I see you, Bravo. I see what you’re trying to do. By showing the Giudice family and four sad little girls missing their incarcerated mother, you’re trying to tug at my heartstrings. And while I do feel badly for the Giudice daughters, I have no pity for Teresa or Joe. Take your lumps, people. You cheated the government and got caught. Now deal with it.
The date is June 18, 2015, and in this premiere episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In, we start the day with nine-year-old Milania and five-year-old Audriana sliding precariously down the winding banister while a groggy Joe Giudice looks on. It’s time to get the kids ready for school, and Joe tells us he’s pulled his head out of his ass since Teresa got locked away. As Joe chisels frozen sausages for the girls’ breakfast, Gia is wisely still in bed and Gabriella, the quietest Giudice, is sitting. Quietly.
Today is more difficult than normal. Joe’s father died one year ago, and he’s planning a memorial. Also, Gia is going to her eighth grade dance. Joe chokes up and tries to hold back the tears as he talks about all the life events Teresa is missing. Look, this is a tragic situation, but it’s one of their own making. I’m fresh out of sympathy, Joe.
Anyway, it seems our favorite felon has been planning a pre-dance party from prison, because Joe, being Joe, doesn’t have the ability to plan his next meal. In fact, since he lost his license, Joe can’t even drive the girls to school functions. He relies on his family, including his cousin, also named Teresa, and her husband, impossibly named Joe. (Someone get this family a baby name book, stat!)
It seems Teresa (the original) gets unlimited email privileges from the hoosegow, so by the magic of gmail and sheer willpower, she’s orchestrated this party, right down to the color of the tablecloths. Her every wish is carried out from her prison cell. Well…it’s not quite a prison. In fact, Joe calls it a “low budget spa” where she can take spinning and yoga classes. Um…prison sounds kind of relaxing, no?
When the kids get home from school, the extended family is there to meet them. Oh, and Teresa’s lawyer, James Leonard is in attendance, too. He calls Teresa a “crime boss” who “barks out orders” from prison. I’m not sure I’d want my attorney admitting that on camera, but to each his own. Teresa even sent James pictures of her family for Mother’s Day.
Let’s just pause for a moment, shall we? First, is Esquire Leonard charging his usual fee to appear at this catered pre-dance shindig? Second, why is he flashing pictures of Teresa and her family…to her family? I’m beyond confused and ready to resume.
James the lawyer tells us that Danbury Prison isn’t a walk on the beach, no matter how Joe tries to play it. Sure, Teresa can watch Real Housewives episodes from behind bars and yes, she has unlimited email access, but our girl is doing hard time. She’s banned from the internet and is receiving no special treatment. Well, I guess justice is being served after all. You know, in between yoga sessions.
Since Joe is also a felon, he gets to see Teresa every other week, while the girls visit every Saturday. They never cry. He sobs like a baby. Audriana thinks mommy is working away from home, and Gia assures us this is true, in that Teresa is keeping a diary. If that’s the case, I guess I’ve been working since I was eleven.
In his talking head scene, Joe, looking anywhere but at the camera, tells us how hard it’s been holding things down by himself. Of course he has help from Teresa’s parents, who come by almost every day and usually cook dinner. And his cousins, who drive the girls everywhere. And his lookalike brother, Pete, who makes a great drinking buddy. Family is everything, y’all.
Except, of course, when it comes to the Gorgas. Melissa has the girls over for dinner once in a while and likes to take them out. But Gia makes a point of telling us it’s not like she sees the Gorgas every day. Take that along with your stupid shopping trips and movie nights, Melissa. Gia’s keeping score. *cue the sound of cracking knuckles*
Joe Gorga did manage to talk to Teresa the day before she went into the big house, and she “had words.” But he’s willing to let it go, because as assures us, “that’s how Teresa is.”
Before guests start turning up for the party, Joe plants a tree in honor of his father. It’s a touching moment. He and brother, Pete, toast to their dad. I’m not going to lie, it was sad.
Then Teresa calls from Danbury. She’s sent roses and they should arrive before Gia leaves for the dance. Then a mysterious guest knocks at the door. Is it the florist? Nope. Enter Teresa’s makeup artist, Priscilla. She’s there to make Gia look like a superstar. Teresa’s trusty stylist turns up next, handing Gia a pink sapphire and diamond heart shaped necklace. That way she’ll remember her mom on this special day.
Fine, Bravo. You got me, damn you. Seeing lovely Gia cry ripped at my heart. Are you happy now, Andy Cohen?!
The party commences with lots of teens taking selfies and pretending not to sneak booze before the dance. At this point, Milania is beside herself. Gia’s date, the adorable Dante, turns up with both ears pierced and the audacity to wear a gray suit with brown shoes.
Joe takes him aside, grabs his hands, and shows a humiliated Dante how to dance with Gia. Boy, Bravo is working overtime to try and make us believe this is a normal family. The camera closes in on framed family photos scattered throughout the house. See? All perfectly happy. Nothing wrong with this picture. Except that mom and dad are felons.
Next is a scene where Teresa’s cousin, Rosie, shows up at a construction site where Joe is “working.” Because he can’t get “mortgages in his name for a while” he is forced to do other things to put food on the table. It’s all terribly vague. Joe and Rosie talk about prison sex and it’s super awkward.
June 22 dawns and it’s Gia’s graduation day. Milania is having a meltdown. Joe says she’s “very sensitive…maybe that’s why she acts up a little more.” There’s another party afterward—family only—and this time the Gorgas show up. Gia’s happy Uncle Joe is there, and Joe says he’ll always be there for his goddaughter.
For his part, Gorga is stunned that Teresa landed up in jail. His father wouldn’t put up with any shenanigans when they were kids. “We never ever got into trouble. I can’t believe it.”
The last scene is one for the memory books, kittens. Teresa calls yet again and basically tells Joe how horny she is. Joe claims he can’t sleep in the bed without her there. He hopes “they grow old together.” All together now…ahhhhhh. The camera zooms in on his wedding ring.
I’m sorry, I can’t with you, Bravo. We all know the truth. I remember that vineyard scene a couple of seasons ago, where things got very, very ugly. I will not play this game where everyone is well-adjusted and Teresa is a victim.
So what about you? Did you watch? And should the kids be filmed during this stressful time?