Really, Bravo? That’s the best title you can come up with? I mean, yes. YES. Teresa and Juicy Joe are totally becoming Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco (when Juice calls her Tre I wish so much that he would just say “Kaaaaaren.”) Don’t act like you don’t want to see the IRS pull up to their redonk house and Tre has to run to the bathroom to flush all of the “speshully imported semolina flour” down the toilet. “I was scared, Henry! I was scared!”
…I’m a little into gangster movies, you might have picked up on that. But fugheddaboutit, this is about family. About Turkey Day, what are you busting my balls for? [emphatic hand gestures]
Jesus Spice “Melissa” is off to Corrado’s [a food library] to get supplies for the holiday dinner with the whole family in tow. As a mother of three myself, this is not a good idea. You don’t take the kids to the store with you. You especially don’t take your husband. For women that like to be old school, I’m surprised by this. It’s like letting your husband watch you pull on Spanx or taking off your makeup, you’re destroying the fantasy.
Things of hilarity in the market: Mel calling it “privalone” cheese (I get it, you all like to pronounce things as “Italian” as you can. It’s like the newscasters here speaking in perfect Midwestern diction then going all Inigo Montoya when they say they’re on Guadalupe Street with Mister Castañeda. She selects a pork butt and Bro Joe, who never misses an opportunity to remind us all that he’s a vital man, filled with the essence of sexuality and possibly also prosciutto, tells the butcher that he’s an ass man as he slaps at the meat. If you were my Mistuh, you’d be slapping your own meat for the rest of the night, ya feel me?
(And I had a great joke about a missing comma, “I’m an ass, man” but Jay Mohr posted his version first. Jossed by Jay, DAMN IT.)
Karen and Henry, er, Teresa and Juicy take a circuitous drive through the state to find this one particular turkey farm. It’s more of a store front with cages in the back, not the idyllic Pepperidge Farm Juicy thought it would be. And Juicy bitches about how Tre drives the whole time. Brother, you don’t like it, you drive, s’themattah with you? Which makes me wonder if he lost his license back when he had that drunk driving accident last year? Which means his wife has been schlepping his ass around, so shut ya piehole, or I’ll shut it for yous.
Kathy whips up desserts for the dinner at Mel’s. Apparently it’s really a passion for her. She’s all snappish in the kitchen when people get in the way, and I have to admit, I do the same thing when I’m having to constantly direct traffic while cooking. GUYS I LEARNED A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT MYSELF, is what I’m saying. The kids pitch in, Rich wanders in trying to dip his…finger in the sweets (I kid, he’s not a letch) and she slaps at his hands. Meanwhile, a pan of mini-cupcakes or or something burns and she gets upset. She’s all distracted thinking about Caroline assuming she’s some kind of troublemaker, that’s why they burned. Mm hmm, I make excuses, too, when I mess up in the kitchen.
Tre and Juicy Liotta get to the turkey place. The manager wants them to go outside to the pens and pick out a bird, he’ll butcher it (head, feet, entrails, feathers) and they can take a nice bird home. That’s the reality, folks, food doesn’t come off an assembly line. They freak out a little, think the bird is terrified (it may well be, but it won’t be fa long, if ya feel me) and decide to take two of the pre-killed birds instead. You know, so they don’t have to feel guilty. People, that was a walking, quacking bird yesterday, the hell? Whatevuh, they go pay. Juicy looks at Tre, “Uh, put it on the card? Or cash?” and he’s thinking “don’t use cash, don’t use cash, it’s all we have,” and Tre looks back at him. “Pay cash,” and gives a little laugh of disbelief. Maybe y’all shouldn’t be having a dinner party, I’m just saying.
Caroline, Albert and Lauren are driving out into the middle of nowhere (a town a few hops over) to Vito’s father’s deli so the two sets of parents can get to know each other. This is one of many instances of “so marry her, already!” in the episode. None of them feel comfortable. Vito’s family is from Sicily, and Albert gives a knowing look, and makes a mental note to keep his eyes peeled for piano wire, baseball bats, or someone asking him to carry a box of cannoli and go on a long drive. Lauren rolls her eyes, “They’re not in the mob, not everyone from Sicily is in the mob, dad.” Example: Sophia Petrillo, even though she told Dorothy that, eh, maybe. (Picture it: Sicily, 1922!)
Vito’s family owns a proper Italian deli, good meats, good cheese, virgin olive oil so pure it makes the Mother Mary [crosses self, kisses fingers] look like a good fanuthin whoo-ah. Caroline immediately starts in with “so get married already” as Vito wonders if his neck will fit in the meat slicer. The Manzos have way more money than Vito’s family, it seems, and Albert and Vito’s papa get into a “remember how poor we were back in the day?” competition, with Albert delighting in the fact that he no longer is. He’s also not afraid to keep rubbing in the differences in household incomes. Jesus, what are you busting his balls for? He makes an honest living, feeds his family, too? Albert’s kind of shitty.
The Manzo boys, Christuhphuh and Albie are hanging at their place while Greg, their “Mister” cleans the bathroom. I’ll give it to them, they were smart to have a very tidy gay man move in with them, because he’ll keep the place looking sharp. They better be putting out as a thank you, that’s all I’m saying. By which I mean keeping Greg’s busted puppy in fine Affliction hoodies fa dogs. Wink.
Ashley comes over; she’s really close to the Manzo kids, her cousins by marriage, because she lived with them for a while. She starts in on how she wants her own place in NYC, it’s, like, soooooo hard to get into the city every day for her job, ferserius. And she has to do it, like, every day, oh my god. Christuhphuh shuts her down quickly: “I think it’s like… 5 million people commute from New Jersey to the city every single day.” Albie ties the bow on this reality check: “You don’t have any money.”
This, she listens to. Typical teen girl. Who cares, though, as long as she learns the lesson: you can’t just have stuff because you want it, sugar booger. You have to earn it. She starts crying, and tells the guys, “I must be PMSing.” I’ve mentioned how much I dislike her, right? Ugh. Greg, who y’all know is loving every minute of this, just keeps petting his ol’ broke-down grandma dog, designing a sailor suit for her in his mind. Oooh, and a little hat? And maybe some “sleeves” with anchors on them to make her look all butch? ADORBS.
Jacqueline and Chris meet up in their kitchen. And they notice the kitchen is clean, neither one of them having cleaned it. And Jacqueline then notices that Ashley’s room is clean, and she never cleans anything. (See, there’s the problem right there, folks. I don’t care who you are, unless you have a Royal staff, pick up your own shit. Make your own bed, put your own clothes up, my god!)
Ashley comes in after having walked the dog – unprompted, throw the child a ticker-tape parade! See my eye roll? Ugh. Chris and Jacqueline are immediately suspicious, clearly she wants something, I mean, clearly, right? Jacqueline asks her straight out: “What’s your motive?”
“I just think I could improve myself.”
FINALLY THE DAY HAS COME! So first, let’s look at using some Pro-active, next, let’s discuss your posture, you’re going to look like a camel in another five years. Now. Look at your life, look at your choices. Your life is going down the toilet! Stop the whining all the time and –
Oh. She just wants to pitch in with some chores, hoping her parents will think she’s all grown up now and give her a Mercedes and a co-op on Central Park West. She giggles to the camera, “I just want to be Carrie Bradshaw!” You’re almost horsey enough, Ashley. Almost. (Ok, that was mean. I happen to like Sarah Jessica Parker. Her body is perfection, don’t play like it isn’t.)
Time for Thanksgiving drama. Tre is up early, all the kids dressed in their matching leopard outfits with coordinating hair bows and shoes (ugh), as she starts whipping up dinner for 20 people. That’s a lot of work with no help. The kids are going nutso, pulling hair, climbing onto things, and I wonder why she doesn’t just plop them in a swing or lock them in the garage with a car running. (Just enough to make them sleepy, I’m not a monster!)
Help me out, folks, was that sink of hers hand-blown glass mosaic tiles? What a pain in the ass to clean! Ah, well, it probably matches her Real Onyx Floors. She starts telling Gia – as she struggles with prep work – that it’s okay for everything to not be perfect. Gia eye rolls because she knows her mother better than everyone. Hairbrushes to the ass for getting your outfit messed up, please. Meanwhile, Juicy is upstairs asleep not doing a damn thing. He is an entire bag of tiny, thin dicks that smell like a handful of nickels on a hot summer day. I’m nt a fan of Juicy’s, if you’re not getting that.
At Jesus Spice’s, she’s also getting ready for a big crowd. Remember how she had a 15,000 sq ft home? In that massive space, the only place for a dining table is in the entryway. Really? But that’s where you stash the babies, Mel, what are you thinking? She puts on an honest-to-god MINK APRON (I want to smash people and things, are you fucking kidding me with that?) and her sisters show up and pitch in. Aw, that’s nice, though.
The guys start drinking and looming over everything as the ladies all get to work. Mel says that’s just how it is, all of the women accept this (oh hale naw) that the guys sleep, then wake up saying, “Where’s my food, bitch?” I would say: in the garbage, have at it. And then drink another bottle of wine and wonder about my own life, my own choices.
Kathy and fam show up, and girlfriend threw down in the kitchen. The desserts she brought! They look fabulous. There are three kinds of tirimasu, facryinoutloud. Ay, marone, what did we do to deserve such a thing? (finger kiss) Wee little individual cakes, cookies, martini glasses of tirimasu and homemade cannoli.
Bro Joe tells Mel to count to a minute, then come outside, he has a surprise. She’s expecting diamonds, a new puppy, a puppy made of diamonds, because she’s come to expect this sort of thing. Instead she finds a huge, inflatable play yard with a mechanical bull in the middle. Because nothing screams Thanksgiving more than being thrown around by machinery, am I right? Joe hops on, writhes around for a minute, saying “Now I know how my wife feels!” What, like a piece of meat for you to ride? Christ, just get on with dinner already, we get it, you like to screw. You have massive, pungent, goatish balls of man juice, can we move on?
Nope. Mel gets a turn and Joe hops on facing her, making it some kind of foreplay thing. Oh, the whole family is standing around them, of course. Kids, cousins, neighbors, etc. Good hell, this guy! Just blow your load, get the poison out, and let your wife finish putting dinner on the table.
At Teresa’s, she’s still doing all the prep work alone. TWO turkeys, all the sides and fixins, chair bows, centerpieces, the whole nine. ALONE. Caroline and Jacqueline show up with their families in tow and store bought cookies (pignolis and “sprinkle cookies,” respectively.) Joe makes a toast (he’s woken up and raked a comb through his stubble) and Tre gets emotional, telling the women how they’ve become like sisters to her. Aww.
Joe regales the group with the story of the turkey farm. “It was the most disgustingous thing evah.” Was it, Joe? The most disgustingous? Because I’m thinking the trash can at the wax salon after you get your back taken care of is probably the most “disgustingous” thing.
Mel gets everyone to gather at the table, with a reminder to watch their feet, the babies are all wrapped up at the front door. She then prays to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, thank you Jesus for my house, my minks, my husband, yeah, yeah, your Everlasting Love, and wraps it up with a loud, “Thank you, Jesus!” Yes, Jesus really wanted to reward your love for Him with a mink apron, that’s totally how He works. Sucks to be you, Hadji, climb back in your mud hole until you can accept Christ’s everlasting embrace. A-men.
Everyone at Jesus Spice’s is super happy, affectionate with one another, loving and kind. That’s nice! Rich, because he’s becoming quite the pot stirrer, tells Joe that he should call up Tre, invite her over for dessert, why dontcha? Joe, probably a few sheets to the wind now (they had three shots of tequila BEFORE appetizers) just mumbles that “it is what it is.” Just a little something about me, I haaate that trite, banal phrase.
At Tre’s, it’s a different scene. The two middle kids slap each other in the face and Tre goes all Mommy Dearest, no more wire hangers-crosseyed, shrieking, “don’t hit your sister! SAY YOU’RE SORRY! YOU DON’T HIT YOUR SISTER!” as everyone at the table looks around uncomfortably. One of the girls throws a huge temper tantrum, which echoes and bounces off the Real Onyx Floors.
Gia breaks the tension by adding more. She chats up Vito, here with Lauren, asking him when he’s gonna ask Lauren to get married. No, that’s not awkward for him. He starts wondering how fast he can stab out his eyeballs and get out of there alive. Lauren starts talking up and down the table about how he will ask her, how she’s going to say yes, and for the love of god, Vito, SHE IS EXPECTING IT. He sits there looking vapor locked.
Ashley bails to hang with her friends, but at least she thanks Teresa for a lovely dinner. Jacqueline tells Caroline all about the marathon letter writing session earlier, how they’ve delivered the letter, but heard nothing back from Joe.
Bro Joe tells his group about the letter, as well. Says that Teresa apologized, how she said she wants them to reconcile and be a family again. Rich butts in with his pot stirring, “But what did she apologize for?” Drop it, buddy, let it happen! Joe just continues to be bull-headed about the whole thing and wants Tre to do all the work.
Kathy, to the camera, talks about how close her son and daughter are, and how it would just kill her if they didn’t care about each other as adults and really loses it, crying. Oh, bless, Kathy, you’re a tender heart. Come over and bake me treats and I’ll pat your hand and keep you in wine.
Juicy tells the group that it’s all Bro Joe’s fault, that Tre’s older so he should be giving her respect. Tre flashes back to her housewarming party in Season 1 where she pulled her brother out on the dance floor (made of Real Onyx,) complimented him and said how much she loved him. The camera catches Mel in the crowd looking far less… put together. I can’t decide if it’s because she’s had work done or because she now has someone doing her hair and makeup. She’s less spicy, regardless. Or irregardless, as Juicy would say.
Tre shows the table the card she got from her brother and Mel after that, and Jacqueline is so bored with this topic that she bangs her baby’s head on the edge of the table for an excuse to get away. (Babies are supposed to be wrapped up and put on the doorstep, Jackie. How else does Father Guido know he can slip ornate Christian Audigier belt buckles in their hoodies for the holidays?)
The card Mel wrote, oh my god, get ready, guys. Mel wrote: “God bless you guys on your redone home.”
That conniving, evil mother fucker. How dare she! Redone? REDONE? They reBUILT that sumbitch, and that was just catty and low!
I don’t even know anymore, you guys, they’re just looking for things to bitch about. Case in point: Mel brought over some Baby Jesus-raping SPRINKLE COOKIES last Christmas Day, like a knife in Tre’s heart! She should have just spit in the face of the Holy Mother (cross self, finger kiss) I mean, sprinkle cookies? Tre told Mel to her face that they were disgusting, no one ate them, and she had to throw them away, which is better than throwing them in her bitch-ass pregnant face.
Wait, what was that? Caroline asks her if she doesn’t think that was mean of Tre. Oh, and meanwhile, Jacqueline has a poker face slapped on because remember who brought sprinkle cookies that very night? Oh, Jacqueline, it’s like you invited Satan into her house, how could you? God damned Sprinkle Cookies of Evil Intent. Her children live in that house! S’themattah witchu?
Caroline tries to shut this down, shut this all down. She says what we’re all thinking (well, not all of us) “How can you repair things when you keep digging and poking?” If you thought Teresa heard this, you’ve been drinking too much. So invite me over, next time, we’ll get trashed together. Chris Laurita tells Tre to take the high road, already, and be the adult. You have to like the Lauritas (Caroline’s maiden name, don’t forget,) they don’t put up any false fronts. Tre just keeps saying the ball is in her brother’s court.
Back at Bro Joe’s court, Rich tells everyone to zip it, let’s all be happy, facrissake, even though he’s the one that keeps poking the bear. Mel tells Joe to fix it, already, because it’s just beyond. Joe’s Brother in law, the one who looks like a goodfella that went to boarding school, slurs out about how he lost his brother three years ago, and not a day goes slur slur slobber life is short yafeelme? slurred words and if that bitch ever calls my wife again… (pass out.) He pops his head back up and asks for another beer then tells Joe, ya unnastan? And he does.
Mel tells the camera about how she was only 17 when her dad died, how important her sisters were to her, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t miss her father. Oh, bless, Jesus Spice, look at you with real humanity! She doesn’t want Joe to regret all of these lost years, should something happen, cross self, kiss fingers, look at ornate cruciform on the wall. She tells Joe, you talk to her, or I will.
Joe slurs out, “Imma call her, hear what she has to say.” He compliments his wife all night on the hard work she’s done to put this dinner together, kisses her, and tells everyone how grateful he is. Aww, that’s nice! I’m glad to see they’re not all caricatures all the time.
NEXT WEEK! Mel breathlessly sings Amazing Grace in A flat as Joe humps the dressing table. Of course religious music gives him a boner, of course it does. Kathy has real family drama (her daughter had a tennis ball sized tumor in her brain? Good lord!) and Tre and Juicy cockblock any progress made with Bro Joe.