Join us every Thursday morning 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, E03: "40 and Fancy Free"
Melissa Gorga is turning 40, so viewers have to endure a certain amount of Cathy-cartoon drama around this milestone despite the fact that she looks as factory-flawless as ever. We also have to endure a lot of scene-setting amongst various attendees, as Margaret worries about seeing Teresa after the confrontation with Danielle; Jennifer worries about seeing Jackie, whom she feels duty-bound to apologize to after her tween daughter is like, "This is not okay"; Jackie worries about seeing Teresa, who she feels she's never going to get along with, and Jennifer, who she feels is kissing Teresa's ass. And Joe Gorga worries that some combustible combination of these ladies is going to ruin the party...
...but he's still buying tequila shots for Jennifer come the night. Despite his "best" "efforts," though, she manages to get through an apology Jackie can live with, and invite everyone on the trip to Jamaica that's going to set the rest of the season's grudges in motion starting next week. In the meantime, we get a little insight into Margaret's agita about Marge Sr.'s "abandoning" her -- apparently, Marge Sr. enjoyed some "cocktailing" when Margaret was a kid, and Margaret did not enjoy getting left behind with her grandparents -- and into Juicy Joe's situation, namely that he's getting fed up.
Can Giacinto Gorga's exasperated take on Joe's self-inflicted predicament bail Team Giudice out of the basement in this week's rankings? Let's find out...
1. Dolores. I would rather watch a dozen My Dinner With Dolores Sr. episodes about Dolo and her dad hanging out in restaurants than I would this show. Just me? ...The man seems wise, pointing out that "time is the most important thing you got" so she shouldn't let David waste hers -- and that yes, ordering a fatty pasta-sausage dish does make sense with his heart condition because he has physical therapy the next day. Having watched my own father eat a plate of ravioli with its own post office while narrating the results of his stress test, I find this very relatable. Dolores is also exactly right to remind Jennifer that an apology is just that, "no buts," no rationalizing. [Last week: 4]
2. Margaret. It's good that she can recognize why Marge Sr.'s move closer to New York City and away from her still carries a sting from childhood. Less good: that Marge Sr. can't find an apartment in Jersey for under five grand (look, I'm from there, but: it's Jersey, come on); and that Margaret claims not to understand how Teresa can take Danielle's side. Well, Margaret, if it wasn't the producers ordering her to, it was because Danielle's the only one still willing to take Teresa's side. [Last week: 1]
3. Melissa. That party is every try-hard sweet sixteen in "the city" I ever went to back in the day, but I'm happy for her that no punches were thrown, and she looks fantastic...and gets in some satisfying passive-aggressive digs at her SIL during the evening. [Last week: 2]
4. Jackie. I doubt she actually cares this much for real about Jennifer's dumb Insta video, but she's playing along like a trouper. Also, when she asks her daughter if Melissa is prettier than "Mommy" and, getting a tactless answer, announces that she's sending the kid "to live there"? Hilarious. [Last week: 3]
5. Jennifer. I wish I could split out a separate ranking for her daughter, who watches the video of Jennifer mocking Jackie and sighs that, if it were her, she'd be hurt, and Jennifer should just apologize. Unexpectedly direct, given the position she's put in and what she must think her mother wants her to say on-camera! Jennifer is super-reluctant to concede, and doesn't seem to hear Gabi urging her not to defend herself or make excuses...but after a few of the usual false starts, Jennifer gets to "I never meant to hurt you, and I'm sorry." Progress? [Last week: 5]
6. Teresa. Teresa does seem to come into Melissa's party looking for a fight, and I thought she might get one from Margaret, but they do manage to call a truce in the Danielle situation (which Danielle's absence from Melissa's guest list probably makes a lot easier to enact). But she's a brat prior to that about Melissa inviting Jackie to the party -- Melissa's party, remember, not Teresa's -- and about Joe Gorga worrying about her spending 60K on a backyard pool. It's possible she's sublimating her stress about her husband's legal/correctional issues...but after however many years, and the multiple book deals and contract extensions she's no doubt gotten out of the situation, it's hard to grade her on much of a curve here. [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!. Find her at her true-crime newsletter, Best Evidence, and on TV podcasts Extra Hot Great and Again With This.