The 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' are Back and Better Than Ever
The 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' are Back and Better Than Ever
Sometimes when a cast changes, the show suffers for it. But The Real Housewives of New Jersey just got more interesting with Danielle Staub's departure and the introduction of Teresa's first cousin, Kathy and Teresa's sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga.

Don't worry about Danielle, though, she's still keeping it real, having signed a three-year deal with Scores Gentleman's Club. Danielle will be appearing on, and I am totally grossed out. [TMZ]

I have a special place in my heart for the Real Housewives of New Jersey, as it was the first Housewives series I watched every week. I was worried that our New Jersey Housewives may never get back to their table-flipping, weave-pulling, cops-calling, bodyguard-having, memoir-writing, Andy Cohen-shoving ways. The show had found its natural rhythm, for better or for worse, in the women trying to deal with Danielle and her attempts to sabotage every social gathering they had, as well as her increasing paranoia. The knockdown drag-out fights these ladies and their families got into kept us interested. Without Danielle Staub as the lightning rod, could the show succeed in its third season? Oh, yes.

Bravo has swapped out one troublemaker for another in Season 3, introducing Melissa Gorga and all the family baggage she ushers in with her. It's no longer four against one, as Teresa's first cousin Kathy is another peacemaker like Caroline Manzo, and I have a feeling Melissa isn't as crazy as Danielle (in a mental health way). In addition to its Jersey Shore undertones this season, celebrating America's current obsession with New Jersey and its Shore, the Sopranos undertones are even more pronounced this season. Family is important to these women, and now they're all family.

But who is the enemy this season? Last season there were so many characters to dislike: Ashley (Jacqueline's daughter), the temperamental Teresa, tough but crazy Danielle, even Caroline Manzo wound up calling someone "garbage" by the end of things. The hatred was so focused on Danielle that I think a few of these characters got off easy. So will we side with Teresa, since we know her better, or maybe Melissa, who doesn't seem so completely awful yet? Or maybe we'll just side with no one, like last season, and just watch in horror.

I wasn't sure The Real Housewives of New Jersey could do it again, but after the explosive first episode (in which almost everyone at the christening starts beating each other up because Teresa congratulated her brother), I am invested.

(Image courtesy of Bravo)