There's an old saying that goes "you can't get blood from a stone ... and you can't get a two-part reunion out of happiness and smiles." Hold on to your hairlines, 'cause this is about to get uglier and more painfully boring than Kim D. before her live-in plastic surgeon harvests her new face every morning.
As per usual, the ladies are clad in the finest dresses from Desperately Clinging to Fading Youth Couture (it's a subsidiary of Juicy). Caroline's doing her best impression of sexy Barney in a purple frighteningly-off-the-shoulder frock while Jacqueline's red number reverses all the effects of her liposuction. Teresa allowed a disco ball to drink a blue Slurpee and then vomit on her, while Kathy, freshly back from a trip to Italy, wears a low-cut black number and every single gelato she ever ate on her chins. Melissa's blonde now, though she doesn't seem to be having any more fun.
After some quick hellos, Andy Cohen jumps right into viewer questions, AKA notes the production staff wrote with the explicit hope of starting knock-down drag-out fights. The first few questions from "Colby" and "Victor" are like subliminal Bravo messages setting up Caroline's forthcoming spinoff (oh, my crazy sister Franny with all her dang animals!). Then, things get interesting/confusing when Andy brings up some interviews she did, in which she seemed to allude to her husband's sexual dalliances.
She says that it's "foolish" to think that he has been completely faithful for 32 years, though she's pretty convinced that he has been. It makes no sense, and it seems more like a well-designed jab at Teresa, or a carefully planned segue into the rumors Melissa and Joe battled this year. At this point, does anyone trust that any part of this show is rooted in reality?
Since there has been no blood shed yet, Caroline takes control of the interview and says she feels that Teresa and Melissa's issues stem from how incredibly similar they are, right down to shared interests and identical complaints about the other. Melissa takes major offense to that, and suddenly I wonder if her Barbie girl makeover and relatively understated outfit are attempts at separating herself aesthetically from Liberace's living twin.
After the break, it's Melissa's turn for a montage and the spotlight. Andy asks if she ended up discussing her father's infidelity in her book "Rape for Dummies" (she advocates ignoring your wife if she says "no" and undressing her anyway) and she says it's more about his absence than anything. Teresa jumps in and says the whole situation was confusing to her, as Melissa had never opened up about that part of her life. At this point, Melissa's fake lashes try to leave her face, so I'm pretty focused on how she blinks them back into place ... but she regains control and simply says that's not the sort of relationship they have.
Then, suddenly they are talking about how Melissa will only hire ugly pirate trolls to be her husband's assistant, and how he's on an extremely "tight leash." Not sure about you, but I'm not taking marriage advice from someone who seems so concerned that the "for worse" part of her vows could be strutting around every corner.
At this very instant, though, Melissa's biggest threat is the pile of hair on the opposite couch. Teresa's going on a tear about how Melissa supposedly has a deal with RadarOnline in which they won't publish anything nasty about her, as long as Melissa feeds them trash about Teresa. "I hired a crisis PR people because of the situation I'm in," she squeals desperately.
Caroline interjects that it's insane to drudge this all up on TV, and poor brainwashed Teresa replies that it's the "reunion," as if she's contractually and morally obligated to use this time to spew vitriol. Actually, I guess she is.
Soon, it's time to focus on Kathy's pitiful and uninteresting existence. Heck, even Jacqueline yawns during the look back, and then faux-files her nails and says, "Oh, was that Kathy's scene?" when it's over. After a few questions (well, more like statements) about how her husband is a chauvinist pig, that's all she wrote for Kathy. Poor thing. They've even got her sitting allllll the way to Andy's left, so as to ensure that her boringness doesn't blow out a light or put a camera person to sleep.
It's Jacqueline's turn in the hot seat next, and of course her overview is a mix of emotion and excess skin. She's officially, as Andy puts it, had the "'Housewives' suite" of plastic surgery (tummy tuck, nose and boobies), as well as a little Botchalism here and there. Since nobody speaks up when the whole "is this a coping mechanism?" situation is brought up, Andy quickly moves to another difficult subject: Jacqueline's sister-in-law (and Caroline's estranged sister) Dina. They both get quiet when Jacqueline's asked if Dina has ever reached out to her regarding her nephew's diagnosis, and Caroline notes that she's not "even on our radar." The theme of this reunion seems to be "nothing below the surface," 'cause Andy makes no attempt to delve any deeper. I think I've deleted more sentences than I've saved so far, since so many topics seem to go nowhere, or dissolve in a fit of nervous laughter or silence.
Luckily, we're joined by Joe Gorga and Joe Giudice. Joe Gorga finally embraced his male pattern baldness, and ditched the Kangols and spray-on hair in favor of a clean shave. He looks better, like the most sexually charged cue ball in a billiards hall.
As they play back the season's most disgusting moments, everyone's faces grow stony. The vicious mash-up doesn't do Teresa any favors, and if Joe Giudice could process human emotions like "regret" or "love," he'd be feeling pretty rough about the comment that Melissa "straps one on" at home.
Melissa says she watched Teresa "chase Danielle through a country club and flip tables," and she was stunned when Teresa didn't get similarly rage-y when it came to defending her sister-in-law. Teresa says she's "not that person anymore," though she's happy to flip the script and accuse Melissa of "planting the seeds" of drama.
Melissa says she's tried "like five times" to get together with Teresa, but they couldn't make it work at all over the summer. Teresa mumbles that when you have a beach house, you just want to be there.
In a desperate effort to keep viewers from switching over to another channel (I'm sure TLC has on some "Amish Hoarder Bride Says 'Yes' to a Dress Made by Honey Boo Boo" show that's more interesting), Bravo brings out Rosie. She's apparently undergone a fashion lobotomy, as she's decked out in dark lipstick and more jewelry than a senile grandma could steal from a rummage sale.
Kathy is asked about Rosie's "rage issues," but they put a different spin on it: Rosie is not absolutely terrifying and down to slit your throat at the drop of a hat ... she's just "passionate!" To lighten the mood, we see a montage of the unexpected relationship between Rosie and Joe Giudice, complete with the amazing moment when Joe explains that he has eggs. "We were so drunk at that moment," Rosie laughs. Then, she asks Andy what our five senses are, just in case we thought for a moment that she was a tiny bit smarter when sober.
Joe goes on to explain that he has absolutely no problem with gay people, and he has some proof: the gay couple he and Teresa love. He'll hang out with the more "manly" one, and Teresa chills with the more "feminier" of the two. So, just to wrap that whole train of thought up; Joe has no problem with gay people ... just with a basic command of words. If there's anything he's prejudiced against, it's the unadulterated English language.
Next, we're transported back to the Battle at Lake George, in which punches were thrown and nuts were bitten. Joe Gorga says it was embarrassing, but it was the "best thing that ever happened" because it made him realize that he loved Joe Giudice. "Sometimes you need to wrestle around," Rosie says as Teresa tsk-tsks the violence.
Speaking of intense touching, Rich Wakile's disgusting display of affection (grabbing Rosie's boobs) comes to the forefront of conversation. "We're a very close family!" Kathy says, as Rosie reaches over and inexplicably grabs Joe Gorga's nuts to prove this point. Everyone's jaws drop, but Joe Gorga basks in the attention, as he absolutely loves to be manhandled, emphasis on "man."
Things quickly go from balls to brawl (see what I did there?) when Teresa admits that a
"threat" she made about Melissa was completely empty. On her blog, Teresa mentioned that she had something on Melissa -- but during the reunion, she admits she was just typing out of anger. It's sort of a stunning revelation, and I applaud Melissa for just sitting back quietly. Melissa doesn't need to reinforce how nasty Teresa is with a jab or smirk or a comment ... she has learned to let Teresa's character tear itself down alllll on its own.
After a break, it's time for a trip back down Penny lane. Andy asks Teresa why she continues to be friends with Kim D., and Teresa defends her, saying that "everyone" has made their peace and that she doesn't want an enemy. She brings the conversation back to Penny, saying that she "played all of us," though she doesn't take any responsibility for letting her join the game. "Where did these people come from?! I've seen pictures of you guys together," Melissa says. "What's Penny's agenda?" Teresa says that Penny simply wanted her 15 minutes.
Andy interjects, trying to show Teresa how bad things look for her. "It's so black and white," Teresa explains. "Penny's been trashing them for two years on Twitter, and now all of a sudden she turns on me because she didn't get a reaction from [Joe and Melissa], and maybe she'll get a reaction from me and get on the show." It makes sense -- but still, there's the issue of where the personal digs came from.
"I'm done defending myself," Teresa says. "I'm mentally exhausted." That's not saying much, considering her brain probably holds a charge about as long as the IOS 7 upgrade for the iPhone (AKA not long).
Since everyone's getting riled up, Andy calls out Dr. V, the therapist who talks in a slow, sexy voice to mask the fact that she's not actually saying anything that hasn't been yelled 100 times before by Caroline. Dr. V doesn't take any sh-- though, and she notes that nobody followed any of her advice until Teresa and Melissa were on the "same side physically" during the Penny fight.
Finally, Andy addresses the elephant in the room. He says that though the season ended on a "note of forgiveness," it's obvious that nobody seems to have done much healing. The Gorgas and Giudices still aren't seeing each other, and Caroline and Kathy are rolling their eyes so hard that they might pop out and get snatched up for another Rosie necklace.
Dr. V asks the group what they need from each other to move forward, and Caroline says she needs "truth. We haven't gotten it yet." She says Melissa and Teresa haven't expressed any vulnerability, and she was horrified by Teresa's blogs after the Arizona trip. Teresa lashes out, asking who made Caroline the boss. "Open your mind up a little bit!" Rosie yells.
Dr. V squeezes a halfhearted apology out of Teresa, but it's worthless. Teresa doesn't understand, on a visceral level, what she's doing wrong.
And so we've come to the end of the "RHONJ" reunion part one. Whoever edited the commercials and teasers to make us think that this would be at all entertaining or interesting should get a friggin' Emmy and a box of puppies.
Well, I think I've been bored to death. This must be how Kim D. felt when she used to be able to see her reflection in a mirror.
Anyone else fall asleep? Leave a note below or tweet me @sydneyraylevin.