Season six of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” hasn’t gotten the go-ahead from Bravo just yet, but if it does, we can guess at least one meaty topic that will be gossip fodder — Teresa and Joe Giudice’s legal problems. While the ladies have snarked back and forth over the seasons about who is in debt, who’s declaring bankruptcy and who’s just a piece of work, the latest disaster is much weightier than past ones. Joe Giudice could be deported (he was born in Italy) and both he and his wife are facing jail time.
According to the Associated Press, the couple is accused of exaggerating their income while applying for loans, then hiding their fortunes in a bankruptcy filing. They are also accused of submitting fraudulent mortgage and loan applications and fabricating tax returns and W2 forms. Oh, and Joe didn’t even bother to file tax returns from from 2004 to 2008. Both face hundreds of years in prison and millions of dollars in fines if convicted.
For a show dedicated to frippery, such heavy material seems like a lot for viewers to handle, even those who’ve been waiting for Teresa to fall far and loudly. While I’ll be interested to see what happens to the rest of the Housewives when Teresa is pulled into legal wrangling, I’m not sure how much (if any) of it we’ll be able to see on the show. Courts are not so open to a Bravo camera crew showing up, I’m sure. What we’ll likely see is paparazzi shots, second-hand footage of the Giudice walking grimly in and out of courtrooms, and the remaining cast members whispering to one another about what’s going on — and wondering who will take care of the kids.
This latest turn of events puts focus where the franchise likely would prefer it not go — upon the machinations many of these so-called ladies of leisure go through to appear sufficiently wealthy to appear on the show. While Teresa has capitalized on her brand (and gets paid by Bravo), her lavish lifestyle never really made sense despite Joe’s supposed “entrepreneur” status.
It’s hard to sort out where the money comes from for many of the people we see on these shows, but that’s part of the fantasy — even people with no discernible means of support can have luxury cars, frequent spa visits, designer clothes and private schools for their children. This is, after all, America, where anything is possible.
With Giudice’s very ugly fall, the gig is effectively up. The way you have it all, at least in this case, is to steal it. Allegedly.
While we might enjoy seeing Teresa’s nose rubbed in her bad deeds, it will likely only be interesting for a moment. Then, the show will be scrambling to find a balance between this gravely serious (but likely pretty dull, as proving tax fraud isn’t exactly easy to explain or unravel and could take a lot longer than impatient reality TV viewers would like) problem and a show that’s mostly about easy-to-absorb stuff like family feuds, jealousy and hurt feelings.
With Teresa potentially gone from the show (either committed to court dates or serving time), “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” will need to consider a makeover for the show. With too many members of the cast deeply intertwined, it’s probably time for some new faces anyway. Let’s just hope they aren’t breaking the law to get the gig.
Will you watch if the show comes back? Do you think Teresa and Joe are guilty?