Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not Your Typical Catholic Christening

No, I don’t fake bake and I don’t wear bumpettes in my hair. But, I’m from New Jersey. Before leaving New Jersey for California, I wasn’t so rah-rah about the land of the waffle houses, 24-hour diners, and the gas stations where it’s illegal to pump your own gas. But, since my time at Stanford, I have gotten super-defensive about it. Especially after the explosion of trashy but addicting reality TV shows like Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey (though I have yet to see an episode of E!’s Jerseylicious), the hate came tenfold from people all over. When meeting new classmates, people would greet the news that I hailed from NJ with, “Oh, Joisey?” Mm yeah, that’s a laugh. Real original. How long did it take you to think of that? Or they think I’m joking when I say NJ is the Garden State. I’m not. Really, look it up. However, at the same time, trashy reality TV is like a car crash, it’s brutal but I can’t look away. And the Real Housewives of New Jersey Series fall under this category. Though I originally boycotted Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey because it sends the wrong message about the general population of New Jersey, I finally gave in. Because at the end of the day, these reality stars are so over-the-top that these 40-something-minute snippets of their lives paint them as characters, rather than people, that it’s less about where they’re from and more about the drama they bring to the viewers.

Which brings me to the Season 3 Premiere episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey. After two seasons of the Real Housewives of New Jersey episodes under my TV viewership belt, I thought the show had reached the peak of its drama. From Teresa Guidice’s “prostitution whore” rant and table-flipping directed at Danielle Staub, to Jacqueline’s daughter’s weave-ripping incident with Danielle, I thought I had seen it all. However, at Melissa and Joey Gorga’s infant son’s christening party, things got ugly. With the Joey and Joe yelling obscenities and attempting to charge at each other, causing other christening partygoers to either hold the two men back or start brawling with other partygoers, in addition to the children crying and telling their parents to stop fighting, the christening party was anything but a wholesome affair. However, unlike the other drama that has happened in the past, I wasn’t laughing at the train wreck I was watching. Rather, I was wide-eyed, slightly horrified, but engrossed. And it somewhat pained me to see Teresa and her husband at such odds with Teresa’s brother and his family. Caroline, another Real Housewife on this show, said last year that “blood is thicker than water.” Family is very important, especially on this show, and the fact that there is so much drama and tension between the Guidices and Gorgas is kinda tough to watch. But, this season premiere has drawn me in further, not because it’s even more over-the-top than I ever expected it to be, but because the bit of vulnerability these cast members show the camera, weaved into the craziness, extravagance, and absurdity of the show, adds some depth to these characters, even if it does so ever so slightly.

And, for all the craziness I can’t personally relate to, I agree with Teresa’s opening credits one-liner, “I’m a Jersey girl. No one can knock me down.” Real talk.

- Sarah Gepigon

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