There’s an old saying: The family that helps one another through a 41-count federal indictment together, stays together. Or something like that.
As Real Housewives of New Jersey opens its sixth season, Melissa and Joe Gorga stand in support of Joe’s sister, Teresa Giudice, and her husband, Joe, who each face prison time for fraud. In other words, this is no time to re-hash past fights about discarded desserts or who called whom a stripper.
“No matter what has happened between Teresa and I—[it’s] ridiculous and petty,” says Melissa, who calls Teresa to commiserate when she sees news of their troubles on TV. “It means nothing right now with all of this.”
But fret not, catfight fans. This is the Real Housewives, so there’s always someone ready to throw down. Meet Amber Marchese—one of three new women introduced this year—who has her claws out from the outset.
“Melissa and I were friends in our twenties,” explains the married breast cancer survivor. “We both wanted to be successful. We had just different ways of going about it. So I went the school way. I’m a Columbia graduate. . . Melissa wanted to marry money.” Not even one episode in, and she’s already throwing shade. NeNe Leakes tips her hat to you, Amber.
Balancing out Amber’s feisty energy: Teresa’s longtime friend, Dina Manzo, who returns after abruptly quitting in season 2. (Conveniently, her estranged sister, Caroline Manzo, and sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, are both off the show.) “In my life,” says the ever-Zen Dina, who briefly lived in a Mongolian yurt while on hiatus from the show, “spirituality plays a huge role.”
So does her estranged husband, Tommy. He and Dina are still living together—and sleeping together!—even though they’re separated. Says Dina, “He has his life, I have mine and we me meet in the bedroom.”
Rounding out the cast: Amber’s friends, fiery twins Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano. To help viewers tell them apart, Teresa—pronounced Tuh-RAY-suh, thankyouverymuch—helpfully offers that she’s the “bitchier” sister. Like Dina, she has an unconventional relationship. She remarried her ex-husband Rino a few years after they split. (Meanwhile, in a Housewives first, divorcee Nicole bunks at her parents’ home!)
All the ladies come together together for the first time when Amber throws a “harvest party” at her home. (Let us pause and reflect on the amazingly ridiculous trend of themed Housewives parties: solstice parties, white parties, pajama parties, wine-and-painting parties, and, our personal favorite, a hoedown party at the construction site of a new home. No one has a barbecue anymore, huh?)
Alas, no tables are flipped at the harvest party, but the seeds of drama are sown. Amber immediately confronts Melissa about why their friendship faded. “I feel like you just disappeared,” Amber tells Melissa. Not about to be guilt-tripped, Melissa fires back, “I didn’t really hear from you, either.” And so the ladies leave it at that. . . for now.
The episode takes a surprisingly emotional turn back at the Giudices’ marble-filled mansion, where they pose for a portrait with Joe’s entire extended family. “Whenever anybody’s in trouble. . . this whole group is there in a minute,” Joe says in a toast that brings his daughter Gia to tears. “I love youse all.”
Tell Us: Do you feel bad for the Giudices? What do you think of the new cast members?