Join us every Wednes night for Sarah D. Bunting's Real Housewives of New Jersey Power Rankings, wherein she ranks the RHONJ women (and their families) based on the events of last night's episode. Click here to view earlier RHONJ power rankings.
S10, E12: "The Hamptons Hangover"
When we resume the Jennifer/Melissa kerfuffle, the fight winds down without punches thrown, although Jennifer is out on the sidewalk shooting Melissa a "let's dance" stink-eye, and Melissa is inside complaining about said stink-eye. Jennifer, Teresa, and Dolores head back to the house, Teresa not sticking up for Melissa but also not siding against her; Melissa, Jackie, and Margaret enjoy the food the others stormed off without eating, and Jackie really opens up about how hard she had to work to overcome her eating disorder. It's pretty heartbreaking stuff for RHONJ.
And after that, it's like everyone's appetite (if you'll excuse the expression) for antagonism kind of...fizzles out. Jennifer continues trying to stir the pot after everyone's back at the house, but it doesn't go much of anywhere, and Teresa, finding herself at a crossroads -- leave with Jennifer so she doesn't feel abandoned, or stay at Jackie's so Melissa doesn't feel betrayed -- agrees to stay with Melissa, and explains it to Jennifer. Jennifer and Dolores leave, the others have a pleasant and peaceful dinner, and then Jennifer's just...done for the episode, except for agreeing to buy spray-in haircolor for her kids. It's a little weird, honestly, like a producer told her to lay low for a few days, even though it's probably a producer who told her to take Jackie's kids' parties and Melissa's comments needlessly personally? I don't know.
I also don't know what's going on with the Gorgas' fourth-kid journey, thank God; we don't hear a thing about it, even when Joe is out with Mr. Margaret and Frank Sr. (and Frank Sr.'s apple martini with extra Pucker, hee hee hee). Margaret's continuing to struggle with feelings of abandonment from her childhood; Nonno's continuing to cook random disgusting items in Teresa's kitchen (this time, it's a massive octopus, which he's preparing at like six in the morning? I like calamari also, but let the sun come up maybe?); and Teresa's continuing to mull over whether she wants to keep putting up with Juicy's bullshit (I'm paraphrasing).
But their daughters may not want to put up with Teresa's shit after she realizes, halfway into the three-hour drive to see their dad in ICE custody, that she's forgotten all their IDs. Who's a Red Bull shot in Episode 12, and who's a girl-drink drunk? Your power rankings…
1. Dolores. She doesn't appreciate the implication -- which I think everyone read too much into, but at least Dolo wasn't throwing flatware over it -- that she hasn't set up solid futures for her kids, but she confronts Melissa about it promptly, actually listens to the answer, and accepts that they disagree. I don't think she has to show quite that much "leave with the one what drove you" loyalty to Jennifer, who could just as easily have turned on her (and probably just missed her with that cutlery), but she doesn't make a big thing about it. Also bolstering Team Dolores's ranking: 1) Frank Sr.'s unapologetic lady bev; and 2) that one of her dogs is named...Dog. Love it. [Last week: 1]
2. Margaret. Classic Margaret: she stays at the restaurant partly out of loyalty to Melissa and Jackie, but also partly because she's hungry. Also classic Margaret: immediately admitting she handled a situation wrong and changing course. She's very emotional talking about Teresa's strength in the situation with Joe, and I wonder if she's not bringing some of her own resentments from her childhood into how she feels about that...but she's not afraid to tell Marge Sr. that being the parent in their relationship is driving her nuts. Cute Ann-Margret-esque topknot in that scene too, not for nothing. [Last week: 3]
3. Teresa. The "I want you to say sorry to me"/"I'm sorry"/"thank you love you" exchange with Melissa is literally the most likeable Teresa has ever been to me. It felt like an actual person with actual relationships, and not this brand/human hybrid who short-circuits at the most basic pop-culture references. Maybe it's because she's too lit up to follow who's allegedly getting insulted by Melissa's clumsy attempts to defend Jackie, but she didn't take any of it too seriously, that she agreed to stay when Melissa asked, that she nicely thanked Jackie for the weekend, and that she didn't shut down when people asked well-meaning questions about her marriage and her plans. Okay, the forgetting their licenses and birth certificates on the way to visit Juicy isn't the best, but I've done that a couple times myself, and we know Gia and Milania didn't murder her, so... [Last week: 5]
4. Jackie. Her tearful explanation of her rock bottom with her eating disorder nearly had me in tears; I still don't think this is the best territory for this franchise to explore, but it's brave of Jackie to share her experience, and who knows, it might help someone. (Not to be flip, but her sparkly navy eyeshadow story in her talking-head interviews is helping everyone.) I don't know that I'd have chosen during the fight to tell Jennifer that the relationship just isn't worth this much agita, but I'm pretty sure I also would have taken a nap immediately after Jennifer left. I know I also would have snarked about Jennifer and Dolores not thanking me for the invitation. [Last week: 2]
5. Melissa. Credit for standing her ground with Jennifer, I guess, but did it seem to anyone else like she was trying to bait Teresa into siding against her, and Teresa wouldn't go for it? She's making a steady stream of comments -- that Tree has no filter, that she's "ignorant," that she expects unquestioning loyalty from Melissa in these situations but isn't returning it -- and Teresa hears most of them but doesn't flip out, or even come close. That's not that unusual per se, but it did feel like the season's central battle lines were supposed to change over to Melissa vs. Teresa, and someone missed a memo. In any case, here's another memo: put your hair up at the gym, lady. One of those locks is going to get hung up in an adductor machine and take half your weave out. [Last week: 4]
6. Jennifer. More than last week, Jennifer's whole outburst comes off like an inexperienced Housewife who's trying to stir things up as suggested by production, but doesn't have quite enough time on the job to know how to make it look natural, or when to pull it back. That we don't see the car ride home with Dolo, or really anything from her after everyone's back in the Jerz, suggests she got "benched" until a Plan B is put together. Sorry to get all conspiracy-theory over here, but Jen spent a lot of time trying to retail her insulting pronouncements about Jackie's stinginess as her just wanting her friends to enjoy their lives, and by the time she got in the Uber, she looked physically exhausted by the effort. [Last week: 6]
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Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity, and her work has appeared in Glamour and New York, and on MSNBC, NPR's Monkey See blog, MLB.com, and Yahoo!. She's also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Tomato Nation, and true-crime blog and podcast The Blotter Presents.