Welcome to Queen for an Episode: New Jersey. Just like the regular version, only built out of shoddy non-code materials in order to pocket the savings. For the New Jersey edition of QfaE, I’ll be introducing a new feature: The Staub Report. Because life as we know it is nothing but a series of miscarriages of justice inflicted upon Danielle Staub, she was not given the role of a full-time Housewife, and is thus ineligible to be queen. However, as Danielle herself exists in a nebulous category between Housewife and demigod, it feels right to give her her own section of the recap, independent of the ranking. So it shall be.
I loved the way Danielle’s return to the show was rolled out. She first “appears” via a condolatory flower delivery sent to Teresa’s house, which is some fuckin’ Godfather-level symbolism. We then get a few pseudo-flashbacks to re-establish Danielle as physical presence before the woman herself appears from nowhere, as if birthed by the shadows, at a group lunch in Boca Raton. She quickly establishes her passion project for the season: seeking vengeance on Kim D. for damages from season two. Danielle vs. Kim D. re: a seven-year-old grudge sounds like a fucking PRIME mess and I am 100% in.
Brief Kim D. sidebar: I’ve always loved Kim D. and her work. She epitomizes the grimy, low-base nastiness any Friend Of should aspire to. I’m thrilled to see her in a central role here (and glad we aired out the incredibly macabre shit about those dead bodies turning up in her car). Between Danielle and Kim D., season eight is looking up. Bring back Kim G. and we’ll really have something going.
Without further ado, here are my rankings for episode one:
5. Dolores: Based on the previews, it seems like Dolores will be more involved this year, which is a good thing. Dolores isn’t a bad woman but her general mellowness means all she has to contribute is her solo footage, which has never been very memorable. Of all of these women, she’s most convincingly a real person. I don’t mean that in a nice way. Also, her boundary issues with her ex-husband give me serious Robyn-from-Potomac vibes. I definitely don’t mean that in a nice way.
4. Melissa: Real Housewives has a weird way of making you miss people you don’t even like when they’re not on your screen. Halfway through her Envy scene, I realized I was in for an entire season of Melissa’s Gretchen Rossi-level terrible acting and I was sort of… sentimental about it? She chucked out some early barbs at Siggy, which is an interesting and unexpected rivalry, but I imagine her true animosity for the season will be directed squarely at Kim D. Which, fine. The more, the merrier.
3. Margaret: No read yet on Margaret, other than the pigtails and the circumstances under which she met her husband (both of them cheating on their respective partners à la Eileen and Vinny). My favourite character touch was that her fashion line is called The Macbeth Collection, which seems both ominous and promising.
2. Teresa: Yes, I’m a Teresa apologist, what of it. The woman is a delusional nightmare but the epic sweep of her character arc is unparalleled across the genre of reality television. She just has such constant high-stakes drama at all times — family, financial, legal. The lead story of the premiere was the death of her mother, which is sad, but I was most compelled that this milestone seemed to… flip a switch in her relationship with her husband Joe. She was in jail for the last year of her mother’s life, largely because of Joe (not to diminish her own responsibility in the crimes, but I feel like it’s generally agreed upon that those 39 counts of fraud were a Joe scheme that Teresa rode shotgun on, not the other way around).
Teresa has never publicly addressed her marriage in any other terms than “’til death do us part.” Catholic, old-school, blah blah blah. Even at the lowest depths of Joe’s scumbaggery, and that dude went real low, she never publicly entertained the idea of leaving him. The way she’s talking now sounds a lot like the preamble to a divorce. It may seem naïve, but I’m surprised. This is a huge development which, like nearly everything in Teresa’s life from her financial ruin to her conviction, seems both shocking and totally inevitable. I look forward to seeing how it develops.
1. Siggy: In an interesting twist, Siggy seems poised to take on the mantle of season villain. She’s yoked herself firmly to Kim D., and got way too precious and huffy about the cake fight. It’s not a role I foresaw her in but I’m interested to see what she does with it. Bonus marks for her obnoxious performance in the Boca restaurant greeting every person at every table by screaming at them from the middle of the room. Zarin-esque.
Next week on The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Oh, man, who knows? Danielle Staub is back. The world is exciting and full of possibilities.