‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ Season 7 Premiere Recap: Teresa Giudice Returns Home From Prison

They don’t call it the slammer for nothing. In the Sunday, July 10, season 7 premiere of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, everyone was buzzing about the imminent release of Teresa Giudice from prison, where she had just served an 11-and-a-half-month sentence for fraud charges. While all agreed Teresa coming home was a good thing, Jacqueline Laurita, along with Melissa Gorga and husband Joe Gorga, seemed to be less preparing for a celebration and more bracing for a storm.

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Melissa Struggles to Be a Modern Woman

In a significant departure from her persona of seasons past, Melissa was eager to spread her wings beyond wife and motherhood to try her hand at business. “I don’t think it’s bad to want to have something that I did without the help of my husband — besides having him build it for me,” she explained to the camera with a smile.

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To be clear, Joe was building her a boutique, which he didn’t think was a wise investment, since retail is risky, but Melissa wasn’t taking no for an answer. She also made a point of explaining that while Joe was doing manual labor for her, he was being paid, and she was the one paying for it. “You are working for me. Get to work!” she laughed. Joe responded by sending her home to cook him dinner.

Jacqueline and Chris Laurita Deal With Their New Reality

In contrast to the Gorgas’ seemingly never-ending cash flow, Jacqueline and Chris Laurita were struggling. Explaining that they had fallen on some hard times, they admitted they had sold a bunch of their possessions and were looking to downsize. In addition, they’d agreed to not exchange Christmas gifts that year, focusing on the love they had for each other (which was free!) instead.

“Little by little, we are clawing our way out of trouble,” Jacqueline said to the camera, while Chris commented how appreciative he was that his wife was not as materialistic as some other people (insert throat-clearing and pointing at Teresa here).

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Besides the money troubles, however, life seemed on the up-and-up. Their son Nicholas — who has struggled with severe autism — was reading, riding a bike and saying, “I love you,” on a regular basis, which Jacqueline reported through tears. There was also (finally) peace between Jacqueline and her 25-year-old daughter, Ashlee, who had moved back home to save money while working as a makeup artist. Basically, the family was a family once again.

Teresa Sends Melissa a Letter From Jail

With the holiday season in full swing, the ladies were busy planning parties to get everyone together. Jacqueline and Chris were set to host one before Teresa returned home, while Joe and Melissa were set to host another after she got back. (Though whether Teresa would be able to attend was up to the discretion of her parole officer.)

Reflecting on Teresa’s return, both her brother and sister-in-law weren’t sure where they stood with the cookbook author. “I’ve done everything I possibly can,” Joe Gorga said. “But I’m still not feeling that brotherly and sisterly love.” For her part, Melissa admitted, “I haven’t seen or talked to my sister-in-law for a year.” She went on to say she wasn’t sure what to expect when Teresa came home, but added, “If she comes home and it doesn’t start off right from the very beginning, I don’t know if there’s going to be much hope for us.”

Interestingly, while Teresa never approved Melissa to be on her visitor list in jail, she penned a short letter to her sister-in-law. “Melissa, looking forward to Christmas Eve with our families,” Teresa wrote. “Should I bring sprinkle cookies?” (ICYMI: Melissa and Teresa had a massive fight over sprinkle cookies in the past when Teresa declared that she’d thrown the ones Melissa had given her in the garbage.)

Melissa wasn’t sure what to make of the note, but was clearly determined to proceed with caution.

Teresa Sends Jacqueline a Letter From Jail

Apparently on a writing kick, Teresa also wrote a letter to Jacqueline, which began with the semi-awkward comment, “Heard you were asking about me.” Jacqueline raised an eyebrow at that, wondering why Teresa would begin that way. Teresa then pivoted to a friendlier tone, however, noting that she was “looking forward to a new beginning.”

Jacqueline reiterated that their 13-year friendship had suffered a lot in the last few years and had “never quite recovered,” despite a few attempts to mend the relationship.

Real Housewives of New Jersey
Dolores Catania, Siggy Flicker, Teresa Giudice, Melissa Gorga and Jacqueline Laurita Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Old Wounds, New Friends Surface at Jacqueline’s Holiday Bash

During Jacqueline and Chris’ holiday party, Melissa and the hostess discussed their respective notes, determining that they were both pretty confused and not feeling confident about what to expect. Jacqueline asked Melissa, “What now is so different that I’m supposed to believe now is sincere?” And Melissa compared Teresa to a bad ex-boyfriend who texts you just at the moment when you’re about to be over him. (That doesn’t sound good.)

Meanwhile, two newbie Housewives dropped in to celebrate: Siggy Flicker and Dolores Catania. Having had a recent face-lift of some sort, Siggy was still pretty numb, and the gals got busy discussing their latest plastic surgery adventures. In other words, they’d moved on from Teresa talk — until her brother, Joe, said a brief toast in her honor.

Teresa Returns Home

Fresh off the good news that Teresa’s parole officer had approved her attendance at her brother’s Christmas Eve party, her lawyer headed to Connecticut to pick up the soon-to-be ex-inmate. Her husband could hardly contain his excitement at not being the sole parent responsible for their daughters. “It’s like being married to five women,” he sighed. “They think they can boss me around.” Gia then entered the room to announce that the two youngest girls would not be going to school that day since their mom was coming home. Joe said everyone had to go to school.

Teresa pulled up to the house early in the morning on December 23, 2015, with an army of paparazzi outside. She managed to slip inside the house without being seen, and had a quiet moment with Joe Giudice before announcing her return to their girls.

“Hi, honey. Welcome home,” he said. She immediately burst into tears. “I missed my house, and I missed you,” she said as they hugged and kissed. “I can’t believe I’m home!”

She then called for their daughters, who came running to embrace their mother. “I love you. I love you,” she repeated. “I missed you.” To the camera, she added, “I made it. I did it. I was dreaming about this moment for the past 11-and-a-half months — like, am I really home?” She also explained that she had been “very naive” but wouldn’t be anymore. “I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

Her youngest daughters then asked if they had to go to school, and she said no.

Tell Us: Do you think Teresa is going to mend her relationships with Melissa and Jacqueline?

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs on Bravo Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. 

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