'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' finale recap: Blank, vacant, soulless

Real-Housewives-JerseyImage Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/BravoAfter last night’s finale, something just doesn’t feel right with me. Maybe it’s the one too many Coke-and-red-wine combos I had, or maybe it’s the fact that yet again, I find myself actually siding with Danielle [shudder]. Relax, I’m not saying we’re about to get our nails done at Chateau together or share cheese fries at the diner, but let’s face it: Danielle is the show. I want to be on Team Caroline/Teresa/Jacqueline, but would you rather watch an hour of family “drama” featuring Gia’s road to stardom and Ashley’s bad behavior, or Danielle’s ridiculous attempts to explain the complexities of life? Hate her if you will, but Danielle’s lunacy provides a common ground for housewives and Housewives fans alike; it’s something we can all agree on. And to be fair, in the real, non-reality-show world, if people really had such a problem with a person, they wouldn’t stage a third public confrontation. As Danielle put it, “If you didn’t like me, would you go where you know I am to tell me, ‘I don’t like you!’?…You just wouldn’t be around me!”

But of course this isn’t the real world: This is reality show world! You know, where Italian food doesn’t make you fat and $11 million in debt doesn’t lead to foreclosure. During a family gathering at Teresa and Joe’s, Caroline announced to her loyal subjects that she was tired of watching the rest of them suffer at the hand of Danielle. “She’s just is so driven to try to hurt every single one of us, and I have done nothing but stay out of that woman’s life. The bottom line is she just won’t go away. So I’m asking you, can we find a solution to make her go away?” she asked. “Go away” is a relative term, because unfortunately Caroline’s plan had less to do with leaving Danielle down at the docks than it did pulling a Dina and inviting her to lunch to tell her how over the whole situation she was. Without wasting any time, she sent a text to Danielle right then and there: “I’d like to put an end to all the nonsense. Let me know when you if you are available to meet Sunday at 2 [sic].”

There was one catch to Caroline’s otherwise “brave” decision: Ashley’s is the family’s loose cannon (among other things), so her mother better keep a leash on tight if Caroline’s going to go to the mattresses for her.“With all my heart and with every fiber of my being, I just want her out of our lives for good,” Caroline said. “And just as badly as I would like her to go away, I would like to think that she wants us to go away.” Maybe so Caroline, but Bravo doesn’t, and the viewers sure don’t.

At another dinner, Danielle was enjoying pasta with her daughters (is it symbolic that Danielle is eating plain noodles from a bowl? Or has her Diner palette just left her with a liking of all things bland?) when suddenly STOP EVERYTHING WORLD, “Caroline Manzo text me [sic]” (“text” is the new “woman” of Danielle’s questionable speech patterns and vocabulary. Texted! She text-ed you!). She read the message aloud to her confused daughters, who she really forgets are just children, and not ex-cons. “She doesn’t want to go, like, what normal person would want to go?” said Jillian. Oh Jillian, you’re so smart yet so naïve about the reality show mentality. Of course she wants to go! Danielle told her not to worry because “I’m not in fear no more!” Just like with Dina earlier this season, she let the allure of being accepted by this group of women negate any growth or closure she’d achieved and willingly stepped back into the lion’s den. But this time would be different because Caroline and Danielle would be meeting “matriarch to matriarch.” Sure, keep telling yourself that.

The Real Housewives franchise has provided many memorable moments in questionable parenting, yet last night Danielle laid out her grievances and the behaviors she felt were being passed down from the older Manzo generation to the younger: “This is what they’re telling their daughters and sons to treat woman like: Chase them, investigate them, claw at them, rip the hair from their head when they’re hiding on the side of a building to get away from you.” As the matriarch, Caroline is the ringleader (or puppeteer, according to Danny) in this whole operation. “You’re not Carmella, you’re not a Soprano, so stop sending out your little ‘brilliant ones’ to make it look like you’re not doing anything while you’re sitting there on your proverbial throne [Ed note: This is the third usage of the word 'proverbial' in two weeks]. Get a life!”

“It’s not what I want to do at all; I’ve been trying to stay away from this,” Caroline told her kids before her meeting with Danielle. Seriously, what’s the point? For someone who all season long has been preaching about staying out of the situation, and advised Teresa and Jacqueline to ignore Danielle and her posse, what compelled Caroline to initiate a meeting of her own? Did Bravo threaten a pay cut if she didn’t do what they asked? Regardless, the showdown must go on.

Caroline prepared for the meeting like a warrior prepping for battle. She carefully adorned herself in jewels that could double as weapons and meticulously applied her war paint lest Danielle not know her true intentions. Danielle’s preparations were less aggressive: she called her energist Sarai to help her “drive [her] message home.” Who knew that these energy scans could be conducted over the phone? Thanks, Steve Jobs.

The meeting between Caroline and Danielle began as civilized as possible. The restaurant cleared out the dining room, anticipating a Kim G. level meltdown, or worse, North Jersey Country Club part 2. Caroline rehashed a speech she probably rehearsed with Dina, about how she was so much better than Danielle yet compassionate enough to feel she deserved to hear her side. Things took a turn for crazy when Caroline brought up dropping the charges against Ashley. If you want her to forget about an impending lawsuit, don’t you think you should make more of an effort than just meeting for lunch? Caroline believes that because Danielle has had her own legal issues in the past, she should feel bad for Ashley and drop the charges as not to mess with her future. (Um, what future? She doesn’t do anything!) Yes, Danielle could be some sort of twisted mentor to Ashley, but in her defense, the girl pulled her hair extensions! It’s not crazy that she doesn’t want anything to do with her, and it’s not mandatory that she drop the charges just because the Manzo matriarch asks her to.

But Caroline claimed that Ashley had integrity for admitting she was wrong, while Danielle had lied about the death threats she claimed were hurled around that night. “What have I done to attack you? One example right now,” Caroline asked. Rather than give an answer, Danielle threw the question back at Caroline: “Not your family, just you” she said, which is true considering this was the most screen time the two shared together in two seasons. “When I stand, I don’t stand alone, I stand with my family,” she said (which just wasn’t as a good as last year’s “Let me tell you something about my family, we’re as thick as thieves!”). By now, Caroline was visibly worked up, and was repeating herself, and continued to pester Danielle with questions.

This is how Danielle works, people. She manages to wiggle her way into even the most calm person’s psyche and gradually dismantles every little piece of normalcy and every element of reason, until they’re left as a big psychological mess — just like her. Danielle is also a member of the Tupac school of thought, where only God can judge her, not some stinkin’ Manzos, so don’t even try, Red. Caroline called her a clown, even though she’s the one with the red hair (don’t say Danielle’s not logical), and then finally dropped what we were all waiting for: “You will not hurt me. Do you know why? I have integrity, okay? And I sit here and tell you the truth, okay? And when I called you garbage, I meant it.” That was Danielle’s cue. Call her garbage once? She’ll sign up for season two, but call her garbage twice? Who knows (stay tuned).

Caroline looked a little immature with her “bye,” “have a nice life,” “you walked away from me” lines as Danielle left the restaurant. Instead of ridding this woman from their lives, it seems to be more about proving that they are right and she is garbage. Who cares? Albie graduated from police academy and Christopher wants to open a strip club/car wash! Celebrate! While Danielle waited for Jerry to bring the car around from the (handicapped?) parking spot, she gave the camera the best line of the night: “I’m not going to be called garbage by her or by anybody. Know your place Caroline. She ain’t no matriarch of my family, and I’ll tell you one other thing about her, she’s the clown, not me. Teresa’s husband’s a drunk! Jacqueline? Certifiable! And here’s a little message for Teresa: My kids wore lace and crinoline at those ages, okay? My dogs wore leopard. [shrugs, smirks] Just a little message there.”

Ashley continued to prove that she’s immature, unable to live on her own, and 20 years away from becoming a new version of Danielle. Her temper tantrum at the dinner table was worse than anything to be expected from Gia or Milania, as was her blaming it on the fact that she’s “stressed out” (from what?).  Later, Saint Derek fed her lines for an insincere apology to her mother, and she couldn’t even pick up on the appropriate cue to go in for a hug? God Bless Derek and his patience. I wonder if he’s still around.

What did you think of the finale, PopWatchers? Am I crazy for thinking Danielle is a little in the right here? Were you surprised that Ashley got off with only a $189 fine?

Comments (288 total) Add your comment
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  • audyofile

    two words: ANTI-CLIMATIC and CLASSLESS (especially Caroline and that “garbage” comment)

    • Tru Dat

      The episode, and end of season, were lame and boring. The editors peaked too soon with the hair pull and everything after was a snooze. Bravo better do something quick or this show’s over. And bringing in one of those skanky, anorexic Kims as full time cast is not the answer.

  • RC

    I have to say, I sort of agree with you here, Emily. I don’t particularly love Danielle, but I can’t help thinking that there is more going on with the Manzos and Giudices than meets the eye. I feel like they are all the Mean Girls (with maybe the exception of Jacqueline in Season 1), and they never liked Danielle from the beginning, and it’s hard not to feel bad for the underdog. Danielle truly never did anything to these women other than want to be their friend. And once the book came out in Season 1, it went to hell in a handbasket. I think the show will be a complete bore without Danielle’s drama. Overall, I think nobody on the show has ever been in the ‘right’ in any way. It’s all so disgusting, but, of course, highly watchable. RHWofNJ is like my crack. I admit it. And how excited for next week’s reunion are we? Nobody pushes my Andy around. I swear I want to punch Teresa in the face. (Uh oh, I smell a lawsuit coming.)

    • SuliB

      Yep. Uh huh. I agree. I’ll be your back-up.

    • liz

      I watched the reunion and i was hoping that Danielle would slap that groucho mark look alike Teresa. I cant stand the way they gang up on her as if she has no right to defend herself. as soon as daniele mentions their faults they become defensive and especially that crap about the car accident who the hell has a major car accident and goes to there friends house to drink after the accident and have a drink; i am with daniele on this one they were all trying to cover it up. Teresa husband is a drunk and she stresses him out on that spending spree thats what is driving him to drink her crazy ass.

  • RC

    I can’t help but agree with you on this one, Emily. It’s hard not to root for the underdog sometimes. While I am no fan of Danielle, I do see where she is coming from sometimes because all she ever really wanted from these women was friendship, and clearly she is a broken person to do the things she does. I can’t help feeling like the Manzos and Giudices are Mean Girls who just want to be bitches. On a side note, if Teresa seriously pushes my Andy next week, I think I will have to punch her in her TwoHead. (Seriously she has the weirdest forehead ever. It’s like the hairline meets the eyebrow.)

  • Jeff

    Danielle is very good at manipulating any conversation and creating anger from nothing. Caroline never gets angry, and even she got worked over by the master. I honestly hope Bravo tells Danielle she can’t come back unless she seeks counseling, I worry about her daughters who she seems to think are her confidants…

    • ceebee

      I completely concur with everything you said. I know people like Danielle, who very slyly egg you on until you lose your temper. It is deliberate and manipulative. I can see right through that witch.

  • TG Lucas

    Way to go Danielle! You held your composure well!

    • David O.

      GO TO HELL. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU KNOW? Every thing Caroline said to her was true. Danielle’s composure sucks. Danielle is The Devil and she knows it or she’s demented.

      • mtee

        Dramatic much??

      • betsybug

        Wow.

      • Horatio Jones

        Babe, you need to calm down … Carolyn was the one who was the holier-than-thou and Danielle was calm and cool as a cucumber. If you don’t want to associate with someone and want them out of your life, you don’t ask them for a sit-down and then demean them. I say that’s stirring the pot.

      • ginger

        Jeez dude, it’s just a comment, not gospel.

      • betsy

        Take a deep breath…

      • tumeric

        Haha, tell us how you really feel Mrs. Manzo.

      • Danny

        You are so right Horatio Jones. If you want the outcome to be a defused situation where everyone Danielle stays away from them, why in the world do you call Danielle human garbage? You’d say that we’ve all made mistakes, let’s learn and grow from them and we will do our best to stay out of your life.

      • jlusmom

        Count to 10 and take a deeeeeep breath,it’s all good,no animals were harmed in the making of this show!!!!!

  • Rachel

    I am totally team Danielle. Ashley deserves to face consequences for her actions and because Danielle didn’t back down doesn’t make her trash. Not sure why Caroline felt the need to confront Danielle. It was silly.

    • Elo

      The last thing ANY of these women should be doing is criticizing someone else’s parenting skills. They are horrible, horrible parents who’ve put their own greedy, fame whore selves above the good of their children. Discussing your children’s issues for the whole world to see is despicable. No Teresa, we’re not jealous, we’re ashamed. The true shame though is that you have none.

      • Alex

        Finally, someone says something intelligent! Everyone of these women are some lower form of life. Here’s what’s so funny…the women think they are so awesome and other women are jealous when the truth is, they are the laughing stock of reality tv. You hit the nail on the head Elo, they don’t have any shame but their actions are shameful.

      • ceebee

        Including Danielle. I am aghast at people who say she is a good mother. She is wretched and sets an abominal example for her daughters.

      • ceebee

        I agree, none of the women should win Mother of the Year. However Danielle is the only one who keeps patting herself on the back and insisting that she is a wonderful mother. I do not see the other women doing that.
        Danielle hasn’t yet realized that the problem with putting yourself on a pedestal is … you have no place to go but down.

  • Stella

    Ashley is insufferable.

    • nate

      totally agree! she has somehow become Meg Griffins evil twin? maybe she has some developmental delays?? certainly a never ending supply of berets! let’s remember this feud started cuz Danielle took a dig at her saying she needed to lose weight in her arms.

      • derrick

        Ok, that really made me laugh out loud. But you’re absolutely right. lol

      • Iroquois

        Meg Griffin’s Evil Twin!!!! I LOVE it!!!

    • Nebbish

      She does need to lose weight along with the knit berets. If Derek is smart he will run like hell to get away from that mess, can you imagine if knocked her up what a nightmare that would be?

      • Clt

        It took a woman pushing 50 to tell Ashley that? Danielle is a nutcase even though I can’t stand Ashley. I fast forward through any scene Danielle is in though I did watch the dinner scene last night.

  • T

    You mention the fact that Danielle can’t spell yet you spelled dining dinning? (out the dinning room). I am so over this show.

    • Emily Exton

      Good point. Fixed!

    • holly

      “diner palette”? wtf? editing anyone?

  • merkar

    I thought the whole season was strained and that Danielle was really scary! All of the ladies acted like they were in high school and spoiling for a fight, it was almost embarrasing to watch.

  • w

    Caroline was clearly pressured to have this sit down, much like Dina was earlier in the season. Maybe Danielle was a little in the right but she is completely nuts. No one came out looking even remotely normal out of this whole group. I seriously can’t believe I waste my time watching this crap…and yet, I will be back again next week for the reunion!

    • LC

      Dina’s sit down was ridiculous…she asked to meet Danielle to tell her that she didn’t want anything to do with her???? At least Caroline’s reason for the sit down made sense.

  • Mike

    The thing is, I tuned in the first season for EVERYONE. Yeah ,there was drama with Danielle, but I liked that there were scenes that weren’t all about her. This second season was all about Danielle and it got old and ugly and mean. Danielle is to this show what Heidi and Spencer were to the Hills – added much needed drama but when the show went overboard, the whole balance was messed up and the show was ultimately worse off for it. This Danielle drama NEEDED to end.

    • LB

      agreed.

    • Max

      SO TRUE, I absolutely agree

    • ceebee

      Totally agree. I shake my head when anyone says we only watch for Danielle. Are you kiddin’ me?? I can’t stand to watch her or listen to. And I especially can’t stand to watch her TRY to eat. What the hell is wrong with that woman that she can’t chew like a normal person??

      • Forwhatitsworth

        Too much bottom in the lip area

  • sandasavi

    Danielle is the show. She is a drama Queen but that is what Reality TV is about. Now, I do have to say that Caroline started out her talk with Danielle very well but it ended very badly for Caroline. She says she has never attacked her, but I call that rant at the end with all the name calling an attack. She did it on her blogs and she did it at last years reunion. Caroline and her family have kept this drama going. But, Man the preview for the Reunion show, Teresa is the real threat. Danielle stayed in the seat and has never tried to get in these ladies faces, but for Teresa to get that out of hand and push Andy Cohen, scream until her voice is cracking and yell less than an inch from Danielle’s face, she is nuts. I never liked Teresa and thought she was the loose cannon. I guess we all see it now.

  • DWJ

    Danielle is insane. Truly insane. I thought Caroline meeting with her was a bit pointless but when she asked Danielle what had SHE ever done to her, Danielle couldn’t answer. She makes drama out of everything. In Danielle’s mind Caroline is orchestrating all of the drama but she’s not. She won’t let it go because she wants the drama. And I feel sorry for Danielle’s children, even they know she’s a nut.

  • KC from NJ

    Danielle definitely brought the crazy to the season. BTW, she reference Caroline as “Carmello” from the Sopranos. She’s quite the wordsmith! :)
    Looking forward to Teresa’s spazz out on the reunion show next week.

  • Nanci

    I don’t agree with your comments about Danielle. She is truely a piece of garbage and doesn’t belong on the show. Seriously, if she is on the show next season, I will not watch it. It is an embarrassment that she even lives in NJ! She makes me sick!

    • Nebbish

      Your probably just another self righteous cow with orange ass hair and debt in the millions . Hypocrite much?

      • Steve

        You see how stupid you are, right?

      • mtee

        wow.. way to debate like a civilized human being.

    • Sam

      I thought she said they were working out a deal for her to have her own show.

      • julie

        yeah, she said that but it’s not true.

    • coco preciosa

      You are delusional and need to seek help in learning how to use common sense. You must have been a follower growing up.

    • patricia

      Danielle embarrasses you? What about the Manzo clan? Who are they fooling? they all started this with the help of bravo staffers. Now they want to end it? Why? Has to be something there. Maybe Danielle knows too much about the manzo connections to other italians and they don’t want her to reveal some juicy info to all.

    • Ms KSwiss

      Is that you Dina?

      • Se

        …and how much is Danielle paying all of you??

    • Lola

      Actually Nanci if Danielle is not on the show next season, I will stop watching. I hate the fact these women think they’re better than her and are the perfect people when the truth is they’re FAR from it. As Danielle said, who the heck do they think they are to judge her. They should grow up and act like decent women for once.

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