The backstabbing, bitchiness and brawls are baaaack! Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" (8 p.m. Mondays, Bravo) returned last week and immediately proved why it is one of summer TV's guilty pleasures. If you're addicted to the insults, shouting matches and fighting that make for must-see reality TV, you can get your fix with this pop culture juggernaut.
In the Season 3 premiere, viewers met two new housewives: Teresa Giudice's sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga, and her cousin, Kathy Wakile. While there may not be any table-flipping or "prostitution whore" name-calling thanks to Danielle Staub's exit from the show, the family feud between the Giudices and Gorgas takes center stage this summer.
When Giudice was filming the show in past seasons, it seemed like she never wanted the Gorgas around or on camera, Gorga said. That's why viewers never met Giudice's younger brother, Joe (Melissa's hubby).The only events the Gorgas were invited to, she said, were the kids' birthday parties.
That changed once the Gorgas agreed to do the show, which later this season will give Gorga's budding music career exposure.
"It seems like as soon as she found out we were going to be on the show, it was all of the sudden, 'Well, I love you guys,' " Gorga said. "We'd get texts, 'Can the kids come over?' and she hadn't asked for the kids in three years. We knew what was going on. It was very transparent. ...
"We don't want to call her out to the world, but at the same time we don't want to lie. We want to explain to people why we were bitter, why we're upset with her."
Giudice, during a recent Chicago-area book signing, told RedEye that viewers can expect a "very intense" and "very emotional" season.
"It's very heartbreaking and nothing I expected in a million years. It's like a bad dream," she said. "You'll definitely see a different side to me this year. I think people will get to know me even better."
So what's behind the family drama? Part of it, Gorga said, is that she felt Giudice was competitive with her when she got married.
"I just feel she's kind of one of those people that's born with that envious, jealousy bone in her," she said. "I don't think she's a bad person; I really don't. But I think she can't help herself and she wants everyone to be below her and if you're above her, then she wants you out or she goes for your jugular."
But the tough image, Giudice said, is the biggest misconception viewers have about her, fueled by her flipping a table, yelling at Staub and not taking any crap in past seasons.
"All my friends are like, 'You're so sweet. Nobody knows how sweet you are,' " she said.
This season, the two families work to repair the relationships, going through ups and downs and celebrating the holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Thankfully, the cameras filmed it so viewers can see it all.
But will this storyline have a happy ending? Stay tuned.
MORE ON TERESA GIUDICE
Does Giudice think fame and attention have changed her? "No, not at all. I'm still the same person I was, very grounded, very humble. When people meet me, they're like, 'Oh my God, you're so nice.' I'm like, 'That's the way I am.' "
How much Giudice misses Danielle Staub: "She didn't faze me, didn't bother me at all."
Giudice on her future: No more kids, definitely another book and wants to stay in TV.
MORE ON MELISSA GORGA
What Gorga, an aspiring singer, thinks of other housewives' songs: "I don't like to hate on anyone but I'm going to say I know the housewives get a bad rap when they put songs out. But I will guarantee you this music is nothing like that. It's a completely different ballgame. ... Good for them, they made their songs. But this is the real deal."
Gorga's favorite housewife: Lisa Vanderpump from "Beverly Hills."
What Gorga thought of her cast mates: "I love them all. First of all, I'm really close with Kathy because that's my husband's cousin. ... As far as Jacqueline [Laurita] and Caroline [Manzo] go, they were so warm and they were so nice. They welcomed me with open arms."
Keepin' it 'Real'
With Teresa and Melissa, never a dull moment on 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'