Recapping the Real Full-Service Gas Stations of Passaic is beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day, a movie which I have never seen (don’t @ me), but we all use as shorthand for being stuck in a never-ending and perilous time loop. It’s just the women get together, Teresa says a bunch of stupid, indefensible shit, and no one does anything. That’s the show over and over again, tethered to the subterranean whims of a human cudgel wearing too much eye makeup. At least in this episode, we don’t have to see her a ton, but we do get one of the worst group activities of all time.
Yes, I’m talking about when all of the women go to something called NashVox Studios, which is a place where normal people can come, work with a songwriter, and then record a track. I feel like this is the Frankenstein’s laboratory that also brought us Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and, if we’re being perfectly honest, Simon Van Kempen’s “I Am Real.” Now, I will have no shit talk about Missy G’s own “On Display,” one of the finer hits in the Housewives pop firmament.
I could not watch this session at all. It is, as the kids would say, cringe. It is so cringe that I’ve turned into Cringer, Prince Adam’s pet. The only thing worse is the interminable RuPaul’s Drag Race songwriting challenge where every queen’s verse has some variation of “snatch the crown” in it.
Not only is the writing as embarrassing as crapping your pants while making out with Andy Cohen on live television, but the recording is even worse. The women’s vocals sound like, well, crapping your pants while making out with Andy Cohen on live television. They don’t even split the verses or the lines or anything like they would on Drag Race. You just have a murder of ravens cawing over each other to a lone guitar that is about to buckle under the weight of the vocal incompetence. Between this and the wretched Richard Marx song that ended the most recent season of RHOC, it’s a really bad time for the casts doing Josie and the Pussycats cosplay.
Meanwhile, all of the guys (minus Tiki Barber, who has an actual job other than “construction, I guess [shrug emoji]”) are at the lake in a boat that has a slide on the back of it and sort of looks like the mobile home equivalent of a yacht. I don’t know this for sure, but it seems like something Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr. has owned at some point in her life. Joe Gorga brings a strap-on on the trip because there is some joke about how Frank Catania doesn’t have balls. Did I miss something? Did he have them removed from testicular cancer? Did they just shrivel up and fall off due to all the “supplements” he has taken? Is this his metaphoric balls that were taken by Dolores? I don’t know, but Joe brings him a strap on and makes everyone take shots out of it, and it is the gayest straight guy thing I have seen since Tucker Carlson’s home videos.
While on the boat, the guys do talk a little bit about the drama of the day, which is the fight that broke out between Teresa and Marge at dinner the night before. Well, it was actually just Teresa using the glasses and flatware of an unsuspecting barbecue joint to sully and assault our Marge, but we don’t need to put too fine a point on it. Luis, Teresa’s now fiancé, says he has never seen her act like that before. But the guys tell Luis that everything is cool with the dudes, just don’t ever get involved with the women’s business. Unless, of course, they do get involved and say that Jen is a bad person or that Teresa shouldn’t be spreading rumors about Evan or Joe getting all mad at Bill for not defending him against Jennifer. But other than that and all the other occasions, don’t get involved in the women’s business.
Speaking of Margaret and Teresa, our Lady of the Gabagool can’t be bothered to go singing, so she drags Dolores to the Boot Barn for some shopping. Oh, the Boot Barn. I think I went to high school with his sister, Dress. Do you know her? Dress Barn? She drove a Volkswagen that we called the Fashion Bug.
While they are shopping, Teresa uses my least favorite rationale for her behavior. She says that Marge kept poking the bear, and she shouldn’t be surprised when she got bit. This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard (and it is another thing that comes up often on Drag Race as well), and I have listened to the Giggly Squad. This line of thinking is basically, “I am a violent person who can’t control my temper, but because you know that I am a violent person who can’t control my temper, it is actually your fault that you got attacked because you couldn’t control yourself around me, a person who cannot control myself.” It is a staggering elliptical, like that row of machines right in front of the treadmills where everyone jogs along while watching Top Chef reruns on the gym TVs.
After a brief interlude where we meet my favorite RHONJ friend of, Drunk Bill Ayden, who is sporting a Ferrari polo shirt on backwards and a fright wig, some woman named Abbie shows up to decorate the house for dinner. She basically puts an old pick-up truck in the backyard and then dumps out the Magnolia Home Décor Starter Kit from Michael’s and calls it a hoe-down. (That is also what my friends scream when I trip at the bar. “Ho down! Ho down!”)
Everyone sits down to dinner, and Teresa apologizes for not acting like herself the night before. She wants to apologize to the group, though, not to Margaret, because she insists that she was provoked into behaving like that. Everyone is like, “Oh, that’s great, Teresa. Good apology,” but it’s not. Joe Gorga says that she wouldn’t have apologized at all in the past, so this half-assed apology is better. That’s like saying, “Oh, she didn’t kill the bunny rabbit; she just maimed it, so let’s be happy that Marlon Bundo isn’t dead.” No, that’s not how it works. How about not hurting the bunny at all? Hm? How about not giving someone credit for only being partially decent?
Marge won’t let it go at the end of the table, nor should she. Despite whether or not she provoked Teresa (I don’t think she did), Teresa never should have thrown a bunch of innocent tableware at her. She could even go full Housewives apology and say, “I still don’t like what you said about Luis, but I took it too far.” But she won’t because she is Teresa, and she is worse than everything in Dress Barn and Fashion Bug combined.
It’s interesting that we’re really seeing the tide turn against Teresa this season. Frank, of all people, is the first to say that what Margaret was doing wasn’t that bad and Teresa behaved abominably. Jackie, who is always team Margaret, says that she’s sick of Teresa dictating the temperature of the whole night, that they’re always catering to her and trying to contain her nuclear blast of a temper when that shouldn’t be their job. Melissa says that the table is being held hostage by Teresa. These are not great ways to talk about the woman who thinks that it is entirely her show.
When Marge speaks up asking for a better apology, Teresa makes a joke about how Margaret never misses a dinner despite being essentially the same size because that is where Teresa goes. She can’t argue a point, so she can only throw jabs and insults. It is the last resort of the stupid. Teresa starts to get Melissa involved, trying to tell Melissa to tell Margaret to STFU, though she did not use an acronym.
What I really wanted was for Melissa to say no. What I wanted was for Joe to say that he wasn’t going to let his wife say that. What I wanted was for Jennifer to tell Teresa to take it down a notch. What I wanted was for anyone to say, “Teresa, you are wrong, and you need to apologize.” I get it, Melissa and Joe just want peace in their family, but if they keep sticking to Teresa’s insane strictures of loyalty, ones that aren’t reciprocated, mind you, then she’s never going to learn. This is never going to stop. She will continue to be the thermometer of the room and the terrorist of every social situation. There is only one way to break the Groundhog Day time loop, and that is that someone needs to stand up to Teresa. It just seems like everyone, bar Marge, is too chickenshit to do it.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Having a Ball