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, E05: "Cut From a Different Cloth"
Okay, the subheadline up there isn't unfair: Jackie isn't playing the victim. She's genuinely hurt that Dolores doesn't consider her a friend. The 'wives split into two groups for the day, and during horseback-riding, Jackie can't stop picking at the topic; over on the beach where Dolores, Melissa, and Teresa are laying out with cocktails, Melissa can't stop picking at it either.
By the time the next dinner rolls around, everyone's primed with booze (again) and Dolores is ready to pick a fight (some more), objecting to Jackie's "fake smile" (which is probably just Jackie trying to keep the peace, given that it's Jennifer's birthday) and saying that she heard Jackie's been complaining about her. She even tries an "everyone here agrees with me that you're too sensitive" power move, only to have Melissa balk at Dolores including her in that statement.
But what nobody in the group seems to notice, although I certainly did, is that the real pot-stirrer throughout the episode is Melissa. She's reporting Jackie's comments to Dolores and vice versa; she's telling Teresa sugar-free that she thinks the government will make an example out of Joe Giudice and deport him; she's leaning back from a fight in progress to ask for more wine. Understand: this isn't a complaint. But I don't think she's going to get away with it for long.
Who's rising up the rankings and who's falling off their horses? Let's have a look.
1. Margaret. Jumps on the opportunity to apologize for the jailbait comment, and while nobody believes her claim that she wasn't referring to the rumors about Teresa and that young guy, Margaret gets away with it when Teresa chooses not to make an issue of it. She's also very compassionate about Teresa's situation when Jackie sighs that Teresa will never let Jackie get close to her; she's right that Teresa has a lot of people to be strong for, and can't let her guard down much, which is a more generous take on some of Teresa's behavior than I'd have. [Last week: 3]
2. Melissa. It's Joe who inadvertently calls Teresa stupid when he says she's going to take 12 hours to "process" the comment from Margaret and then blow up, and this is sort of what happens, so: hee hee. But Melissa is willing to repeat the comment; she's also willing to stand up to the other anti-Jackie folks in the room, reminding them that they're all on vacation together, that if Jackie said anything about Dolores's upbringing that Dolores would murder her, and that she sees why Jackie's feelings are hurt. Melissa's also emboldened to say -- directly in a talking-head, more circumspectly to Teresa -- that she thinks Teresa's probably going to cut Juicy loose...and it sounds like that's what she hopes happens. [Last week: 4]
3. Jennifer. Jennifer's a great sport about the riding, and the falling off into water mined with horse poop; she's a pretty good sport about others pointing out that her tequila tactlessness is what touched off the Jackie/Dolores argument the night before. She has to spend most of her birthday dinner watching Round 2 of said argument like a tennis match, but she's sanguine about that, too, and afterwards she sort of has Melissa's back, saying she didn't want Jackie to feel ganged up on. Also helping Team Aydin's rankings: Dr. Bill. The production has arranged for these husbands who would seriously never hang out together otherwise to all go to Casa Aydin for a poker night, and Bill's complete and utter inability to act naturally in the midst of this completely and utterly fake situation is hilarious. [Last week: 5]
4. Jackie. I sympathize with her, but the wiser play is probably to "go sad" isntead of "go mad," if that makes sense -- to withdraw and play up the hurt instead of trying to fight through it, as Dolores very likely knows she's handled this badly, but feels she can't back down. Jackie's smart to enlist Margaret to make sure she's not seated next to Dolores -- not that it helps -- and her eye makeup is fantastic. [Last week: 1]
5. Teresa. I must say that Margaret's comments made me think twice about harshing on Teresa as hard as I usually do...but she's also not as obnoxious as she usually is this week. That clogged-toilet rant is not nearly as clever as she thinks, and there is no way she put it together with the sign in the restaurant and Margaret's comment on her own; a producer absolutely pointed out the "21-year-old" reference and fed her the line. But she does choose to accept Margaret's apology, and she does control any knee-jerk reactions to Melissa's comments about Joe. [Last week: 6]
6. Dolores. When everyone's calling their significant others in the morning, she doesn't call David; she calls Frank. I'm not saying...I'm just saying. As far as her Whole Thing With Jackie...look, she doesn't have to like Jackie. Sometimes, it's not that you hate the person; she's just not for you. But Margaret's tart observation that "Dolores has a lot of rules" is right on, and Dolores's bizarre take on Jackie's non-conservative-Italian upbringing meaning they can't hang is not a good look. Plus, if Dolores's issue with Jackie is that she can't let things go, why is Dolores still bellowing about Jackie's shortcomings instead of just pretending she's sorry she hurt Jackie's feelings, and not ruining Jennifer's birthday dinner with radical honesty? [Last week: 2]
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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.