The future of The Real Housewives of New Jersey has been widely speculated about and reported on since Teresa Giudice started serving her 15-month sentence for tax fraud. Can the show go on without its inarguable breakout star? Will Bravo wait for Teresa to finish pounding rocks to film a new season or shelve the show for good? Teresa herself stated during the season 6 reunion that she had no plans to return to helm the series that made her a household name.

Whatever happened to “The show must go on”? Every Housewives installment has undergone cast changes and remained lucrative enough to carry on. I don’t believe RHONJ is any different. And I am certain that there are no shortage of potential candidates who would be more than willing to fill Teresa’s shoes.

Teresa Giudice Will Not Film RHONJ Before Jail, Season 7 Production Delayed >>>

Danielle Staub

Radar Online has reported that previous housewife, and lightning rod for controversy, Danielle Staub has been working her toned fanny off to get back on the show. She has reportedly been in contact with season 6 newcomer Amber Marchese, who confirmed the story, saying, “Danielle has contacted me. She reached out to chat. To be honest, she’s been nothing but kind and sweet to me. She hasn’t brought up the show unless I’ve brought it up, but she has discussed her experience on the show with me,” Marchese stated about the former stripper/failed pop star.

Even Dina Manzo, who left the series in its second season to avoid being Single White Female-d by the mentally unstable mother of two, stated during the season 6 reunion that she wouldn’t mind welcoming Staub back.

Insiders believe that if Staub did return, Manzo would avoid her like the plague and that her pro-Danielle position was just an attempt to piss off her sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, with whom she was estranged at the time. Since then, Manzo has apparently started mending fences with both Laurita and her older sister and former castmate Caroline as well.

Let’s face facts. Given the choice, I believe that fans would rather watch Staub’s antics on a weekly basis than Dina’s. Yes, Dina has some eccentric tendencies and a proclivity for hairless cats, but her storylines were fairly ho hum, and the sole purpose of her return seemed to be to serve as Teresa’s sidekick.

With all of their paychecks on the line, I would think Melissa Gorga, Manzo, Teresa Aprea, Nicole Napolitano and Amber Marchese would be willing to work with a well-trained bear wearing an apron.

Amber might want to watch out because fans of the show know that Staub can be turned from nice to naughty without much provocation, and the woman has severe stalker tendencies as well. Qualities that make her a good villain and a reason to tune in.

Jacqueline Laurita

Teresa’s hiatus, whether it be permanent or temporary, paves the way for Jacqueline Laurita to return. Laurita appeared briefly this past season during the Giudices’ sentencing in what many believed to be stunt casting. A transparent attempt to stir the pot and boost the ratings. But with a son who has autism, it’s unlikely Laurita would return to the series in a full-time capacity. The show did provide Laurita with an outlet to educate the public about autism, but I feel confident that viewers think she should be focusing her attention on her family and not on  reviving her now defunct television career. 

Caroline Manzo Reportedly Returning to The Real Housewives of New Jersey >>>

Caroline Manzo

Caroline Manzo, tired of the Teresa-centric drama and all of the conflict, left the show and scored her own spin-off. But Hollywood Life reported back in November that Manzo is in fact already back on board, presumably for season 7. It is rumored that Caroline isn’t a fan of Marchese (primarily because neither is Dina), so a ready-made feud could get season 7 off to a strong start.

It’s unclear how this turn of events could affect Caroline’s spin-off, Manzo’d with Children, but the matriarch’s real niche was being the voice of reason amongst all of the chaos. I have to admit that as a Housewives junkie, I’ve watched every spin-off, without exception, except for Caroline’s.

I am stumped by Manzo’s return since Dina has said she would never do another reality show with family ever again, and with the two just recently reconciled, it would seem Manzo wouldn’t want to risk breaking the tenuous bond.

I haven’t missed Manzo and would prefer that Bravo cast a wider net when it comes to casting.

Penny Drossos

Another possible fill-in for Teresa Giudice is Penny Drossos. Drossos was the mystery woman who ascertained during season 5 that Melissa had been unfaithful to Joe and that she got this evidence from an irrefutable source, Melissa’s sister-in-law Teresa. Teresa denied the allegation, and the drama reached its zenith during the finale when Drossos was confronted by both Teresa and Melissa.

Drossos’ husband was also in on the smear campaign not only against the Gorgas’ and Giudices’ but the Lauritas as well. Scoring an asshat husband is just a casting bonus. Offering Drossos a tidy sum and the chance to be a full-time housewife would be a creative way for the network to get Drossos and her husband to drop their pending litigation involving Bravo and several cast members. The couple are claiming to be victims of a set-up that resulted in a confrontation that was part of a pre-meditated storyline. Welcome to the world of reality television.

Drossos is not afraid to bring the drama, and according to Radar, she spilled some juicy secrets that viewers weren’t privy to. Specifically, during the season 5 reunion when she revealed the identity of Albert Manzo’s supposed mistress.

Whether Bravo decides to bring back more familiar faces, search far and wide for someone new or recruit family members, friends or foes of current and past cast members (like Teresa’s sister-in-law, Sheila Giudice), I have no doubt viewers will tune in to see what life is like in the Garden State in the post-Teresa Giudice era. I know I will.

(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.