‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ recap: Brawl at the baptism!

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You knew ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ had to find a way to up the ante for the third season premiere. What would an episode be without hair pulling, table-throwing or insult-tossing? But a knock-down brawl at a baby christening in the third minute of the season opener? That’s classy.

It turns out that Teresa and Joe Giudice are not really getting along with Teresa’s brother Joe Gorga, and his wife Melissa. (You can assume that “not getting along” is an understatement –- it’s impossible to overstate anything with these Jersey Housewives.) So when a seemingly simple act –- Teresa tries to congratulate Melissa and Joe on their son’s baptism –- sets off a riot in the banquet hall, you know there has to be a pretty florid back story.


Cut to “one week earlier” –- a whole lot of catching up involving the Giudices’ bankruptcy, Teresa’s newfound career as an author, Joe’s new life working in a pizza parlor, and Joe Gorga’s stewing resentment of his sister, which wife Melissa craftily encourages. Joe Gorga appears convinced that Teresa’s husband has stolen their father’s love; Melissa (like all Housewives) believes Teresa doesn’t pay her enough respect.

Isn’t every Housewife battle about respect?

So when Teresa shows up late at the church for the baptism (her husband has the runs, and Teresa is clear that she doesn’t want him pooping in the pews), Melissa is furious. This is on top of the fact that Teresa apparently didn’t show up to the hospital when the baby was born, and didn’t issue the Gorgas an invitation to a local book signing. Back story in place, we are dying to get back to the only thing that matters -– the fight! -– but in between, we have some other, more mundane Housewife updating to do. Caroline is feeling mournful because her sons Chris and Albie have decided to take an apartment of their own. Having gotten used to the idea of an empty nest, she nudges daughter Lauren’s boyfriend about when he’s going to pop the question. (Romantic answer: He has a “timeline.”)

Jacqueline’s spoiled daughter Ashley is having her own issues with growing up: She is interning for notorious publicity maven Lizzie Grubman, but apparently Ashley isn’t so good at showing up for her job. She tries to convince her mom to rent her an apartment in the city, and when Jacqueline rebuffs her, she bursts into tears, leading Grubman to console her. Always nice to see cutthroat publicists with a heart of gold!

Finally, after what feels like 20 commercial breaks, we return to the opening scene at the christening party: Joe Gorga pounding his chunky fists on the table and then launching into a violent scrum that is so dense, it’s not clear who is even in there. But clearly the two Joes are involved, and one of them had the runs just a few hours earlier! Dozens of random men are reeling and plunging into the fray, children are wailing and there seems to be some concern that Teresa and Joe’s dad –- the guy who apparently doesn’t have enough love and respect to go around –- is going to have a heart attack.

The fight doesn’t really end so much as peter out, and the cameras eventually turn to the sight of Joe Gorga wailing at his elderly parents for their perceived withholding of love. It may have been one of the most histrionic moments ever to grace reality TV. And some of the conversation is held in Italian, giving the whole thing a very old-school feel as he sobs, “You’re my father!” Gotta love “RHoNJ”: Starts with a bang, ends with a howling whimper.


Full Show Tracker coverage of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’

-- Joy Press