RHNJ: “I will not hate someone because you want me to.”

August 9th, 2011

I’m just putting this out there: If I had my way, this entire Real Housewives of New Jersey recap would be 2000 words on why Milania is going to grow up to be a hobo-killing sociopath. I think my theory is a strong one, and I also think that exploring it further might be a more entertaining option that going over what happened on last night’s episode.

The problem is that our cast members didn’t actually do much last night, they just talked about doing things, or alternately, things that people have done in the past that no one has any footage of. I can’t do much with that except try and think of new ways to explain how stupid Ashley is. And guess what, I’m out of new ways. There are no more words for “vapid” in the English language. I’m going to have to start with Spanish words, I guess. Ashley es estupida.

We started back at the radio station with Caroline, who was talking about New Year’s resolutions that very conveniently related to the plot line of the episode. Specifically, not letting people intimidate you when you’re trying to do a nice thing. And who’s trying to do a nie thing? Melissa, of course! Well isn’t that a coincidence…

The show cut straight to Melissa, who was casually wearing a giant fur coat and sitting in her Escalade (those are both casual activities, right?) and trying to arrange a play date for her kids with Teresa over the phone. Teresa wasn’t overly enthusiastic, naturally, because she still thinks that Melissa is some sort of malevolent force that’s secretly trying to ruin the entire family. Because Teresa is genuinely a dumbass, she doesn’t understand that you have to be smart to be that tricky, and I think we all know that you can’t call Melissa smart and keep a straight face.

Speaking of people who aren’t smart, our next problem was Ashley. Because she won’t listen to her mother or stepfather anymore, Jacqueline had enlisted the help of her father to try to talk to Ashley about her motivation level and direction in life. Or in this case, her complete lack thereof. “I have direction!” “Yeah, to the mall.” But I really shouldn’t be comparing a dolt like Ashley to an important cultural icon like Cher Horowitz.

The single, lone talent that Ashley might have is that she can sorta draw a little bit, and I was entirely baffled to hear Jacqueline and her father talk about Ashley’s artistic skills like they might one day actually lead to something. Are these people not aware that art schools are bursting at the seams with talented, dedicated, intelligent kids who would absolutely stab Ashley and step over her bloodied carcass in pursuit of a paying visual arts gig? Because they are. Working in a creative industry is a full-contact career choice, and if you don’t have both the chops and the unrelenting psychological drive to succeed, someone is going to push you out of a window to get the job that you’re about to apply for.

If the next scene was any indication, Ashley has neither of those things. (And, let’s face it, we already knew that. A long time ago.) Lauren (who is her cousin, remember) was getting ready to launch her beauty bar at the local salon and she asked Ashley to design some T-shirts to give away at the party. Lauren apparently asked that Ashley draw up some ideas with faces on them, and Ashley came to the meeting with, you guessed it, absolutely zero faces. And when Lauren was irritated that she hadn’t honored her very simple request, instead of being apologetic, Ashley acted insulted.

You see, Ashley doesn’t live in the world that you and I live in, where creative work for the overwhelming and vast majority of artists comes at the behest of a client. That’s how creatives (like me) make our livings and pay our bills, and maybe, if we’re extremely lucky and talented, we’ll one day be able to do the work that we love doing and not the work that others pay us to do. For 99.9% of artists, writers, singers, actors and dancers, that never happens. And it will never happen for Ashley, because she’s not an artist, she just likes to draw sometimes, particularly when it can get her some attention.

Somehow, though, she thinks that her career as an artist is going to involve her foisting her creative vision on the unwitting public, which is not ever going to happen because no one is ever going to pay Ashley to draw anything. And that’s good, because if there’s one person we don’t need as a thought leader in American culture, is Ashley the spoiled rotten brat from Real Housewives of New Jersey. But she doesn’t like deadlines, or expectations, or pressure, or responsibility or adulthood of any kind, so she thinks that being an artist can solve that, so that’s what she’s going to be. Like, she’ll just close her eyes and make it so. Right.

Elsewhere, Caroline extended an invitation to Kathy and Richie to come to her New Year’s party even though Teresa was coming too and Teresa likes to tell other people who can and cannot show up at parties she’s not throwing. Because her husband has had a previous business relationship with Kathy and Richie (and also because she is not a petty moron), Caroline invited whoever she felt like inviting. And that was that.

Anyway, remember that playdate that Melissa scheduled in the beginning of the episode? Well, our next stop was Melissa’s house. Actually, our next stop was Teresa’s house to watch her try to get that little sociopath Milania to put on some clothes while Melissa’s kids were complaining to their mom about how Milania chokes them. Eventually (after like an hour), Teresa got the whole brood into the car and made the five-minute drive to Melissa’s house, during which time Gia tried to negotiate for all of the kids to be sent to different boarding schools. I like Gia, and I hope that Milania doesn’t get rid of her.

Despite the fact that Milania is obviously going to murder one of them in their sleep one day, Melissa’s kids seemed absolutely thrilled when Teresa’s brood finally showed up to play. While her army of brats went about the task of systematically destroying Melissa’s house, Teresa went about the work of destroying Melissa’s soul just a little bit more than it had been destroyed by having to sleep with her husband every night.

I’m not sure exactly what happened after the first few seconds because I am so sick of this fight that I’ve been rendered physically unable to listen to it any longer, except that I remember there was a Little Mermaid reference at one point. The fact that the Little Mermaid represents what will likely be the most literate allusion ever made in this show probably says something about the death of our culture that I’m not entirely ready to confront, so let’s move on, ok?

The two of them continued to talk, but Teresa is clearly so hell-bent on never resolving this feud or moving on in any appreciable way that I’ve been given no other option than to take Melissa’s side. Even though Melissa was the one who brought up Teresa’s conflicts with Kathy, she did it in an appropriate venue and seemingly in an attempt to make peace, but Teresa was having none of it (and also none of Melissa’s pork recipes.) The exact same thing happened later in the episode at the New Year’s Eve party.

Actually, the party was up next, so I guess there’s really no “later” about it. Caroline and Albert hosted it at the Brownstone with an open bar and free food, which made me wonder if it would be possible for me to get on the list this year. Ashley tried to haul in a bunch of her idiot friends at the last minute and also tried to get drunk on camera, but the Manzos shut her down like the camp counselors that they are.

Once that moment of drama had passed, Teresa arrived and, upon seeing Kathy, looked like she had smelled a fart. And she looked that way for the rest of the episode, because Teresa never learned how to play in the sandbox with others. Kathy and Richie seemed to be genuinely trying their best not to start any problems, but still, Teresa has the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old and refused to deal with the fact that perhaps her friends intended to continue to socialize with someone who she didn’t like.

And that was sort of…it. Ashley continued to be an enormous brat, Teresa continued with her fart face, and somewhere at home, in the dark of her bedroom at the Giudice Conference Center, Miliania sharpened her knives and waited.

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