DVR Break-Up: The Real Housewives of New Jersey
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.
Tags: Andy Cohen Caroline Manzo Chris Laurita Danielle Staub Dina Manzo DVR Break-Up hairdon'ts Jacqueline Laurita Kookoo Crazypantses parenting gone horribly awry Real Housewives of New Jersey Teresa Giudice