New Jersey housewives finally have their fight

The big event teased since the start of The Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s second season–the Danielle Staub versus Teresa Guidice fight with assault courtesy of Ashley Holmes–finally played out at the start of last night’s episode, and then the season resumed being boring.

Danielle Staub is about the least sympathetic person imaginable, but it’s also hard to watch what unfolded and think that Teresa and Ashley, and to a lesser degree, Jacqueline, were innocent. In fact, it was the reverse: Danielle walked past Teresa but Teresa called her over; Danielle overreacted to the word “honey” but Teresa took it to the next coke whore level; and above all else, Teresa chased after a screaming, terrified Danielle. Even assuming the worst, that Danielle was just being “a drama queen,” as Teresa accused her of, it was clear that Danielle wasn’t acting and was having some kind of breakdown.

Jacqueline’s daughter Ashley Holmes, who’s a moron and acted like a petulant five-year-old despite being 18, repeatedly admitted on camera that she pulled Danielle’s hair out, and later admitted it to the police. At least she didn’t lie, though she came up with an argument: “Technically, I didn’t grab her hair, I grabbed her extensions, so that’s really not a part of her,” she said.

“I hope you do suffer the consequences,” Jacqueline told her daughter, and her husband said, “you deserve to be taught a lesson.” Ashely was punished: She was found guilty and fined $189. Meanwhile, Tony Soprano–I mean, Caroline–pointed out that Danielle “got exactly what she wanted” because Teresa and Jacqueline “gave it to her.” Exactly.

“This is such fucking bullshit,” a random person in the crowd said, and that person was right. On some level, the whole thing played out like every person involved turned on the drama to make sure this season had a table-flipping scene. The results were sometimes comic, like when the driver insisted Teresa wasn’t getting anywhere near his Bentley, or when Teresa acted clueless around the cops and then insisted they talk to Danielle because she’s “a drama queen” and “a coke whore,” or when Jacqueline playing a game on her iPhone while pretending to talk to Danielle’s “energist,” who was trying to mediate. But it was also disturbing, especially when Danielle was hyperventilating and freaking out. Even later, she said odd things such as, “I believe they’re on a mission to kill Danielle.”

Andy Cohen had Teresa, Jacqueline, and Ashley on his post-episode show, and mocked the shit out of Danielle because he’s been taking Chris Harrison hosting lessons, apparently. “It’s a pulled hair extension tension intervention,” he said at the start of his inexplicably popular program. In fairness to Andy Cohen, he did tell Teresa, “it looked like you picked a fight,” but of course Teresa couldn’t fathom this possibility. He also asked about Danielle’s mention of her financial difficulties, and Teresa got defensive. (What really set Teresa off was when Danielle said her home is in foreclosure, which apparently it’s not.)

Worse than his show’s production values, though, was the way he treated the whole thing like a joke, ripping on Danielle as both Teresa and Jacqueline played innocent. Andy even played Danielle crying “get me out of here” and “I want to go home” as a comic remix, and that really misreads how the scene played, I think. Sure, Danielle should have just left, but again, she did not seem to be rational or emotionally stable. When a similar line was crossed during the New York City season, those women knew to pull back. Let’s hope the New Jersey group figures that out, too.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.