Real Fathers Of New Jersey

This post won’t be for everyone, but will hopefully be fun for those of you who love or hate Bravo’s reality show series The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the show, cameras follow five women around from an affluent part of New Jersey. The editors focus on the drama most of the time, but every now and then you get some genuinely legit, real moments. For some people they’re too far and few between, which I completely get. To each their own. I was watching tonight’s episode–yes, I’m a fan all on my own, it’s not like I watch it only because my wife does–and I thought it would be interesting to run down the fathers on the show and mention a thing or two I’ve learned from them. Mind you, I try to learn something from everything I do, even when it’s what not to do. There’s a lot of that when it comes to the fathers on this show, but also a few guys I actually quite like.

I will note right now that I’m not trying to judge these people. Aside from living in a glass house and not wanting to toss stones, it’s also ridiculous to assume you know someone from watching them on a TV show for what probably doesn’t amount to more than a few minutes a wee (especially when it comes to the men, who aren’t the focus, obviously). There are a lot of hours in the filming day and only 45 or so minutes make it into the episode, so there’s a lot that goes unseen. I’m just going on what I’ve seen.

CHRIS LAURITA (Jacqueline’s husband, CJ & Nicholas’ father, Ashley’s step-dad, Caroline’s brother)I actually like Chris quite a bit. He either doesn’t like being on camera much or his scenes aren’t particularly interesting because he doesn’t appear too much. In fact, I don’t remember seeing him with his two boys much, but again, that’s not a commentary on their relationship. I do however like how he’s handled Jacqueline’s daughter from a previous message Ashley. She seems like a really spoiled brat. I have no idea when she started down that road, but Chris seems to be trying to straighten her out a little. Last season, he tried to get Ashley to stop hurling insults at then-Housewife Danielle which was just causing trouble for everyone and this year he tried to explain to her how you don’t just get handed an apartment in New York City, you actually have to work for it. I don’t know if any of it really gets through to her, but he’s trying. He seems to be the strong, silent type which can carry its own sets of problems (what parenting style doesn’t?), but sometimes the law needs to be laid down. I like how nicely he treats Ashley. He could be a lot harder on her, but he seems to take into account the fact that she’s dealing with being split between her mother and father’s families.

RICH WAKLIE (Kathy’s husband, Victoria & Joseph’s dad)Rich comes off as a goofball with his huge glasses and exposed-chest-with-cross-necklace, but I think he’s got a good heart going on. He’s a new addition to the cast this year thanks to his wife Kathy becoming one of the newest Housewives. Most of his scenes involve him talking a big game about doing something while paying other people to actually do it (putting up Christmas decorations) or taking his wife’s idea of starting a small catering company and blowing it out of proportion into buying a restaurant for her. There was one episode a few weeks back where he and Kathy had a very real and honest conversation with their kids Victoria and Joseph about using drugs and drinking. In the past, their kids had signed a pledge about abstaining from such things, but with them getting older (17 and 15 respectively) they had the kids actually write up their own this time. I thought that was an interesting route to take and can see the merits there. Overall the kids seem relatively well adjusted so he and Kathy must be doing something right. That’s one of those really difficult conversations to have, but their family seemed close and honest enough to have it. It might not have exactly gone as Rich and Kathy would have liked, but at least they had it.

JOE GIUDICE (Teresa’s husband, Gia, Gabriella, Milania & Audriana’s dad)Joe’s kind of a question mark for me. He makes it seem like he’s this stereotypical Italian guy who leaves the rearing of the kids to his wife. But I think he’s something of a softy inside. Like most of the other dads on the show, you don’t see a lot of him with the kids. I remember a few times where he goofed around with his girls, giving them kind of a hard time, but it seemed to be in good spirits. I’m not sure how good of a role model he is considering his drunk driving arrest, seemingly bad attitude and how much he lied to his family about their financial problems. I also get the feeling that maybe, being the big tough guy that he is, that he might have trouble getting close to his daughters, but that’s just a guess. He’s the kind of guy that could be a great or terrible father, it’s just hard to tell based on the show.

JOE GORGA (Melissa’s husband, Antonia, Gino & Joey’s dad, Teresa’s brother)I have a strong dislike of Joe Gorga. He’s that typical, male asshole who expects his wife to stay home and be with the kids no matter what. Sure, he’s kind of nice about it, offering to build his wife Melissa a recording studio because she wants to be a singer when she grows up, but I get the strong impression that, if she really wanted to have a career or follow her dreams, he wouldn’t allow it. I’m reacting more to the way he treats his wife than how he treats his kids, but that can’t be a good environment for the kids. You do see him with the kids hanging out on occasion but I disagree with his general ideas on male/female relationships. For me, a marriage is a partnership where the two people elevate each other and do the same with the kids. It seems to me like he’s keeping his wife down, but distracting her with recording studios and lavish parties. Of course, it’s a two way street and she doesn’t exactly seem to be fighting it. Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses, but it looks like cash is the opiate of the trophy wife.

ALBERT MANZO (Caroline’s husband, Albie, Lauren & Chris’ dad)Unlike Joe Gorga, I actually really like Albert Manzo. His wife Caroline and their kids are my favorite part of the show and probably the only reason I keep watching as the series devolves into an endless series of pointless catfights that only rich people have time for. We learned an episode or two back that Albert took over the family business when his father died at 19. He’s worked hard to build the Brownstone up and it’s a huge success. All that work probably kept him away from home more often than he’d like, but he built a secure life for his family, which is commendable. At the same time, his children all have a really strong work ethic and drive to do, instead of have done for them. Heck, even goofball Chris wants to open his own carwash…a sexy carwash, but it’s something I guess. Albert seems to be a good, strong man who has raised children of the same ilk along with his wife and that’s what it’s all about, right?

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