So, this week the detente between Teresa and everybody else continued, more or less. The episode was mostly calm, largely civil, and… weird. Just… weird. Not having Teresa running around and screaming (except while she played with her kids and tried to shatter every garishly expensive thing in her house) is like a day without car crashes. It’s a good thing, but it’s almost unsettling. When “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” has to trump up excitement by making Jacqueline’s Beverly Hills tummy tuck seem as dangerous as a double-organ heart and lung transplant, you know the show’s in trouble.
Of course, there were inklings that the surely-Bravo-brokered peace will be short-lived. As the gang takes a party bus to Teresa’s charity event (which, honestly, doesn’t seem all that appropriate when one is heading to a charity event), Teresa started peppering her companions with questions. What’s a sociopath, anyway? I’m not sure Teresa necessarily understood the answer, but she was absolutely sure she wasn’t a sociopath even though she kind of is. Then, she demanded an apology from her brother, which suggests she doesn’t understand the meaning of “let’s drop it,” either. Luckily, there was some joking around to lighten the mood, although most of it had to do with Melissa’s long-debated stripper past. I’d say, despite the clearly fake miracle working of Dr. V, this powder keg is just waiting for the right time to blow. Maybe, hmmm, in time for the season finale?
While everyone has grown tired of the eternal Teresa vs. the world drama of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” the problem is that too much of the rest of the show isn’t strong enough to step into the void. Jacqueline’s body-loathing is largely universal for women of certain age, but her ability to throw money at the problem is not. The challenges of Caroline’s sons starting a business are, again, more first world problems that most twenty somethings would love to have. The problem with any of the shows in “The Real Housewives” franchise is that, after a few seasons on the air, the issues are no longer universal or relatable. Do we want a 15,000 square foot house or a 17,000 square foot house? How do we juggle all of these opportunities? Should we paper the bathroom in $20 bills or $50 bills? Decisions, decisions!
Bickering relatives with short fuses, though, were the stuff of families everywhere. That “RHoNJ” milked Teresa’s seeming insanity for so long without developing other story lines is the problem. Jacqueline’s struggle with having an autistic son is gripping, but it’s doubtful we’ll ever see enough of what she goes through (and shouldn’t, since I’m pretty sure sticking a camera in any little kid’s face, regardless of where they are on the autism spectrum, isn’t a good idea) for it to become a core storyline. Melissa is so determined to put on a happy face we probably will never get to know her better than we do. Kathie’s conflict with Rich might be interesting, but it hasn’t been developed.
The promo for next week suggested that there’s more battling ahead for Melissa and Teresa, but if we wanted more of that we could probably watch any episode from last season and just imagine a new location (though, admittedly, there are some new, horribly-surgically-scarred faces in the mix). Still, at this point I’m ready for Rosie to get her own spin-off. As the most outspoken and least self-protective of the group, Rosie speaks frankly and live loud. Get that woman a girlfriend and let’s go, because “RHoNJ” may be on shaky ground.
Do you believe the truce? Have you had enough of Teresa? Whose storyline would you like to see developed further?