On the season 5 premiere of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, the ladies deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Teresa and Melissa turn planning a play date into a mind-numbing undertaking. Caroline and Albert toy with the idea of downsizing. Jacqueline and Chris are thankful for some improvement in their son Nicholas’ autism. And Melissa and Jacqueline meet for the first time in a year.

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Life and Other Natural Disasters

The season premiere episode opens in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Video of the devastating damage is coupled with soundbites from the governor and members of the media. There is also some Manzo home video showing the family gathering together items to donate. They, along with the Lauritas, are lucky their homes only sustained minor damage. Richie and Kathy take a drive to survey the aftermath. They travel through the neighborhood where they stayed when visiting the Jersey Shore the previous year, and the street is full of rubble. Melissa and Joe Gorga head to their shore house and find it still standing but destroyed inside. The Giudices’ second home didn’t fare much better. Joe gives Teresa an indication of how high the water level had risen and says, had they been there, they’d have “drowned.”

She Said…

Joe asks Teresa if she has heard from her brother since the storm. She tells him that she hasn’t. But Teresa hasn’t picked up the phone and called him, either, so she’s not really in a position to be hurt or criticize. It is sad to know that their relationship is so damaged, they can’t even put their differences aside in a time of crisis. Apparently, last year Teresa received a text from her brother stating that she was dead to him. Teresa insists that none of it is her doing. She does say that if he ever decides to come back, she’ll accept him.

He Said…

Joe Gorga’s side of the story is that he hasn’t seen his sister in a year, and Teresa hasn’t called or made any attempts at reconciliation. He makes no mention of the text he supposedly sent her. He claims he’s heartbroken, but accuses his sister of not giving a s**t.

During season 4, Jacqueline and her husband, Chris, kept their youngest son Nicholas’ autism a secret. It is addressed immediately in the premiere. Jacqueline states the biggest challenge they face is getting him to communicate but that she’s hopeful he will one day. We get just a glimpse of the frustration on both ends when Nicholas wants something and he has a temporary breakdown. But both Chris and Jacqueline hang tough and eventually they work through it.

From the Pencils of Babes

Melissa shows Joe one of their daughter Antonia’s homework assignments. She was supposed to write a letter and she wrote hers to Teresa’s daughter Milania. Joe says they’ve done everything they can. The fact that there’s been no communication on either end contradicts his assertion. He, like his sister, refuses to take any blame for the estrangement of their families. Melissa is torn. She doesn’t want to keep the cousins away from each other, but she knows Teresa talks about her. Melissa doesn’t want her children to hear anything derogatory about her from their tia, Teresa. Melissa admits that when she told Teresa she wanted her to stay away from her and her nieces, she meant it. At the same time, her issues aren’t with Teresa’s children. Melissa decides that she will send the letter.

When little Milania receives her cousin’s letter, she is ecstatic. She immediately wants to write back. Teresa suggests that Milania call Antonia and ask her over for a play date. Teresa says they can give Antonia the birthday present they bought her while she’s there. Then Gia comments on how they weren’t invited to Antonia’s birthday party. Milania’s face immediately falls. In spite of Gia’s attempts to piss on her younger sister’s parade, Milania calls and speaks to her cousin. Gia heads out to the garage to show the letter to her father. She remarks that it is unfair they don’t get to see their cousins, and “Juicy” Joe lays all the blame on his in-laws.

┬áMilania asks Antonia when she can come over. Teresa urges her daughter to tell Antonia to ask her mom. Teresa thinks that Melissa sent the letter because she’s not woman enough to apologize directly to Teresa for some of the things she has said. The phone call ends with no immediate plans for the two girls to see each other.

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Less is More

Caroline and her husband are making a big change. They have rented an apartment in Hoboken to see how they like ‘”apartment living.” They aren’t selling their house yet, but with Albie and Chis already gone, they like the idea of downsizing. Considering the property taxes in the state, who can blame them.

Caroline has Melissa and Joe G. over, as well as her daughter Lauren. Joe admits that he feels a bond to Caroline. He believes she gives him love that he doesn’t receive from his own family. Caroline asks about the kids, and Melissa tells her about the proposed play date. Melissa admits she doesn’t feel comfortable just dropping Antonia off at Teresa’s. She thinks a better alternative is picking Milania up and taking the girls out somewhere for the day. Caroline asks Joe how he feels and he says he doesn’t know how — I mean, what to think. Melissa decides to send Teresa a text. If this all seems boring and petty, that’s because it is.

Teresa receives the text while she and her husband are out to dinner. He says that Teresa should tell Melissa she’ll take the girls this time and see how she responds. Melissa reads the message and vocalizes what any person with an ounce of a brain would say; it shouldn’t be this complicated. Melissa remains steadfast that she wants to take the girls. Joe tells Teresa to blow her off, but Teresa argues that the most important thing is that the girls get together, and she and Melissa reach some kind of compromise. I bet there’s been less negotiating trying to free American hostages from other countries. Maybe Melissa and Teresa should consider watching Argo.

Joe refers to Melissa as a stank-ass b****, and Teresa says it’s up to her to be the bigger person when dealing with her sister-in-law. I thought only doctors got God complexes or is Teresa wavering between Mother Teresa or a complete martyr?

Caroline finally says that she’s starting to feel awkward. Caroline advises Melissa to try to come to some resolution and not leave Teresa hanging. The childish antics put an obvious damper on the evening, and Joe and Melissa take their leave.

To demonstrate just how immature the whole situation is, Gia steps in to mediate. I’ve had my fill of the Giudice/Gorga feud. Hopefully, the tide will turn, and we all won’t be forced to abandon this show as opposed to watching a third season crammed full of family dysfunction.

Fake It Until You Make It

The big day for two little girls finally arrives. As Melissa readies to leave, Joe tells her that Caroline called and wants to get together. Melissa finds it strange that Caroline wants to meet with Joe alone, but she assumes that it has to do Teresa. Without any irony, she then says that this is Joe’s family and that it’s none of Caroline’s business. Well, maybe if you didn’t drag the woman into your petty play date drama, she wouldn’t feel compelled to get involved. First sign that I’ve seen that maybe there is some validity in Teresa’s accusations against Melissa.

After all the hassle and drama, Melissa and Teresa are able to somewhat grin and bear it in each other’s presence for the sake of their kids. The beading idea is a bit of a bust and Melissa does get controlling. Teresa says to let them just be who whey want to be.

Instead of duct taping their mouths shut, they decide to discuss an issue that is sure to cause friction. Teresa’s daughter Gabriella and Antonia are both celebrating their first communions on the same day. Really? Out of all the days they could have chosen, they both pick the exact same one. Teresa declares that one of them will have to be moved. Teresa graciously agrees to be the bigger woman and moves her daughter’s date for the good of the family. Finally, she asks about her brother and her nephews. Melissa responds that everything is good, then crickets. Melissa feels she is still owed an apology, but Teresa acts like there’s not a giant elephant stripping in the room.

This was a pretty lackluster premiere, and I hope it isn’t indicative of what is to come. The queens of mean have got to be able to do better than this.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sundays at 8pm on Bravo.

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(Image courtesy of Bravo)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.