I realized, about halfway through the episode, that Teresa Giudice isn’t especially good at her job, or should I say jobs. It was when she’s sitting at the giant island in her kitchen with the more performative of her daughters — Gia and Milania — and the three of them are making an apple pie. “Dot the apples with butter,” she reads from the recipe to the girls. “What does that mean?” I am such an amateur baker that if I were to do a technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off the stand mixer would just look at me and say, “Girl, give it up,” and even I know what that means. Here is Teresa, a woman with several best-selling cookbooks to her name, and she doesn’t even know that she should cut up some small pieces of butter and put it among the apples. What’s even worse is that she is unconcerned with how her ignorance may or may not affect her status as a culinary star.
The same is true of her dedication to the reality television arts and sciences. Teresa has given us some amazing moments over the years, from the table flip (obvs) to instigating Danielle at the Posche fashion show to getting in a cake fight with Melissa to instigating Danielle and Margaret’s fight last season that resulted in the untimely demise of a Fornasetti candle. However, her heart just doesn’t seem to be in it anymore.
This season started off with a bang, with her going around Jackie’s party talking about Evan’s cheating and then the subsequent blow-up when she called Jackie a cunt so many times that even the FCC had to sit up and take notice. Yes, I don’t love Teresa, but when she’s delivering like that I can’t help but dispute her mastery over this platform. Then came the rest of the season, which fizzled out like a ten-year-old bag of Pop Rocks.
During the same scene with her daughters (and it’s funny that Teresa calls them Dardurs, like she’s in the SNL Mare of Easttown sketch), Teresa talks about being in the public eye and how she is mad at her ex-husband Joe for talking about his new girlfriend on Wendy Williams’ show. “I don’t need people to know my business,” she says. Then, talking about her new relationship, she says, “I want real moments, to myself.” Sure, you can absolutely have that, but in order for that to happen, then you need to quit your job on reality television.
The price that Teresa (and really all the other women) pay for the fame, money, notoriety, and free outfits from second-tier designers is that they have to share every aspect of their personal lives with the audience. That is the Faustian bargain. I totally understand that Teresa doesn’t want to bring a guy on camera that she doesn’t think she has a future with. But that also means that she needs to find another line of work. The public being very much in her business is an occupational hazard, but she certainly didn’t seem to have any compunctions about cashing the checks and selling all of those un-butter-dotted cookbooks all of these years.
This brings us to her toothless dinner with Luis. If you closed your eyes and did an Etch-A-Sketch of what Teresa’s ideal man would look like, you would come up with Luis. Tall, dark complexion, big arms, flat abs, hair with so much product in it that the water in the shower just beads off of it like dew on a nylon tent. But we learn very little of him and very little about the two of them together other than that he’s very happy with her and Teresa is finally happy with a man who treats her way better than Joe ever did. He’s also taller than her, which must be a very nice relief for her and her shoe closet.
I don’t know for certain, but I would bet anything that the scene where he takes her out to dinner was filmed after the Halloween party and slotted in later. I feel like Teresa got to the end of the season without either talking about or showing this man of hers and the producer told her, “Listen, Teresa, you’re on a reality show. We need to meet this guy, it’s all over the press.” So she acquiesced to one dinner in an otherwise abandoned COVID trap of a restaurant somewhere in suburban New Jersey. (Isn’t saying “suburban New Jersey” redundant, like saying “assless chaps” or “insane conspiracy theory”?)
The problem with this show is that Teresa is so much at the center of it that when she is refusing to share in her life or engage in any of the other fights or drama it just crashes like Zac Efron the day after his intervention. She didn’t take a stand at all on Dolores’s relationship drama, which feels like it has embroiled us since Anthony Scaramucci served two weeks in the White House. She also didn’t comment on the Melissa and Joe situation or Jennifer being a drunken mess, which were the other two lame duck storylines this season. All she did was deflect questions about her man and talk about how much she loves eating pineapple to make her juices sweeter. Yeah, she did spar with Jackie, but even that inert and inane argument was as frustrating as having a tiny pebble on the inside of your knee-high lace up boots.
Once again we have to deal with all of these issues at the final party, which is Margaret’s bash for both Halloween and Joe Benigno’s birthday — costumes and negative COVID tests (thank god) required. Teresa comes dressed as cotton candy in a fluffy pink dress, but she also has on a multi-colored wig, a unicorn horn, and enough glittery makeup that even Anastasia of Beverly Hills thought she was overdoing it. She doesn’t look like cotton candy so much as she looks like the floor of JoJo Siwa’s craft room.
Hostess Margaret and Joe B are Morticia and Gomez, which is perfect not only because she’s taller than him but also it forced Joe to trade in a goatee for a mustache. People don’t believe me, but a mustache makes every face 78 percent more handsome. That’s science. Just ask Joe B. Jackie and Evan come as Sonny and Cher but he’s actually taller than her, so points for trying but not accuracy. Dolores doesn’t win any prizes as an accident victim but Frank looks great as Joe Exotic. Hey, anything to get Mr. Catania pretending to be a gay dude. Speaking of which. Melissa and Joe are a mermaid and a merman and Joe definitely got his costume at SluttyShirtlessCostumesForGayDudesGrrrrrrllll.Rainbow. He even shaded in his pecs and his abs to make them pop. That is some Black Party Go-Go Boy bullshit right there. (Also, I commend you.)
Jennifer shows up as JLo and looks shockingly good in her iconic Versace dress, and Bill pulls off an impressive Prince. Some of the secondary characters also have on interesting outfits: Lexi is dressed as either her fellow “Englishman” David Bowie or a set of vocal tics looking for a geographic profile. Either one. Michelle, Teresa’s Realtor, is dressed as a sexy kitty because of course. Though with her Party City wig, it looked more like she was dressed as the Cats butthole edit.
The big fight at the party is about Joe Gorga and whether what he said about Dolores’s relationship was chauvinistic, which it seemed like it was. He did call her a broken woman because of her divorce and insinuate that she wasn’t happy because she wasn’t married. I might counter with the fact that she might not be “broken,” but that anyone is obviously changed by going through a divorce so maybe Joe just used the wrong words. But we see how he doesn’t want Melissa to “forget about him” and how he fights against her independence, and when you put that all together, well, he sounds like a chauvinist.
Joe confronts Marge directly about what she called him and he can’t even listen to why she thinks that. In his mind he’s perfect, he doesn’t have a problem, and he doesn’t need to change. However, in the immortal words of Heather Dubrow, when everyone says you’re dead, it’s time to lie down. Melissa gets mad at the other women for saying Joe has regressive attitudes about women and tells them to stop saying it. Well, how about getting your husband to be less regressive?
Strangely, the person with the most sage advice is Bill Aydin. While all the boys are in a butt-touching scrum, he says, “They have a point. If they all feel strongly that we are being inconsiderate…we have to listen. It all comes down to listening.” Amen, Bill. Joe, however, literally says, “Shut the fuck up.” He can’t listen not only to the women but also to Bill on the women’s behalf. He will never change and, as Dolores says, she’s seen how this play ends and it will not be good for Melissa.
It’s so odd that Bill and Jennifer Aydin were the MVPs, not only of this episode but also this season. At the beginning of the episode, Jennifer says that she doesn’t give out full-sized candy bars for Halloween, she gives out king-sized candy bars, which is the most Jennifer Aydin thing that isn’t emblazoned with a Chanel logo. We then see the dinner for their 18th wedding anniversary. At first, I was rolling my eyes that she had a huge cake, a caterer, and servers for a wedding celebration that didn’t end in zero. Then she tells us that it was her daughter’s idea and she wanted her parents to have a romantic dinner to show they were still in love. That is just adorable.
During the dinner Bill is telling the kids that he never asked their mother to marry him. According to the Turkish tradition, there was a family elder who did a “promise of engagement.” He also never got her an engagement ring because he was a poor med student at the time. This is all setup for the end of dinner, when he gets a box out of his pocket, gets down on one knee, and finally asks her to marry him. Inside the box is a nine-carat yellow diamond that makes Jennifer wetter than a sweat rag in the Everglades. “Oh my god, is this for real,” she gasps, before saying yes and kissing him. For some reason, I’m crying while watching this. Heck, I’m crying while writing about it again. There is just something so sweet about the love that these two share, about the difficulty she’s going through with her parents, the way that they’re trying to turn their relationship around for their children so they won’t be hurt by them the way Jen was by her parents. I used to hate Jennier, absolutely loathe her, and here she is, eliciting tears while accepting an overly ostentatious bit of jewelry. Who ever thought we would be here? Who ever thought that Teresa could be laid low by someone who actually wanted to be authentic on television?
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