The answer: Absolutely nothing. Psych!
I get why so many viewersÂ tune in to Bravo shows like “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”Â People behaving badly. Or stupidly. Or both. Liars and cheaters getting their comeuppance (sometimes). The holier-than-thou brought low.Â Extravagant spending. Vicarious drinking. And every once in a while, aÂ moment that feels disturbingly but thrillingly recognizable, like you’re watching aÂ replay of your own home movie.Â
I am less clear on the appeal on Bravo’s lighter spinoffs like “Manzo’d with Children,”Â which opens its second season Sunday night and features “RHONJ” alum Caroline Manzo and her “crazy” family in Franklin Lakes and are almost entirely dependent on manufactured plots but with very little of the manufactured drama that goes along with it.
Case in point: In Sunday’s seasonÂ premiere, we learn that Caroline’s son Chris Manzo moved in with a friend in Jersey City, leaving older bro and former roommate Albie at the Franklin Lakes homestead. Caroline, mindful of the very real rift she suffered (and since healed) with her own sister Dina Manzo, decides something is wrong, because most men approaching 30 still room with their brothers â€” but I digress) and forces Albie and Chris to talk to one another when Chris returns home (because he needed some paper towels, because why notÂ driveÂ 45 minutes and spends $2.90 on tolls when you can pick up a roll for $2 at the Jersey City ShopRiteÂ â€” but I digress).Â
Here’s the conversation:
“Is there a problem?”
“I don’t have a problem.”
“It’s a little weird that mom is giving us both an attitude then.”
Yes, it’s a little weird, unless you consider the 22 minutes Bravo producers have to fill every week. And there will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 weeks of this this season.Â
Other plotlines this season: Caroline’s daughter Lauren is getting married to her longtime boyfriend Vito Scalia (spoiler alert: they did); Albie is moving from fulvic acid-enriched water industry to the mineral nutrient activator industry, which he believes will have great applications in the cannabis industry; and Chris plans on writing a children’s book. I’m not sure if this a more or less realistic career prospect than becoming the Topless Car Wash KingÂ of New Jersey. I think less.Â
Expect visits from Caroline’s sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, and “Real Housewives” holdovers Kathy Wakile and Rosie Pierri. No sign of Melissa Gorga, although we do know she attended Lauren’s wedding, and Joe Giudice, who did not.
Maybe I’m coming down a little too hard on “Manzo’d With Children.” It’s harmless, they seem like a genuinely loving family, and you can always count on Chris at least to bring the funny. On moving out of Chez Manzo: “I’m like the guy who who crawled through shit in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ but IÂ made it.” It’s too bad I felt the same way at the end of the episode.Â
“Manzo’d With Children” premieres Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on Bravo.