Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Housewives" Again, Real Or Not

This is the last time I'll post about The Real Housewives of New Jersey, at least for a long time. I promise. The final episode, a post-mortem in which we see some of the unseen footage and catch up with the "wives" for some personal commentary, will air tonight. Whether the series will be picked up again is doubtful, but it will surely be rerun endlessly.

I found this from a review after the very first episode, written by David Hinckley in the New York Daily News: "So I finished watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which is about as real as most of the cleavage on the show, and I was thinking to myself, 'Good Lord, what a piece of trash. That was awful!'

Then I put on a Sinatra record and thought about it and realized the problem wasn’t the show at all. It was me. I wasn’t letting myself smell the roses.

What I should have thought was, 'Good Lord, what a piece of trash. That was great!'"

Exactly. It's nothing to get upset about, and since we really can't identify with anybody, we can watch as if it was a new cage of exotic animals in the zoo. Beautiful, interesting new species, something like human beings, but not quite. At least not exactly like anyone we know.

Caroline is the Alpha of the group, the matriarch. She is devoted to family, meaning those who are related to her or married to someone who is. She allows Teresa in the family for some unknown reason--she finds her amusing, her children adorable, and it may be that their husbands have some business together. There is some mystery in that Dina talks about a husband, but he is never seen. I assumed he was in jail, but have been disabused of that notion by reading the Internet. They are separated and he is living openly with another woman--and he would understandably have nothing to do with the show.

Along comes "Danielle." We later learn that the name is phony, like a lot of other things about her. She is beautiful, pampered, and determined to break into this little group. Her opening is a budding friendship with Jacqueline, who is married to Dina and Caroline's brother. Jacqueline is vulnerable and finds herself caught in the middle between the expert manipulator Danielle and the family talons of the others who are inclined to "protect" her. Danielle decides from the first that Dina is the Alpha whom she must depose to get a position of power.

We didn't find out until the last episode, Tuesday, that, although Dina felt that she would be doing Jacqueline a favor if she could break up the bond between her and Danielle, it was Alpha Caroline all along who had been sabotaging Danielle. However, Danielle had so built up her fantasy that Dina was her main adversary, she assumed Caroline was just making that up. In the meantime, it was Teresa's party, and she took it upon herself to make the biggest scene, shrieking epithets--most of which were bleeped out--and trying to throw the table across the room. The older children were present (Teresa sent her little ones out) and so were the husbands, who for the most part let the situation unfold as it might. As a non-Italian Protestant, that really surprised me. I think Italian men understand when to stay out of a fight.

As to other non-Italian Protestants, one of my readers commented that he watched 15 minutes and realized he couldn't stand those people. He was watching the wrong episode. The good one came on an hour later. It would help to have some of the background by watching one of the fun ones, like maybe when Teresa is taking her oldest (about age 5) to a modeling agency and then to a photo shoot, or when Caroline and her husband are advising her daughter about a career. The one where Danielle joins the group for a dancing lesson is a hoot as well ("I used to be a dancer...").

Oh, they all run together in my mind now. I'll check out the Reunion episode tonight and then I'll leave it. Unless they do go into a second season.


Steve said...

I watched about 15 minutes, but maybe I'll watch some more.

You know, I also used to watch the TV preachers with the wives with big hair who sat in the gilded throne looking chairs and also thought it was kind of like watching strange animals at a zoo also.

I found the following article about Fishwives, I mean uh.. "Housewives" yesterday and thought it pretty good. Cheers!

Mary Lois said...

That's not bad, The Real Fishwives of New Jersey. That may catch on. I'd seen the link when I went trolling on the Net for info about the show...very interesting, and it linked me to a Bon Jovi site, which is much more authentic New Jersey than those women are. Now I'll go look for one about The Boss.

Yeah, the tv preachers and their wives are also a breed apart, and way apart from TRHONJ. Except for the furniture.

Arthur Bruso said...

I watched the last episode last night because my significant other had it on and I became fascinated. Those women are a lot like my family, table overturning and all. Every holiday was a drama, no wonder I dreaded going so much, I stopped. By the way my family is Italian and Catholic. My father was Lutheran who eventually converted. We had very little to do with my father's side of the family, they had some very choice words for my mother and her relatives and chose to avoid us.

Mary Lois said...

Arthur, I can see you are going to get hooked too. It turns out that last night was not the reunion, but rather the out-takes from the "Last Supper" episode with a few choice comments from the participants.

I loved it when Caroline's son said, "If you don't know about table-flipping, I guess you're just not New Jersey."

The children in this show amaze me. With all the hysteria surrounding them, they seem to be level-headed and well adjusted. I guess children can take a lot more than we know.