“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” are back!

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What have “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” been up to since the second season began?

A whole lot, that’s for sure! Keep reading for a full account of the faces and places Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita, Dina and Caroline Manzo, and – oh, yes – Danielle Staub have encountered since the series returned.

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“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”: Welcome to the Garden State!

Wow! Can I just say that I don’t recall ever seeing an initial episode of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” series and immediately thinking, “I have to watch this show!” Until last night, that is.

Clockwise from top left, Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo, Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita and Danielle Staub./Bravo

Clockwise from top left, Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo, Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita and Danielle Staub./Bravo

Because I’m a born-and-bred Jersey girl (who still resides here), I feel it is my honor-bound duty to share my personal insights – including criticisms – about the show. So let’s get started!

First of all, I was scandalized – completely scandalized – when Dina Manzo’s 12-year-old daughter, Lexi, declared: “If I had like a fat, old mom, I’d hate it.”

Good grief! Dina’s explanation that she and Lexi are more like sisters than mother/daughter explained it all…. I suppose Dina needs all the friends she can get, since her erstwhile husband, Tommy, works 24/7 at his Paterson catering business, The Brownstone (the website of which is curiously not working – maybe because it can’t handle the increased traffic?), along with his brother (and Dina’s sister Caroline’s husband) Al.

Dina admits she’s alone a lot. But she’s got the ever-entertaining Lexi – they *play* tennis together, which apparently consists of Dina whining that she can’t run because her boobs hurt – to keep her company, along with her cat, who is Mr. Bigglesworth’s doppelganger. Her situation being what it is, I’m surprised that Dina acts so witchy toward her sister-in-law, Jacqueline Laurita, who really does seem to want to be friends and keep the peace.

Good luck with all that, Jacqueline.

“Jacqueline’s heart is as big as her bubbies,” Dina declares.

“Bubbies” are “The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” code word for breasts. I find that amusing, since it seems like all of these women are Italian and I’ve always associated the word with being a Jewish term. But anyway…

Dina’s older sister, Caroline Manzo, is a real piece of work.

“Before I like you, I don’t like you,” she says bluntly. “You don’t just warrant respect, you have to earn it.”

It’s apparent Caroline likes her husband Al very much. Especially when he takes her to Aaron Basha, a jewelry store, and bestows gifts upon her.

“I allow him to spoil me because that’s his pleasure to do so,” explains Caroline, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Carmela Soprano. (Maybe that’s how I’ll refer to her from now on…)

In case you missed her talking about how Al lavishes gifts upon her, Caroline repeats: “My husband spoils the s*** out of me. Bring it on!”

Caroline is setting a fine example for her two sons, one of whom wants to become a lawyer and the other who has aspirations of owning a strip club. Please don’t tell me he’s going to call it the Bada Bing.

While it’s commendable for Teresa Giudice to not have caved in to peer pressure to enlarge her *bubbies*, you know that’s not going to last. The mother of three terribly spoiled children (“My little girls are divas like their mamma”) is already eyeing up surgery, and her husband, Tony Soprano – oops, I mean Joe, who owns a construction company – is wholeheartedly encouraging her to go for a C cup. Which, of course, is after Teresa says, “My husband is more of an a** guy.”

Then there’s Danielle Staub, who is the Samantha (but not in an endearing way) of the bunch. She’s 45 and is looking to move on from her divorce and find a new man to support her and her two daughters. She is still battling with her ex about the divorce settlement and bluntly admits (which I’ve got to admire) that she might lose her home.

“Somebody has to come in and save me and my girls,” she declares. (Somehow I admire her a little less now.)

Danielle was engaged 19 times before she accepted the 20th marriage proposal. No, she didn’t specify whether the proposals were all the same guy or not. Evidently she’s looking for lucky No. 21, which includes trolling the Internet and having phone sex.

“People might find me to be a little much,” she admits.

No, really?

On the plus side, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is full of personalities that are absolutely worth tuning in to see every week. (The show officially premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 7.) Also,I have never seen the Garden State look more beautiful – and glamorous! – than it did on the show. I hope those viewers who don’t live in NJ and have never been here are impressed. It is not “the armpit of the earth,” as Vegas native Jacqueline said she once believed it was.

On the down side, though, the entire time I watched the show I was thinking of what my coworkers will say. Years ago, I remember them lamenting about how A&E’s “Growing Up Gotti” made them embarrassed to be of Italian descent. I can only imagine what they’d have to say about “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”…

Update: A real-life Jersey girl (that would be me – metiny1 born, bred and still resides) will blog live on Facebook beginning at 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 12, during the premiere of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Come join me and share your thoughts as we meet these five women. Click here or look up my handle,  TV Blogger Ava Gacser, on Facebook. I look forward to seeing you!

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