(October 17, 2012) – A very old woman I know told me something maybe five years ago, when we were celebrating her 90th birthday. She said that people always do what they believe is in their own best interest at the time they do it.
She said it doesn’t mean it is good for them, but that at that moment, they believed it was their best option. I am not sure if this is always true, but I truly believe the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey are great examples of what my wise old friend was explaining to me. And for whatever reason, I’ve been giving this lots of thought lately.
As much as I cannot stand Melissa Gorga, I can see that she joined this show because she believed it was her best option to get what she wanted: fame in the greater world and the princess role in her family of birth and in her family with her in-laws. She saw Teresa Giudice as the obstacle to getting both fame and family prestige, so she sold her out by secretly talking to Danielle Staub and later joining the cast. She didn’t think she had a better option because she does not know how to get on TV without following Teresa. And she does not know how to establish her primary role in her husband’s life without running the risk of annihilating her sister-in-law’s role.
As much as I cannot stand Caroline Manzo I can see she truly believes family is the most important thing in the world and that she is the final say in who is acting appropriately in protecting the Manzo and Laurita families. She saw Teresa as the threat to everything she believes in because she simply could not control Teresa, as she once did, as Teresa’s fame rose.
Caroline was ticked about Teresa’s relationship with her sister Dina, and not just because she was jealous to some degree, but also because she believed that it threatened Caroline’s belief that she rightly has the final say about everything, including how Teresa is perceived by Caroline’s family and in the eyes of viewers. Because she felt threatened by Teresa, she chose what she believed was her best option: to blame Teresa for all of the problems with Dina and to enlist the help of others, most notably her children and Jacqueline Laurita in vilifying Teresa for even the slightest infraction.
Of course she had other options. She could have reconciled with Dina. We know this because all of the Laurita we’ve ever met, Caroline, Dina, Jamie and Chris, have always told us and each other that if any one of them was in distress, they’d move mountains for each other. But Caroline chose not to make a strong, serious effort to reconcile with Dina. I am guessing that would make Caroline feel too uncomfortable, like she was weak, or fallible. To do that, to admit that maybe she was wrong at some point must have felt like defeat for Caroline. And I also believe it would have been difficult, if not nearly impossible, to do that while retaining her own belief that she is the final say about what is and what is not right. As we all know by now, Caroline prefers to think of herself as the uniting matriarch who guides a number of families with sage advice.
Uncomfortable facing any other option, she chose to target Teresa as the destroyer of families. Suddenly Caroline was no longer singing the tune, “Teresa is so Funny,” as she had in earlier seasons. In seasons three, and especially in season 4, Caroline began to position Teresa as a threat to the Giudice family because she insisted her husband buy her things they could not afford, eventually sending Juicy into bankruptcy and public ridicule. Caroline also chose to bolster her argument that Teresa is anti-family by reframing Teresa’s tendencies to bully and ostracize women she doesn’t like, as she did with Danielle years ago. Instead of finding it all “so funny,” as she once did, Caroline chose to focus on how much Teresa mistreated Melissa and Kathy Wakile.Caroline went so far as to point blank tell Melissa that Teresa hated her so much and wanted her off the show so badly that she was willing to destroy Melissa’s family. What’s more, she told us that eventually Teresa will divorce Juicy and write a tell all book to make herself sound like the strong woman who rose above adverse circumstances to raise her family as a single woman.
Because she has a limited view of how a matriarch behaves, Caroline took on the personality traits of a mob boss and issued a hit on Teresa. She did not know how to protect her infallible, unimpeachable role as the head of her “thick as thieves” family, without identifying and targeting Teresa as a common enemy that could take the fall for Caroline’s inability to live up to her own self-image.
As much as I cannot stand Teresa Giudice I can understand why she refuses to back down from any argument or to accept responsibility for ever doing anything wrong. She’s from Patterson. Did you forget that? Hehehe. Oh that hideous laugh. I’ve never been to Patterson. I know nothing about it, but I hear a world of information in Teresa’s braggadocio about the ruthless philosophy that must have populated her old neighborhood.
I don’t mean to sound mean, but here she is an uneducated little twerp who regularly trips over her own words, and she’s smack talking like she’s a cage fighter. Call her a coward, tell her to run away and thereby suggesting she’s afraid of someone, and she comes rolling back over to prove she’s Badass Teresa, ready to rip someone limb from limb. She’s not lying either. She’s willing to say or do anything to prove she’s Big Bad Teresa, including throwing a table at her dinner guest during a party, chasing a colleague into the parking lot of a country club at a charity fashion show. Heck, she thinks nothing of tossing her boss into a chair, and on camera!
Teresa simply does not how to protect herself without behaving violently and cruelly. Telling the truth is not part of her worldview. Fighting back toward anyone who threatens her is the guiding principle of all of her actions. That could be something as minor as suggesting she’s not grasping a conversation and should “pay attention. If you dare say something like that, that will get a raging woman calling you a “prostitution whore.” If you try to barge into her world and usurp her role as the princess of the Gorga family, or the glittering star of a Reality TV show where she makes her living, and showcases her life as the “hot” wife of a sexually-insatiable husband and devoted mother of meticulously groomed children, she’s going to make sure the audience and hundreds of bloggers debate about whether or not you were a stripper.
Teresa will always see fighting as her best option. She will never admit she’s wrong. She will never admit she’s vulnerable or scared. To do that, in Patterson, is weak. Teresa will always hit below the belt to hide her own frailties. And the tact she will always take is to call into question your sexuality, whether you are loose or whether you cannot keep your husband from cheating on you, as she revealed about Jacqueline. She will never find another, better option because she is exactly what she doesn’t want us see: a scared, vulnerable little girl who is so terrified of being attacked, as she must have been way back in Patterson, that she will expose anyone who reminds her of the fear and pain she must have felt in the past.
As much as I used to like Jacqueline Laurita, I now see her as a character straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. While she was once the woman who knew the difference between right and wrong and stood up to her sisters-in-law, Caroline and Dina, when she told them they weren’t being truthful about the roles they played in exposing Danille’s past with that book, Cop Without a Badge, that is no longer the Jacqueline we see today.
I truly believe she was taken away by the thought police and reprogrammed. Now, this woman has no idea what is true and what isn’t. She no longer has any idea what is moral and just and what isn’t. She’s retained all of the explosive impulses to blurt out whatever thought is currently crossing her mind, but she no longer has the principles she used to display and she’s completely lost her ability to reason by examining evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, and drawing rational conclusions. Now she’s just a mindless soldier in step with the party’s cause.
Just like most of the characters in 1984, she no longer needs reasons to switch alliances. If Big Brother Caroline is now at war with Teresa, Jacqueline will easily fall in line and confront Teresa about not sharing the blow-by-blow details of her legal and financial problems. And when the shouting simmers down, Jacqueline will easily tell her best friend that she has decided to distance herself from Teresa and her family.
If Jacqueline still had the ability to reason rationally as she once did, before she was reprogrammed, she would not try to make the argument on her blog, that Teresa is obviously in kahoots with Kim D. because they are still friendly even after Kim D. orchestrated a plot to expose Melissa’s past as a dancer in a bikini bar. In the very same blog she mentions that she herself is also still friends with Kim D. By that logic, which I actually understand, it would suggest that Jacqueline was also in on the set up – which I think she was, by the way.
If Jacqueline were remotely rational she would recognize that she has no business in frantically stirring the boiling pot, when during the reunion Teresa and Joey G. were discussing their damaged relationship. The fact that Andy Cohen, the greatest pot stirrer in Reality TV history, had to tell her to zip it is a big clue that Jacqueline had gone way too far.
Still despite all of this, I also recognize Jacqueline saw no other option. Although I think she’s practically been lobotomized to say and do whatever is asked of her, thus helping Andy misrepresent the timeline of this season, Jacqueline has retained the go-to personality tendency she’s exhibited from day one. She loves drama. She loves getting close to the flame. She likes the adrenaline rush of being in the thick of things, whether that’s hearing about the randy sex life of her friend Danielle, witnessing as Teresa taunts her friend with “is bitch better?” or receiving and reporting about the text messages her “friend” sent her that implicated Teresa as the mastermind of the Posche Fashion Show’s season-ending big reveal.
There are plenty of people who would not befriend Danielle and gossip about “Gucci Model.” There are plenty of people who would steer clear of Teresa and her country club “What you don’t say hi?” ambush of their colleague. There are plenty of people who would feel foolish poisoning everyone’s interpretation of what happened when Angelo walked into the Posche Fashion Show by first saying Teresa “set up” Melissa, and later admitting “that’s just what I heard,” as though there is no harm in actively spreading rumors. But for Jac there is no other option. Behaving like a moth flying around a flame, fanning the fire by telling the world that Juicy cheats on Teresa, and by shrieking straight through Teresa and her brother’s conversation about their problems, that have precisely nothing to do with Jacqueline, is all Jacqueline’s life will ever be.
As much as I still like Kathy Wakile, despite how cruelly she spoke at the reunion, I also think all of her actions point to her choosing what she believed was her best option. While she does not strike me as fame-obsessed, I have to admit she must like being on television enough to willingly watch her family fall apart before her very eyes. She likes it enough to get her nose worked on and fillers pumped into her lips. Personally, I think she looks great, by the way. When I see her new look, at a quick glance, I see a version of Salma Hayak. But I also see that normally reserved Kathy, who has successfully bitten her tongue during many of the craziest scenes in Housewives history, also unleashed her muzzle during the reunion, going so far as to call her aunt “a liar” and her uncle “a coward.”
Sure she could have lost her temper. We’ve all done that, but few of us would berate our older relatives on national television in front of an audience in the neighborhood of 4 million people. Personally, I think she felt like she had to. I think that somewhere in the back of her mind, Kathy knew she had to bring some big drama or else she’d find herself without a role on this show next season.
I really have no idea why normally dignified Kathy would amp up the drama to stay on this show, if in fact that was her strategy. Does she want the Bravo paycheck? Does she want to use the Bravo platform to sell pastries? Is she just restless and looking for something to spice up her life as she begins to prepare for an empty nest, now that her children are getting older and going off to college? Is she just adventurous and took the plunge into the unknown? I really have no idea. But I hope all of this ends up being worth it for her because I truly believe she has other options, some of which I am sure are more pleasant. (For a look at the fun side of Kathy Wakile, please take a look at 20 Questions)
The one person who truly mystifies me is Kim D. I do not understand even slightly why she wanted to embarrass Melissa. I know she admitted during the reunion that she is vengeful and was angry that Melissa was supporting a rival clothing boutique with a similar name. I know she said she’s always been the lucky recipient of hurtful information that she can use to damage other people.
While I don’t like any of that, and do not see how this is in Kim D’s best interest, what I most of all don’t understand is why so many people in this cast remain friendly with her. Despite everything that has happened, Teresa and Jacqueline are still friends with her and we learned at the reunion that Caroline likes her. What does Kim D. have on these people? There must be something. Caroline prides herself on blasting anyone who crosses her path, and yet there she was on that reunion sofa, pledging her admiration for Kim D. Seriously what was all of that about?
Why and how does remaining friendly with Kim D. benefit any of these people?
All photos are courtesy of BravoTV.com except the first one which is from mommasaid.net
About the Author (Author Profile)
I am a New York City publicist who specializes in promoting luxury products and experiences and occasionally moonlight as a journalist.
Relatively new to the world of blogging, I have watched and enjoyed Bravo’s Housewives shows since the first season of the Real Housewives of Orange County. I created this blog over the 4th of July holiday of 2011 because I enjoy writing and love to figure out how to blend images and words to create something that is both visually compelling and interesting to read.