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Recap: RHONJ Season 6 - Episode 1: What A Difference A Plea Makes

by: Seth Riley

Welcome back to the Garden State after what seems like an eternity, and an eternity filled with off camera drama. We are welcoming back some familiar faces: Teresa Giudice, the queen of RHONJ, Melissa Gorga and her perverse yet adorable husband Joey, and the return of an original, Dina Manzo, with a whole new attitude. Gone are Jacqueline Laurita and Caroline Manzo. I'm afraid it was time for Jacqueline to go because, as important as her cause is, her storyline seemed more like a PSA. Caroline Manzo, on the other hand, I will miss. I adored Caroline's massive eye rolls and penchant for calling out BS, but she had clearly checked out by last season. Since the past two years became a depressing spectacle of a family imploding, Bravo has wisely brought in new blood and a new feel. We will soon meet Amber Marchese and the identital twins, Nicole Napolitano and Teresa (pronounced Ter-ess-uh) Apresa. Before I begin, let me say that this piece was supposed to write itself. After all, this is weave-ripping, table-flipping New Jersey after all. Well, not so much. With the Giudices' issues, the tone has changed, and rightfully so.

We begin at the Gorga household, where Joe and Melissa are watching what is supposed to be Teresa's plea date on the news. At least that's what Bravo wants us to think. In fact, we are seeing old footage of her first court appearance. Melissa says she can't watch and cuts the TV off. Joe clearly has a heavy heart over this and the two state that they must reach out and let her know they are there for Teresa's family no matter what. Melissa calls Teresa to show support and Teresa, still not wanting to face reality, says the news of the day is a lie but is thankful for the support. They hang up and Gia asks what that was about. Tre tries to play it off but Gia, wise beyond her years, explains that she is old enough to know what is going on. The two cry and hug and it is truly touching. Then we rewind to three months earlier, before Teresa has entered a plea.

Teresa's kids, who deserve their own show, are at it again. Tre and Joe are trying to make Milania, the real star of the show, do homework. As Gabriella steps in to help, Milania asks if she can read a book while her sister does her homework. My kind of girl. Suddenly, the camera is outside and we see some killer boots making their way to the door. It's Dina! I did not know how to feel about Dina's return, but I am immediately thrilled by it. Jersey has been missing this housewife. In her talking head, Dina says, "The bitch is back and, if you don't like it, you can kiss my ass." I'm back in love and from observing her for the remainder of the episode, she ain't kidding. Also in her talking head, production asks her how are things with Caroline. Dina's silent answer is an eye roll so epic it likely rattled the windows. One thing is clear; Dina is a true friend to Teresa. She brings her an orchid and a peace charm and asks if Tre is actually taking time to let the situation sink in. Teresa laments the legal fees that are piling up and depleting the girls' college funds. I am going to say it. I love you Teresa, but I don't think that money was from college funds. In the most candid admission I've seen, Tre says it gets her when she tries to sleep, and she no longer sleeps through the night. Dina is there for her, and, as Dina is going through a divorce of her own, Teresa pledges her support. Dina describes Tommy's transgressions, though she stops short of saying cheating. She does say in her talking head, "Turns out I'm pretty zen...until you fu_k with me." I'm loving Dina and this is a team I can immediately get behind.

Next we see Tre and Melissa meeting up with Milania and Antonia at cheer practice. Tre and Melissa have put their issues aside (though some reports indicate this is for the cameras, but I choose to believe it is for real). As Tre says, she has bigger fish to fry. It is heartwarming to see Antonia and Milania grab hands and run off together. These kids love one another and kudos to their moms for fostering that. At cheer practice, Teresa has Milania show Aunt Melissa how she can twerk and the kid is frighteningly good. Antonia is clueless, and Melissa seems relieved. The real reason for this meetup if to segue into the new women. In a moment that screams scripted, Melissa asks Teresa if she remembers Amber, who was in her wedding. Amber and Melissa were old friends who have lost touch but Amber has extended an invitation to her Harvest Party, and Melissa invites Tre and Dina to tag along. We get it, Bravo, you have to tie the women together, but this is not feeling too authentic.

And now we meet Amber. First impressions are not always correct, so I am sincerely hoping mine changes. As of now, not good. First, her husband Jim walks in the door with a dead pig, horrifying both Amber and the children, especially their daughter, Isabella. The image of Jim Marchese toting a fellow swine is the perfect entrance for this man. If you don't get that shade, google him. Amber says she has four kids, though they have a blended family and at this point I am unclear who she is actually stepmother to. Amber admits to being a control freak and a strict parent. In her talking head, she says, "I'm wound way too tightly." Then she sips a class of wine through a straw...a trick used by folks with veneers according to my friend. Amber also tells us she graduated with a Master's Degree from Columbia. Red flag: if you are so smart, you don't need to tell me. It will come across. In the ultimate shade, she says that she and Melissa partied back in the day but they chose different routes to the good life. Amber's was work and Melissa's involved marrying well. Burn.

Now Dina is dropping in at her therapist's office. In one of my favorite Dina moments, she recounts how she went on a Mongolian retreat for 10 days with no running water in order to find herself, though she escaped to a Bed & Breakfast after five days. Fair enough. She feels she is not the spoiled girl she was. She confesses to her therapist she is afraid of opening up and doesn't want to be an old cat lady. Her therapist points out that, as two of Dina's cats are hairless, that is ten times worse. Dina also confesses that she and Tommy are still sleeping together and the therapist says this is no way to move on. I say this is a good way to get a great settlement and quash the rumors that Tommy is gay. Yeah, I said it.

Back at Casa Marchese, the house that whistle blowing built, Amber has the twins over. Teresa A (too avoid confusion) and Nicole seem like happy go lucky, fun ladies and are both beautiful. Teresa A is married to Rino, whome she was married to for seven years, divorced and then remarried. Nicole is divorced with two sons (and two precious pooches we will meet soon) and describes herself as a "hopeful romantic," who believes that women need two things: Dunkin Donuts and oral sex. Same goes for men and I love her already. If this were RHOC, she would be on Vicki's fun bus. She is dating Bobby who, at this point, she has been with for nine months. Bobby and Jim are best friends. Just watching these three in the kitchen, it is clear that the twins are far too carefree for Amber. Nicole has invited roughly six additional couples to Amber's party and I think Amber's head may explode and Amber displays a variation on the stink eye--the stink face. Amber's stink face could give Phaedra Parks's stink eye a run for its money!

It is th enight of the party and all the ladies are separately deciding what to wear. Joey G, in his constant quest to get Tarzan some love, suggests that he and Melissa stay home and get naked but, alas, there is a show to film. At the party, Amber is acting as drill sergeant with the kids, dressing them up to have them answer the door, take coats and escort guests in. Teresa and Dina ride together and Dina is awesome in her support for Teresa. By the time the twins arrive, it is clear Rino has had a bit much to drink and begins telling off color jokes and conversing with the dog, who he feels resembles Dennis Rodman. The best part of the party is watching Amber's face as guests accidentally drop food and track in snow, all of which is blamed on the guests invited by Nicole. Amber suggests that they need to read a book on "etiqquesy" and I want to call Columbia and verify that degree. Cut to Nicole, who says, "As an Italian, a party is a party and the more the merrier." For the record, I'd much rather attend her party.

As Dina and Teresa make their way through the snow in impossible shoes, Dina points out that Party Planning 101 is that entrance is everything and she would have had salt out and a place to wipe your shoes. Or you could take the Amber route and just make awful faces at all your guests because of it. As Dina and Tre make their way in, the entire room is talking about Teresa. She handles it like a pro and I respect her strength and Dina's support. While people are attempting to get to know Dina, she says she's a bit antisocial and busts out with this gem: "I think most of the people in between the children and the old people are a__holes." Dina, please put that on a tee shirt for me. Then in her talking head, she says, "Just because I'm zen doesn't mean I'm gonna put up with a__holes. I mean nobody's that f__king zen." Did I mention I love her.

When Amber finds out that Dina runs a charity for children with cancer, they begin to possibly bond. While I am not feeling Amber, I do wish her health and respect her struggle. Luckily, Amber did not have the same cancer treatment her husband was able to sneak onto approved lists. (Google again if need be.) However, when Amber discusses her change since cancer, she says, "I think I might've been a little shallow before." I literally spit out my drink. Dina also bonds with Nicole over divorce and I hope this relationship takes off but only time will tell. Once Amber has a chance to catch Melissa alone, she asks why Melissa did not acknowledge her cancer. "What cancer?", Melissa asks. Uh-oh. Now we have cancer-gate. Amber swears that Melissa knew because she had a Facebook message from Melissa acknowledging it. However, the message has been deleted. I am no fan of Amber yet, but something tells me Melissa knew. The ladies fake working it out and Melissa immediately runs to the other room to spill the dirt to Tre and Dina. Lastly, As a sauced Rino makes his exit from the party, he shouts, "I could start a party at a funeral." Dina's face says it all.

In the last sequence of the premiere, the Giudices are celebrating Joe's grandmother's 80th birthday with a family portrait, the last being done over a decade ago. The family of 50 has gathered at Tre's house and the portrait is beautiful and I totally get the feels. Joe gives a short speech to the family, saying how when trouble comes, the family rallies. The hardest part is seeing Gia, the oldest and one who comprehends the severity of the situation, breaking down. Afterwards she hugs her father, crying, and tells him how much she loves him. He is crying too. Teresa comes in, as does Frank Giudice, Joe's father, who joins the three in a hug and says he will always be there. Sadly, Frank died recently and the episode was devoted to him. At this point, I am a puddle. Bravo has done the Giudices a big favor here by showing their love of family in a way that can make even the haters sympathize. I admit I was not always Team Teresa, but it breaks my heart to see what they are going through.

Rest In Peace, Frank Giudice 1950-2014

Thanks for reading, guys! Dense one meeting all the new peeps but I think we have a great season ahead. This season, we get the Gorgas investing in waste removal, Dina throwing Jim Marchese out of a function, Victoria Gotti stirring sh_t and so much more. Until next week, I am praying that if I have to see Gotti, I also get to see Tre's purple pimp getup. Unil then! XO

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Photo Credit: Bravo