Nolen Kelly, Editor
In this week’s A&E, I reviewed “The French Dispatch” because it spoke to me greatly. While my media diet has mostly consisted of movies and rewatching sitcoms, a new challenger has emerged from an unsuspecting corner of the world of TV: reality TV from New Jersey. You read the title so you know where this is going. As of the past four weeks, I’ve been consuming lethal doses of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” via my girlfriend, and while I have never been much of a reality TV kind of gal, my eyes have been opened to a world that I will tread lightly into because from what I’ve seen: it’s a good time, mostly. I’ve been watching “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and you’re going to hear about it.
I’m currently absorbing season three of the show and so far each season has the same cast of folks with either an addition or a subtraction of a housewife. The main housewives we spend time with are Dina Cantin, Caroline Manzo, Teresa Giudice, Danielle Staub and Jacqueline Laurita. “RHoNJ” feels like an interpretive experience despite these being real people so to be honest I have no idea what any of them do outside of the show for a living besides Manzo, who frequently mentions The Brownstone, a catering company she owns.
The Journey So Far
Like I said, I am absorbing season three at the moment and so far the journey has been wild. At first my interest in the show was pretty much not there since it is not something I typically watch and I wasn’t sure how to properly invest into it since reality TV and the entire state of New Jersey have always been punchlines for me. Every parody I have ever seen of reality TV is always the same and pretty good but none of them truly capture the spirit of a heartbroken Italian confessional, the mania of domestic civil war, or the standstill intensity of when someone disrespects Caroline Manzo or her family. While none of these are new things to reality TV, they are new to me and on a show like “RHoNJ” they’re totally there and so much fun especially since everyone has an awesome Jersey accent and are all varying shades of orange. It is a romp of a time all the time.
My favorite “character” is easily Caroline Manzo who I believe has ties with the mob. Not in an intense and cool way like Tony Soprano but like in an average New Jersey resident kind of way that makes you see them and be like “hey, cool.” I’ve said this several times to numerous real New Jersey residents and they agree. Caroline tends to stay away from the shenanigans which is respectable but once there is a situation that she needs to step in on — s**t goes down HORD. If Manzo has to intervene then it’s over and there’s no two ways about it. Two housewives left the show after being entangled in situations with Manzo. That rules. Every episode I’m interested to see what she will be doing instead of what the others do because she’s pretty interesting. She’s got a radio show, she owns a catering business, she has date nights with her husband instead of choosing her political side in The Great Teresa/ Danielle War of 2010. She is always cool, calm, collected and Caroline, in nearly every interaction she has. Manzo is the best and her inclusion but separation from the group always allows the show to breathe for a bit which is refreshing.
Manzo was the main “character” I wanted to write about but I really need to talk about Teresa Giudice’s husband Joe Giudice. The rest of the husbands are fine and not terribly interesting to me except for Joe who consistently makes me laugh for just existing. He is physically akin to Tony Soprano but he dresses like a true baller — decked out with leather jackets and button down “TAPOUT” style shirts for formal events. In one episode, Joe does a sick roundhouse kick to a punching bag as a means to convey what will happen if someone disrespects Teresa at her sister-in-law’s Christmas party. This guy rules. Not without his flaws as a man or a father, Joe is the ultimate dude I hope to befriend at some point in my life because who wouldn’t want to hang out with a guy who just vibes in the corner, drinks and hates his own family?
There’s a lot I didn’t touch on because I think you really have to sit and let this show absorb you. I could honestly watch these real housewives (of New Jersey) bicker for a while. Will I watch it for the rest of my life? No. Will I watch other “Real Housewife” shows? Fat chance. Will I go back and rewatch the first three seasons once they officially move on to new housewives? Probably, yes. Will I do it alone? Negative. Do I recommend you watch it? Yes, I do, seriously. Maybe you’re like me and need a little more kino in your diet. You can sit and make fun of how many unnecessary spin offs there are all day, you jerk, but if you start with those housewives from the “New” version of Jersey, then I think you may have a new reason to avoid the people you already dislike. Give it a shot. Try and make it through the first season and tell me you don’t want more. I could have said ‘No more. Please, free me from this mortal coil’ at any point. But I didn’t because this show is fun. Turn your brain off, focus on the show, get sucked in, have fun, enjoy yourself and let me know what your favorite Caroline Manzo or least favorite Joe Giuduce moment is.
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