Four Things 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' Don't Understand

Every Real Housewives series has a draw, a blinking neon sign that screams, "This is why you watch this hour of nonsense every week!" On Beverly Hills, it's the fact that these women are so schooled in reality television that they're practically playing a cat-and-mouse game with the producers. Orange County is fascinating because all Bravo has to do is throw a little wine on a situation before the women start ripping each other to shreds. As for The Real Housewives of New Jersey, their claim to reality fame should read: Herein lies a series of unfortunate events that could have been avoided if anyone on this show knew anything about anything.

And in case the fact that this season revolves around a family feud so stale that everyone involved can't explain it without resorting to playground insults and metaphorical hair-pulling, the fourth episode of the season, "Gym Rats," proved that there are some fundamental things these supposed adults just don't understand.

1. The magic of television

Melissa Gorga went through some awful family troubles: her father cheated on her mother constantly, but she still loved him and was devastated when he was killed in a car accident. This is something we know because she's opened up about it on this very publicly broadcast reality show multiple times, including this latest episode. Yet, when her publishers, who are paying her to write a book about how not to lose one's husband (something that's clearly a direct response to her father's exploits since she admits they made her question whether or not her mother had done something wrong in the marriage), she says she doesn't want people to know that detail about her father.

Okay. That's understandable. She doesn't want her father's memory to be marred. The walrus of a problem is that she's already shared those things about her father on the TV show about her life, and the people who are buying her book are most definitely the same people who watch this show. No one else is buying a marriage advice book from a reality star unless they're doing so ironically.

Besides, you cannot feign a desire for privacy when you've shared the thing you want to keep private with a national audience.

2. How to throw a birthday party

Last week, Gia's birthday became little more than a glow-in-the-dark location for Melissa and Teresa's latest throwdown. This week, Kathy throws a party for her daughter and her husband, and after only a few hours, Kathy's usually hilarious sister Rosie is completely drunk and ruining everything over Caroline's teensy suggestion that Kathy give Teresa some space for now. We get it. That's a slap in the face and it hurts, but it's a birthday party for someone who isn't involved in all this (as Kathy's daughter put it) "bulls**t." How about everyone on this show makes sure that, at all costs, at least one party on this show is about the person it's actually supposed to be about? Just once?

3. Working out

Jacqueline pays Teresa's old trainer to come to her house and whip her into shape after Teresa's cackling minions shamed the poor girl out of using the hallowed Get Fit Jazzercise classes. Instead of doing, well, anything at all, Jacqueline seems to confuse her trainer for her therapist and instead spends the whole time venting about Teresa and lying on the floor. In Jacqueline's defense, however, she does have a pretty legitimate reason to despise Teresa at the moment (no one likes being called a "fat ass") and the trainer did say she didn't like Teresa, so the woman was kind of asking for that avalanche of whining. (Or perhaps we've just found out the thing the trainer doesn't understand: everyone on this show.)

4. The art of conversation

Unfortunately for Teresa, getting up at the crack of dawn doesn't prevent other members of her gym from doing the same thing and her neighbor and brother Joe Gorga just so happens to be working out when she's in a training session. She heads over to clear the air, once again citing that it would make her father happy, and at first everything is going pretty well considering the circumstances. However, neither party can make it more than three pleasantries into the conversation without flinging mud in the other's face.

Most people might have had that heated discussion about a year-long fight and come to the accurate conclusion that each of these hotheads is unnecessarily obsessed with the other's spouse and that perhaps they should chill out for the sake of the family. After all, most people have in-laws they only barely tolerate with polite, boring conversation at family gatherings. Shut up and deal with it.

These two, however, throw punches until they're both properly blinded and salty enough to thrive on that anger until the next encounter, whenever that may be. If they knew how to have a real discussion, perhaps this situation would have felt less like two people engaging in a battle in which bees are the only acceptable weapon and more like an exchange of sentences and ideas.

Of course, let it be said that these people should never change. If they were suddenly all rational creatures with the ability to listen to one another without jumping to a conclusion, screaming, and bulging their eyes out of their heads, this would be a show about Gia's epic eye-rolls and the fact that Kathy's husband is trying and failing to make his 16-year-old son a complete scoundrel. That's enough for a chuckle, but how are we supposed to keep our bearings in this seeming alternate universe without at a least a few ticking time bombs?

[Image: Bravo TV]