So, we can all agree that last night was the best night of Teresa Guidice's life, right? Not only did her star-making vehicle, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, return to Bravo, she could also be seen on Bravo's big bro NBC in Celebrity Apprentice 12: Judgment Day. In my head, the Gorga/Giudice family is currently in turmoil, because Teresa wanted everyone to play at her house because her face was on TWO big shows on the TV. Melissa only had one show (A sentence which the Teresa in my brain repeated many, many times). Cookies were thrown in the garbage. Gia recited Latin verses in the corner. Joe Gorga was crying. Joe Guidice broke three teeth and hit a deer with his car, while Milania waited with lighter fluid and a match, ready to watch the whole thing BURN! You stupid mouse. Yay yay yay, welcome back to Jersey!
We began in the summer, which, according to Kathy, people from New Jersey just LOVE. People hate summer everywhere else. But this summer would be a difficult one for the Gorga/Giudice/Wakile/Manzo/Laurita bunch: Teresa's cookbook, "Cooking With Pasta and Passive Aggressive Insults" was a best-seller, and the other ladies all had varying theories as to why they were attacked. Just kidding! "She's jealous of me because she has an abusive, alcoholic jailbird husband" was the overall consensus. I mean, she even made up a front porch to attack Melissa. Things were getting serious.
At this point, it already seemed that this season of Jersey was going to be a total repeat of last season: Gorga vs. Giudice: The Reckoning. But then, from an inconspicuous patio chair, an angelic voice spoke up: "I'm not a good reader. I'm like all stupid." She's back! Rosie, Kathy's take-no-prisoners, sweatpants and hat lovin' lesbian sister, was back to put things in perspective for the rest of those middle-aged Bratz dolls. "It pisses me off a little bit," she said of the cookbook. "Because if anybody I love and care about is attacked, I'm going into freakin' protect mode, and I will rip your heart out and eat it." She's going to make this season so, so much better.
Unfortunately, before we get back to the Bratz dolls and their fun little outing to the Jersey Shore, something needs to be addressed: That horrible soul-sucking hipster, Ashlee/Ashley/Ashleigh/Whatever. Henceforth she will be called Useless. So, Useless was already physically preparing for a move to Los Angeles, stocking up on blonde hair dye, piercings, and bad decisions. (If this b**ch ever goes west of Doheny, I'll be waiting.) Jacqueline moaned and Chris fumed, until they eventually sent her to that magical place where all wanton children go to learn about morals and good decision-making: Las Vegas.
Back to the action: Right after Caroline created a rainstorm with her eyes to get Teresa to stop talking, the Gorgas, Giudices, and Wakiles headed to Toms River, a magical, untouched Garden of Eden on the Jersey Shore, where you can't even tell you're in Jersey anymore. (Not true.) Milania, my love, made packing a little difficult: "Yeah you stupid pooper!" she screamed at Gia, when Gia was commanded to help the boring one find her Ipod Touch. When Teresa told her to apologize, she responded with a definitive "I'm chewing gum."
Everyone had problems on the way: Teresa had to deal with her miserable husband pseudo-bragging (in front of their children) about his business trip with "ladies," Melissa was upset because Teresa said she'd leave Joe for a richer man, and Kathy had to figure out how she could have a decent vacation with all of these loons in her house. When the Giudices pulled up to their tiny shore shack that would undoubtably cause Camille Grammar to say, in horror, "There isn't enough space here for us," they faced yet another tiny dilemma. There was a mouse in their pool slide thing, which isn't really important but it led to Milania freaking out screaming "You better not come up here you little stupid mouse," so I was a fan of this scene overall. I was not a fan of the following scene, which had Joe Gorga saying "There's going to be lots of orgasms happening," so let's skip that and move on to the inevitable drama.
Teresa finally confronted Joe about the fact that he might be going to jail and was probably having affairs, and all of this gossip was appearing in national magazines. "That's the life you chose," he said with a disinterested scowl. You guys, I'm clearly no fan of Teresa, but her home life is heartbreaking. Of course, the rest of the family discussed her problems behind her back for the rest of the episode, until Grandma screamed "Enough!" Thank you. Enough. Rosie also offered some words of wisdom: "I always get along, because I'm not a threat to her. I'm chubby, she's skinny. She's got beautiful long hair, I've got short hair. She's got her big f***king glamourous house, I live with my mother." Bravo: MAKE ROSIE A HOUSEWIFE!
The next day, the gang hit up Jersey's beautiful white sand beaches. Joe Gorga and Teresa ruined the day by having one of those nonsensical, Housewives-brand arguments where no one ever really listens to each other, nothing gets done, and both parties leave worse for the wear. See: Any argument between Ramona Singer and Jill Zarin, ever. The Jersey housewives and husbands typically end these fights with a passive-aggressive "Let's move on" or "Let's just go forward," but everyone know that this is never going to happen. Bravo Andy has no time for happy people.
What did you think of the RHONJ premiere, you little stupid mice?
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
Photo Credit: Bravo
Real Housewives of New Jersey: The Most Epic Fights
Six Reality Television Fighting Words I Never Want to Hear Again
Real Housewives' Danielle Stab Says Series Made Her Consider Suicide
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.