One of the most popular housewives ever, Caroline Manzo, took her kids and husband and her big house in Franklin Lakes, N.J. and spun off into “Manzo’d With Children.” The show premiered with two back to back episodes on Bravo TV, Sunday, Oct. 5. It didn’t disappoint.
The premise of the show is that just when Caroline and Albie were beginning to enjoy the empty nest, sons Albie Jr. and Chris move home to save money for a new business. Daughter Lauren still lives at home in preparation for her wedding to Vito Scalia next July.
The craziness got off to a quick start as longtime gay best friend Gregg Bennett came back to N.J. from California to hang with the guys and, more importantly, to go wedding dress shopping with Lauren as her “bridesman.” But before Lauren can go wedding dress shopping, she has to get Botox under her arms so she doesn’t get pit stains on the gown.
Aiding and abetting Lauren with her own Botox addiction and adding to the madness of the Manzo crew is sis-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, also of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fame. Caroline and Jacqueline go point, counterpoint in the Botox arena, but Lauren ends up doing it anyway.
Tears are the order of the day as Lauren models her fairy princess wedding dress. There’s a photo shoot from Vogue magazine at stake and the once fat girl shines as she twirls and swirls for the cameras.
The second episode centers around Caroline’s fear of heights. Wanting to lose 20 pounds for her daughter’s wedding, she first attempts to throw out all the junk food in the house, including Albie’s beloved imported cheeses. Since that didn’t work, Albie Jr. decides mom needs a kickbutt personal trainer to sweat the weight off.
When Caroline refuses to climb the rope because she’s afraid of heights, the kids get together to “cure” mom of her fear. They decide she needs to face her fears on a trapeze.
The three kids go first and actually start doing fairly well. Caroline has to be almost dragged screaming and crying up the ladder. She finally works up the guts to jump off the platform, but you can see the woman is clearly terrified. The group hug at the end is forced, but all’s well that ends well.
The show is funny and very, very real. It’s different from “RHONJ” because it’s not a bunch of snooty rich people trying to act ordinary. The Manzos are more like ordinary people that just happen to have a lot of money.
The battles between the kids are reminiscent of families I’ve seen, including my own. They scream, fight and make up around the dinner table. It’s real life, folks.
The show is a hoot, but it’s not for the faint of heart especially where language is concerned. The censors have to work overtime bleeping out all the curse words, but you can clearly tell what they are. The show is definitely NOT for younger children.
All in all, though, it’s great fun and much better than the rest of the Real Housewives franchise. You can catch “Manzo’d With Children” next Sunday night, Oct. 12, at 9 p.m. eastern time on Bravo.