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Empty Nests and Raging Bulls
Jay Mohr offers a comedian's take on Episode 1.
Wow. Just wow. I cannot believe what I just watched. The season premiere of The Real Housewives of New Jersey was off the charts entertaining tonight. Kudos to Bravo for finding such amazing (and somewhat scary) new cast members for its third season. In my opinion Teresa Giudice's brother, Joe Gorga, is by far the star of this episode. New cast members Melissa and Kathy do their best to stir the pot, but when push literally comes to shove, Joe Gorga is hands down the champion of crazy.
I'll start from the beginning, the christening of Teresa's nephew, Giuseppe. The Gorga family spares no expense when it comes to throwing a christening party. This is evident from the constant flow of Sambuca shots, the painted mural of little Giuseppe, and the ice sculpture of a cross. After all, nothing pays homage to the King of Kings like a melting cross. If you leave through the gift shop, be sure to pick up a couple of Giuseppe Gorga commemorative plates.
The show starts off very quickly with Teresa saying in her interview that she and her sister-in-law, Melissa (Joe Gorga's wife), don't get along very well. What Teresa fails to mention is that her brother seems to despise her. The reason is never clearly explained by Joe Gorga during the episode. He gives a few halfhearted exclamations of, "Joe and Teresa tore apart me and my father," but it never makes much sense. Melissa in her interviews continually pounds away at Teresa and Joe. It's hard to take much of what she says seriously, because she is constantly mixing in, "Praise Jesus!" "Praise Jesus!" is a very effective and powerful thing to say, but when you say it at the wrong time, it comes across as kind of creepy. Example: "I was taught to be a wife in the kitchen, a lady public, and a whore in the bedroom. Praise Jesus!" Obviously there is an incredible amount of back-story that we that we don't know involving the Gorga and Giudice families, but in the hour of television time allotted, it seems that the anger Joe and Melissa have against Teresa and Joe is mostly made up and in their heads.
At the Gorga christening (the first christening I have ever witnessed that needed a bouncer) an enormous brawl breaks out. It begins when Teresa approaches the head table and utters those good old fashioned fightin' words, "Congratulations!" This makes Joe Gorga lose his mind and respond with, "Get the f--- out of here," "Leave," and the always brotherly, "You're garbage!" To Teresa's credit, as mean as her brother was, she does begin to walk away before he calls her garbage. Joe does all this while pounding shot after shot with his pinkie out. He is obviously a very fancy man. Joe Gorga then starts banging his enormous fists on the table so hard that peas and beef fly into the air. At this point Joe Giudice has seen enough and charges Joe Gorga. This is one of the most frightening things I have ever seen on television, since Joe Giudice looks like a guy that could kill everyone in New Jersey using nothing but a cue ball in a sweat sock.
Meanwhile in the quieter confines of the Manzo family, Caroline finds out that Albie and Christopher are moving out and getting their own apartment. The idea of being an empty nester makes Caroline cry. At least I think that's why she's crying. Maybe she's crying because Chris' stripper carwash never took off. Secretly I think she's crying because of anywhere in the United States, her sons' decided to rent in Hoboken. That would make me cry too. On a side note Al Senior and Caroline must be drinking from the fountain of youth, because they have never looked better. It's nice to see a family that is so close and so in love with one another. I wish I knew the Manzos personally just so I could sit in on their family dinners. Everyone always looks so relaxed and happy. Bravo (pardon the pun) to Caroline and Al for raising such great kids.
Speaking of great kids, Jacqueline's daughter, Ashley, has a new job at a public relations firm in the big city, and she is as full of "personality" as ever. Holy smokes, this girl makes Eeyore look like Richard Simmons! Jacqueline decides to visit Ashley at her job (she is working for the uber-talented publicist Lizzie Grubman). The visit gets uncomfortable quickly when Ms. Grubman explains to Jacqueline that it would be just super if Ashley decided to come to work, you know, like, every day, like everyone else. Miss Personality protests and says, "It's hard to come everyday, because, like, I have to commute." Lizzie Grubman calmly explains to her that so does every other person in the office. The cut away shots of Ashley's co-workers is priceless. They obviously think she is as full of team spirit and can do attitude as I do. I'm glad that's not my publicist. I would hate to think that I didn't receive my free 'The Book of Mormon' tickets because Lizzie Grubman had to take a day explaining to Ashley all the different ways to commute. "You can take the train, or a bus, or ride in with a co-worker, or a bicycle, or use your feet." Ashley storms off out of embarrassment and later complains to her mother that she's being treated like a five year old. Well maybe that's because Ashley acts like a four year old.
Also in the premiere we are introduced to the lovely couple Kathy and Rich and their children. They have a son named Joseph, who likes to play with knives while laying in bed, and they have a daughter named Victoria, who looks eerily like Princess Fergie's daughter that wore the antler hat to the royal wedding. These two seem to be madly in love with each other, which is nice, but I can't help thinking I would like them a lot more if they kept their noses out of the Gorga/Giudice family business. The Kathy and Rich dynamic took an odd turn for me when Kathy asks Rich what he wants for dinner, and he tells her he wants clams. Cut to Kathy on a ten-speed bicycle on her way to the market. Huh? Don't they have cars? Don't get me wrong, I am all for keeping it green, but a bicycle on the Garden State Parkway is suicide. You can hear cars honking at Kathy as she manically peddles her bike like Mrs. Gulch from The Wizard Of Oz. Also isn't it super important for shellfish to be refrigerated? Personally I like my clams to come home from the market in a 68 degree Mercedes S500, not in the basket of a bike as the sun beats down on them, ensuring my family fresh salmonella once I get home.
In the "thank goodness there was no second take department," Melissa praises her husband's "work ethnic." Moments later Joe expresses how much he loves his wife because of her incredible "worth ethic." Outstanding.
A common and unfortunate theme with Melissa and Joe Gorga is their need to put down Teresa and Joe Giudice for their financial troubles. It all seems so uncalled for and low. At one point Joe Gorga tells the camera that Joe Giudice just doesn't like to work. Um, yeah…about that. Joe Giudice used to own his own construction company, and now he is literally flipping pizzas. That's work. That's work ethnic. That's worth ethic. Hell, that's even work ethic! It is also a clear indication of a man's character. That is a man that will do any job to be sure he can provide for his family. Props to you, Joe Giudice. The next time I am in New Jersey, I am coming in for many slices. Maybe I'll see Christopher there, since he announces on the show that he is going to leave the Brownstone.
Am I the only one noticing that none of the houses on the show are baby-proofed? While getting ready for Giuseppe's christening, Adriana made it down three flights of stairs and brewed herself a pot of coffee.
The show crescendos with a good, old-fashioned battle royale. The fight at the christening party is one of the single greatest reality television moments that has ever been recorded. When I tell you everyone got involved, I mean everyone got involved. What started out as two bulls charging each other quickly deteriorates into everyone with arms swinging them wildly at anyone within range. Women are hitting men, men are shoving women, children are crying, and people that aren't even cast members are getting featured fight time with blurred-out faces. At one point in the melee a man stands up and starts screaming, "This is a christening! Everyone stop! This is supposed to be a christening! If you don't like it get the f--- out!" Almost immediately after that, an unidentified man decides to give Teresa's father a little shove and tells him to get back. Bad move. The old man from the old country still has some moves in him, and he immediately snaps and shoves about three guys into a mirrored wall. Very impressive. Remind me to never cross anyone in the Gorga family, regardless of how old they are or how many heart surgeries they've had.
Even though they are brother and sister, Joe Gorga and Teresa handle the fight's aftermath very, very differently. Teresa immediately finds her father and offers him some water. Joe Gorga immediately finds one of his buddies, and they walk to the bar for more booze. Yeah, that'll fix it! Joe Gorga then degenerates into a cross between Jake Lamotta and Neely O'Hara and starts screaming into his father's face, "I'm your son! I'm your son!" Then he super bizarrely segues (in Italian) into, "Mama, you're so cold! Mama you're so cold!" It is amazing reality television, maybe the best I've ever seen. Certainly the strangest I've ever seen. I can't wait until everyone tells their incredibly screwed up and self-serving version of events in subsequent episodes. Bravo has really hit a grand slam here. Melissa and Joe Gorga are a gift from the television gods. (Praise Jesus!) And the coming attractions assure the viewer that they don't plan on slowing down. All the other Real Housewives franchises better step their game up! Real Housewives of New Jersey has just separated itself from the pack.
Let me know your thoughts on Twitter at @jaymohr37
Until next week, don't forget to watch what happens.