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Home » Culture and Criticism

DVR Break-Up: The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Submitted by on August 24, 2010 – 2:54 PM7 Comments

I should have dumped RHoNJ when Dina Manzo did. Dina's stated reasons had the whiff of bullshit — "I thought it would be a cute, funny look at our family," or whatever she said at the time about the show going in a different direction from what she'd anticipated — because it's not really credible that she knew nothing about the existing franchise, or reality television as a genre. But there's garden-variety interpersonal conflict, and then there's Danielle Staub, and regardless of Dina's declared rationale, she had the right idea. Anyone who's had a Danielle in his or her life knows that the only way to deal with her is to not deal with her.

It's somewhat sad to watch; I think Danielle really does believe, or has talked herself into believing, that Caroline and Teresa et al. have it out for her. Her expression at the beginning of the uber-contrived sit-down with Caroline is telling, because she's told herself that she's loaded for bear, but you can see her thinking, because Caroline has begun with a gentle and friendly tone, that just maaaaaybe an apology or an expression of approval is coming, and the naked eagerness for Caroline's love or appreciation — for anyone's, really — is pitiable.

But it isn't entertaining, particularly not the participation of her children, who have to live with the nuttery whether the camera is pointed at them or not. In every conversation with their mother, Christine and Jillian have the same hunted, ready-alert faces on: Which bonko direction is the discussion going to go in this time? Which inappropriate affect will she give us today — garbled Zen vagueness? wounded aggression? baby talk? The way she speaks to them is unsettling, like they're her fellow mobsters one minute and delayed toddlers the next.

Not that the other parenting on the show is going to bring home an armload of awards, but that isn't entertaining either, particularly. When the show isn't squirmily uncomfortable, it's boring, cutesy, and crass, with most of the "events" manufactured and/or spoiled months in advance. Only the mystery of Jacqueline's husband's hair continues to pique me — what is going on with the 1982 Billy Joel coif? Can't somebody say something to him? It's so ugly that it actually makes me angry.

The show itself isn't that dire (or I wouldn't put it that glibly — heh), and on balance, I enjoy asinine reality TV; I enjoyed this iteration, for a while. The second season has felt like a chore, though, and Danielle's rumored departure likely won't change that. I'm out.

I'll still watch the reunion, though. Poor Andy Cohen.

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  • Susan says:

    I glanced at this show for the first time last night, the "Posche" (!?) fashion show episode.

    Really?! *THIS* is what these women worry and fight about? Who is sitting where and why? And those bizarre battles they're in! My god… did they never leave junior high?!?! Just think of all the good they could do with their energy and money and "fame"! But instead they spend it on these petty little squabbles. I couldn't even watch an entire episode.

    And it's not that I'm above trashy television, either! Hellooooo, Next Top Model! :)

  • Jenn says:

    Who needs that when you have this?

  • tuliptoe says:

    "It's so ugly that it actually makes me angry."

    HA! I just picture you yelling at the screen and scaring the beejeezus out of Hobie and Little Joe. Also I am stealing that for future things that are hideous.

  • Sandy says:

    THANK you! "Billy Joel" is right on with that hairdo! And word to all the rest of it as well; when Danielle told Christine that she was too spiritual a girl to say "ass," and when she took her to the gynecologist so she could warn her off having sex, then begged her to tell her she was "a good girl" (YOUR SILENCE IS DEAFENING)… so sad.

  • Lindsay says:

    You know, I used to watch this franchise for a look at "the other side". Like, rich people and the things they spend their money on and everything that their fabulous life lets them do… But now that they are in foreclosure and still spending ridiculous amounts on ugly crap and tying up the airwaves with fights like I remember from jr. high… Yeah, I'm (mostly) out. I confess, though: I still have enough of a sick fascination to watch it on Hulu in a pinch

  • Abra Cat says:

    I stopped watching after the country club debacle; well actually, about ten minutes into the episode after that, when I decided that this was just not something I wanted to be watching. Like Sars, I *will* watch the reunion, though…

  • Jaybird says:

    I can't say exactly why, but these "Real Housewives" shows invariably remind me of that Parker quote, "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." I'm sorry if that's inappropriate. It's just a recurring theme that pops up whenever I see even an advert for any of these things.

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