Every Wednesday night all season long, Sarah D. Bunting has been ranking the RHONJ women (and their families) based on the events of that night's episode. Tonight, coinciding with this week's season finale, Sarah's full-season power rankings. Click here to view this season's weekly RHONJ power rankings.
S10, E16: "Family Reunion"
The disjointed tenth-season finale picks up where we left off, with Danielle self-righteously informing Melissa that Teresa "made her" pull Margaret's hair. Melissa is then obliged to report this finding to the group, a revelation that wounds Margaret and shocks everyone else -- including, it seems, Teresa, who apparently thought she'd got by with instigating Ponytailgate and is infuriated enough by getting set up by producers that she breaks the fourth wall to flip off the cameras. In the end, though, this last-minute disclosure seems primarily designed to provide fodder for the three-part reunion; Margaret and Teresa try to talk it out while the others eavesdrop from inside the party, but Margaret is too hurt to forgive in the moment, and Teresa is typically unable just to apologize without qualifications.
And there's no time for any of that anyway. After the customary "humorous" chyrons updating us on the other Housewives' activities, it's off to Italy, where the little Giudices finally get to hang out with Joe, and the senior Giudices have a series of highly awkward, highly stagey Define The Relationship discussions. Also there's sightseeing, which given that the family has only a weekend together and hasn't seen each other in four years seems like a poor use of the time? But it's not like Teresa and Juicy would be spending it having sex; in fact, Teresa seems barely able to stomach looking at her husband, and while I don't blame her, I also wonder how much of this marital-breakdown negotiation really took place off-camera.
That too feels like it's just more fodder for viewer questions at the reunion, but we'll find out starting next week. Until then, here's your season-long power ranking for RHONJ Season 10...
1. Dolores. Dolores chose sides more cleverly this season than she has in the past, and while the dullsville will-they-or-won't-they David "story" never went much of anywhere, finding oneself at the center of an "interesting" Housewives season arc can cut both ways -- so Dolo's ranking probably benefited from being boring.
2. Melissa. Melissa's arc felt like it never really got off the ground; what seemed like the show positioning her as an antagonist didn't pay off, possibly because producers felt Teresa already had too much going on. Just as possibly, it's that Melissa's various storylines in Season 10 -- Envy's men's line; turning 40; the fourth kid that wasn't -- couldn't compete with Teresa's various dramas.
3. Margaret. My favorite Jersey 'wife had a disappointing outing this year, which is kind of a weird thing to say about a top-three finisher -- but she just cares way too much about the tactless dunderheads and personality disorders in the cast. Granted, this is a function of the show relying far too heavily on Teresa as its "protagonist," but still.
4. Jackie. I'm glad she got to something resembling closure with her family and the eating disorder, but she was a diminished presence this season; she wasn't straining as hard to score screentime, but on the other hand, she often seemed to disappear, even from arguments she was theoretically at the center of.
5. Jennifer. Jen was all over the place in S10: sometimes hilarious (on purpose and inadvertently), sometimes admirably warm in defense of her family, sometimes a noisy rookie drunk who couldn't carry out producer suggestions on shit-stirring with any nuance. A low-ish ranking doesn't necessarily reflect her significant improvement over last season, but girlfriend should still be getting pranked with cake-and-pizza deliveries to her giant house on the reg.
6. Teresa. She too showed marginal improvement over last season, but her few higher-than-mediocre rankings came in weeks when others were much bigger assholes than she...or from strong sympathetic showings from her children, who deserve our compassion. That said, the show's insistence on casting the senior Giudices as beleaguered martyrs making the best of a bad situation is disingenuous horseshit. They're dumb, tacky cheats. Find another angle.
7. Danielle. It's a pity her "you can't fire me, I quit" routine won't spare us a series of effortful Staub-nanigan memes in coming weeks, but let's just get through the month of March and hope cutting off the tumor's blood supply has the desired effect.
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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.