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At the end of the most recent season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, the cast was divided into two very uneven teams: Caroline Manzo, Jacqueline Laurita, Melissa Gorga and Kathy Wakile versus Teresa Giudice. Teresa, the Italian cookbook author and mother of four little girls, was the obvious villain of season 4. She was accused of spreading malicious gossip about her family, selling out her friends to the tabloid press, and covering up her husband Joe Giudice's bankruptcy, possible illegal activities and probable infidelity. By the time the three-part reunion show rolled around, Teresa looked anything but "fabulicious."
In season 5, however, things appear to be taking a new direction. Casting rumors indicate that Bravo is trying to even the playing field by hiring Teresa's friends as their newest Housewives. With more cast members taking Teresa's side, will she be more sympathetic next season? Or is it too late for that?
Here's what we think. Teresa has a lot of issues. She's done a lot of stupid and hurtful things. And yet we really don't think she's the scheming villainess that her castmates made her out to be. Here are a few reasons why Teresa may deserve a second chance after all.
She totally did not set up Strippergate.
The biggest drama of season 4 centered around the Posche Fashion Show (doesn't it always?), where Melissa Gorga's alleged ex-boss outed her as a stripper. The plot was pinned on Teresa. But does anyone really think Teresa was smart enough to plan this? Teresa isn't smart enough to pronounce "cumin" correctly. While her castmates were attacking her for her alleged evil plan, Teresa didn't gloat or get defensive; she just seemed confused. If she just pulled off an elaborate revenge scheme against her sister-in-law, why would Teresa look like a deer in headlights? Something didn't smell right. There are some interesting theories floating around about what actually happened, but we suspect Teresa may one day be proven innocent.
Teresa's biggest character flaw is Juicy Joe.
If there's anyone who came off looking worse than Teresa in season 4, it was Joe Giudice. Being "old school" Italian, Teresa lets Joe take authority over all of their family matters. Unfortunately, Joe thinks nothing of trashing Teresa's friends and family, calling his wife names, lying whenever it suits him, and generally behaving like a giant pig. Teresa's need to defend her marriage, and to believe everything Joe tells her, has put her in a terrible position. If she gets out of that marriage (or is forced out of it when Joe goes to jail), it will be a lot easier for her to start mending fences.
She isn't the only Housewife who's delusional.
So Teresa denies selling stories to the tabloids and going bankrupt. Caroline denies that she can relate to her daughter's weight-loss struggles, even though she's been down that path herself. (She's also convinced that her sons are successful entrepreneurs, despite all evidence to the contrary.) Jacqueline has denied her own money problems. And it seems likely that the Gorgas have their own skeletons in the closet; the latest rumor, which Melissa has denied, is that they're over their heads in debt. In other words, everybody on this show is a pot calling the Guidice kettle black.
Dina Manzo is on her side.
Everybody loves Dina, and everybody hates Teresa, right? So why is Dina defending Teresa against Caroline? Since Dina left the show, we're probably not going to hear her side of the story. But the fact that she's siding with Teresa against her own sister, makes us think there's more to the story than we know.
Her kids are cute. Right? They're also the most honest people on the show. So she has that going for her.
All she has to say is "sorry." It wouldn't be so hard for Teresa to extend an olive branch (olive oil branch?) to the other Housewives. She just has to own up to some of the crappy things she's said and done. One sincere apology from Teresa would almost certainly set things right with Jacqueline, and that would be a fine place to start. At this point, it's her lack of sincerity, and her refusal to acknowledge when she's hurt people, that is isolating her from everyone else. And all those Twitter followers who take her side? They're not helping.
Filming for season 5 is now underway, so we'll soon find out if Teresa can turn it around -- or if she's resigned herself to being the Housewife everyone loves to hate.