For the past five seasons of Bravo's reality series, Caroline Manzo has been a pillar of Real Housewives of New Jersey. She's called people out, comforted and confronted the angry, drunk, and table-flipping, referee'd plenty of fights, and reminded the cast again and again that above all, they're just one big Italian-American family. But in the trailer for Real Housewives of New Jersey Season 6, she’s missing, just in time for her younger sister, Dina Manzo, to take her place. And while we're curious what Dina's been up to, there was no reason why the even-headed Caroline should be pushed out of the cast. (Boring Kathy? Now that makes more sense.)
But it turns out Caroline's been saving all the drama for her new spinoff series, Manzo’d With Children . The name’s kind of a stretch (did a simple The Manzos not suffice?), but the series looks like it will follow up on her storylines from the past few seasons of Housewives. Caroline’s other sister, Fran, and her collection of pets are permanent houseguests, sons Albie and Christopher are trying to make their mark on the restaurant industry, while daughter Lauren tries to build up enough enthusiasm to be a successful small business owner. In the shadow of the Gorga family drama, the Manzos’ problems always seemed a little small scale without tax fraud trials, crazy christenings, or physical assaults to spice things up.
So it’s a good time for an exit, as Caroline hasn’t had much to do in the past couple of seasons besides attempt to mediate between Theresa, Melissa, and the Joes, and roll her eyes dramatically (see above). But since that conflict is totally circular, why not let the matriarch bow out? Caroline’s Bravo blog shed more light on her decision to leave the Housewives franchise:
Going back to film another season of Housewives would only make me a hypocrite. For me, peace and integrity cannot be bought with money or fame. I practice what I preach, and as I said on the reunion, I'm done. I simply feel that my role has run its course and I have nothing more to give.
Reading between the lines: Caroline feels like the show was in a rut too. So now we get new blood in the main cast and a more lighthearted spinoff series. While the idea seemed stale at first, (and could still totally backfire) it's actually kind of like Bravo's answer to a sitcom. The trailer has much of what we’re used to from the Manzos: a lot of good-natured teasing, pranks at Albie’s (so, so gullible) expense, and a food fight to close it all out. When the show makes it to air, hopefully we'll get to see a less diplomatic view of how Caroline feels about her marriage of over 30 years and how her kids still haven’t left the nest. She’s always made an effort to be fair, but it'd be more interesting to see her speak up now that she doesn’t have to play both sides of The Teresa Show. Although, her kids are getting WAY too old to keep throwing high-quality Italian ham at one another’s mouths. Come on, guys.