‘RHONJ’ Presents Melissa Vs. Teresa (Again) Or, How to Stop Caring and Let Your Eight-Year-Olds Do the Parenting

If you were tuning into the Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Season 5 premiere (callously titled “Garden State of Emergency”) expecting to see Housewives reacting to and dealing with the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, you may have been a little confused. While Kathy, Melissa, and Teresa all survey the damage to their summer homes for the first three minutes of the show, it’s apparent by the 4-minute mark that the Housewives were safe from the devastation that ravaged much of New Jersey. This emotional lead-in isn’t used to introduce the women doing charity work to help the less-fortunate storm victims (okay, Teresa did make her daughters donate teddy bears and “glamorous clothes and shoes”), nay. It’s used to tease a more pressing Bravo “emergency”: the year-and-a-half old feud between Melissa Gorga and Teresa Giudice.

Of course, the feud that was ignited during last season finale at the ill-named Posche fashion show is still going strong. (At least the Season 4 confusion over why anyone would name a fashion boutique after what looks like the name of a bootleg Boxter has significantly subsided.) Melissa is still refusing to speak to Teresa after Teresa was the unfortunate set of ears casually sitting nearby a Sopranos reject who claimed he worked with Melissa when she was a stripper. Of course, any misunderstanding (fueled by mystery party guests and tip-off texts from Bravo producers) between Melissa and Teresa is bound to go up in flames considering Teresa’s already questionable opinion of her brother’s hot, young wife.

So, here we are, 12 months and half a holiday season after Season 4’s awful, screechy finale, and the fight is still raging. Only, it’s starting to affect the rest of the family (you know, those little, tiny people Teresa and Melissa are always feeding and sending off to school). Luckily, the littlest members of both the Gorga and Giudice families have more wits about them than the sparklier, taller counterparts. This episode should probably have skipped trying to connect these women to a tragedy they aren’t all that involved with and gone with the title “How to Let Your Children Do Your Dirty Work, And Then Ignore The Little Geniuses Completely.”

First, Melissa’s daughter Antonia writes a letter for class, choosing the recipient as her now-estranged cousin (and oh yes, neighbor down the street) Milania and telling the mini-Giudice how much she misses her. Rightfully taking Antonia’s incredibly loud hints, Melissa agrees to send the letter to Antonia’s cousin, opening herself up to an all-out attack... from Teresa’s meek eight-year-old. “Can Antonia come over to play?” bellows Milania after telling her cousin “I miss you!” The battle has begun, and the first bomb has been lobbed by an adorable little girl, or so it seems when Melissa tells Antonia the harsh news: “We’ll figure something out.” Actually, Melissa, your daughter has already figured it out: togetherness before pointless family squabbles. But she’s only seven. What could that gorgeous little child know about life?

Alright, so Melissa thinks she’s smarter than her 7-year-old. That’s understandable. She can’t, however, think she or Teresa are getting anything past Teresa’s 11-year-old daughter Gia. To be fair, the pre-teen (like all pre-teens) has issues understanding why Teresa won’t buy her an electric blue hooker skirt or why showing Milania tweets from the Gorga birthday celebration from which the mini-Giudices were exiled is a terrible idea. However, when it comes to the war of the play date texts, in which Melissa and Teresa do battle over Milania’s play date request (“I’ll pick the girls up” and “How dare you!” is pretty much the essence), it’s young Gia who actually delivers the final blow: a totally reasonable text wrought with the ability to find middle ground.

But the warring mothers can’t even hang onto the olive branches one daughter shoved in their mouths like baby binkies. When Teresa and Melissa arrive at the bead store (Melissa’s neutral location of choice), they can’t even find common ground in the fact that they both offered to buy the bead-covered permanent plumbing fixture in the bead store’s foyer. Instead, they take shots at each other over baptism parties while Antonia and Milonia make bracelets that say “Best Cousins Forever.” The parents, failing to see the irony of their kids coming together in beaded-bracelet heaven even after Milania received the sting of knowing Antonia didn’t invite her to her birthday party, continue to fight passively. Melissa even lets the blow of eight-year-old Milania rightly telling Melissa that her oppressive bead-choice direction is “obnoxious” roll off without a bit of impact and both parents shirk Antonia’s genius suggestion of a healing meal: pizza.

It’s clear that no matter how much wiser their children are and no matter how many times these little tykes’ antics serve to bridge the truly unnecessary gap between the families, their wisdom will be ignored. After all, their parents have been around the block a few more times, donchaknow. They know that in the end, “All we are is dust in the air.” Yeah, that almost sounds right, Teresa.

Image: Bravo TV