The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap, Season 13 Episode 3

Photo: Vulture; Photo: Bravo

Both Teresa and Joe Gorga have a serious case of the shoulds.

“You should have defended Luis,” Teresa says.

“You should have had us sit next to each other at your engagement party,” Joe says.

“You should have kept quiet about me on your podcast and on social media,” Teresa says.

“You should have invited Melissa’s family to your wedding,” Joe says.

“You should have never gone onto my show,” Teresa says.

“You should have welcomed us so we can all share the wealth,” Joe says.

I know that Teresa has only recently started therapy, but one of the first things you learn is that “should” is a very dangerous word. There are plenty of things we all “should” do. I should lose ten pounds, I should email my editor back in a timely fashion, I should quit sniffing glue. But I don’t want to do any of those things (sorry to my editor, who is lovely). Thinking that I should just makes me feel bad when I don’t do something I didn’t even want to do in the first place.

This is the problem with the old-school mentality that’s pervasive among the cast. There’s this set of archaic rules someone made up and everyone feels the confines of them even though they have no interest in actually doing the things that they should.

Look at what happens with Dolores’s new boyfriend Paul and her ex and forever soulmate Frank. Frank wants to invite Paulie to “guys’ night” with the significant others of everyone on the cast … and Frank. He asks Dolores to invite Paulie for him since he doesn’t have his number. When they talk about it later, Paul says, “You shouldn’t ask a woman to do a man’s job.” Would it have been better if Frank asked Paul himself? Yes. But if he did, it would have amounted to him just walking into the house, shouting, “Dolor! Invite Paulie to guy’s night Friday at eight,” then slamming the door on his way out.

What’s gross here is that Paulie thinks there are some things a man should do and some things a woman should do, and I think he is really should-ing the bed at this point. Yes, Dolores is “old school” and red sauce and wife beaters. Oh, we shouldn’t call them that anymore? Okay, red sauce and A-shirts. Frank’s behavior wasn’t great, but Paul’s justification for why something should or shouldn’t be done is as gnarly as the rat’s-nest hairball the Giudice girls must have to pull out of their drains on a regular basis.

When it comes to the Gorga siblings, at this point I am convinced that the problem is entirely between the two of them, but out of some kind of twisted sense of loyalty, they lash out less at each other than they do at their significant others. The episode starts with Melissa and Teresa still going at it at the mozzarella party, where once again they are fighting about the seating arrangements at the engagement party. God, I do not care about this fight at all.

When Melissa tells Teresa that she is fine not being in Teresa’s wedding, Teresa says, “I would love for you to be a bridesmaid at my wedding,” but Melissa knows better at this point. She knows this is a trap. No matter what she does, she’s stuck. If she says “no,” Teresa says, “Well, I asked her and she said ‘no.’” If she said “yes,” she would either have to do whatever Teresa says until the wedding so she doesn’t get booted — which is really what Teresa wants — or if she steps out of line even once, Teresa can kick her out and say, “I asked her, but then she was being completely unreasonable.” No matter what happens, Teresa wins.

At the end of the fight, they hug it out, but then Teresa is turning down Gia’s salad because she wants to get skinny and talking to Gabriella, the second oldest who hates being on the show and will one day win a Nobel Prize in chemistry, about how awful Melissa and Joe are. They all think that Melissa and Joe are lying about something. What? I’m not sure. That they were close with the kids when their parents were in jail? I guess that’s it. Gia and Dr. Gabriella Giudice say the only time they saw them was when they were filming. Well, yeah, they did that to provide for this family when Teresa was away. That’s a pretty big deal. They shouldn’t get flowers for that forever, but at least acknowledge they were trying to do the right thing.

Then Luis — oh sorry, we’re supposed to call him Louie now, the chyron tells us. Sorry, I’m not falling for that one again. Teresa has changed the pronunciation of her last name more times than Elon Musk has made an ass of himself on Twitter this week. I’m not letting her change the perfectly fine Luis to Louie. Not happening. Luis says that he thinks Melissa and Joe are working together to try to hurt Teresa. This is the problem right here: Teresa’s man and her der-twers are telling her that she’s always right. Everyone on the show is making accommodations for Teresa because they have to stay on her good side to stay employed. She has cut out everyone who has ever challenged her, so she’s just left in this echo chamber of her own correctness.

It’s interesting to see Melissa talk to Danielle about what is going on in her own family. Danielle says she and her mother are not talking to her brother. Why? Because he was making fun of her Instagram account so she blocked him and he called up and disinvited her from his wedding. That was two years ago, and they’re not over it. Just like Melissa, I call bullshit on this. The reason can’t be because she blocked him on Instagram. She then opens up and tells some story about how she wanted to help her sister-in-law with her wedding and she somehow made it all about herself. She, like Teresa, blames the sister-in-law. I hope that Danielle’s SIL is attractive, lives in New Jersey, has the trappings of wealth, and is between the ages of 35 and 50, because we need her next season with that husband so that we can witness generational trauma in a different family for a while.

That’s the thing about relationships: They need to evolve or else they grow stagnant and die. That’s why you can’t have the same fuck buddy for ten years. If you’re just boning every few months, eventually it will peter out because you’re not growing (well, not anywhere but below the belt). We see this with Dolores and Frank, who says he wants to get close with Paulie so that Paulie will see he’s not a threat and his and Dolores’s relationship can go back to how it was before. But it will never be the same. He has a girlfriend, she has a boyfriend, they move, they change, they grow, their priorities shift. The hard work is finding the new relationship, finding what you two want out of each other and deciding to make it work. That is the case with siblings, cousins, exes, boyfriends, anything. Both parties have to decide what they want, how they’re going to make it work, and what is realistic for them. That is why should is tearing Teresa and Joe apart. The relationship they feel like they should have is never going to happen. They need to sit down, figure it out, and get over it.

We all know that’s not going to happen. The big event of the episode happens at boys’ night, a classic RHONJ sausage-fest where they all sit around, drink too much, and talk shit about each other. This is how men interact without women. (Gay men too! “Throwing shade” is just talking shit about each other but being funnier about it.) I loved when John Fuda, Rachel’s husband, shows up with adult diapers, Pepto, and Tums for everyone to help them get through all the shit they’re going to talk about him. That is a man who knows how to get along with dudes. Sadly, there is plenty of shit to talk about him, and it starts with his mustache. Why is he shaving half of it off? An American mustache is a terrible thing to waste, John. And while we’re at it, what is up with the little elongated flavor-saver on Frank? I would like nothing more than to remake the facial hair of every man on this show. (Basically, they’ll all just get mustaches. Including Frankie Jr. and Gino.)

Luis is the last person to arrive, and Joe is talking about him and saying he’s a “piece of shit.” Dude, from what I can see, Luis has been nothing but nice to Joe. But Joe hates Luis for the same reason Teresa hates Melissa, because they can’t hate each other. But they do. They do. They do. They do. They do. I don’t know why it started or how it ended, but they do.

For Luis’s part, he handles himself admirably. No matter how much Joe threatens him, calls him names, or bangs on the table, Luis defends Teresa without raising his voice. When Joe talks about how hurt he is, Luis says that Teresa is hurting too. Why can’t these two hurting people help each other? Because that’s not what they should do. They’re still caught up on the proper way to behave.

Luis tells Joe what both he and Teresa need to hear: They need to sit down and figure it out. Joe says he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t want to get hurt again. I bet Teresa feels the same way. But Joe is also right in that Teresa can’t move on from anything. She can’t get over the way her relationship with Joe changed when Melissa came around. She can’t get over the sprinkle cookies. She can’t get over the christening. She can’t get over them even being on this show and Melissa maybe or maybe not lying about how she got there.

Joe is no better. He is angry, violent, and thinks that a man should be able to tell a woman who to invite to her wedding and that woman should listen to him. I think the reason they can’t move on is because of Teresa, but they’re both at fault here. We’re really watching this family disintegrate because they’re still hung up on what they should do instead of trying to figure out what is going to be best for them.

But while we’re on the topic of shoulds, I don’t think you should have to invite your sister-in-law’s mother and sister to your wedding. But what do I know? I’m only a non-Italian who is still on speaking terms with everyone in his family.

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