In the beginning, Bravo created the The Real Housewives of New Jersey. And it was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And Bravo said, "Let there be Kim D." And there was Kim D. And it was good.
And by good, I mean nasty.
Eight seasons in, the sudden appearance of RHONJ’s resident pot-stirrer and all-purpose plot device peddling questionable tall tales about Teresa Giudice and a supposed old flame is a sign of desperation, but at this point in the season, I’ll take flop sweat over the umpteenth rehashing of Cakegate and Siggy Flicker’s Soggy trauma.
And Kim D. gets the job done, triggering a glass-smashingly satisfying screechfest between Teresa and her longtime bud Dolores Catania at an Italian restaurant, natch. This grudge match has been telegraphed for several episodes, starting when Danielle Staub told Teresa that Dolores once said something rather uncharitable about her. (I do not believe it: Not necessarily because Dolores wouldn’t say it, but because it’s highly unlikely that Dolores and Danielle were hanging out together without a camera crew around to record such a terrific piece of ammunition.)
Dolores choked. I know from watching the scenes from the rest of the season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey that tensions will boil over at some point between Teresa Giudice and her longtime bestie Dolores Catan...
Teresa has been unconvincingly dithering about whom to believe, infuriating Dolores, and while this rapidly developing feud is based on pure bunk, I think the two are well-matched hellcats, with their shared history adding a sheen of authenticity to the proceedings. Well done, Kim D.
Unfortunately, we have to wait until the last few minutes of the episode for the fireworks. We open at Crystal Springs Resort, where Siggy’s dry run of her relationship retreat continues with Siggy and Margaret Josephs role-playing. You know the drill, because we went through this at the Tenafly Classic Diner in the third episode, and again two weeks ago: Kids used to make fun of Siggy’s name, Margaret would never have touched that raw nerve had she known, sorry, sorry, they’re good.
Melissa is up next, and does a credible and rather hilarious impression of Siggy humiliating her about Cakegate at her party, complete with kicking and screaming. Siggy apologizes. They’re good.
And it’s Danielle’s turn, but instead of confronting her nemesis Dolores, she chooses to address an old wound inflicted by Teresa. It’s not the infamous table flip, but what immediately preceded it: Teresa screaming “prostitution whore!” at Danielle in front of her two daughters, then aged 11 and 14. Danielle reveals that her children were mercilessly bullied after that episode aired and she asks Teresa to apologize to he daughters.
Long pause. “Yeah, of course, if it really bothers them.”
Yes, Teresa, it clearly really bothers them. Pay attention, puh-leese.
In the final exercise, the women are asked to go deep and reveal something that none of the other housewives know about them. Margaret talks about how her two stepchildren, whom she helped raise, stopped speaking to her when she left their father for their contractor Joe.
Teresa inches ever so closer to admitting what we all long ago confirmed via this very television show: Joe treats her terribly, drinks too much and, oh yeah, landed in her the federal pen for a year. “I do have little bit of resentment with Joe,” she says, but adds that she can’t cry over spilled milk. Siggy prods her a bit, saying that these feelings that she is clearly bottling up will begin to fester. “Whatever,” Teresa says.
And then it’s Dolores’ turn, but she only chooses to say she’s hosting a animal welfare benefit on Saturday. Crickets. Margaret, who laid her soul bare, is angry, but, she tells us, “What am I not going to go? Of course I’m going to go. I love anything with fur.” Margaret is really growing on me.
And retreat over!
Teresa visits Siggy at her house and reveals that she hasn’t visited Joe in three months, since before her mother took ill. Siggy once again tries unlocking Teresa’s emotions — careful there, Sig — by telling Tre that she’s allowed to be mad at Joe, that she’s allowed to have any emotion she wants. That’s actually good advice. Teresa admits that she needs to let her walls down, but she isn’t ready to do it yet.
At the animal benefit, the fur starts flying. Danielle raises doubts about Siggy and Margaret’s reconciliation, saying Siggy “went kumbaya” so fast just so she could show her potential clients how quickly she solves her own problems. At that point at the retreat, Danielle says, “I stopped listening because I was throwing up in my mouth.” Margaret tells her she has a point, and Danielle warns her to keep her guard up.
The entrepreneur claims she's a little TMI at times.
When the ladies regroup, it is revealed that Kim D. is turning her Posche fashion show into a charity benefit following the shocking execution-style murders of two of her son’s friends in Paterson. Kim D. has asked Siggy and Dolores to walk in the show, but the two ladies intuit correctly that now may not be the optimal time to bring this up, given Teresa and Melissa’s ugly history with the boutique owner. (Psst: There will never be a good time to bring this up.)
Teresa and Melissa refuse to go to the fashion show, Teresa because Kim D. spread rumors that Joe cheated on her while she was in prison, and Melissa for myriad reasons, including Strippergate and the Great Envy by Melissa Gorga Heist of ’17.
Undeterred, Siggy and Dolores show up at Posche to try on some outfits for the fashion show, and Kim D. asks if Teresa will be attending. Siggy is fabulously blunt: “Teresa and Melissa are not coming obviously because they don’t like you.” Kim D. insists that everyone was hinting that Joe was cheating on Teresa; she was just the one to actually say it. Siggy says they were just rumors, and unless Kim D. can produce pictures of “wee-wee entering cookie,” that’s all they are. (So much for being blunt.)
Never mind, because Kim D. has fresh dirt, namely that Teresa has been seeing an “old flame.” Let the record reflect that Dolores immediately calls BS, saying Joe is the only man Teresa has ever been with. (Let the record also reflect that when Kim D. says she wouldn’t blame Teresa for stepping out on Joe, Dolores says, “No one would blame her.”)
Kim D.’s rebuttal is less than convincing: “No, it’s not a rumor because you’re going to find out it’s not.” Siggy and Dolores claim to want nothing to do with this new bit of gossip, except of course they’re going to tell Teresa because RHONJ.
Meanwhile, Melissa visits Margaret’s showroom for advice on differentiating her boutique. Margaret suggests Melissa tag along on her next trip to Milan; maybe she’ll find some European clothing lines that no one else is stocking. More to the point: cast trip to Italy!
And finally, the grand finale. Teresa and Melissa are first to arrive at Fresco da Franco in Montclair, where Teresa schools Melissa on Jewish rites of passage. Yes, you read that correctly. Melissa apparently doesn’t realize that bar and bat mitzvahs happen all year ‘round. When the rest of the women arrive, Melissa announces that she’s going to Milan with Margaret, and invites the other women to join her.
That invite appears a bit moot when Siggy announces that she and Dolores will not only attending the Posche fashion show, but they will be walking in it. After all, Dolores says, she’s known Kim D. for years, and she always tries to stay neutral. Oh, and yeah, Kim D. also says Teresa is cheating on Joe with an old boyfriend.
The blowback is immediate and intense. “Are you f*cking kidding me?,” Teresa says. “We don’t live in Switzerland,” Melissa yells. “You’ve got to pick a side.”
Siggy comes to Dolores’ defense, saying that she didn’t tell Melissa and Teresa not to attend Margaret’s party when Siggy was on the outs with Margaret.
She announced her pregnancy in a blog post.
That’s false equivalence, according to Melissa. “Siggy," she starts, barely containing herself. "Mrs. Relationship Expert. [Margaret] called you Soggy. I have been called a stripper. I have been called a whore. I have been told my husband is a piece of sh*t, and that my children are a piece of sh*t. Don’t you see what a vile human she is?”
(Melissa has a point. What she does not have is the guts to remind Teresa that Teresa willingly gave Kim D. the platform to character assassinate Melissa.)
Siggy: “I judge my friends on the way that treat me.” I must be mind-melding with Margaret, because she immediately jumped to the same Nazi-sized hole in that argument that I did: “Hitler would have not killed me. Does that make him a good person?”
Enough philosophy. Teresa wants to know how Dolores responded to Kim D. Siggy interjects that Dolores told her it was just a rumor.
But Dolores isn’t done digging her hole. “Teresa,” she says calmly, “if it’s true … not that it’s true …”
“It’s not,” Teresa yells, and picks up a glass and smashes it at the wall. I can’t help but wonder if this is the third or fourth take, because the waiter standing about two feet away with his back to the table doesn’t flinch or even turn around. Teresa slams her hands on the table and then points at Dolores, “You should have f*cking stuck up for me.”
“I did,” Dolores yells, “and don’t think I will again.”
Siggy misguidedly tries to appeal to the women's better nature: “The show is not about Kim D. It’s about people who died.” Margaret is not having any of it, and Siggy asks her, “Don’t you have a heart?” “Call the f*cking Tin Man. Obviously I don’t.” My Margaret love reaches all-time high.
Dolores and Siggy slam their chairs and storm out of the restaurant, with Danielle calling out, “The line in the sand has been drawn. Have a nice time, ladies!”
Teresa is equally infuriated about Kim D. spreading rumors, and for Siggy and Dolores supporting Kim D. despite that. So what is she going to do? Give Kim D. even more exposure by going to the fashion show to confront her!
Melissa doesn’t think it’s good idea, but Danielle is immediately on board. “We’ll walk in there like Charlie’s f*cking Angels” — here she indicates Margaret and hysterically adds “plus one!” — “and f*cking do was we gotta do and leave.”
Margaret: “I’ve never been to a takedown before. I’m excited!”
My RHONJ comrades, are you excited to see Teresa take on Kim D.? Or are you saving your strength for inevitable Teresa-Dolores cage match?
The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Wednesdays, 9/8c, Bravo