After only one season on RHONJ, pot-stirring troublemaker Amber Marchese announced that she is leaving the franchise behind. In her exclusive statement to PEOPLE, she attempts to place blame completely on the network for how she was portrayed on the show. "I was picked on a casting call while pursuing acting, and the person who was presented was created for the show," her statement said. "I had little control over content, situations, or what they decide to show the viewers." In what she possibly views as going out in a blaze of glory, Amber also tries to throw her fellow 'Wives under the bus, saying, "Even my relationship with the twins was created. I recruited them for my storyline after I was chosen. I only met with Teresa Giudice and Dina Manzo for filming purposes. I never built a friendship with them as we were nothing more than co-workers. I wish them all well and the best of luck, although, my husband does not share my sentiments." Misused commas aside, the statement sounds to me like a bitter play for taking others out with her as she exits the Bravoverse stage left. For this week's second feature in a row, I'm taking a look back at the dramatic highs and lows of Amber's singular season as one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Amber was introduced in the show's revamped sixth season as an old friend of Melissa Gorga's. In addition, she brought identical twins Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano (whose boyfriend Bobby was best friends with Amber's husband Jim) along as new Housewives to round out the new cast. Almost immediately though, it seemed that Amber had a bone to pick with her old buddy Melissa. The two spent the majority of their twenties partying and clubbing, and Amber was even in Melissa's wedding but their friendship faded once they each got married. Then, tragedy struck when Amber was diagnosed with breast cancer at 31. With a six-month-old, a six-year-old, and two stepchildren at home, Amber underwent chemotherapy and eventually beat her cancer. However, what became known as "the cancer" was an immediate point of contention at Amber's Harvest Party, (the very first event of the season), when she confronted Melissa about never reaching out to her during her battle. Stunned, Melissa claimed she never knew Amber had the disease and that if she had known, she certainly would have reached out. There was confusion over a Facebook message Melissa had supposedly sent indicating that she DID know about the cancer, but when asked to produce the message, Amber claimed it had mysteriously disappeared. Within five minutes of joining the show, it seemed that Amber was out for Melissa - making the veteran question why she had come back into her life.
However, within just a couple of episodes, Amber had seemingly changed targets. Though they had been introduced to the show as friends, things weren't as seemingly peachy between Amber and the "fun-bag twins" as we were led to believe. On a drive with Melissa, Amber let it slip that she'd heard that Nicole was a supposed "homewrecker" who had broken up a marriage as the other woman. Doing her due diligence, Melissa quickly told the twins about the gossip circulating around the New Jersey grapevine during a shopping trip. The twins' first attempt to confront Amber was a false start after they saw the Marchese kids up and awake at home and Nicole decided to wait to hash the rumor out with her supposed friend. The big blowout occurred during Nicole and Bobby's first responders-themed costume party. While dressed as a sexy fireman, Nicole confronted Amber (dressed as a sexy cop, naturally) about the homewrecker rumor in front of a party full of guests. As Nicole tried to get a public apology out of her friend, Amber snapped her fingers and demanded the twins and Melissa take the argument outside. With neither side refusing to back down, the fight escalated into a nasty, hair-pulling brawl that left a chunk of an enraged Amber's raven locks on the floor. In the screaming matches that followed, Jim managed to jump in the fray by insulting Dina, Teresa G. and Melissa's intelligence and calling Joe Gorga a "dumb f***." As the fallout from the brawl exploded, it appeared that the Marcheses were primed to be the season's main villains.
After the explosive party, Amber got into it again with Melissa - blaming her old friend for starting the entire ordeal and calling her a liar and a "tainted woman" over lunch. (Never mind that she was the one who started the issue in the first place by telling Melissa the rumor.) Feeling excluded by half of the 'Wives, Amber attempted to buddy up with OGs Teresa and Dina by surprising them with nightingale dropping facials on a spa day. Meanwhile, Jim added tension to the fragile dynamic by revealing that, as a mortgage lender/attorney, he was working with the same D.A. who was prosecuting the Giudices in their fraud case. Talk about awkward. As a result, Jim made a conscious choice to avoid associating with the other husbands and placing a stone wall between him and the rest of the cast. After a couple episodes, Amber finally called a rocky truce with Nicole over the homewrecker drama, copping to repeating the rumor and finally taking responsibility. In the space of just a few episodes, Amber had managed to spark feuds with half the Housewives and make it clear that she could cause trouble.
The one Housewife Amber seemed determined to befriend, though, was Teresa Giudice. She got weirdly emotional at the tasting party for Teresa's Fabulicious dessert line, crying about how strong Teresa was in the face of her daunting legal battle. Following her sit down with Nicole, Amber attended one of Teresa's cookbook signings and was introduced to Teresa's friend Victoria Gotti. The infamous mob daughter invited Teresa and Amber to her home following the signing and revealed over glasses of Fabellini a shocking rumor about Teresa A.'s husband Rino. According to the story, Teresa and Rino had divorced earlier in their relationship (they'd since remarried) due to a salacious scandal: apparently Rino had cheated on Teresa with her mother Santa. This new rumor left Amber and Teresa G. visibly stunned, with Amber immediately stating in her interview that she didn't know "if it was true or not." Once again, a destructive rumor had landed right in Amber's lap about one of the twins, but this time she didn't want anything to do with it.
At the same time, Dina recruited all of the 'Wives to help her organize a charity event for her children's cancer charity Project Ladybug. Determined not to cause another problem, Amber made a pact with Teresa to never repeat the rumor about Rino and Teresa A.'s mother. Besides, Amber had bigger issues to worry about. After the Giudices pleaded guilty in their fraud case, Amber made a bizarrely emotional call to Teresa, leaving church in the middle of Ash Wednesday services to give her new cast mate the third degree about what would happen next in the case. (Naturally, this didn't go over well with Tre, who was intensely private about the entire matter - especially with this new Housewife she barely knew.) On top of that, Amber received "inconclusive" results at her five-year cancer screening, prompting her to worry that the breast cancer had returned. (Thankfully, further tests revealed later that it hadn't.)
The season's cast trip to Boca Raton, Florida was put together by Dina and Melissa in an effort to get Tre's mind off her legal situation. However, the OG decided at the last second to stay home with her family, leaving the veterans and the twins to go on the vacation without her. Initially, Amber and Jim opted out of going as well, citing her cancer scare, but when the results came back cancer-free, they decided to join the group and celebrate. Prior to the trip, Teresa had filled Dina in on the Rino rumor, saying that in case Amber brought it up, someone needed to be there to back up the twins. However, when the Marchese's finally arrived, the trip promptly went to hell when Jim first instigated a fight with his former BFF Bobby and then provocatively revealed the rumor about Rino, sending the house into complete chaos in a barrage of drunken screaming and broken glass. Naturally, Amber was angry at her husband for revealing the secret, hysterically begging him to shut up. The next morning, an infuriated Dina asked the Marchese's to leave, sending them packing right back to Jersey after the chaos they had caused.
At this point, the Marcheses had alienated themselves from basically everyone in the cast. That fact became clear when Amber and Teresa G. were excluded from the guest list of the menu tasting for the Aprea's new restaurant. Meanwhile, after seeing a pattern of how Jim treated people, Melissa questioned Amber about how her husband treated her at home. By the season finale's Project Ladybug event, Amber attempted to make peace with her cast mates, even making up with Melissa, but for the others the damage had been done. In the wake of the Guidices' sentencing, the Gorgas and Dina refused to film their reactions - leaving the responsibility to the newer 'Wives and former 'Wives Jacqueline Laurita and Kathy Wakile and their families. With his background in law, Jim gave Amber a running play-by-play of the sentencing process and she seemed shocked at the news of Teresa's 15-month sentence, saying that she'd rather go through cancer than what the Guidices were dealing with. (Granted, nearly a year later Amber didn't seem quite so concerned about the well-being of her "friend.")
The Season 6 reunion was shot just two days after Teresa and Joe's sentencing and the entire cast was still in shock. Seated at the far end of the couch, Amber was accused by the twins of playing "the cancer" card in an attempt to garner sympathy throughout the season, but claimed she merely wanted to use the show as a platform to educate others about the disease and fired back with accusations about Nicole's relationship with Bobby. When the husbands joined the reunion, Jim added fuel to the fire by attempting to paint his former best friend as desperate for fame and verbally attacked both Dina and Teresa G. However, Amber was ultimately the least outspoken 'Wife at the reunion, with the majority of the attention on Teresa's fate, Dina's feud with her family and Melissa and Joe's relationship with the Giudices. With that, the pot-stirrer of Season 6 went out with more of a whimper than a bang. She did wear a gorgeous, beaded Tony Bowls evening gown, though.
I guess time will tell if Amber's presence will be missed on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. In her one season, she proved to make for dramatic, entertaining television and I have a feeling Season 6 only scratched the surface of the no-nonsense cancer survivor. However, I will say that the way she's chosen to leave the show has left a bad taste in my mouth as a fan. Here's to hoping that Season 7 will be far less bitter...