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, E08: "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow"
You almost wonder why the producers bother with the other storylines in the episode, because everyone's just bracing for Danielle to ruin the shopping event by grabbing a huge fistful of Margaret's pony weave and yanking it...and yet, it takes most of the hour to get to that fireworks factory. First, we see Melissa and Joe focus-grouping the idea of a fourth child with the three they already have (to nobody's surprise, the ranking kids are decidedly not in favor, with Antonia snottily -- but accurately! -- noting Melissa can't control the ones she has). Then we have a check-in with Dolores's dad (he's fine) and his take on David's plans for his relationship with Dolores (quite a bit less fine, according to Dolo Sr.; nobody else cares).
And there's a trip to the formalwear boutique, partly to find a prom dress for Gia, mostly to gin up a reason for Teresa and Juicy to argue about Teresa's spending, the pre-nup Joe made her sign, how much she drops on her hair and nails, etc. and so on. Gia has to point out that it's not appropriate for them to act this hatefully towards each other in front of her, even if she is basically an adult. The rest of us don't really want to sit through it either, but it does illustrate that way Teresa has of ignoring social norms, and the interpersonal discomfort of other people, if they inconvenience her. Certainly she can't be bothered to silo Danielle from the rest of the group, which is what everyone -- probably even Danielle -- would prefer.
Of course, that isn't practical for the show, which can rely on Danielle to inject some logic-free drama into the proceedings (and...does rely on her for this; without her, this season is tame, and a downer). And Danielle in turn can rely on Teresa's backing, for now, to let her keep drawing a Bravo paycheck. But is this kind of bear-poking good TV, really?
And who's the grizzly this week? Your Episode 8 power rankings...
1. Melissa. Antonia's immediate, disgusted "No. No!" in response to her mother asking what they think of adding a sibling is probably enough on its own to ensure a top ranking, but Melissa has a strong week on her own, trying to head off a physical altercation when Danielle gets in Margaret's face, then eye-rolling in an interview segment that trying to "blow facts in Teresa's face" about a known shit-stirrer is a waste of time. She continues to maintain friendships on the other "side" from Teresa, and to almost dare Teresa to start with her about it. And that fuchsia shorts suit is great. [Last week: 1]
2. Jennifer. Gabi and her sparkly peach eye-shadow calling her grandmother out on her denial and homophobia re: Uncle Steven are amazing, and kudos to Jennifer for how proud she is of Gabi for calling it out. Kudos also to Jennifer's gut instinct, which is to find Danielle scary, and to her clapping back at her mother, who passive-aggressives that, in her day, all the kids sat quietly at Easter dinner: "That's when hitting your kids was allowed." [Last week: 2]
3. Dolores. Her ponytail at her dad's physical therapy appointment is cute, and as bizarrely stubborn as she can be in Teresa's defense about certain things, she has zero problem telling Tre she's lost the plot re: Danielle. [Last week: 5]
4. Jackie. Not sure I needed that level of detail about her sex life; also not sure this big, heavy weave is her best look. Maybe a razored lob? But: no objection. [Last week: 6]
5. Margaret. I mean, on the one hand, Margaret cares way too much about Danielle's nonsense, and takes it way too personally when it's clearly proceeding from some kind of personality disorder; I say this every week, I won't belabor the point. And on the other hand, this is the storyline this season, and Margaret doesn't really have the option of shrugging Danielle off. But as frustrating as a Danielle can be, it's just as frustrating to this viewer to watch Margaret get baited 1) so clumsily, 2) by someone who's obviously troubled. [Last week: 3]
6. Danielle. Ugh, she's terrible. Calling Margaret "Troutmouth" with the awful work she's had done? Basically blackmailing Marty with abuse accusations in court filings and throwing Margaret's infidelity in Margaret's face? Trashing Margaret's clutch, and a bunch of store merchandise? (Granted, any store that charges $675 for a candle has it coming.) That smug look she's wearing while Teresa's fighting her battles for her is insufferable...but I've gotta hand it to her, she plays Teresa expertly here, like she's been doing all season. (Danielle might have overplayed the hand with the ponytail yank, though; pro wrestlers have more nuance than that move did, and if Teresa has to choose between audience sympathy and Danielle, she's...not picking Danielle.) [Last week: 7]
7. Teresa. The move when your incarcerated spouse starts in on you about spending all his money? Is not to turn to one of your kids and whine that he started it. It's to hand the phone to the kid, or hang up on him. But Tre's all about clarifying who started it this week, wailing at Dolores and Melissa that it's Margaret who started the kerfuffle...when in fact it's Teresa who started it, at Danielle's request. If she's going to insist that Danielle and everyone else interact, Teresa needs to stay sober enough to manage the situation. [Last week: 4]
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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.