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Sadly, I never recovered from my flu. I am in fact dead. I’m also determined to drag my sorry decomposing carcass out of my grave to finish off this season for you.
This week starts off with the Diva and Lexi visiting Low-Magnon at her shiny, new faux chateau. The sight of the gold inlaid doors inspires a feeling of awe in the Diva and she tells her daughter that she feels like she’s visiting Oz.
The Diva presents her gifts of bread and salt and explains that the salt is to ward off evil people. Personally, I think she’s trying to audition for the role of one the witches, and I’m pretty sure Lexi thinks so too. She’s looking totally alarmed, like she’s either picturing her mother melting after being hit with a bucket of water or with her feet sticking out from underneath a random low rent housing project.
Low-Magnon takes a minute or two to figure out what evil person the Diva could be referring to, but we know that she finally makes the connection to Nina because she goes from making “uhhhhh” sounds to “ooohhhh” sounds. The evolution of articulate verbal expression is a beautiful thing to watch.
Wow. It’s really moving to see Low-Magnon’s pride in her new home. Especially after all of her work designing every last little detail.
Not that I want to stereotype anybody who is used to living in caves, but perhaps it isn’t too surprising that Low-Magnon has an affinity for the whole rock thing. Or as the Diva tactfully puts it she “has onyx coming out of her ass.” On the other hand, the concept of placing furniture in the house seems to be posing something of a challenge.
The one part of the house that is fully equipped and apparently up and running is the Juice’s wine cellar. Boy, that name just gets more fitting with every episode. God knows what else he’s been doing down there, but apparently it reeks to high heaven.
After the tour, Low-Magnon and the Diva retire to sip some wine al fresco at a little table cosily situated approximately a half mile from the house. That way if the fumes from the fermenting wine cause an explosion they can still enjoy their conversation. Low-Magnon explains that she wants to throw a house party, but because she doesn’t have any furniture it’s probably better to have the party at a restaurant. You notice how the Diva doesn’t suggest the Brownstone? The Manzos might love Low-Magnon, but even they don’t want their waitstaff being subjected to her offspring. Besides there’s no way some bad cujo isn’t going to go down, because Low-Magnon has taken it into her short, little head to invite Nina.
Over at Nina Van Ho’s house of pain, she’s once again working on that whole ‘being totally truthful with the kids’ thing. This time she’s sharing some photos from her days as a model. Nina helpfully comments that her modeling days “were pretty hedonistic”, while her daughters’ happy expressions simultaneously morph into the stunned look commonly associated with being clocked with a two by four. The problem is that all of the photos have been blurred out. So either Nina has decided to show her daughters a bunch of x-rated pictures that she’s lovingly stored away for posterity or Bravo couldn’t obtain permission to use the pictures from whatever publication owns them.
Nina takes this opportunity to talk a little bit about “The Book” and the arrest, touching briefly on her career as a stripper. I’m pretty sure that these revelations will go a long way toward ensuring a really stellar high school experience for her daughters. The only way it could be better is if Jerry Blank shows up to claim them as her long lost offspring stolen at birth.
Jacqueline’s parents have come to visit all the way from Las Vegas and they’ve come in style.
Jacqueline’s parents are pleasantly down to earth. Why is it that the parents so many of the housewives seem so normal? Seriously, don’t you keep expecting a parent along the lines of Joan Crawford to explain the apparent deep-seated need for attention that drives these women to expose themselves time and again on national TV? Jacqueline’s parents listen with a fairly reasonable amount of distaste to Jacqueline’s and Ashley’s graphic descriptions of the botoxed/siliconed lifestyle of a Franklin Lakes’ housewife. Jacqueline’s dad is mostly concerned that she’s going to end up looking like Goldie Hawn from the First Wives Club.
Jacqueline’s mother takes a slightly more optimistic approach; she’s pretty sure that the botox virus is going to find its way to Jacqueline’s brain and kill her before she can actually morph into any sort of water fowl.
Impressed by her parent’s foresight, Jacqueline takes the opportunity to ask for their advice on what to do with the car her husband bought for Ashley. After all, Ashley has kept her word and succeeded at summer school and you wouldn’t believe how expensive it is to store a car. On the other hand, Ashley’s got this problem that Jacqueline refers to as a bad attitude. And, despite all of the effort that Jacqueline has put in to launch the ‘Let’s Humiliate Ashley’ show on national TV, Ashley’s attitude isn’t getting any better. Jacqueline’s father reasonably suggests giving her the car with some clear restrictions. Who knows maybe he can join forces with JZ’s mother and conquer the self-help parenting market.
Meanwhile, over at the Diva’s house Lexi is busily working to clear away some remnants of her childhood. Now that she’s gone from wanting to sleep with stuffed animals to wanting to stay up all night texting, it’s time to get rid of all of those little critters. Man Oh Man, this girl has got stuffed everything hidden under that bed.
In addition to the collection of stuffed toys, Lexi has enough candy stuffed into one of her drawers to get me through an entire month of recaps. The Diva is all worried about starving children and Lexi’s propensity to hoard food, but I’m thinking that I didn’t give the girl nearly enough credit when I suggested that she might be, er, ‘limited’. If she’s stashing furry dildoes under her bed and emergency chocolate in a drawer, she’s clearly able to read Cosmopolitan’s self-help section.
Mama Manzo is nothing if not consistent in her determination to protect herself and her family from bad people. What she’s not consistent in is what defines a bad person.
No matter, I’m sure Mama will know a bad guy/gal when she sees one, and when she does she sure as hell wants us to know that she’ll be ready.
Jacqueline decides to follow her father’s advice and present Ashley with her new car, with restrictions, even though it means dragging her away from her obsessive texting. To her credit, Jacqueline doesn’t even flip out when Ashley gives her some serious attitude for being interrupted.
Like any normal mood swinging teenager, Ashley goes from cranky to ecstatic in under a millisecond at the sight of the approaching car. It’s nice to see Ashley in a happy pleasant segment for once.
The Diva and Lexi are meeting Mama Manzo for dinner and once again I’m reminded that generational divides are not just about age; they’re about physical comfort as well. In Lexi’s pubescent, skin and bones body the restaurant is a chilly place, whereas over in Mama Manzo’s padded menopausal world it’s shvitzing hot. But the Diva has more important things to talk about than the comfort of her companions. Apparently, Lexi’s hoarding tendencies have scared her right into quitting her job. Oops, it’s not just the hoarding that’s got her worried it’s the fact that she turned around for five minutes at work and when she turned back Lexi had “tits”. Holy crap, that’s worse than getting a tattoo. Lexi just giggles and points out that the Diva can’t stop her from growing, but I’m guessing the Diva’s going to try. And if it means staying at home all day, therebye putting both her ‘assistant’, who we never saw again, and the ‘nanny’, who we never saw to begin with, out of work, so be it. Mama Manzo approves wholeheartedly of her sister’s decision, even when the Diva worries that some women’s libber is going to take a hit out on her for choosing to stay home to take care of her house, family, and cats. Not to worry though, Mama is just dying to have a women’s libber step up to test out Fido’s man-eating skills.
Finally the night of Low-Magnon’s table tipping dinner is here. I hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone? Nina Van Ho primps at the mirror and then hustles her offspring into her car. Our editors treat us to a really exciting montage of all of the housewives driving themselves separately to the restaurant, because this is some serious shit that’s going to go down and it’s important to build some suspense. It seems like Nina took the long way, or a PA locked her and her girls in a bathroom somewhere so she could make an appropriately dramatic entrance. In the meantime, Low-Magnon’s crew and the Manzos mix and mingle, happily chugalugging any available alcohol and ignoring the faint muffled shreaks of Nina demanding to be released from her temporary prison. When everybody is pleasantly buzzed, Low-Magnon leads the way to the dinner table to await the oncoming feast, and finally Nina’s moment has come…
Conversation stops as she enters the room with her poor children faltering in her wake. Seriously, why would any mother bring her daughters to what is bound to turn into an all out bitch slapping, hair pulling, bra snapping brawl? Because she’s such a ‘klassy’ lady (intentional misspelling), Low-Magnon immediately sets about putting her guests at ease by critiquing the oyster appetizer in terms of her sex life. I wonder if she picked up that particular conversational gambit from reading the Countess’ etiquette book? According to Low-Magnon, the Juice should never eat oysters because he’s already too damn horny and wants to have sex three times a day. In fact, he wants to have sex so often that the poor woman’s sore.
For herself, Low-Magnon doesn’t like slimy things like oysters because she’s a klassy lady who’s not so much into swallowing. Then, as if she hasn’t shared more than enough information, Low-Magnon turns to Nina, because who’s gonna appreciate some frank pornographic descriptions more than Nina Van Ho, and describes how the Juice tried to “do” her in the car on the way back from her bubbie (intentional misspelling) surgery and shortly after they arrived home. God that Juice is a romantic guy. It’s every woman’s dream to have her husband advise her to “just lay there”. Seriously, I get it already. The Juice is a walking, talking, and probably farting, straight sex machine. There is absolutely nothing gay about him. After all, it’s perfectly normal for a wife to launch into an explicit description of her husband’s voracious heterosexual appetite at the dinner table. In a restaurant. In front of her guests. With her children present. When they’re being filmed for national TV. Damage control, anyone?
Just when I’m panicking that Low-Magnon is going to start demonstrating the different positions that they’ve had to use to accommodate her sore bubbies (still intentional), Nina decides that she’s had enough. She reaches under the table, grabs “The Book” and slaps it down on the table.
Nina Van Ho is gloating like a twisted office nerd who’s strapped explosives to her chest and marched into the boss bitch’s office to demand a raise. Under the circumstances it doesn’t really matter if she dies in the process because the last thing she’s going to see is her hated boss being blown to hell.
The Queens of Mean are collectively thrilled.
Nina calmly explains that she’d like to talk to them about the book. The Diva, being one of the quicker minds present, tells us that she quickly realized that Nina’s actions were aimed at her. In an effort to head off disaster, the Diva asks “can I stop you right now?” I’m kind of amazed that Nina even bothered to answer, “No”. With the momentum that she’s been building over the last few weeks, the only thing that would have stopped her was an uzi, and, sadly, Mama Manzo neglected to slip one of those into her purse.
Low-Magnon whines that Nina should have told them about the book and her past, but Nina is way beyond listening to petty kvetching. The Diva goes over to sit next to Low-Magnon in a not so touching show of support and inter-species sisterhood, while Mama Manzo tells us, “I thought she had the right to try and defend herself. Would I have believed her? Probably not.” It’s amazing how almost everything that comes out of Mama’s mouth starts off sounding reasonable and then slips off into gangsta paranoia.
Low-Magnon calls a halt on the proceeding to send her kids out of the room, and good for her. Clearly some things are not appropriate for little girls to be around. In depth descriptions of mommy’s and daddy’s sex life may be par for the course, but mommy being called out on helping to spread nasty rumors, well that’s really not okay. Especially, when mommy is planning on behaving really badly.
Mama Manzo interrupts the proceedings to remind everybody that they are all adults and they will behave accordingly. I really wish Mama had thought to email her checklist for appropriate adult behavior to me beforehand, because things start getting a little confused for me pretty quickly.
Nina explains that there are only two items out of the two pages that are true: she was arrested and she did change her name. Of course, she kind of leaves out that whole stripping part, but hey, two out of three ain’t bad. Besides she doesn’t want to waste a lot of time before getting down to the business of hurling her hurt accusations at the Diva for bringing “The Book” to The Chateau (the beauty salon that they all go to). Nina dwells tearfully on the emotional and physical pain she suffered as a result of this attack. And if sitting at home throwing up with diarrhea for three weeks doesn’t constitute physical pain I don’t know what does.
The Diva is all like, ‘Hell no! Don’t blame me for your IBS’. “I never had the book in my hand.” But before Nina’s head explodes from frustration at the Diva’s continued denial, Mama Manzo interrupts and asks Nina to do her one favor and look at her, so that Nina can appreciate the full impact of her channelling Marlin Brando when Mama tells her “I told them!” Gasp!!!
And then, finally, what should have been the crowning pinnacle of
irony drama for the entire season. The speech that Mama has no doubt rehearsed countless times in front of her mirror in preparation for this very moment:
“Let me tell you one thing about me; I will not allow you to attack my sister when it is not true. We are
sick thick as thieves and we protect each other until the end. You have something to say you say it to me.”
LMAO. Mama is a totally awesome actress, or completely deluded, to be able to deliver that speech in all its mafioso glory without cracking up. I’m not kidding. Just try and say it like you mean it. I guarantee a giggle or two.
The whole question of defending-the-family-to-the-death aside, if you strip the drama from this situation it’s really just a sordid little bitchfest. As far as I can tell, a group of women were hired to do a “reality show”. Nina was basically unknown to the other women until shortly beforehand. There was an early disagreement between Nina and the Diva surrounding some sort of charity donation, which resulted in the Diva threatening to “kick Nina’s ass.” Both Nina and the Diva have confirmed that much. A nasty two page description of Nina’s life, when she was in her early twenties, is discovered by the other women, who really are basically her co-workers on the show. One of the women, Mama, makes the decision to take the book down to a business that all of the women patronize and show the description of Nina’s life around. Nina mistakenly comes to the conclusion that Diva was the one to do the nasty deed, which considering that the Diva has already threatened her with physical harm is not necessarily unreasonable. Nina may be a sad, crazy, drama queen, but, seriously, that’s no way to treat a co-worker.
Of course, there’s the whole justification defense that Mama just wants to protect her family from the corrupt evil that has been revealed to be Nina Van Ho. I might have more sympathy for this if the Manzo’s were free of any mob rumors, or if their family friends didn’t have massive indictments for corruption and mob connections, or if their son’s life goals didn’t include strip clubs. Seriously, who do they think is going to work in Christopher’s club? Bored suburban housewives?
Anyho, back to the drama. Nina points out that the Manzo’s spread vicious lies about her that could hurt both her and her children. And, really, there wasn’t much of a need for the Manzos to go to that much effort. Nina is perfectly capable of turning people against herself, not to mention seriously screwing up her kids lives, all on her own.
The Diva, apparently existing in an alternate reality, says that nobody is attacking Nina and that she personally never had the book in her own lily white hands. I’ve got to give the Diva credit for staying so calm. She’s wearing her sleeveless baby doll nightie dress that’s so short her chucky gets flashed every time a cool breeze blows by, so you know she’s probably sticking to her seat by now and super uncomfortable.
Poor Nina isn’t always too quick on the uptake. Somehow, she hasn’t seemed to grasp the full implications of Mama’s earlier speech, and continues to demand of the Diva, “You didn’t take the book to the Chateau?”
Poor Mama, all that fine drama for nothing. I can’t blame her for sounding a little frustrated when she reiterates, “I took it to the Chateau.”
Seeing that Nina is still unconvinced, the Diva decides to try and pull an ace out of the hole and says to her sister-in-law, “Jacqueline, why don’t you tell her who it was.”
Jacqueline takes a deep breath, looks the Diva in the eye and says, “You both came into the salon.” Holy crap, she just called both Mama and the Diva liars. In front of Nina. On TV. What do want to bet that some producer is frantically calling the feds to try and arrange for witness protection? The Diva doesn’t seem to understand that a mutiny is taking place in the family ranks and she denies having found out about “The Book” on her own. Having nothing left to lose, and being assured that the federal marshals are on their way, Jacqueline bursts out with, “You are such a liar!”, followed by, “You called me over to the computer and said ‘Look at this! Look at this!’”
Nina Van Ho is watching this go down with a shocked look of disbelief or her face, like maybe ‘the rapture’ is real and this is what it’s gonna feel like. Nina tries to follow the only sensible course left open to her, that being retreat but it’s taking way too long to pry her chucky off of her seat. Low-Magnon jumps into the breach demanding to know why Nina’s ex-husband wrote the book if it wasn’t true, because, hey, if it was written then “obviously something must be true.” Way to go, Low-Magnon. Of course, this has nothing to do with the question of who flashed the book around the Chateau, but that’s kind of irrelevant when you realize that ‘obviously’ is a really big word for Low-Magnon to use.
You can’t really blame Nina for being pissed that Low-Magnon is butting into such a beautiful moment. She totally snaps back in full Joyersey intonation, “Were you not here? Name change and arrested! Pay attention!” And, Wow!! It’s like Nina mistakenly used the German attack word used to trigger Mama’s protection dogs. Low-Magnon totally morphs from a semi-civilized hostess to one pissed off cavewoman right before our very eyes.
Low-Magnon sends the table crashing to the ground plates and all, yelling random insults of “prostitute/whore” amidst unintelligible grunts and screeches. I’m sure everyone would agree that well balanced beings like Low-Magnon are exactly what you want to have around your families.
Well, it’s kind of hard to top that little act. After the Juice gently restrains his wife by throttling her into submission, Low-Magnon manages to gain enough self-control to spit out that she does NOT like being thought of as “air-headed and stupid”. Personally, I think she’s lucky if that’s all people are going to think of her after this little display.
The Diva is still stuck to her seat and she isn’t wasting any more words trying to lie diplomatically. She just wants to pry herself off the leather and get the hell out there. Getting right down to brass tacks she tells Nina that she can’t stomach her; that she was there when Mama brought “The Book” into the Chateau; and that she did get pleasure out of seeing it shown around. However, at this point, because the Diva is so fucking spiritually advanced and because Nina is clearly one cannoli short of a picnic, the Diva is going to pray for her.
Finally a voice of sanity interrupts the proceedings. Jacqueline’s husband Chris declares that everybody is acting like fools. What a radical idea!! The book doesn’t mean anything, they all have their health, and they need to move on. As for Nina Van Ho, she’s welcome in his house.
The Diva having finally managed to separate herself from her chair announces that she and Mama have better things, important things, to do. Low-Magnon reiterates that she considers herself a klassy woman, which I’m sure is greatly comforting to the society of Franklin Lakes. Mama points out that Nina owes the Diva an apology, and…well…maybe…the Diva owes Nina one. However, Mama doesn’t owe anyone an apology, because she’s just that good. Nina is sure that she’s owed an apology and she’s not taking any more crap from these ladies. If she hears anything else being said about her she’s gonna show up on their doorstep and she won’t be alone. Seriously, can someone please explain to these women that making threats on national TV is just plain dumb?
Sadly, Mama Manzo isn’t satisfied with a semi-graceful exit stage left. Instead, she throws a little extra dramatic dialogue/guilt in Jacqueline’s direction. Jacqueline went where no living Manzo has gone before when she went against the family in public, but the people she really hurt were Mama’s parents. You know, the people hopefully lying peacefully in their graves. Luckily, Jacqueline seems over the whole thing, and her awesome husband is there to support her. And we end the season with the promise of a whole new generation of Manzo’s. Woohoo!!
Well, Gasmi, that’s it for this season. Sort of. I started watching yesterday’s extra footage show of the dinner from hell, but so far there doesn’t seem to be much extra. If any new startling events are revealed, I’ll send in a special extra recap. Otherwise, I’ll see you guys/gals at next week’s double header reunion.
Shouts out to J-Mo for sending me funny e-mails when I was writing this thing : )