‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’: Did Caroline help or hurt Teresa and Joe?

I really wasn’t sure what to make of Caroline’s interest in meeting with Teresa this week. Yes, in theory she was taking it upon herself to attempt to soften up the Wicked Witch of New Jersey sufficiently that she might consider a truce with her long-suffering brother Joe Gorga and (less likely, but still) his wife Melissa. Still, Caroline hardly seemed like the best candidate for the job. Not that this was a job any sane person would elect to do, sort of like begging to be an actual crash test dummy or Mike Tyson’s sparring partner. 

As we all remember, in last season’s reunion for “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” Teresa and Caroline lit into each other like insane feral cats, striking low blows about their clothing, their bodies (Teresa said Caroline’s three rolls were “blubber, blubber and blubber,” and anything else that came to mind  — and mind you, that’s only what we saw. Who knows what Bravo decided to leave on the cutting room floor. Possibly insults centered on nail color choices, designer label preferences and favorite impressionist artists of the 19th century. 

There’s a tremendous amount of build up to the summit meeting, which takes place in a private room. It’s not unlike a meeting of heads of state or maybe Mariah and Nicki. Caroline is cool but polite. Teresa is shifty-eyed and nervous, as if she’s stolen rolls of toilet paper out of the women’s bathroom. Caroline tells Teresa she’s there at Joe’s bequest, which isn’t really true, but it doesn’t matter as that doesn’t impress Teresa at all. If Joe were a real man, he’s come groveling all on his own! Pfft!

Have you noticed that Teresa always expects everyone to apologize to her? Why would Caroline want to meet with her? Maybe to apologize! Will she be friends with Jacqueline again? Only if she apologizes! I wonder if she thinks her mailman needs to apologize to her for delivering so many bills (most of them likely delinquency notices) or the local supermarket should apologize to her for not stocking watermelon year round (out of season? Teresa Giudice don’t need no stinkin’ seasons!). She probably doesn’t actually pray, but instead gets down on her knees and listens very quietly to hear whether or not God is apologizing for not giving her the Barbie she wanted when she was five and every other perceived slight since then. 

Still, Caroline isn’t exactly a saint, either. Though she claims to have reached a level of Zen this year (why is it that after a few seasons, every Housewife starts claiming to have risen above it all — and says this right before picking a fight with someone? I think all they mean is they’ve learned how to use their indoor voice occasionally), she seems awfully interested in sticking her nose into someone else’s problem. She can see the pain in Joe Gorga’s eyes! She can see the pain in Jacqueline’s eyes! The light is gone! It’s as if Caroline is surrounded by sad-eyed velvet paintings or Frida Kahlo posters.

When Caroline tries to suggest Teresa make the first move with her brother, Teresa refuses. She points out that Caroline isn’t talking to her sister Dina, so what gives her the right to butt in? Three’s a crowd, Caroline! Whatever. Caroline doesn’t take the bait and just keeps trying to make the point that maybe Teresa should stop being an asshat. Teresa is having a bad week! Her dad is in the hospital! Caroline says that Teresa should make up with her brother for her dad’s benefit. Like, he’s old and could die.  Teresa rears back as if she’s been slapped. Her parents are everything to her! She’d die without them! THEY’RE ALL SHE HAS IN THE WORLD. I’m sure her husband and kids must appreciate that. Notice to Teresa: Caroline has a point.

Amazingly, though voices get raised a little bit, it seems that Caroline’s efforts aren’t entirely in vain. Teresa says that she will embrace Joe with open arms if he can bring himself to contact her, preferably crying and on his knees. That’s good enough for Caroline, who looks pretty much done with the whole mess. Still, no blood drawn, and Teresa never reached a full-bore crazypants screech fest, so I’d say it was a win. Good job, Caroline. I’m not sure it’s going to do any good, but hey, nice effort. The reality is that the biggest problem between Teresa and Joe is one that may never be resolved — Teresa seems incapable of getting over her hostility toward Melissa, and Melissa has officially given up on trying to make nice. 

Unfortunately for Melissa and Joe, it doesn’t look like they’re getting away from Teresa anytime soon. Their house is apparently so overpriced even P-Diddy’s baby momma thinks it’s a piece of crap, but they couldn’t possibly let Joe’s “masterpiece” go for a song. Thankfully, this episode didn’t become some sort of HGTV promo but instead was mostly devoted to Jacqueline.

The show has included Jacqueline and Chris’ son Nicholas in the past, and we know they’ve been struggling with his autism diagnosis. But this week may have been the first time the show has really gotten into what they’ve been going through. Jacqueline has signed up to do a vlog for Parenting magazine about what it’s like to have an autistic kid, and she can’t get through the interview without bursting into tears repeatedly. She seems tired and stressed out, and Chris isn’t shy about telling Joe Gorga about how hard it’s been for them. He isn’t wrong when he says a lot of couples break up after their kid gets a diagnosis like this. The rate of divorce is reportedly upwards of 80 percent. 

When the couple puts together a family poker night, Chris reveals that he’s been working with Nicholas’ tutor to teach him how to say “I love you” to Jacqueline, as the kid hasn’t been able to do that for over a year. The cynic in me thinks that prompting the kid to gurgle this in front of a small crowd as well as a camera crew isn’t exactly the height of thoughtful parenting, but there’s no denying it’s an emotional moment. It’s a small, sweet victory, important for Jacqueline as well as Nicholas, and one that we can only hope will be just one of many. 

What I’m not as hopeful about is Kathy and Rich’s relationship. Now that the kids are mostly grown, it seems she’s just beginning to realize she’s married to a massive dork. Rich is harmless, but I’m sure his nonstop babble gets irritating as hell after a few decades. Fingers crossed they can work it out. But if they don’t? Demand the Ferrari, Kath!