“Real Housewives of New Jersey” recap (5.12): Friend or Foe


Melissa’s House

Gorga family frolics in the snow. Teresa calls to invite Melissa to the launch party for her new line of hair products. Jan and Penny, the women accusing Melissa of cheating, will be there and Teresa suggests Melissa confront the devious duo. Teresa tells Melissa that her party will be the perfect opportunity for Melissa to interrogate the rumor mongers, which is pretty odd considering it’s why would Teresa want drama at her own event? Oh yes, because she’s Teresa. That’s why. “I’ll definitely have your back,” Teresa tells Melissa, and Melissa is like “Uh OK,” because she does not trust Teresa one bit. Teresa looks gleeful. The woman can smell blood, and she likes the scent, whoever it comes from.


Caroline’s Apartment

Kathy and Caroline discuss/diss their husbands, who are both a little too bossy. Caroline points out that at least she has a break from Al. Rich is around Kathy constantly. God. What hell that must be. Poor, poor Kathy. Kathy talks about Rich trying to control her business, and Caroline tells Kathy she’s got to stand up to him.

Teresa’s House

Milania wears Teresa’s bra and preens, as very young girls tend to do. Nefarious shit-stirrer Kim D arrives to get ready with Teresa for the launch that evening. Kim D was there when Penny and Jan told Teresa that Melissa had cheated on Joe.

Nail Salon

Melissa talks about how Jan stabbed her in the back. Jan and Melissa used to be best friends, and both were in each others’ wedding. How times have changed, and with time, loyalty.

Kathy’s House

Kathy stands up to Rich about his bossy takeover of her baking business. Rich had leased an enormous test kitchen in a bad neighborhood without telling Kathy. Kathy detests the test kitchen and just wants to cook at home, an economical and smart choice for a fledgling business. Rich is pretty dismissive, acting like he knows it all even when since it’s Kathy cooking it’s Kathy’s choice on where to cook. Rich is just trying to participate in the time-honored housewife tradition of husbands pimping out their wives for personal profit rather than actually working a job.

Launch Party

Melissa arrives and immediately spots Penny and Jan lurking ominously in the corner of the room. She ignores them. Jan looks fucking evil, and Penny looks like only half of the lights are on upstairs. The two loudly talk about Melissa in the corner because it’s the only thing they have to say that the world shows any interest in. Jan in particular is on a venomous roll, talking non-stop about Melissa’s personal life and supposed cheating. The woman, a pretty woman, is practically foaming at the mouth and comes off as a spiteful thing. Kim D approaches Teresa and Melissa. Kim D, being a clever sycophant, can tell that the tide is turning for Teresa and Melissa. Now that Teresa and Melissa have made up, there’s no one of note to back up Penny or Jan’s claims. Kim D isn’t looking to fall out of Teresa’s oily embrace, and sweetly asks Melissa if they can move on from the past. Just like that, Kim D has switched sides.


Jan approaches the group, rearing for a fight. “Hey girls,” Jan coos while Melissa stares at her former bestie blankly while scratching her nose. Jan congratulates Teresa on her project and then, seeing Melissa isn’t down to rumble, begins to walk away. Teresa can’t have that. “Don’t you have something to say to her?” Teresa asks Melissa and Melissa looks frightened and is like “What?” What a sissy. I kinda expected better from Melissa.

Jan throws the gauntlet by being all like “I heard you were saying stuff about me,” and Melissa is all “That’s funny, because I heard you were saying something about me,” and just like that the battle has begun. Melissa starts in slowly, and I can’t help but wince at her weak demeanor. Finally Jan gets Melissa going by straight up saying, “You were meeting up with your ex” and Melissa’s eyes go all wide. Excellent. When a housewives eyes get big, shit gets real.

Melissa’s tactic becomes clearer, and it’s a solid if not particularly inspired one. Stay stoic, repeat over and over that Jan is lying, and plaintively remind Jan of the friendship they once had. Melissa keeps mostly away from personal digs, but manages to hold her own by emphatically and believably denying every accusation. When Jan brings up Penny, the woman who first brought accusations of infidelity to light, Melissa states that Jan once told her Penny was just a crazy lady obsessed with Melissa.The result is we all feel bad for Melissa because her BFF turned on her, and the BFF looks like such a massive bitch no one wants to believe what she has to say. It’s good stuff. Finally Melissa tells Jan to go away, and off Jan goes. She’s got no more ammo, but someone else does.


Now it’s Penny’s turn to attack. However, Melissa’s description of Penny has crazy and obsessive makes her statement less believable. As does Penny’s vacant eyes, plaits of fake platinum hair, and stringy shimmer dress. Penny’s garb does not suggest “this 40 something woman is totally trustworthy and stable.” Penny also happens to be the cousin of the man who accused Melissa of being a stripper. So that’s shady. Melissa, who has never met Penny, calls out Penny for talking shit. Penny admits that she said those accusations, but says she was confronted with certain questions and simply answered them honestly. Teresa begins to but in aggressively, and with a really creepy fake smile, making Penny repeat that she and Teresa had only met once and therefore could not possibly be in cahoots.

Teresa doesn’t give a fuck about Melissa’s reputation or current argument. All Teresa cares about is, as usual, Teresa. For some reason she feels Penny has totally released her of responsibility, and now assumes the attitude of a deeply slighted but kindly forgiving woman. Teresa butting in to make the conversation about her, and her innocence, isn’t just self absorbed- it’s questionable. It seems like every time Melissa tries to get a straight answer out of Penny about who pried her for info, Teresa buts in. Penny is sticking to her story, but not telling the whole story.

Penny: I should say who but I won’t. I’d rather take the blame because that’s just the kind of person I am.

Melissa: Well then it sounds like you’re being used and abused honey, and I’m not being rude.

Oh. SNAP. +30 to Melissa for smacking that bitch up. Penny is clearly holding back, but Melissa sees that Penny isn’t going to say anymore so she is faced with a choice: either keep fighting and risk escalation for no real purpose, or just move on. And Melissa, miraculously, decides to move on. Melissa tells Penny that she’s very happy, to please stay out of her life, and to enjoy the party. By ending the debate with Penny, Melissa effectively boots Penny out of the spotlight and her accusations with her. By not getting nasty on TV, Melissa avoids any more nastiness being thrown at her. Now she can control the story, and her story is that Penny is a crazy liar out to mess with Melissa. No matter what Penny or Jan say about Melissa’s marriage, Joe was standing right behind her the entire time, and their marriage does seem happy. People can say what they want but ultimately truth is shown through actions, not words.

Melissa taught us all a valuable lesson tonight. By treating people who spread rumors about you as crazy and meaningless, you effectively render those people crazy and meaningless.


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