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, E04: "Jamaican Jailbait"
Jackie and Jennifer take their rapprochement seriously this week, doing playdates and kids' parties together...but on the eve of the Jamaica trip, Jennifer's worried that Jackie is going to get into it with Teresa and ruin the vacation. Actually, everyone's worried about that, including Teresa, and when it's time to decide on rooming assignments, Jackie and Margaret get exiled together.
This is the best way to avoid getting a table flipped, for sure, in theory. In practice, the rum-tasting that kicks off the ladies' first night on the island is pretty much guaranteed to ruin whatever diplomatic efforts took place beforehand. Margaret, who doesn't drink, makes an exception, and can't resist getting in a dig about Teresa's alleged younger side piece; Jennifer, who doesn't drink well, can't resist sharing with the entire table that Dolores doesn't consider Jackie a friend; Jackie, who may not have eaten all day, can't resist turning her issues with Dolores and Teresa into a cringey buzzkill that has Melissa trying to hide under her dinner plate.
But will all that distilled sugarcane sweeten anyone's position in the rankings? Let's find out...
1. Jackie. Totally Team Jackie on not going too elaborate with kids' parties (let's face it, all most grown-up parties need is pizza and cake). And she's deft in handling Jennifer's refusal to admit that Teresa is a bully, saying maybe she's not a bully to Jennifer. But her best moment comes at the rum-scented dinner table, as Teresa first tries a "you're the enemy of joy" approach when she's called out on hurting Jackie's feelings, then, when that fails hides behind her family's travails to evade taking responsibility for her shitty behavior; Jackie points out, very calmly, that it feels to her like Teresa gets to say mean things and claim she's having a bad day, leaving Jackie unable to respond because of Everything Teresa's Going Through. Teresa pulls a bratty face, but doesn't really have an answer, because Jackie nailed it -- that's exactly what Teresa does, and it almost always works, and it's infuriating. [Last week: 4]
2. Dolores. Her announcement to her mom that she plans to get drunk and "act like a big whore" suggests she's not actually as okay with the David situation as she's trying to make it out...and Frank says as much in a voice-over. The whole "pretend it's what you want, because you don't want to think too closely about what it means if it isn't what you want" situation is relatable, and even if she's genuinely okay with things as they are, explaining her untraditional situation has to be getting old. And I can see how managing Jackie's hurt feelings might be getting old for Dolores too, so under the sodden circumstances, Dolores handles Jennifer's putting her comments on blast with aplomb, and navigates out of it. (For now.) [Last week: 1]
3. Margaret. Here's the thing about Margaret's humor: I don't think it's personal. It's individualized -- she doesn't just tell knock-knock jokes or whatever -- but it's not about trying to hurt anyone; it's about trying to get a good line off, about herself as often as not. Where she runs into trouble is not remembering that her castmates 1) aren't necessarily smart enough to make that distinction, and 2) take everything super-personally as part of their job descriptions in the second place. The joke about Teresa "not wanting jailbait" isn't anything to get all bent out of shape about if Teresa isn't doing anything wrong...but that's not how Teresa's ever going to see a remark like that, and Margaret has to know that. [Last week: 2]
4. Melissa. I wish her and Joe the best in their future reproductive journey, wherever it leads, but I hope it leads somewhere off-camera. One segment's worth of Joe's "jokes" around coming up with a semen sample was plenty. And while I continue to enjoy her pragmatic approach to Teresa's various grudges and tantrums, Melissa stirred some unnecessary shit herself when she reported Frank Catania's comments about Jackie needing the last word to Jackie. Why is she trying to pick a fight with Dolo? Does she not have enough to keep her busy? Maybe she should have another kid. [Last week: 3]
5. Jennifer. I really really wanted her daughter Olivia to boost Team Aydin up a ranking or two this week. She's thrilled Jennifer and Jackie became friends again so she can play with Jackie's kids, which is cute, and "I'm not really an outside person" either, so Liv's got my vote in 2040. Jennifer herself...sigh. Selling Dolores out is bad; that she probably does it to stick it to Jackie is worse; and the "Jamaica, mon!" stuff is unbearable. But! I feel like we got a couple of hints that she may turn on Teresa down the road. She had that snide comment about things going over Teresa's head, and when she didn't want to go there about Teresa's bullying, here's how she phrased it: "I don't wanna say that Teresa's a bully." Which is what people who don't want to get bullied say...about their bullies. Watch this space. [Last week: 5]
6. Teresa. She's...a bully, and Jackie's right on about the way Teresa manipulates situations so that her failure to care about the feelings of others won't have any consequences. Teresa's really feeling herself in this episode, too -- "that bitch Jackie" this, Margaret "better shut the fuck up" that -- and she's as gracious as you'd predict about Jackie's gentle offer to move forward and just treat each other kindly, which is to say, she smells a fart and then verrrrry reluctantly agrees. [Last week: 6]
People are talking about this week's episode in our forums. Join the conversation.
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.