by telling him that she missed her mark (since she didn’t see him sitting there in the crowd), but Teresa hasn’t mastered the art of conflict resolution yet. You can’t always flip a table and expect things to be resolved. Another person who kept it real was Melissa. Insisting that she’s tried everything she can to win her mother-in-law and her husband’s family over, Melissa insists that she’s the impetus behind wanting Joe to repair the relationship with his mother and his sister. Sitting there in her bejeweled Rhoda Morgensternesque winter hat, Melissa feels like, “unless [she] takes everyone’s sh**, we can’t be a family. And you know what, I’ll do it-because I want my husband to have his family.” At the very least, I certainly hope Melissa gets another fur vest or bejeweled winter hat for all of her efforts! Stay tuned for more recaps of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
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