Did you happen to catch the reunion show, round 2, of The Real Housewives of New Jersey (a.k.a. the Danielle Staub pile-on)? No doubt thousands of viewers tuned in, expecting a repeat of the screaming and shoving that took place during last Monday's Part 1.
This time around, all the ladies -- for the most part -- kept their promise to stay seated on the couches. But the vitriol did keep flowing. "You're insane," Caroline Manzo raged at Staub. "You are completely delusional. You are out of your mind." She and the others simply repeated variations on that theme for the rest of the allotted time. Even Dina Manzo, who left the show after Season 1, got her two cents in, when host Andy Cohen read from her blog: "Danielle is a pathological liar and a very dangerous person." For her part, Staub denied wrongdoing and defended her behavior (bad-mouthing each of the wives, causing a scene at a fashion show/fundraiser, and pressing assault charges against Jacqueline Laurita's daughter, Ashley, after the teen yanked out her hair extensions).
Only in the show's final segment did a resolution bubble up. It came from Laurita, whose main concern, no doubt, is cooling the legal heat against her daughter. She apologized to Staub and gave a tearful promise to stop fighting with her. Staub took the apology to heart, hugged Laurita heartily and made vague noises about instructing her lawyers to make peace. As Manzo pointed out, it all seemed a little staged. But that's actually a propos for this show.
The women clearly envision themselves as soap opera characters, and they act accordingly. Teresa Giudice sees herself as an incendiary beauty, who occasionally flies into fits of rage (which she considers righteous indignation). The problem is, her timing is off. She chooses weird moments to flip tables, or to charge across the stage and scream into Staub's face. Once screaming, she doesn't know when the act's gone on too long, and when it's time to revert to her calm self. She looks like she's acting.
Manzo plays the role of lioness protecting the pride, a woman with a sharp tongue and clever wit. Problem is, the wit's in short supply. So she relies on clichéd insults, eye rolling, and lots of withering glares. And Laurita, sadly, just comes across as a hanger-on.
Staub has been the show's resident pariah since early in Season 1, and there's no doubt she's earned that status. At age 48, she dresses like a teenager, and acts like one, too -- always whining through a permanent scowl about this injustice or that one. "It's so great that all of you get to come at me at the same time," she snapped at one point during the show. Is she, too, playing a role? You betcha. And don't let the grimaces fool you. She's loving every close-up.
This is what truly makes Staub a tragic figure, because she has not been invited back for a third season. Will she manage to claw her way back on TV? Maybe Dancing with the Stars? Only time will tell.
Do you think the show's final resolution was genuine? Chime in below!
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