The Real Housewives of New Jersey begins with Lenny the lawyer basking in the glow of the flashing camera, giving a press conference. We ricochet between houses and catch reactions of the side players, all watching the circus breathlessly. Teresa relays a “peace on earth, good will to men” message through Len, and the climax of the season is officially over, by Episode 2. Jacqueline and Dolores chat about Jac’s cryptic tear droplets, wondering if Jac and Tre will reunite, so she can support her when Joe is up the river. Bravo quickly drops the ribboned Lexus bomb and runs, unable to abandon the fan-blasted gift altogether. Joe and Melissa chat about their scary reentry into Teresa-land, and Melissa wonders if Tre will actually pull off being human.
It’s Christmas eve, and as we jingle into the Giudice family frolic, Milania is fretting over her inherited eyebrows. Teresa is thrilled to be home, but the paparazzi and her clunky ankle accessory are cramping her style. Over at the Gorgas, the kids are excited about Christmas, and Melissa is wearing Joe’s favorite Donna Reed apron, as Teresa calls her brother for the first time. Teresa needs a ride to the Christmas eve gathering, but Joe is skeeved by her post-prison ickiness. Teresa is back to troweling on her garish makeup, and it seems like old times, as the family crams in their annual Christmas photo. Teresa tells us that a mag is shelling out for the family pics, as Gia bellows out teen angst in the background. Teresa notes that all of this “legal stuff” has left them in a bad place, so she is sticking it to anyone who wants a peek at her saggy mug. Joe arrives, and is thrilled to see his sis — even in her shredded rocker jacket.
Meanwhile, Melissa is reliving past holiday horrors, while vowing to adjust the baked goods and her makeup, to keep the peace. Teresa greets Melissa, and is thrilled to see her mother and father. They sit down to eat, as Teresa reminds the kids that Christmas isn’t all about gifts — especially because she is broke now. Joe thinks it’s Easter, but they enjoy the family time anyway. Teresa and Melissa escape to chat in the kitchen, and banter about their mutual hatred, and Melissa’s fake love. Teresa tells her to cut the crap, because prison taught her how to spot a phony bitch. The duo agrees that they are both terrible backbiters, but can pull off the born-again sisters routine, if they put their minds to it.
We jump over Christmas, and check in with the families the next day, and hear of their New Years Eve plans.
One episode in, and Bravo thinks we’re ready sit in on a filler therapy session with newbie, Dolores Catania. She shares about her dirty dog of an ex-husband, who cheated on her while she was pregnant. Dolores used to be a tough cookie cop, but also kind of a sucker, because she linked herself to another loser, and is alone again. Back at the Giudices, Joe and Teresa are discussing 14-year old Gia’s chance of carousing free on New Years eve. Teresa tells her to go wild — as a reward for putting up with her hammered dad for a year. Joe agrees, and tells the teen-brat to get lost.
We sit in on a convo between Ashlee and Jacqueline, where Ashlee shares her desire to move out with her boyfriend, in order for the couple’s “needs” to be privately met. Ashlee snarks about her mother’s bedroom squeals, as Jacqueline comments how proud she is of her sexually advanced daughter. The scene looks like two hip sisters dishing about boys — at least Jacqueline hopes so.
Dolores drops in on Teresa, and as Teresa opens her decorated angel-winged doors, we learn that the friends have always been thick as thieves. The pair heads out for an allowed outing, and Teresa looks jittery at the exposure to daylight, minus the prison fence.
We jump to Melissa, who reminds us of her burning desire be on display as a fierce businesswoman. Joe brings the kiddos to see Mommy at work, as Melissa pushes the workers to finish the job. Joe pounds his chest, and tries to drag Melissa to his cave by her hair — and Melissa is embarrassed. Melissa assures Joe that she will pick up her kid duties after the shop opens, but Joe rants like an overworked nanny who would rather prance around naked for Bravo cameras, than shoulder extra child care. Caveman Joe gets crude, and Mel just tries to escape, before he grunts out another dumb comment.
We jump back to Tre and Dolores, as Teresa shares a prison tale — a ditty about a fallen Bravoleb’s ingrown toenail, and the faithful cellmates who were deafened by her screams. Dolores thinks that Teresa has PTSD, but knows that she will put on her game face, and fake reality. It’s Dolores’ birthday, and she wants to use the occasion to get the old gang together. Teresa gasps at the idea of seeing Jacqueline, but reluctantly agrees to endure the torture, to dodge a birthday gift.
We jump to New Years eve, and the Lauritas and the Giudices are both hosting parties. Teresa is tired, so it’s just close family and friends, with a menu provided by last season’s alleged motherfu**er. Chris encourages Jac to reconcile with Teresa, but they know that being shut out of the shackled party of the year, is not a great sign. Gia can’t wait to leave — and is looking like an 18-year-old party girl, as she shoots for permission to run like the wind from the spectacle. Rich, Kathy and Rosie arrive at Jacqueline’s — the cast-offs gathering in a righteous huddle, to ring in the new year. Rosie complains that all of the Juicy fun ended when Tre came home, as Joe and Tre argue over Gia traipsing around town. Gia lays down the law, and Teresa just wants Gia to be happy, even if it means strutting around like a harlot after midnight. Gia flounces off into the night, and never actually looks happy. Teresa can’t stand to see the kids upset — and is at a loss without her fistfuls of cash.
Dolores encourages Teresa to call Jacqueline, so she takes her advice, and picks up the phone, almost winking at the camera. Teresa is hoping to rekindle their frenemy-ship, so she phones in, as the crew at the Lauritas slams back their cocktails, preparing to endure her nasal bleating, after a year of peace. The duo swaps small talk and agrees to a fresh start, while Teresa informs her that her house is the IT place to ring in 2016. Rosie, Kathy and Rich bellow out greetings, asking if their invitation got lost in the mail. Teresa is annoyed that her sacred call is being overheard, and snarks that her REAL family doesn’t mind her ankle-bracelet. Jacqueline immediately proclaims the call weird, cold and distant. Rosie doesn’t understand why Tre hates her, and declares 2016 as the year of the raging bitch.
Back at the Giudices, Melissa is obsessing over selfies, but Teresa isn’t into it — at least until after she is free to hit the botox. Dolores arrives at Jac’s, and declares that Jacqueline and Teresa will never be on the same emotional page. 2016 arrives, and Gia waltzes in post-ball drop. Joe slurs out a few words fatherly inmate encouragement, as the episode wraps.
The Jacqueline/Teresa meeting goes down next week — until then!
Becca is a Senior Editor for All About The Tea. She’s a coastal girl who loves the outdoors, and writing about the sneaky and silly side of reality TV. Her bio is short, but her snark is endless. She loves writing for the sharpest posters in the world.