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.