Team Melissa or Team Teresa?

It’s been overwhelming and heartening to see my greatest love, reality television, suddenly catch everyone’s attention over the last few months Vanderpump Rules and the #Scandoval.

But you are all brand new.

They gave a lot of attention to one season of the show because it was in the news. You may have checked out Bravo’s handy watch guides from previous seasons. It’s really cute. But some of us have invested a decade in it. And it’s finally paying off.

You can have your #Scandoval. I’m going to have the three greatest episodes of my life: the Real housewives from New Jersey See you in season 13.

I laughed. I cried. Most of the time I was so uncomfortable that I wanted my skin to be a sweatshirt that I could rip off and burn, then donate the embers as ash for Dolores Catania’s next Smokey Eye (she looks so good!).

I remember being told in Little League that work pays off when you put it in. I still can’t hit baseball, but I’ve spent 10 years following the drama between Teresa Giudice and her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga, and — if I’m using sports metaphors correctly (who could tell) — I’m finally hitting my home run.

Each year, Bravo fans debate which version of the currently airing Real Housewives series is the best. Sometimes it comes as a surprise (as Ariana DeBose would say: Potomac, you managed). Sometimes I have to catch up (I slept way too long). Miami; you shouldn’t do that). And sometimes it’s a hard truth (new York needed a reboot but I’m still skeptical). But this is all a discussion of what all Bravo fans know: Nobody does it like that New Jersey makes it.

If you have seen all three parts RHONJ Bye, well, you’re probably walking around the block smoking a cigarette and asking yourself, “Does she actually speak Italian?” If you didn’t, I’d compare it to the worst family argument you can imagine at Thanksgiving dinner , which after a decade is finally coming to fruition while everyone is wearing prom dresses.

Real housewives from New Jersey The fans have put in a lot of work. The #Scandoval? A flash in the pan. We’ve been following the Teresa vs. Melissa drama since “Tik Tok” was just a Kesha song on the radio—back when her name had a “$.”

The pleasure and pain of RHONJ is how ingrained all relationships are. They’re the most exuberant, lighthearted, and funniest cast of any reality TV show when they get along. And they’re at their darkest and most disturbing when they’re not. Finally, we addressed the latter point in a terrifying reunion that eventually had Teresa and Melissa turning on each other.

It was a reunion that brought to light deep-rooted family trauma, and one that also inexplicably referenced Bo Dietl so often that I’m afraid people now know who Bo Dietl is.

To revisit the story of Teresa and her sister-in-law, Melissa, would require a… war and peace (or memoirs by Barbra Streisand) Number of pages on par. But suffice it to say that in both the show and the Bravo fandom, the battle lines have been drawn: you’re either Team Teresa or Team Melissa.

It wouldn’t be rude to say that Teresa Giduice is the reason Real Housewives is a phenomenon we all know. She’s the one who turned the tables. She also explained the reason why her franchise RHONJIt works so well, even if it’s the bane of its existence: it’s built on family.

Teresa has harbored a grudge over how Melissa joined the show for a decade, stemming from whether or not Melissa’s desire to get on TV was thirsty. It’s a complaint that not a single person cares anymore except for Teresa, who seeded it, nurtured it, and watched it grow into a reality TV phenomenon that was so stressful I had to make sure my bottle of Tums Wine stood next to me as I watched it explode.

The fights RHONJ The reunion was so ugly and uncomfortable. Andy Cohen, who moderated the discussion, had the right reaction cycle: he lost patience and yelled at everyone to shut up. I also lost patience watching them do it.

Here’s my take: whatever the initial drama was between Melissa and Teresa, it was so long ago that it’s ridiculous to keep bringing it up (which Teresa does every other minute). It motivates every sentence Teresa speaks on the show that a decade later has become unreasonable. When Melissa tries to talk to Teresa about the actual new drama on the show, she hits a wall of irrationality. I think both of them are wrong, and I think their respective spouses, Joe Gorga and Louie Ruelas, are the two most obnoxious men on TV. But if one person comes from a point of view of logic and reason, and another person screams delusions, that’s enough.

I think about this every Pride month: How often in my life have I been forced to come out. What I didn’t realize as a Bravo fan is how many times I’ve had to come out as Team Melissa.

My Real Housewives Group Chat still refuses to acknowledge this truth, but I am who I am and I stand behind it. Teresa has spent the last few years as a human torch of fire, trying to burn Melissa and Joe to the ground. If you look at every reunion and fight (or most) you know they’re trying to make sense of her. But basically, by this point, she’s just a human air horn that blares whenever one of them speaks.

i thought i was so over That Teresa and Melissa drama, but lo and behold, that was the most riveting season I’ve ever seen RHONJ be. That means I need an end to the fighting. It’s been gratifying for this reunion trilogy, but it’s too dark to continue. RHONJ is always a bit more disturbing than the other shows in the franchise. As my friend (rightly) joked, “What other reality show is there ‘He threw my mom in her frigging grave?'”

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