OH. MY. GOODNESS.
After weeks of anticipation, we finally got to see the epic brawl on The Real Housewives of New Jersey tonight, and it did not disappoint in the least. It was — as the kids say — O.O.C. (That stands for "Out of Control"). I'm telling you, there has never been a fight like this in Housewives, nay, Bravo history. There were lies, accusations, screams, and one unlucky tabletop that went falling to the floor. In short, it was amazing.
I'm actually a bit at a loss for what to say. There was so much, I mean, SO MUCH, that my brain sort of shut down. It couldn't absorb the chaos on screen. I will try my best to retell the events, but like many of the gossiping wags at CHATEAU: THE ART OF BEAUTY, I may get some of the details wrong. Here's what we do know: all the wives, with the exception of Jacqueline (the surprising hero of the episode), acted like idiots. Danielle chose the wrong time and place to air her grievances, and she did so in an aggressive, confrontational way that really is not helpful to achieving a mature dialogue. Dina was similarly brash — perhaps feeding off of Danielle — and her dismissiveness only served to heighten the tension. Caroline was great as the moderator... until she too got sucked into the drama and turned into a raving lunatic. And Teresa, well, I think her new bubbies are filled with crazy juice because her outburst made no sense at all (but was welcomed).
The fun all began when all the housewives departed their homes for a season-ending party hosted by Teresa. With guitars blazing and drums thumping, the entire sequence felt like the meeting of the five families. Shockingly though, the dinner party proved to be rather pleasant and jovial... that is, until Danielle surfaced. This was gonna go sour real fast. Sure enough, right in the middle of the banter, Danielle whipped out a copy of "THE BOOK" (as seen at CHATEAU: THE ART OF BEAUTY) and plopped it down on the table. It was awkward to say the least. No one really knew what the hell she was doing, but we were treated to several sound bytes of the women asking things like "Is she really going to do this? Right here? Right now?" Yes, ladies. It was about to be on like Donkey Kong (assuming Donkey Kong had big fake breasts).
Anyway, everyone tried to ignore the book at first, but Danielle wasn't about to let that happen. She decided this would be the time to clear the air about her past. According to her, there were only two truths in the book: she got arrested, and she changed her name. Okay. Well, that's it, right?
Had it been me, I would have said "I apologize for not bringing this up earlier, and I can understand how it's cause for alarm, but it's important for me that you know the truth, and I hope we can all move on." End of story. But this was Danielle we were talking about. She launched into a diatribe about how the rumors from this book have haunted her for years and how people in Franklin Lakes have been spreading rumors about her, and yada yada yada. It was all very uncomfortable, and I was slightly appalled to know that her poor kids (as well as some of the others) were still in the room. There's nothing worse than watching adults scream at each other, especially if they're your parents (and on national TV). I think it's safe to say there was some psychological scarring that night.
Nevertheless, Dina perceived that Danielle was directing her wrath at her, and so she interrupted her, not wanting to indulge the drama queen by letting her spout off these slanderous insinuations. This, of course, only pissed Danielle off more. The way she saw it, she was finally getting to say her piece, and Dina was essentially cockblocking her. This led to a snippy back and forth between the two until Caroline stepped up as Momma Bear and told her sister to shut up and wait her turn. For a moment, it looked like there might be a civilized discussion.
But there wasn't. For the life of me, I don't remember how it got to this point, but after enough quibbling between the women, Caroline leaned over, looked Danielle in the eye, and began the speech I had waited all season for.
"LET ME TELL YOU A SOMETHING ABOUT MY FAMILY," she said as I clapped along like a hyperactive seal. Yes, this was the moment — the moment when Caroline finally transformed from tough momma to the second coming of Don Corleone. I was so excited that I hardly expected the bombshell she dropped next: she was the one who started the rumors.
Insert record scratch here.
Yes, in the twist of the season — of the franchise — it turns out that it wasn't Dina, as everyone had long suspected. It was Caroline who had brought the book to CHATEAU: THE ART OF BEAUTY and had sullied Danielle's reputation. At last! It's out in the open! We can move on!
Danielle wasn't buying it. She accused Caroline of acting like a protective bigger sister and taking the gossip bullet. But no. Caroline was adamant that it was she who had committed the crime. At this point, Danielle should have said "Well, maybe I heard wrong," but she wasn't gonna drop it, and that pissed off the Manzo sisters to no end. It was a battle of the wills. Their word against hers (and for the record, I'd like to remind everyone that this all stemmed from GOSSIP, not fact). If only there were someone — a third party, if you will — that could set the story straight once and for all.
Oh that's right. We forgot about Jacqueline. The meek peacemaker of the group had been sitting in the corner quietly, perhaps wishing she were back in her driveway staring at her daughter's not-car. But alas, she could stay neutral no longer. She had to pick a side. After a season of hemming and hawing, it all came down to this. Would she defend her sisters? Or take the side of her best friend? Well, blood is thicker than water, and no one ever squeals against The Family, right?
WRAWNG WRAWNG WRAWNG!
A frustrated Jacqueline burst out with her confession: Caroline and Dina BOTH spread the rumors around town! Dunh dunh dunh!!! Let me tell you something, I could have been watching a documentary about Chernobyl because this was turning into a Stage-5, clear-the-county-and-the-next-county-over meltdown. Suddenly, all three sisters were fighting, with the Manzos alternately accusing Jacqueline of lying and being disloyal. Not making matters any better was Jacqueline's admission that she was only going on what she'd heard from the gossip around CHATEAU: THE ART OF BEAUTY. It's like these women never learned the valuable life lessons of "Telephone." (off topic, but did you know that according to Wikipedia, "telephone" has alternate, neatly racist names such as "Chinese Whispers" or "Arab Phone"? Of course, the irony of passing on facts about "Telephone" gleaned from Wikipedia is not lost on me).
Anyway, while the sisters fought angrily over the Chinese Whispers at Chateau (the art of beauty), Danielle suddenly quieted down, muttering dramatically, "I didn't want this. I didn't want this." This, of course, was patently untrue because had she thought about the repercussions of her confrontation for half a millisecond, she would have known that such a chaotic scene would unfurl. Why else ambush everyone at dinner? I couldn't help feeling this was Danielle's M.O.: come out swinging, and once she's gotten a rise out of someone, clam up and act as if they're the crazy ones for going bonkers in response. It's what she did with the Manzo sisters and later with Teresa.
Oh, Teresa, Teresa, Teresa. She seemed so calm at the top of the episode when she gave Dina a tour of the new mansion (which featured columns that resembled yogurt-covered cheese sticks). It was there that she first professed her intention to invite Danielle to her dinner party. She didn't really want Danielle there, but according to Teresa, she wasn't a rude person (something she reiterated ad nauseam throughout the episode), and so she felt compelled by the power of superficiality to extend an invitation to Danielle. Of course, anyone who believed that needed their head checked. Every season of this franchise ends with some sort of party or gathering. Danielle didn't come thanks to Teresa's graciousness. She came because it was preordained by The Bravo Powers That Be.
And thank God. This fight was out of control, and it was only getting worse by the second. With the sisters all fighting and screaming, it was only a matter of time before Teresa weighed in with her astute opinions. She simply couldn't believe that everything in the book was false. It just couldn't be! An exasperated Danielle turned to her and reminded her that not everything was false: she did change her name and did get arrested, dammit! She then snapped, "PAY ATTENTION!"
Nobody disrespects Teresa at her own dinner party! Danielle can't just act like a barbarian! Where did she think she was? CHATEAU: THE ART OF BEAUTY? Excuse me, but Teresa is a CLASSY woman (exhibit A: her refined mansion), and she will not stand for such shenanigans. She's just not rude like that.
And so Teresa completely lost it. She reiterated that these rumors had to stem from some kernel of truth (faulty logic, but okay), and as Teresa rattled off the various claims in the book, she managed to whip herself up into such a frenzy that she actually slammed her hands down on the table in anger. I don't know what it was about that action — maybe feeling the flat surface on her hands brought back traumatic memories of her pre-augmentation chest — but Teresa then up and flipped the table over, knocking plates, glasses, and pasta to the floor below. Yes, she was out-crazying the crazies. And she was just getting started. Teresa rose and began yelling utterly indecipherable things at Danielle like a madwoman (see you on The Soup!) before her husband grabbed her and practically choked her into silence. Pretty much the only word I understood was "WHORE!"
All the women looked stunned, and I thought maybe the brawl had run its course, but it still had plenty of life in it. Teresa kissed her husband on the lips randomly and rejoined the table for the dénouement, which involved Dina saying she despised Danielle (the feeling was mutual) and then adding that she wasn't going to spread rumors about her. She was merely going pray for her. Yes, it was a tad condescending. Had Dina not already proven herself to be immensely likable (ie. her bedroom cleaning with Lexi), I would have totally written her off. Caroline wasn't much better when she told Jacqueline that she'd embarrassed her parents (who I assume are dead). It was kind of a cheap move and showed no empathy for Jacqueline who was in the worst position of all of them.
Anyway, Jacqueline's husband, who happens to be the brother of the Manzo sisters, finally spoke up and told everyone to shut up and stop acting like idiots. This more or less concluded the fight, and soon everyone was shuffling out of the restaurant murmuring about the chaotic scene that had just unfolded. And with that, the season just ENDED. Damn, I would have liked some post game analysis. You know those car rides back home had to have been filled with all sorts of good stuff. I think it's safe to say that there will be no love lost between Danielle and the Manzos. It's all for the best anyway. The sisters shouldn't be wasting time with a criminal lowlife like Danielle. They only hangs out with upstanding members of the community. You know, like Bernie Kerik.
What did you think about the episode and the fight? Who was right? Who was wrong? How should it have been handled? And who else will be watching the "Director's Cut" of the fight on Thursday??
For a full photocap of the "Housewives" finale, see the original post on BSideBlog.