The short season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” ended with a bang.
Since Teresa’s marble and onyx palace still wasn’t completely decorated, she decided to have the housewarming party at her favorite restaurant. Using the kind of reasoning typical among people who sign on to appear in reality shows, she invited nearly everyone’s best enemy, Danielle, who proceeded to ruin the party by plopping on the table a copy of “Cop Without a Badge,” the book that for most of the season had inspired gossip about Danielle’s allegedly shady past life.
The ensuing catfight/train wreck was just as painfully enjoyable to watch as the countless previews had made it seem. But the producers made us wait a while for the good stuff.
The season finale started with Dina’s visit to Teresa’s new house. “I feel like I’m visiting Oz,” Dina said, as she approached a door that looked like the entrance to the Wizard’s audience room. “You’ve got onyx coming out of you’re a—,” she told Teresa.
In an interview, Dina confided that she had been worried the house might not be tasteful, but then said that Teresa has great style. “I love the way she dresses,” she said, before the producers cut to a shot of Teresa in her cutoff shorts and “Jersey Girl” T-shirt (“where you wish you came from”).
Dina had presented Teresa with the traditional housewarming gift of bread and salt—the former so that she would never go hungry, the latter to keep “evil people” away. Speaking of which, Teresa told Dina of her plans to invite Danielle to her housewarming party. “I figured I’d give Danielle the benefit of the doubt,” Teresa said in an interview. “Do I want to be friends with her? No. But I’m not a rude person.”
Cut to Danielle’s house, where she had decided to show her daughters—Jillian, 10, and Christine, 14—photos from her days as a model and actress. The photos were blurred out for us viewers, but something about them made the girls’ jaws drop. Doing damage control because of “the book,” Danielle then told them that modeling is a potentially dangerous field, saying, “I did fall victim to a lot of things.”
Coming clean in an interview, Danielle said, “I did strip, I got arrested, and I did change my name.” When she told the girls that other people might say things about her, Christine, a breathtakingly levelheaded girl, said, “I will. Trust you. Above. Anyone else.”
A shot of Jacqueline saying that she’s trying to remain neutral led to a segment about her parents’ visit from Las Vegas. After parking their enormous motor home, they provided a refreshing note of sanity, warning Jacqueline not to do too much cosmetic surgery and advising her that if she was going to give her daughter, Ashley, a car, she should say that it’s actually not her car. Jacqueline and her husband, Chris, seemed to follow that advice, telling Ashley that she could use the car only if she kept to the straight and narrow.
Dina and Caroline’s segments weren’t very notable. Dina helped her daughter, Lexi, throw out a lifetime’s worth of stuffed animals, and Caroline showed off her new attack dog. “If someone attempts to have any kind of altercation with me,” she said, “bring it on. Bring it on.” (Did somebody say “foreshadowing”?)
We caught a glimpse of the man who helped the family find the dog, Bernard Kerik, who was described only as the best friend of Caroline’s husband. Kerik is the former New York City police commissioner who withdrew himself from consideration as the first secretary of Homeland Security and who later pleaded guilty to accepting gifts from a New Jersey construction company that was attempting to do business with the city.
Later, Dina and Lexi went to see Caroline in a restaurant, where Dina said she was considering stopping work so she could spend more time with Lexi and that husband we never see. “As of today,” she said in an interview, “I’m officially a retired girl and, um, just a housewife.”
But because no one had discussed “bubbies” for several minutes, Dina, after pointing out Lexi’s “big-girl haircut,” told Caroline, “We made an appointment for breast augmentation next week.”
“Go with Teresa,” said Caroline.
“I just can’t believe she has bubbies,” said Dina, gesturing toward Lexi. “See what I mean? I turn around for five minutes at work and all of sudden she’s got t—s.”
That topic continued when we finally got to the party at the restaurant. Despite the event’s ostensible purpose—to celebrate Teresa’s new home—the discussion was all about her breast augmentation. “Look at your bubbies,” said Jacqueline. “They look great. I love them.”
“I have to admire the bubbies,” said Dina while approaching Teresa. “First of all, your high beams are coming on.”
“They weren’t on before?” asked Teresa.
The discussion grew to include the bubbies of pretty much everyone in the room. “Mine are real,” said Caroline. Her adult sons kept saying they’d prefer it if the subject were dropped. Many viewers were probably feeling uncomfortable that some of the wives’ younger children were present too.
The entrance of a former stripper with an arrest record actually classed up the proceedings momentarily, even though Danielle was particularly sullen. “No kisses?” said Teresa.
After someone ordered oysters, things were back in the gutter. “Just put it in your mouth and swallow,” Chris told Teresa. “I’m not big on swallowing,” she replied. (Ixnay! There are kids in the room!)
When someone mentioned that oysters are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, Teresa said her husband, Joe, shouldn’t eat any “because he already wants it like three times a day … I’m sore.” Joe got frisky as soon as she got home after her operation, said Teresa. “I’m like, ‘I just got surgery. Can I heal?’”
“You didn’t have surgery down below,” Danielle noted sensibly. “You had surgery on your bubbies.” But Teresa kept going, discussing who was going to be on top and why neither option really worked.
It was almost a relief when Danielle pulled out “the book” (she actually used air quotes at one point). “I want to talk to all of you,” she announced. “I feel the need to clarify things.” She acknowledged that there had been a lot of gossip about the book, which, she said, was full of lies. “There are two truths in this book: I was arrested, and I did change my name.” (She seemed to have forgotten the stripper part.)
Danielle went on about how angry she was that people spread rumors about her without talking to her first. When Dina tried to interrupt, Caroline surprisingly told her to let Danielle have her say, but Dina kept repeating, “I never had the book in my hands,” which sounded like one of those half-truths that people tell when they think their adversary doesn’t know the whole story. In an interview, Dina said that she felt Danielle was aiming all her accusations at her.
(At this point, Teresa suggested they send the minors outside, although one kid said, “I’m not leaving. I want to watch this.”)
After more back and forth, Danielle told Dina, “I sat at home alone, throwing up with diarrhea for three weeks, because of you.” In a second surprise move, Caroline said to Danielle, “Can you do me one favor? Look at me, because I’m the one who told them.”
In an interview, Jacqueline said that she couldn’t decide whether to stick up for her friend Danielle or side with her family. (She’s married to Caroline and Dina’s brother.) She finally went at Dina, saying that she had told her about the book and concluding with “You’re such a liar, Dina.”
Then Teresa stepped in. “Why did your ex-husband write that book?” she asked Danielle. “Obviously, something in that book is true.”
Danielle told her to pay attention, which set Teresa off. “I am paying attention,” she said, her voice rising. “Obviously, there has to be something else. It’s not just name change and arrested: stripping, prostitution whore. You were f—-ing engaged 19 times, you f—-ing stupid b——.”
Here we finally saw the shot of her lifting the dinner table and slamming it down, which had been the centerpiece of so many teases this past week. Joe got up and pushed her away from the table (again showing little concern for her surgery).
“She’s a f—-ing pig,” Teresa ranted. “F—-ing pissing me off. She doesn’t know what the f—- she’s f—-ing with.”
That helped quiet Danielle down. “I’m going to pray for you,” said Dina nastily, setting off Jacqueline again. Finally, Chris intervened, saying, “I don’t want to hear any more of it,” and pointing out that they all had good health and were enjoying a nice dinner. That basically put a stop to the fighting.
Oddly, except for that effort and Joe’s physical restraint of Teresa, the husbands had mostly kept their heads down during the catfight. They all look like the kind of guys you wouldn’t want to be in a business dispute with, but they evidently know enough to stay out of the way when their wives go at it.
Bravo reportedly hasn’t signed the Jersey housewives for a second season. Tonight’s show ended with the following epilogues, which read as if this might indeed have been the final episode:
“Dina is enjoying being just a ‘housewife’ again. She devotes her time to her charity, her family and her cats.”
“Teresa is still helping her daughter, Gia, with her acting career. Her new bubbies did the trick, she and Joe are expecting!”
“Caroline stands by her decision to expose the book. She says she would do it again.”
“Danielle continues to look for her ‘soul mate.’ She and Dina still go to the same hair salon but have not crossed paths.”
“Jacqueline and Chris are expecting baby number three. The pregnancy has brought the family closer together again.”
Despite that apparent finality, Bravo has scheduled a “supplemental edition” of the series, titled “Last Supper: Second Helping,” to air this Thursday at 9 p.m. It will feature unseen footage of the dinner-party disaster. If the channel thinks we have such an appetite for this kind of TV, a second season seems inevitable.
On this week’s “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” the Teutel boys, from another TLC show, “American Chopper,” visited the family in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Jon went to visit the Teutuls at their Upstate New York showroom to help construct his own customized motorcycle. (Footage from these segments was also used in this week’s “American Chopper.”) Typically for this “J&K” season, Jon and Kate barely made eye contact. But she probably scored a few points in their silent public-relations battle when she donated the pink motor scooter the “Chopper” guys gave her to Ronald McDonald House.
“Brooke Knows Best” devoted an entire episode to cross-preference dating. Supposedly trying to re-start her formerly straight friend Glenn’s romantic life, Brooke Hogan set him up with a woman she and Ashley found at the gym. He went along on the condition that Brooke and Ashley also go out with women. The girls’ dates were typical mainstream-media lesbian tease (they both got prolonged goodnight kisses), but Glenn was pretty funny pretending to be butch: He told his date that he “had heard” the apple martinis at their restaurant were good and then ordered a light beer.
The first competition week of “So You Think You Can Dance” found the judges (Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman) giving their most over-the-top praise ever for this early in the game. But in this case, the critiques seemed about right, as this is probably the most talented top 20 so far. On results night, the bottom-three couples were Tony and Paris, Asuka and Vitolio, and Jonathan and Karla. After performing lackluster dance-for-your-lives solos, Tony and Paris went home. Score points for executive producer Lythgoe for admitting that the judges had selected Paris partly because they had cast too many contemporary dancers in the final 20.