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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: holidays

RHONY S9/Ep 11 Recap - A Countess No More

Glenn Rowley

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After two seasons of waiting, Countess Luann loses her title and finally walks down the aisle on this week's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City. Plus, Sonja's relationship takes a serious turn, several familiar faces pop up in Palm Beach and the 'Wives gather for a celebration of the wedding they were never invited to! Read on for a full (short) recap of Lu and Tom's wedded bliss...

It's Christmastime in the city and Sonja Morgan has gotten herself into a bit of a love triangle. Things are getting unexpectedly serious with Edgar, her paramour a la francaise otherwise known as "Frenchie" - so much so that he's staying the night and making breakfast in the morning. This is great for Tinsley Mortimer because who doesn't love a free meal, but now Sonja's balancing one serious relationship with Frenchie and another with Rocco. The former even knows about the latter, but Lady Morgan has to break the news of the competition to her poor restauranteur kinda-boyfriend. Oh, and she may also want to mention the tiny detail that, in addition to making breakfast in the morning, FRENCHIE HAS MOVED INTO THE TOWNHOUSE. Between Tinsley, Sonja's new fling-turned-something serious and Connor the assistant, it's getting quite crowded inside the Grey Gardens of the Upper East Side.

In the spirit of the season, Bethenny Frankel is hosting her annual holiday party and all of the women are invited except Ramona Singer. Instead, to show just how much she doesn't care about being left out, the Singer Stinger takes daughter Avery and her bevy of 21-year-old pals out for drinks and dinner. Of course, Ramona proceeds to spend the entire night complaining about Bethenny and taking advice on how to handle the situation from a bunch of girls who are barely old enough to drink. In her confessional, Ramotional tries to position herself as a Regina George-level "cool mom" but let's face it: we all know the only reason these girls are out with their friend's mom on a weekend night is because they want to be on camera and comment on Bethenny Frankel's life. You can practically see the desperate schemes in their eyes as they cozy up to Ramona with dreams of being next season's newest Housewife. 

Down in Palm Beach, it's finally time for Luann de Lesseps' New Year's Eve wedding to Tom D'Agostino. Dorinda Medley is a bridesmaid while former NYC Housewives Jill Zarin and Kelly Bensimon are in the audience. (Inexplicably, Cynthia Bailey of RHOA and Marysol Patton of RHOM are also in attendance but their faces are blurred.) Bravo cameras weren't allowed at the event so after two seasons worth of drama surrounding the big day, all we get are a few minutes of home video footage. However, at the end of the day the Countess seems, if not satisfied, happy with her choice. She's proved all the haters and doubters and trolls wrong and is now officially Luann D'Agostino. 

Somewhere in a dank, dark basement back in New York, the rest of the 'Wives gather for a post-wedding party thrown by the the new Mr. and Mrs. D'Agostino. Sonja brings Frenchie out of the bedroom for the occasion, Tinsley arrives with Hot Chad on her arm, the gang's all here to celebrate a wedding that, ya know, none of them were actually invited to. The ladies politely ooh and ahh over details of Luann's romantic day, but Tom does himself no favors by jokingly revealing that he asked his new bride if he actually had to wear a ring. The comment reeks of a red flag waving over Luann's now-legal marriage but at this point what's done is done. The episode rather hilariously ends with Dorinda giving a sweet toast to make up for her drunken attempt of a speech during last season's engagement party. As she sums the evening up, cheers to the friends who weren't invited!

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Did Luann's fairytale wedding live up to expectations after building up to the moment for the last two seasons? Should Ramona be getting friendship advice from a bunch of 21-year-olds? And how disturbing was that chokehold kiss Tom gave Lu at the post-wedding party?? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

RHONY S9/Ep 9 Recap - Two Weeks Notice

Glenn Rowley

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The craziness in the Berkshires continues on this week's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City as Bethenny breaks down to Luann before facing off with Ramona in a no-holds-barred battle royale. And all poor Dorinda wanted was a nice, quiet birthday celebration. In keeping with the tradition of last year's one-act play format, I present this year's trip to the Berkshires in four scenes...

Scene 1 - It'll Only Get Worse, Luann

One by one, the Housewives join Dorinda Medley in her last-minute intervention of Luann de Lesseps (soon-to-be-D'Agostino). As they wander into the conversation, Ramona Singer, Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill each take a turn expressing the piece of gossip they've heard about Lu's fiancé Tom - that he's forcing himself on ex-girlfriends, carrying on full-fledged affairs behind her back and that she's having serious second thoughts about tying the knot. Ramona particularly claims she's simply trying to protect Luann from getting hurt down the road like she did with Mario. After all, if a man begins married life as a serial cheater, the problem is only going to get worse. Up against the barrage, Luann smacks down allegation after allegation, repeatedly insisting that she trusts Tom, is excited to get married and can't wait to spend the rest of her life with the perennial bachelor about town. The wedding is two weeks away and she is untouchable, always circling back to her well-worn excuse that all the other women are just "jealous bitches" of her fairy-tale romance. However, it's telling that the Countess' last word on the matter is how happy she is with the lifestyle Tom has afforded her - the trips to Palm Beach, the penthouse apartment, the security of a man on her arm at all the UES parties. According to Bethenny, that's what this sham of a relationship is about, but if Luann knows what she's getting into and is happy with it, so be it.

Scene 2 - Burning Down the House and Breaking Down the B

While Carole lights a fire (in a non-working fireplace...using Dorinda's wooden door jams) and Tinsley Mortimer vents her frustrations about living with Sonja Morgan, Luann attempts to create a bonding moment with Bethenny over the latter's recently signed divorce papers. The Countess is all Hallmark card slogans and mantras, spouting out fortune cookie sayings about trusting your heart and embracing each chapter of life as it comes. However, the always no-nonsense B isn't having it, and points out that following her heart led her straight into the hellish torture chamber of a situation with her almost-ex-husband Jason Hoppy. Bethenny alludes that what's going on in her personal life is so bad that the ladies couldn't possibly understand. As Carole reveals to the group that it's worse now that it even was when Bethenny was going through her long, nasty, very public divorce, the Skinnygirl has a full-blown emotional meltdown, leaving the room and dissolving into tears.

Luann follows her out to apologize for upsetting her, which leads to a sobbing Bethenny admitting she thinks the Countess is making a huge mistake marrying Tom. B feels confident - in her heart, gut and soul - that Luann's husband-to-be is cheating on her and promises Lu that she doesn't have to go through with the wedding if she's not 100 percent sure. Of course, Luann claims that this emotional display is simply Bethenny projecting her own trust and marital issues onto the situation, but the Skinnygirl has every reason to be wary. As Carole explains to the other women, Bethenny's ex has been constantly harassing her for months - sending threatening emails, voice messages telling her she's a bad mother and, perhaps most creepily, calling her "Bernadette" (which fans know is the name of Bethenny's own estranged, absentee mom). Considering that her ex was arrested last January in the midst of filming for allegedly stalking Bethenny, the hell she's going through is no laughing matter.

Scene 3 - Manic Chocolate Santa Claus

The women convene to the dining room, where Dorinda serves a delicious-looking dinner of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce. Out of nowhere, Ramona becomes astonishingly manic during the meal, practically falling over herself to gush compliments about the food (so moist! so succulent!) and squealing hysterically when she wins a giant chocolate Santa. Dorinda points out that Ramona seems extra jittery this evening and is intensifying every little thing. Without a doubt, the Singer Stinger has been - as Dorinda says - "emotionally heightened" so far this season but there's no way of telling what's really going on with her yet. But it's certainly something cuckoo, even Sonja describes her bestie's behavior at the table as "off the Richter scale crazy."

Of course, Ramona chooses the moment Dorinda's birthday cake is served to sidle up to Bethenny and deliver a boozy, whispered apology over the Skinnygirl's shoulder. Yet again, she's attempting to make amends for bringing up Bethenny's daughter Bryn in relation to the B's scandalous role in the recently unearthed B-movie Hollywood Hills, 90028. Equally unsurprising is the fact that this apology leaves Bethenny entirely unaffected. Instead of engaging, she hilariously sums for Tinsley all the reasons Dorinda is the only Housewife invited to Luann's wedding. Exhibit A: Carole's boyfriend used to be Luann's chef, who also happened to date her niece. I mean, watch Season 7. It would be weird. Exhibit B: Ramona dated Tom before Luann and is on a completely unsubtle mission to find every ounce of dirt possible on the guy. Exhibit C: Tom's diamond-shooting dick has literally been inside Sonja. Exhibit D: Last year in this very dining room, Bethenny unleashed a fury of epic rage on Luann, calling her a slut, a whore and every other nasty name in the book. Caught up, Tins?

Scene 4: Are You Kidding Me, Bethenny?

Frustrated that Bethenny won't accept her countless apologies, Ramona corners her frenemy in the living room to try apologizing one more time. Finally fed up, Bethenny agrees that it's time to put all the cards on the table, starting with the fact that - all things considered over their nearly decade-long history - Ramona has not been a good friend to her. As someone who takes her status as a friend very seriously, this is an unforgivable insult to Ramona, akin to character assassination. Unbridled rage lights up in the Singer Stinger's eyes as she belligerently stammers "are you kidding me, Bethenny?" over and over again. And just when the powder keg between the two OGs is about to ignite, the episode ends with a startling "To Be Continued..." 

What did you think of this week's RHONY? How does this year's trip to the Berkshires compare to last season's? Should Luann listen to the other 'Wives? Are you Team Bethenny or Team Ramona? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

RHONY S9/Ep 8 Recap - Return of the Berzerkshires

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, the women head to the Berkshires once again to celebrate Dorinda's birthday. However, an argument between Tinsley and Sonja threatens the fun before the ladies stage an intervention for Luann about her pending nuptials to Tom. Read on to find out if the third year in the Berkshires will be the charm...

The annual cast getaway to the Berkshires is upon us, but first we get a scene meant to prep viewers for Bethenny Frankel's new real estate series with Fredrik Eklund of Million Dollar Listing New York, tentatively titled Keeping It Real Estate. Clever, huh? After working together to sell her old Tribeca apartment, B is going into the real estate business with the MDLNY agent and selling her current place in Soho. The two alpha personalities immediately begin bickering over decor and selling points, and the look on Bethenny's face when Fredrik uses the word "clutter" to describe her home is absolutely priceless. Eventually, the new partners settle on listing the property for $5.25 million and it looks like we'll be getting much more of this when the new series premieres sometime later this year on Bravo. 

Over in the West Village, Ramona Singer drops for an impromptu visit with perpetual cat lady Carole Radziwill to spill some serious tea on the relationship between Luann de Lesseps and Tom D'Agostino. Despite promising to drop the Nancy Drew act, Ramona has continued to quietly do recon on Tom and has the texts to prove that Luann's fiancé allegedly forced himself onto a former girlfriend and tried to "stick his tongue" down her throat just one week earlier. This revelation coupled with the bombshell that dropped into Carole's lap last week (via a good friend) that Luann is having serious doubts about going through with the wedding and now everyone is once again concerned that all is not as it appears in the relationship between the Countess and her "dirty dog" of a fiancé. Whether it's a cry for help or something else, the ladies are left with a serious conundrum: do they say something to Luann and risk a redux of last season's explosive cheating drama or not say anything and avoid a confrontation? Which choice falls under the category of being a good friend?

It's time for the 'Wives to head to Blue Stone Manor for the yearly celebration of Dorinda Medley's birthday. Despite the insanity of the last two years the women have gone to the Berkshires, Dorinda has decked the halls of her manor home and remains confident that she can make it nice - and yes, even Sonja Morgan scored an invite this year. The first full day is Dorinda's birthday and, despite a cake catastrophe that would've sent Heather Dubrow into a blind rage in the OC, the weekend starts off surprisingly...pleasant. However, if we've learned anything over the last three seasons, it's that history has set a precedent for drama in the Berkshires so all of the women are wary of an impending blowup. It's kind of like hosting your birthday party on top of a giant powder keg covered in Christmas decorations... 

Luann, en route from Palm Beach, is the only 'Wife who hasn't arrived yet. So naturally, the topic of conversation turns to the rumors and stories swirling around Manhattan about Tom's handsy, philandering ways. In addition to the damning information held by Ramona and Carole, Bethenny's heard a separate piece of gossip that Lu's husband-to-be is carrying on an affair with another woman behind her back. B wonders aloud whether she and the other 'Wives can get Luann out of this seemingly doomed union, but that'll be much easier said than done. With everything going on off-camera with her toxic ex, Bethenny feels a certain responsibility to go to Luann once again and try to keep her from making a similar mistake - particularly since so many stories are coming out of the woodwork. However, rather than shouldering the brunt of the task, Bethenny decides all the damaging news would be better received with Dorinda running point in a tag-team effort with all the other women.

Gathering in front of a cozy fire in the great room, the 'Wives begin to compare their notes on Tom as they prep for Luann's arrival and one by one lay all the information in Dorinda's reluctant hands. Talk about a great birthday present...Cut to the Countess pulling up in the driveway and Dorinda is now obligated to share all this information with her so that Luann can, in her words, "either leave, stay or shoot someone." 

Luann arrives as the party move into the dining room for some Christmas cookie decorating and the women make some rather stunted, uncomfortable small talk about, ya know, how the wedding planning is going now that the big day is just two weeks away. Then suddenly, seemingly out of left field, the festering roommate drama between Sonja and Tinsley takes center stage. The former socialite (accurately) accuses Lady Morgan of complaining about her behind her back and somehow the argument devolves into a screaming match over the time Tinsley asked Sonja's assistant to open the door and receive a delivery of hats for her. Apparently this display of poor etiquette is grounds to start WWIII because Sonja feels Tinsley and her privileged, Southern upbringing are beginning to take advantage of her kindness. The second Sonja stays the words "chain of command" in her confessional, I'm checked out of this ridiculous fight, but all I know is that next time Tinsley will be sure to GET HER OWN GODDAMN HATS! PERIOD!

Bringing it back to the real issue at hand, Dorinda pulls Luann aside for a private chat. Going straight to the point, Dorinda shares the group's collective concern over Tom. Revealing the text messages, hearsay and rumors swirling behind her back, Dorinda asks point blank whether Luann trusts Tom and really, in her heart of hearts, wants to go through with the marriage. Unsurprisingly, Lu remains deliberately unaffected by all the gossip, repeating the party line that she trusts Tom completely, knows that this is the right choice and all the women saying otherwise are just "jealous b*tches." Regardless of any concern, evidence or amount of scandal thrown in front of her, Luann is marching down the aisle come hell or high water. Got it ladies?

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Did the 'Wives handle their concern about Tom the correct way this time? Is Luann choosing to be willfully blind to red flags? Does Sonja and Tinsley's arguing make any sense? Tell me in the comments below!

RHONY Ssn 9/Ep 7 Recap - Bidding on Love

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, the women get into the holiday season with multiple charity events, a trip to Beautique and a bombshell revelation from the mouth of an inside source that validates their fears about Luann's relationship with Tom. Read on for the scandalous scoop that almost didn't make the air...

It's the day after the dust-up at Jue Lan Club and each of the 'Wives have retreated to their respective corners to rehash the evening's drama. While Bethenny Frankel vents to Dorinda Medley while they're out furniture shopping, Ramona Singer turns to her daughter Avery for advice inside Henri Bendel. For almost 10 years, Ramona's daughter has been the unlikely voice of reason on this show, so it comes as no surprise that the 21-year-old continues to dole out wisdom beyond her years. Just like the rest of us, Avery doesn't understand where this feud between Ramona and Bethenny stems from and urges her mom to take the high road and make amends with her longtime friend. Considering how well Ramona's last attempt to patch things up went, this course of action may be impossible. As far as Bethenny is concerned, she can be civil if she see's Ramona out socially with the 'Wives but the Singer Stinger may as well be dead to her. 

The blondes return to Beautique! Taking Tinsley Mortimer under their booze-soaked wings, Ramona and Sonja Morgan introduce the former socialite to the Midtown hotspot famed for being the perfect place to pick up eligible Manhattan bachelors. With Ramonja's guidance, Tinsley is the belle of Beautique within minutes and quickly sets her sights on a hot, young 23-year-old named Chad. His description by the Bravo editing team is literally "Cute Guy." Get it Tins! Of course, Sonja takes it upon herself to scold her roomie, reminding Tinsley that a 23-year-old finance kid doesn't fit any of the criteria on the list of what she's looking for in a husband. As if Sonja has any room to talk about hooking up with a younger man...Thankfully, Tinsley shoos her away to make out with Hot Chad and I've never been more proud of the newbie. Maybe try the Regency instead of Beautique if you're searching for marriage material, but for tonight Chad wins.

Over at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, Bethenny is launching her new charity initiative, B Strong, at the annual Dress For Success breakfast. Like several of the Skinnygirl's events in the past, Carole Radziwill is the only other Housewife in attendance, but we also finally get to meet Dennis Shields, her elusive boyfriend that caused so much drama at the Season 8 reunion. Bethenny's goal with B Strong is for the initiative to serve as crisis intervention for women on their various roads to personal and professional success. The B gets surprisingly emotional and choked us as she talks about this new project to a room full of women and it truly is a worthy cause and positive use of her platform. Bravo, Bethenny!

Meanwhile, on a night out with her girlfriends at American Cut, (a steak restaurant is one of her prime places to pick up men after all), Ramona pivots from flirting to getting more dirt about Luann de Lesseps and Tom D'Agostino's relationship. It turns out that one of the ladies she's out with - Missy - is also on the long list of Manhattan cougars who dated Tom prior to his engagement to the Countess. Just how prior you ask? Missy thought she was dating Tom exclusively and only learned otherwise when she walked in on Tom and Lu very clearly together at a bar. Ouch. As her new friend recounts this story, Ramona's eyes practically light up with glee. And yet, this isn't even the biggest Tom-related bombshell we'll learn this episode...

Dorinda is hosting a holiday cocktail party/fundraiser for Beauty for Freedom at Bagatelle and most of the 'Wives have put together a silent auction full of gifts for the occasion. Tinsley and Sonja arrive separately while still managing to bring their passive-aggressive roommate baggage with them. In fact, Lady Morgan straight up shames the newbie for going on a bowling date with Chad after their encounter at Beautique and making out with him. WTF?? The biggest news, however, is that the Skinnygirl and Tom will be in the same room for the first time ever at the charity event. How awkward could it be to come face to face with your frenemy's fiancé whom you uncovered cheating last season just a few days after they got engaged? Only a little. 

Thankfully, the room at Bagatelle is gigantic and packed to the brim, which gives Bethenny a perfectly reasonable excuse to avoid Ramona all night long, but she can't do the same with Tom and Luann. Instead she charges in head first, shaking Tom's hand as Lu makes the introduction and apologizing for "causing [him] any drama" last year. The interaction is quick and easy - if a bit uncomfortable - and is saved by Dorinda directing everyone's attention back to the charity auction, which no one seems to be bidding on. 

At this point, Bethenny and Carole decide to become "charity whores" and start working the room to flirt with men and get them to bid on auction items. And the strategy actually works! However, as Carole circles the room for her next used car salesman pitch, a damaging bombshell drops in her lap courtesy of Luann's friend Barbara. In the midst of the revelry, charity and bidding wars, this friend reveals she's going to the Countess' wedding in Palm Beach, but expresses some eyebrow-raising doubts about Tom and Luann's relationship. (So damaging, in fact, that she tried to sue Bravo to keep the footage from airing, claiming she didn't know she was being filmed. At a Real Housewives event. Talking to a Real Housewife. With a mic on.) 

Barbara tells Carole point blank that she's not excited to go to Luann's wedding and claims she thinks the Countess feels she has something to prove to the world by going down the aisle. In Barbara's estimation, Luann would rather go through with the wedding and get divorced later on than call the whole thing off and suffer a giant "I told you so" from the rest of the 'Wives. Additionally, this friend also admits she went to Luann with her concerns about Tom's philandering ways and rumors that he's still seeing other women on the side, but her worries fell on willfully deaf ears. As the episode ends, it would appear there's much more going on beneath the surface of Luann and Tom's fast-approaching wedding than the perfect, madly in love facade that's been forced on us for two seasons.

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Is Luann having second thoughts about marrying Tom? Is Hot Chad a good choice for Tinsley? Is this any of our business? Let me know in the comments below!

RHONJ Ssn 7/Ep 2 - A Very Hairy Christmas

Glenn Rowley

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It's the holiday season on this week's The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but not everyone is feeling very festive. Teresa attempts to mend fences with both Melissa and Jacqueline, but only one of her fellow 'Wives is feeling the spirit of the season. Plus, we learn more about Dolores's life before Housewives and Siggy is nowhere to be found. Read on for a full recap of the drama...

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Since we didn't get to see it in the premiere, let's analyze the new intro and taglines before jumping into this week's episode, shall we? My vote for best tagline of the bunch goes to Teresa Giudice for "I used to flip tables. Now, I'm turning them." Not only does it reference the iconic Season 1 table flip that cemented the OG's place in Housewives history, it also rather cleverly ties in the title of her new memoir and tells us we're dealing with Teresa 2.0 this season. Quick thought on the others: Melissa's is great, if a bit on the nose regarding her storyline of becoming a modern Italian woman. Newbie Dolores Catania's is classic Jersey - she'll fit into the show's modus operandi like her last name was Manzo. Fellow rookie Siggy Flicker elevates her line through delivery alone. She may be "too much," but I'm sensing a star being born. Lastly, fans should be happy Jacqueline Laurita is back full-time after spending last season relegated to part-time Friend of the Housewives status, but her tagline is easily the worst of the bunch. It's never a great sign when a Housewife's tagline is clearly targeted at someone else on the show - it rubs me the wrong way and just proves her critics' assertion that she's obsessed with Tre. (Also, it's weirdly aggressive and threatening, which makes me even less of a fan...)

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Now, on to the episode. It's the morning of Teresa's release from Danbury. As the other 'Wives watch via smartphone and laptop, Tre's lawyer James Leonard, Jr. holds an impromptu press conference in the Giudices' driveway - wishing the gaggle of reporters a happy holiday and sending everyone on home. The moment has Jacqueline all sorts of mixed up - one second she's wiping away tears thinking about how happy Tre must be to be home and the next she's making digs about the brand new Lexus in the Giudice's driveway. Wise as a sage, Dolores sees right through Jac's facade and calls out the real, emotional reaction she's having. Jacqueline can't deny the history she has with Teresa, admitting that while she's been upset with her former BFF, she's never stopped loving her. Now that Teresa's reached out, Jac doesn't know what will happen next between the pair...

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It's the day of Christmas Eve and the Giudice house is still being swarmed by dozens of paparazzi. In her confessional, Teresa explains that all of her businesses essentially hit rock bottom when she went to prison and she needs to start bringing in the money again. To do this, she's given People Magazine an exclusive on her first few days home, including pictures of the morning of her release and the first Christmas photo of the entire family. After all, as Tre wisely points out, the price tag on her face will never be as high as it is right now. To avoid the photographers parked outside the house, Joe Gorga comes to the rescue - giving the entire family a ride to his house and covering Teresa with a coat to avoid any snooping flashbulbs as she makes her grand entrance through the Gorgas' garage. This is the first time Melissa's seen her sister-in-law in more than a year, and while she didn't quite know what to expect, Teresa immediately acts like nothing ever happened. Literally like she just got back from a year-long trip to the grocery store. The entire family sits down for Christmas Eve dinner and when Melissa goes to the kitchen, Teresa seizes the opening to talk one-on-one. 

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The OG opens the sisterly chat by reiterating how much she wants things to go back to the way they were when Melissa first married Joe. You know, those storied off-camera days when the Gorgas and Giudices apparently got along perfectly. Melissa agrees, but wants their relationship to finally...finally be real. In the past, she feels Tre has put a wall up and only tried to make their relationship copacetic on a surface level. Teresa counters that she was only guarded because she didn't feel like Melissa was being genuine and all of a sudden it feels like we're back on the hamster wheel of Seasons 3 and 4. But hold the phone. This is Teresa 2.0 and we're all going to be real, ok? The sisters-in-law eventually agree to not rehash the past and move forward with the promise that they'll always have each other's back. Sisters and best friends from here on out. Peace on earth, good will towards Housewives, it's a Christmas Eve miracle!

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Two days later, Dolores goes to therapy, where we finally get to learn a little more about the newbie's backstory. Turns out that Dolores divorced her husband way back when her now-20-year-old daughter Gabby was only three years old and she was nine months pregnant with Frankie, now 17 due to his cheating. For six years as a single mom, she worked as a cop, transporting prisoners from the cell block to the courtroom. Following the divorce, Dolores never remarried - going as far as to get engaged before breaking it off (due to what she refers to as her then-fiancé's "extracurricular activities"). Now, she's living back in the house she shared with her husband and is ready to rediscover and reinvent herself. After years of selflessly taking care of everyone around her, it's time for Dolores to put herself first for once.

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While Jacqueline banters with her daughter Ashlee about their respective sex lives (cringe), Joe Gorga takes the kids to visit Melissa at the construction site that is quickly becoming Envy by Melissa Gorga. However, while Joe may be remodeling the space, he's still not very enthusiastic about the project. Melissa maintains that Joe should step up to the plate if she needs extra help with the kids as she gets the boutique running, but he doesn't exactly appreciate being Mr. Mom. He throws out a dig about not signing up for a "part-time wife" when they got married, and thankfully Melissa puts a stop to that line of thinking right then and there. Joe may be old-school Italian, but Melissa is well on her way to becoming a 21st century housewife.

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Meanwhile, Dolores sees Teresa for the first time since her release from Danbury, and is taking the OG out for an afternoon of manicures. As Tre fills her old friend in on what life was like in prison, it's nice to see the easy, natural dynamic between the two and I'm struck again by how seamlessly Dolores fits into the show. After Teresa invites her over for New Year's Eve, the newbie reveals it's her birthday. Dolores may not love making herself the center of attention on her big day, but she sees Teresa's insistence at throwing her a party as a way to get all the ladies in the same place - Jacqueline included. Just call Dolores the friendship whisperer of RHONJ.

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New Year's Eve rolls around and it becomes quickly apparent there are two dueling parties with Teresa and Jacqueline as the respective hostesses. In the Giudice corner, we have Teresa, Juicy Joe Melissa and Joe plus the entire extended Gorga/Giudice clan. Well...not the entire extended family: over at the Laurita house, Jacqueline and Chris have invited Rosie Pierri and Kathy Wakile, Teresa's cousins and this season's official Friends of the Housewives, along with Kathy's Jeff Goldblum lookalike husband Richie. Then there's Dolores, who's left to ride the fence by juggling both parties. (Fellow newbie Siggy Flicker was in Boca over New Year's and is absent for the entire episode.) It's a slightly strange dynamic, which Jacqueline makes crystal clear when she asks point blank why the cousins aren't celebrating with Teresa and the rest of the family.

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Ever the peacemaker, Dolores hits Teresa's party for the first part of the evening, and helps Tre navigate the tricky waters of letting Gia go out with her friends for the night. When it comes time for her to head to Jacqueline's, Teresa decides to call up her former BFF to wish her a happy New Year and let her know Dolores is on her way. Tre is once again extending an olive branch but Jacqueline isn't sure what to make of it, and the conversation quickly turns awkward when Kathy and Rosie chime in from the background. Caught off guard, Teresa asks Jac to take the phone off speaker, but it's too late. The chat has soured. After hanging up, Jacqueline starts to spiral, describing the call as "cold" and "distant" and claiming it felt less than genuine. Once Dolores arrives, she questions the newbie about Tre's motivation behind the call and hesitantly brushes off the idea of rekindling their old friendship. Happy New Year?

What did you think of this week's RHONJ? Was Teresa's attempt to make amends with Melissa sincere? Was the phone call with Jacqueline? Let me know in the comments below!

RHONJ Season 7 Premiere - Jingle Bells and Prison Cells

Glenn Rowley

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Jersey is back! After what seems like a million years away, it's finally time for Season 7 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Teresa is home from prison, Melissa is becoming a modern woman and Jacqueline is back as a full-time Housewife. Plus, newbies Dolores and Siggy join the show! Read on for my full recap of the season premiere we've all been waiting for...

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The premiere starts in the early hours of December 23, 2015, the day Teresa Giudice was released from Danbury Federal Correctional Institution. As flashbacks of past seasons play on the screen, Teresa's long nightmare is finally over  After making the long-awaited drive back to her home in Franklin Lakes, Tre walks through door and just as we hear Joe Giudice say "Hi honey, welcome home"...we rewind to two weeks prior. Such a tease! Before we see Teresa's homecoming, we get to catch up on what her fellow 'Wives have been up to since Season 6 ended way back in 2014. First up is Melissa Gorga, who's becoming a modern woman by opening up a clothing boutique of her very own, Envy by Melissa Gorga. To turn the boutique into a reality, Melissa's found a business partner and invested all her own money - the only way Joe Gorga is helping is as a hired contractor to renovate the space. Teresa's brother isn't exactly fond of his wife's new business venture, complaining that it takes away from Melissa's job as a full-time wife and mother. However, Melissa is determined to make the two worlds work - she is woman, hear her roar!

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Next we get an update on Jacqueline Laurita, who's back after spending Season 6 as a last-minute, part-time Friend of the Housewives. Ever the vigilant mother, the OG's focus remains on her family - particularly youngest son Nicholas and his journey with autism. Nick has continued to improve since he was diagnosed back in Season 4, and has reached the point where, though he's not speaking conversationally, he can say phrases like "I love you" all the time. Jac's oldest daughter Ashlee has also moved back home to New Jersey temporarily, so the Lauritas are all under one roof for the holidays. 

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We're introduced to new 'Wives Dolores Catania and Siggy Flicker through Jacqueline as well. Dolores has been friends with the original Jersey 'Wives for decades. In fact, she goes back with Jacqueline, Teresa, Dina and Caroline more than 20 years, so she seems like a completely perfect fit. We've even seen glimpses of her in the early seasons of the show (like the gang's trip to the Catskills back in Season 3). She and Jacqueline arrive for lunch at a dimly-lit speakeasy and Siggy shows up with her entire head wrapped in bandages because...she just got a facelift! Talk about possibly the most iconic intro in Housewives history! I could not get over how hilarious the relationship Siggy is, whether she was sipping her lobster bisque through a straw or trying to figure out how to get in the restaurant's secret door via bookshelf. And she adds a new dynamic to the Jersey franchise as well - as an Israeli Jew born in a Jerusalem bomb shelter during the Six-Day War, The Sig is the first non-Italian Housewife in RHONJ history. All I know is I love these two ladies already.

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The Gorgas are planning to host the traditional Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve at their house with family. Since it will be the day after Teresa's release, the OG will have to get special permission from her probation officer to go celebrate with them per the rules of her home confinement. In the past year, things have been great between Melissa and her in-laws, so she's understandably a bit wary about her sister-in-law re-entering the picture - particularly considering that she hasn't spoken to or seen Teresa since the latter went away to Danbury. It's going to be a fragile situation, but everyone is hoping for the best when Teresa comes out, and want to just be one happy family again. 

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As Joe Giudice and the four girls prep the house for Teresa's return, the Lauritas are planning a holiday party at their house for all the 'Wives both past and present. However, Jacqueline is feeling more confused than festive ever since Teresa's attorney sent her a note from her former BFF from prison. Mockingly imitating Tre's voice, Jac reads the note aloud to Chris. While what Teresa wrote is light and friendly, Jacqueline can't help but throw in a few digs at her expense - even questioning Teresa's motivations behind sending the note in the first place. And yet, in the very next breath, Jacqueline is lamenting her broken friendship with the OG, and saying how much she wants their old dynamic back. Flashbacks from Seasons 4 and 5 roll across the screen as we're reminded of just how bad the pair's feud got at its peak as Jacqueline explains that they never quite recovered from the fallout, despite their attempts following the trip to the healing retreat in Arizona back in Season 5. At this point, can this friendship ever be salvaged? 

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The night of the party arrives, and while Teresa's attorney heads to Danbury to pick her up, Melissa and Joe head over to the celebration at Jacqueline's house. Along with Dolores and her family, the party is filled with plenty of familiar faces, including Teresa's cousins Kathy Wakile and Rosie Pierri (who are both official Friends of the Housewives this season). Still preoccupied by Teresa's note, Jacqueline pulls Melissa aside to question her about it. Keep in mind, the most amusing part of this exchange is that Tre sent Melissa a note too, but the latter didn't feel the need to let it consume her or even mention it to Jac...As Joe Gorga chats with Dolores's very attractive son Frankie, Jacqueline openly wonders what has changed for her to think that Teresa reaching out is sincere this time around. Melissa empathizes with the situation, but Jacqueline concludes on her own that she'll really know how she feels once she actually sees Teresa for the first time. All everyone can hope for is peace on Earth and good will toward Housewives...right?

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Making a fashionably late entrance, Siggy arrives with a "happy holidays everybody!" and thankfully, her face is finally showing signs of movement. After commiserating over the agony of facelifts, the subject of Teresa's impending release is brought up and Dolores explains via confessional that Tre was like every other girl who grew up in her neighborhood - with strict Italian parents and always following the rules, until one day she had to tell her mom and dad that she was going to prison for a year. How could something like this happen? As the party winds down, Jacqueline gathers everyone for one last toast, wishing everyone a merry Christmas and tearfully reminding the Gorgas to enjoy their holiday with Teresa finally home.

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Four hours later, the day of Teresa's freedom arrives and we're back where the episode began. After the long drive from Connecticut, avoiding eager paparazzi the whole way, Teresa is home. She walks through the door to be greeted by Joe before all four girls nearly tackle the mom they've only been able to visit once a week for the past year with screams of pure joy. As little Audriana jumps into Teresa's arms, I'm already sobbing and tears continue to stream down my face as Teresa breaks down at the homecoming she's waited eleven and a half months to experience. You guys. I can't even begin to imagine how this day felt for Teresa, Joe and especially those four little girls. I'm getting teary again just thinking about it. 

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The premiere ends with Teresa reveling in simply being back with her family. After enduring an endless nightmare since 2014, Teresa expresses in her confessional that she's finally made it. It's over. She explains that her naivete was really what landed her in prison, and she won't be making the same mistake twice. Teresa is back, and ready for a new chapter that will be better than ever. I couldn't be happier for her, or for the season ahead.

What did you think of the premiere? Was Teresa's homecoming as emotional for you as it was for me? Are you happy Jacqueline is back full-time? What's your first impression of Dolores and Siggy? Tell me in the comments below!