Gia, We Hear You Loud and Clear
By Lolly Price
September 17, 2011
Wasn’t it heartbreaking to watch Gia cry as she sang at her sister’s birthday party? That was a surprise but maybe it shouldn’t have been. When the episode was over I thought about this season and I wondered how everything led to this scene where we see a little girl hurting so badly.
Until then, I mostly thought about how great and interesting this season has been as a whole. It has been really fascinating to watch on many levels. Great new cast members entered the scene and that nasty plot line of everyone ganging up on Danielle had ended. (I couldn’t have continued to watch that.)
As each episode is aired we learn more about the complicated brother-sister relationship of Teresa and Joe. At the beginning we barely notice that a lot of their history was being told by Melissa, Joe’s wife who we learn also has on-going conflicts with Teresa.
Back then, we didn’t know Joe and Melissa, but we sure knew our crazy Teresa. Wasn’t it just too easy to believe that if there were any problems, it must be Teresa’s fault because of her big mouth, in-your-face, larger-than-life, abrasive way of offending people? Now that we’ve gotten to know the new cast members better, it appears this is not the case. At least the truth is much more complicated as it is in real live.
Do you remember when we first met Melissa? Sure Melissa appeared naïve and full of herself, but initially Melissa didn’t seem as much of a nut as Teresa appears to be. We learned that Melissa was the youngest in her family. She is ten years younger than her two older sisters and her sisters like to baby and protect her. Melissa was also the focus of her father’s attention and he encouraged her to believe she was just soooo talented and he wanted her to be recognized for her greatness.
As the season developed, it became clear Melissa internalized this message. Apparently she was not helped to understand how to exist as part of group without the spotlight. What a shock it must have been when she got married and had to deal with her in-laws. Apparently she was not treated like the center of attention when she was with the Gorgas. This must have been quite an insult to Melissa’s narcissistic sense of self. Most people are aware that when you get married, part of the bargain is dealing with in-laws. For some this is a great bonus; for many more, it is not so great.
In fact, it is often a challenge to figure out how to keep everyone happy by helping your husband and your kids have a good relationship with people who do not love you as much as, or in the same way, they love their son or their grandchildren. Point blank, sometime you have to not be the center of attention; sometimes you have to cope with being uncomfortable.
Melissa’s difficulty with this was so clear when she and Joe went to Gia’s gymnastics meet. In one scene we see Melissa standing apart from the Gorgas and observing as her husband is hugging and being hugged by his nieces who he has not seen in quite a while. And Melissa is watching this and says, “I feel so empty.”
She complains no one is paying attention to her, as if this family doesn’t have enough on its plate with aging sick parents, a fractured brother-sister relationship, Teresa and Joe’s money problems and their facing possible jail time.
As far as problems go, this family is at saturation point. A smart women would step aside and give her in-laws some space to get in touch with the love they have for each other and figure out how to go forward in a healthier way. This family doesn’t need another problematic person who requires special treatment to reinforce her specialness with all this going on and there are children involved.
Later on Melissa tries to portray herself as a saint by saying if it weren’t for her, Joe would not have gone at all. Well, part of her job is encouraging him to spend time with his nieces, but this needs to be followed by Melissa accepting not being the center of attention and accepting some discomfort so that the Gorgas can work on some of their problems.
Melissa is a grown woman. Joey G and Gia have a special relationship. Can’t she step aside for a moment? Finally, if she can’t help her husband make peace with his family, surely she should not throw gasoline on the fire by trying not to antagonize the situation, because if she does, there will be an explosion.
And this is just what happened. Joey G exploded onto this show in the first episode, when he called his sister “garbage” and then went on an attack rampage to get at his sister’s husband. He sat at a table with Melissa and her family and they all chimed in against Teresa. What did they expect?
Did they think this would create a good experience for the kids as they welcomed little Gino into Jesus’ kingdom?
At first I didn’t know what to make of Joey G. He and his sister Teresa appeared to be a couple of hot heads, but he seemed even more pissed at Teresa than most people are. When he was first introduced this season, I thought he was more like a dog in heat than a character on a Reality TV show. I fully expected him to start humping the furniture as the season progressed. In fact, he has made references to his penis so many times that his penis is quickly becoming a character on the show in much in the same way Jiggy the Pom is a character on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m sure someone at Bravo is trying to figure out how to display a replica of his privates in the Bravo Clubhouse.
Even though Joey G was introduced to the viewers with this nasty family fight plot line, as the season progressed Joey G’s personality took over. He grew on me. Joey G has undeniable charm. He is a natural born clown and a great addition to this show. However Joey G is also the uncle of four little girls who must be under great stress due to their family’s ENORMOUS financial and legal problems. Wouldn’t it have great if they could have had the support of this very special, very dear uncle who is so important to them?
Isn’t this so much clearer when Gia was crying and singing and begging her family to stop the fighting? This scene reminds me how real this kind of reality TV is. At that moment no amount of clowning or charm can distract from a story that has been emerging on the screen and behind-the-scenes. What once looked like a tit-for tat fight between two silly, self-absorbed women is truly more tragic and disturbing than I ever could have imagined.
Let’s look at how we got here. Initially we were led to believe that the family conflict was due to Joey’s experience of watching his sister get on a Reality TV show, letting fame go to her head and consequently ignoring her family to be the supermarket tabloid star she has become.
At first glance it seemed that Joey was a hothead who overreacted to crazy Teresa prancing around as though she were too important to pay any attention to the brother she left behind. As we watched each episode, viewed Watch What Happens Live and remembered last season’s reunion, it starts to become clear that Melissa played a much bigger part in the family squabble than was first apparent. And this may be a key part of explaining why this brother-sister argument has escalated to the point where Gia is screaming for help on national television. She’s a smart kid; she must know this is the only way to get attention from people who are so concerned with their public image.
How did this get so bad? Consider the following;
- During the Season 2 reunion Teresa went crazy when Danielle provoked her by saying that Teresa didn’t acknowledged the birth of her brother’s third child. This season we find out that Joey is angry with just this issue. But ask yourself: how did Danielle know this? Is it possible, as many have suggested, that Melissa told Danielle, and in effect, gave Danielle ammunition to use against Teresa?
- During seasons 3, Melissa and Joey join the cast and go on Watch What Happens Live. During the After Show that appears online, Danielle tweeted the show that Melissa contacted her during season 2 and gave her information to use against Teresa. Melissa did not deny this.
- A person who claims to be a New Jersey insider has been tweeting that Melissa tried long and hard to join the cast by offering to trash Teresa on camera.
I understand conflict between in-laws. I understand wanting to be on be a Reality TV show, but come on! Melissa may act like the good Catholic girl, draped in rosary beads and thanking Jesus, but she is far from Mother Teresa when it comes to stirring up problems that have hurt a lot of children. She is far from innocent here.
Still we should avoid viewing anyone as all good or all bad. If we are human and honest about ourselves, we all have to admit there are times when we do bad things. As viewers we need to be aware that it is easy for Bravo programmers to manipulate our reactions to scenes and opinions of the characters. It really seemed Bravo was setting up an epic battle between Teresa and Melissa, two narcissistic women dueling to be the most fabulous.
But, Gia broke through this nonsense by just letting everyone know what was in her heart. She did this so simply and honestly, without calling anyone names or taking sides. She didn’t do this at a grandiose, over-the-top, opulent event. She did this in a little pizzeria with a handful of friends and family.
Maybe downsizing is going to be the best thing that ever happened to this family. Maybe without the distraction of hundreds of people, ice sculptures, mechanical bulls, disco balls and paid circus performers, the Guidices can focus on their children and talk to them about how they are feelings. Maybe without the distraction of crazy spending, the Guidices can just focus on their children because if you’re not listening to your family whisper, one day you will hear them scream. Gia we hear you loud and clear.