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I Can’t Cry on My Antidepressant — & It’s Really Weird for Me

19 Dec

This article originally appeared on Refinery29

I went on antidepressants for the first time in March. It’s been an overwhelmingly successful experiment, with one standout caveat: I can no longer cry.

I’ve always skewed more toward anxiety than depression and have always been a crier. I’m 40 now, and I had my first anxiety attack at 12. That first attack, especially when you’re young, is pretty much the most terrifying thing you can imagine. Not only is your body betraying you — first it’s a pit in your stomach, then a shortness of breath, and finally uncontrollable ribbons of sobs that appear out of nowhere (more on that in a sec) — but even worse, you have no previous experience to indicate that the feeling will ever go away. Luckily (or unluckily), because anxiety attacks are rarely a one-and-done deal, the more you get them, the better you get to know them and how to deal with them. You learn your triggers (my biggies are change and lack of structure). You learn how to cope with them (meditative breathing, reminding myself that the feeling will pass, Xanax). Depending on who you are, you avoid or seek out situations that spike your anxiety. I’ve done a little of both (the former out of terror, the latter out of a counterphobic need to feel like my life isn’t passing me by) and landed somewhere in a comfortable middle.

In November 2016, I’d been crying a lot. And not just a lot, but uncontrollably, as in I truly couldn’t control it, no matter where I was or who I was with. I was about to give notice at my job — a place alternatingly infuriating and soul-feeding, where I did some of the best work of my career and met some of the best friends of my life. But, like any workplace, there was frustration there. I had a good job offer, and it seemed like the time to move on. I was confident in my decision and excited about the new gig, yet every day was filled with tears. “Is it possible to have made the right decision but also not be able to stop crying?” I asked my therapist. She assured me that it was.

During that time, pretty much anything could trigger me. Hearing my mom’s voice on the phone. Making a dinner reservation for a month from now, when I knew my life would look different. And nearly every time I found myself sitting face to face with my boss — the one about to be my former boss — I would dissolve into a wet blur. “I’m sorry,” I said to him more than once. “It’s Pavlovian now — I see you and I cry.” (Try sobbing repeatedly in front of your stoic British male boss. Totally not uncomfortable at all.)

The crying, as I saw it, wasn’t a problem. I wondered about it a little — why was I crying so much? — but found easy answers (a new job that scared me, a new president that scared me even more). When I got my tickets to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway in January, people warned me: “Get ready to cry.” And cry I did, in alternating quivering, heaving gulps of tears and hiccupy staccato gasps. I cried from the moment the curtain went up all the way through the first act and resumed my crying after intermission, now composed enough that my outpouring was mostly confined to pathetic little chirps. I didn’t much notice that I seemed to be crying more than most people around me and left the theater exhausted.

Also in January, I started seeing a psychiatrist for the first time in my life to get the Xanax I’d come to rely on, and he’d been keen on my trying antidepressants (specifically, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) instead. My regular therapist had warned me that this might happen because psychiatrists love to prescribe. (I’d always gotten Xanax from my general practitioner, but during my last physical, he’d commended my recent significant weight loss and warned me, “Don’t gain it back!” When I inevitably did, I couldn’t bear to return. I was pretty sure a psychiatrist wouldn’t weigh me.)

I’d been through the Xanax/Klonopin/Ativan whirl, and they all helped a little, but I’d never tried antidepressants, because I’d never really felt depressed. But a month into my new job and the new administration, my anxiety and constant crying were joined by new symptoms — insomnia and debilitating exhaustion. When my doctor pressed the issue, I figured, “Why not?”

The results were astounding. SSRIs function by making more serotonin available to your brain, and more serotonin means a better mood and less anxiety. Things that bothered me before I started taking Zoloft barely ruffled my feathers now. Pre-Zoloft, if I sent a text to a friend and didn’t hear back, I’d worriedly scroll through my messages to make sure I hadn’t said anything unwittingly offensive and course-correct if I thought I had. Post-Zoloft, I assumed everything was fine, and if it wasn’t, oh well. Pre-Zoloft, if someone were rude or disrespectful or patronizing, I’d have been filled with rage, my mind contemplating a Choose Your Own Adventure of revenge plots. Post-Zoloft, I figured the problem was theirs, not mine, and got on with my day. Zoloft transformed me into a person-shaped shrug — and I liked it. Until I didn’t.

Real Housewives of New Jersey recap: Growing Up Jersey

8 Nov


I was hoping that this week’s episode would jump us right back into the action — when not even a heavy helping of Parmesan could heal the deep rifts of the group — but instead it looks like we’re first going to have to endure watching Siggy get injections in her tush. Nothing comes for free, my friends.

If you’re also a fan of Real Housewives of Orange County, Siggy’s trip to the doctor will feel very familiar. Just a few nights ago we tagged along as Shannon, with Tamra in tow for moral support, learned that her estrogen and progesterone levels were low. Siggy is the Shannon today, and Dolores is the Tamra. And guess what: Siggy’s estrogen and progesterone levels are low. Once the levels are restored, the women have balanced moods and supercharged libidos to look forward to. Andy Cohen, listen: I know I’ve pitched you a lot of shows, but you practically came up with this one yourself.

Hear me out: Siggy and Shannon rent a gaudy McMansion, inject each other with hormones, and try to make their husbands have sex with them. Siggy will not have an issue with this; Michael Campanella clearly adores her. Shannon and her husband aren’t doing as well, but — if my dreams for Shannon come true — she’s going to have an amicable divorce that benefits both of them (and their three kids) and she will find a boy toy who is obsessed with her. (Could also be a lady toy, as Shannon is always first to stick a dollar bill in a belly dancer’s G-string when the occasion arises — and it arises more than you’d expect.) Anyway, we’ll call it Siggy and Shannon: Hot Mamas (get it, because they’re having hormone issues?), and it’ll be the new No. 1 show in the over-54 demo.

As important as all that obviously is, the most important part of Siggy’s doctor’s appointment comes from Dolores. D is the kind of person who bites her tongue and keeps her opinions to herself — until she doesn’t. And when she lets loose, stand back. Enraged (understandably) about Teresa and Danielle judging her — remember that she lives with her son and ex-husband, but also has a boyfriend — she goes after both of them: “Teresa visits her husband in jail. Danielle’s been engaged 22 times. And they’re telling me my relationship’s weird? Thank you, now I know it’s good.”

And that’s before she addresses cheating allegations against Joe Giudice. Uhboy. Teresa is not going to like this one bit, and I’ll be honest: It’s not a twist I saw coming. For the record, Dolores isn’t saying anything we don’t already know, but Teresa is one of those people who believes that if you don’t talk about something, it isn’t real. It’s why she never says she went to jail, she says she “went away.” Even though we’ve pretty much seen televised proof of Joe’s cheating — he once excused himself from lunch at a winery to “take a work call,” and let’s just say that if he was indeed on a work call, based on what we heard Joe should get comfortable in prison. Anyway, it’ll be a different thing entirely for Teresa to hear that Dolores is throwing shade behind her back. Siggy jumps to Teresa’s defense, saying her judgment is cloudy given all the trauma she’s gone through recently, which OH MY GOD, SIGGY, I said the very same thing when you wouldn’t give her a break about that stupid cake! Grrrrrrrroan. Dolores has more right to be angry at Teresa (for believing Danielle over her old friend) than Siggy ever did (for throwing a cake). But listen, none of this matters nearly as much as the fact that in this very same scene, we get to see Siggy’s naked butt. Cool.

Marge Sr. pops over to Margaret’s in her “beep-beep” to say hi, and when she does, she has the exact same pigtails as her daughter (my love for you continues to grow, Marge Sr.). Margaret says she felt sorry for Dolores when Danielle gave her a hard time about her living situation. She actually said as much in the moment, but she got drowned out by all the shrieking brunettes. Here’s the thing: Danielle doesn’t actually have a problem with Dolores’ living situation, she just knows it bothers her when she talks about it. It’s the same way she (deep-cut alert) once derided Teresa for putting her young daughters in leopard print, saying she put hers in lace and crinoline. She later put her teenage daughter, whom she forced to model, in 8-inch heels. So grains of salt everywhere is what I’m saying.

Teresa’s family is in Puerto Rico, and my heart hurts. (I know I said this last week, but it’s hard not to repeat every time I type the words: If you want to donate to helping Puerto Rico, you can go to UNICEFFoundation for Puerto RicoUnited for Puerto Rico, and loads of other places.) While we’re there, we travel around with the Giudices seeing the island, frolicking in the ocean, meeting the locals…JK, Teresa just sits on a chaise lounge and does exactly what she does at home, which is talk on the phone to one friend about another. Today that first friend is Danielle, and the second one is Dolores. Teresa doesn’t understand why Dolores came at her at the pasta tasting. I’m not sure either, but I feel like it *might* be the fact that Teresa and Dolores have been friends for 20 years and yet Teresa chose to believe Danielle — whom she once threw a table at — when she bad-mouthed Dolores. That’s just a hunch, though.

Over at Melissa and Joe’s, it’s dinner time. Joe high-fives his 7-year-old son when he says he has three girlfriends, and then tells his 11-year-old daughter, Antonia, she’s not allowed to leave the house because she’s beautiful. Listen, I really like the Gorgas. They love each other and, as important, seem to really like each other. And maybe I’m being sensitive — especially given recent events — but I actually don’t think I am: This sort of messaging so early on worries me. Little boys are studs if they date around; Antonia can’t be let out of the house, because who knows what will happen to her. Melissa tries to talk some sense into her husband, who shuts her down immediately by insinuating (jokingly, you guys, I know!) that Melissa is ready to get their daughter birth control. I’m trying to bite my tongue here, because the whole point of this scene is to juxtapose what Teresa is like with her kids — lenient — but still. I don’t like. All kids should be careful, not just girls. Why not instead take your time and energy and put it toward teaching your sons about respect for women instead of teaching Antonia to be fearful? Oh my god, we’re only 15 minutes into the episode. Moving right along.

Margaret and Dolores’ dinner does not initially go as I’d hoped, mainly because Margaret doesn’t open with the fact that she took up for D at the Great Pasta Incident. And Dolores, god bless her, keeps defending Siggy against Margaret’s accusations that she’s a bit of a drama queen, while in her confessional agreeing that Siggy has been a bit unbalanced. Seriously, this woman is loyal. (Teresa, you bet on the wrong horse.) “If I have an opinion about Siggy’s behavior, I’ll share it with Siggy and only Siggy,” she says in her confessional. Sure, she’s also telling Bravo viewers, but I’m going to respect the fourth wall here because I desperately need a hero right now and Dolores is the closest we’re going to get. Dolores and Margaret actually get to the real stuff — Margaret shares that two of her kids won’t talk to her anymore — and this is officially the No. 1 new friendship I’m rooting for.

Back in Puerto Rico, Teresa talks to Milania — which I spell “Melania” every time and then remember that she’s named after “Milan,” which makes me happier — about hernonna and her dad. Teresa tells us that she was taught not to cry (which makes so many things make sense) and that she doesn’t want her daughters to grow up like that. Honestly, say what you will about Teresa Giudice — or even Joe Giudice, for that matter — she’s a good parent. Or at least…she really loves her kids and seems to have four really good ones.

The Gorgas are good parents, too — evidenced by Melissa’s shopping trip with Antonia. Melissa is trying to connect with her kid and asks what she should do to get her to open up more with her. Antonia says she’s too strict. (Over in Puerto Rico, Teresa feels a surge of power rip through her.) Later, as the Giudice girls give their mom attitude during a photo shoot, she says, “Melissa was right.” And THEN, at a trampoline gym, Joe Gorga tells Antonia that he’s going to trust her more. You guys, I just don’t know anymore. This is all very heartwarming, and I wasn’t prepared for it.

Ultimately this week was about the group seeing eye to eye, about empathy, about looking at things from a different perspective — growth that will undoubtedly be undone at next week’s Siggy-sponsored overnight retreat, where the central empowerment activity seems to be standing in a circle imitating and screaming at each other. I can’t wait.

This article originally appeared on

Real Housewives of New Jersey recap: Not Over It

1 Nov

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The title of this week’s episode gives me little hope that we’ll be moving on from #cakegate. Sure, there’s that faint glimmer of promise that “Not Over It” is a reference to the 2001 Kirsten Dunst rom-com co-starring Ben Foster and “Thong Song” impresario Sisqó; alas, I’m *pretty* sure it’s a reminder that Siggy is not over the Cake Throwing Incident of 2017. (Le sigh.) Though…I suppose it could mean that Teresa’s not over Melissa trying to give her parenting advice. Or Dolores isn’t over Danielle’s accusation that she’s been bad-mouthing Teresa. Okay, I guess it could be anything. (Fingers still crossed for Sisqó!)

We start at Margaret’s, and the shoe queen has just flown in from Vegas. As in just, like, she still smells from the plane and must IMMEDIATELY wash her “pits and p—,” which is one of the grossest combinations of words I’ve ever heard, and now you’ve heard it too. (I can’t shoulder the burden myself, you guys.) Some tangential business person we’ll never see again comes over with the express purpose of telling Margaret about the party at Siggy’s. Remember, Margaret missed Siggy’s epic, loony, out-of-line public humiliation of Melissa, which is actually sort of a shame: If there’s anyone who would have had the confidence to call Siggy out in her own home in front of her own friends, I believe it’s Margaret. I have mixed feelings about the Pigtailed One, but I do not think she suffers fools or wilts easily.

The Gorgas’ new restaurant is just about ready to open, and it’s strewn with family photos, which are lovely. Well, Teresa doesn’t think so, because they show off Melissa too much. Remember, Melissa recently critiqued Teresa’s parenting skills, telling her she’s too lenient with her kids, and Teresa’s mind is like a trap when it comes to cataloguing those who have wronged her. She will not rest until she feels she has evened the score. Though… honestly? Teresa’s compulsive need to start trouble when there is none is beginning to feel pathological, and I wonder if it’s less about being a vindictive human and more about self-sabotage. Everybody’s finally getting along and suddenly Teresa’s all, “You’re only a Gorga by marriage — if my brother divorces you, you’re not going to be a Gorga anymore.” On its face, it seems like Teresa’s just a bit of a snake, but I’m liking my self-sabotage theory more and more, if I do say so myself. If I were Tre’s therapist, I would tell her she deserves to be loved and ask her why she insists on pushing people away before they can do it to her. (That’ll be $175, please!)

While shopping for a trip to Puerto Rico, font of wisdom Gia lays some truth down on her mom. (Speaking of Puerto Rico, people there still need help: Here’s are links toUNICEF, Foundation for Puerto Rico, and United for Puerto Rico.) First of all, Gia does not want a bikini that shows off her ass. (Teresa thinks Gia should show off her ass, as it is a nice one.) Gia also thinks that Aunt Melissa is right, that Milania does work her mom and needs some better boundaries. “You don’t discipline us that much,” she tells Teresa, “because you’re scared we’re gonna hate you.” Gia, you are wise beyond your years. (And such a good kid!)

Ugh, now we’re with Siggy. I sort of willed myself to forget her, and listen, it pains me to say that. (Well, it pains me a little bit. Honestly, I’m okay with it.) I was a fan of the Sigster’s last season. She was fun! She was straightforward! She wasn’t weirdly obsessed with cake! And listen, girl, I get being obsessed with cake, but not in the way that you are. Siggy’s having dinner with her parents, who, by the way, seem wonderful, and OH MY GOD SIGGY’S TALKING ABOUT HER SON GOING AWAY TO COLLEGE AND NOT CAKE HALLELUJAH WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

Something must be in the air in Jersey (maybe another maple syrup incident), because pigs continue to fly over at Teresa’s. (Was that a mixed metaphor? Anyway, you get me.) Joe G. and Melissa bring the kids over to play with their cousins at the Giudice home, and Teresa, completely unprompted, apologizes to Melissa. In fact, she even admits that she was acting out because Melissa criticized her parenting (self-aware Teresa scares me), and Melissa, instead of just accepting this rare gem of an apology, antagonizes her further, iterating that Teresa is in fact too lenient with the kids.

Real Housewives of New Jersey recap: ‘The Public Shaming of Melissa’

26 Oct

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Oy, with the cake again. We know that’s where we’re headed before we even get started based on last week’s preview. Seriously, Sig: Channel your inner Elsa and LET IT GO. It’s truly hard to imagine the Sigster watching these episodes now, looking back on the inanity of the plotline she decided to stick with all season and not feeling colossally silly. The world is literally evaporating into an apocalyptic dust and Siggy has decided to hitch her morality wagon to the issue of eggs and butter aloft in the atmosphere. (Then again, this is a woman who has 11 photos of herself in various states of insanity hanging in a nonsensical design in her foyer, so who knows.) On the upside, the preview also indicates that Danielle is about to do some epic Danielle-ing, so maybe this episode’s not a goner yet. Let’s get into it!

We start off at Teresa’s, where the family is having dinner and the kids are getting emotional over the loss of their nonna. Melania seems to be taking it the hardest — she’s the secret sensitive one, always acting out because of all the feelings (I got you, girl) — and in a pretty heartbreaking little flashback, she breaks down because she keeps seeing her grandmother standing by the stove, even though she’s dead, and getting scared by it. Teresa gives her a big hug and tells her it’s okay to feel whatever emotions she’s feeling and that grieving is hard. Just kidding, she tells her she should be happy to see her ghost grandma and doesn’t touch her.

Siggy, meanwhile, is tromping up Dolores’ walkway in disco platform boots despite the fact that it’s pouring, but it’s okay, because as soon as she’s inside, Dolores tucks her into the couch with a big comfy throw like she’s a baby. And she sort of is, because after telling devoted, loyal, token friend Dolores that she’s made peace with Pigtails, she also tells her that Pigtails badmouthed Dolores, calling her a “yes” person who just tells Siggy whatever she wants to hear. For good measure, she throws in that Melissa and Teresa — Dolores’ close friend for over 20 years — think the same thing.

Margaret and her husband, Joe, head over to Casa Gorga for dinner and dish, and Joe actually seems like a nice dude. (P.S., reality-show idea: Joes Gorga, Giudice, and Benigno get their own Bravo spin-off called Joe Woe, and they just get together and share their innermost fears and feelings. Can also be called Joe Six-Pack, where they basically do the same thing just with beer. Or their shirts off. Or both.) Melissa wants Margaret and Joe to tell other Joe the story of how they met, because it’s juicy. Turns out that Joe B. was Margaret’s contractor, and Pigtails came down in pigtails and no bra, and that, my friends, is how the greatest love story ever told came to be. Then Pigtails tells a similar story to the one Siggy recounted to Dolores, about how she and Siggy made up, and now Melissa’s angry that she hasn’t gotten an apology, since it was her birthday trip that was ruined. So if you’re keeping track: Siggy and Margaret, formerly frenemies, are copacetic. Dolores and Melissa are seething. Hands up if you predict Lucite necklaces flying in the near future.

Meanwhile, let’s take a moment to worship at the altar of righteous old broad Marge Sr., Margaret’s sassy mother, who’s been sexting an old boyfriend and wears sassy, furry Loeffler Randall sandals and is looking for someone who is great in the sack, because she is “not afraid of things.” Marge Sr., please let me age into you eventually. Producers, please replace any future scenes of #caketalk with Marge Sr. talking about literally anything.

Over at the restaurant that JOE GORGA BOUGHT WITHOUT TELLING HIS WIFE, Teresa is nothing but sass to Melissa, who is 45 minutes late to their meeting because she was busy working at her store. Melissa, to her credit, stays relatively calm as Teresa needles her and Joe sides with his sister. (Joe, word of advice: When you secretly buy a restaurant without telling your wife, be really, really nice to her. Trust me on this one: I’ve got roughly one and a half healthy long-term relationships under my belt. I know what I’m talking about.)

Siggy meets Dolores at her new boyfriend’s house, and when they stumble up to the kids’ room, Siggy wastes no time in telling Dolores, “Don’t talk to me about kids right now,” so she can share a story about how she feels disconnected from her son. I remember reading an article years ago about this perpetually single woman who finally met a great guy and vowed never to turn into one of those women who found any way possible to work their boyfriends into the conversation, e.g. “Oh, we’re having peas with dinner? Bob doesn’t like peas.” Well Siggy is Bob-doesn’t-like-peas-ing all over the place this season and it is incredibly irritating. Siggy: Dolores is a person with feelings and problems of her own. You may even remember that her son is also just about to leave for school — if he can get in anywhere, which is in itself very stressful. So maybe stop purging your feelings all over everybody for one godforsaken second and be a little bit more empathic. Be the Siggy on the wall in your foyer that says, “I hear you. I’m there for you. You’re not alone.” Be that Siggy. (I think it’s the one in the fedora playing guitar.)

Hey, it’s jewelry-party night!!! Before things get started, let’s review where everybody stands: Siggy is mad at Melissa. Melissa is mad at Siggy. Teresa is mad at Dolores. Dolores is…mad at Teresa? And maybe also Melissa? Somehow no one is mad at Danielle Staub, but that’s going to change real quick, because in the car ride over to the party, she makes good on her promise to get more camera time tell Teresa what Dolores said, because she’s a good friend. The big confession? Dolores apparently told Danielle that the only thing Teresa cares about is money. There is unequivocally no way this happened. Dolores would never say something like that, but moreover, she’s too smart to trust Danielle. We’ll no doubt hash it out at the party, which I’m getting less and less excited for. At this point, if Kim D. isn’t there so we can get some actual non-cake-related drama, I’m going to throw my own cake. (Okay, I probably won’t. But I might buy one and sit in the dark binge-eating it while crying. You do you, I’ll do me.)

When Melissa arrives at the handbag party, Siggy greets her by saying, “I haven’t seen my baby since Boca!” Listen, there’s gracious hosting, and then there’s psychosis. Siggy is furious with Melissa. Was it nice of her to invite her to the party anyway? Yes. Is it really freakin’ weird that she practically did a cartwheel when she entered the room? Yes. Siggy has always struck me as someone comfortable with her rage, but she’s clearly conflicted about it. Let it out, girl. The more you can stop pretending you love everybody when people are looking, the less you’ll erupt when people aren’t. Or…when people are, because I have a feeling you’re going to explode in the presence of all these very important handbags in 3…2….

…Annnnd…we’re there: After approximately two minutes of small talk, things revert to #caketalk, and Sigster has officially transformed into “pulling my hair out” foyer Siggy: She loudly asks the entire party (a) to shut up and (b) whether throwing a cake across a restaurant is rude. Show of hands? Most of the party! Siggy, feeling vindicated, collapses to the ground to do what I think is an indoor victory snow angel? You win, Siggy! You go ahead and lie on the ground, humiliating Melissa, like winners do! Yeah! Also, WHERE IS KIM D.? I thought she and Siggy were such great friends? Didn’t Siggy get offended in Boca when Melissa called her a cock-a-roach? Do you not invite your cock-a-roach friends to your super-special handbag parties? Ugh.

Next week promises more yelling, more crying, and hopefully 100 percent more Kim D. (At this point I’d even settle for Kim G.) I’m not sure why the producers have hung their hat on Siggy’s story line this season, but it’s not working. Histrionics about cake aren’t engaging, they’re annoying. This show has everything it needs to be compelling — family drama, prison, enemies turned frenemies, former criminals — it should be a piece of cake.

This article originally appeared on

Real Housewives of New Jersey recap: “Let Them Eat Cake”

11 Oct

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Before we get to this week’s episode, can we take a moment to talk about how good it is to see Danielle Staub? And I won’t lie — I’m not upset that Kim D. is back in the mix either, if only by name. Women like these make the Real Housewives franchise tick. Do you remember RHONY’s Alex McCord? How aboutRHOC’s Lynne Curtin? No you do not. Do you know why? Because they were boring and normal. (“Normal,” I mean. Normal by reality TV standards is what I’m saying.)

You know who’s not boring? Women with criminal pasts who once went on Andy Cohen’s show to sing a song called “Real Close” with their girlfriend (Staub). Women who changed their name and worked as a stripper and had like 19 fiancés (Staub again). Okay, so it’s mostly Staub I’m excited about, but Kim D. is such an unapologetically transparent troublemaker that I’m hoping she makes an appearance soon — especially since she’s poor beleaguered Siggy’s friend. These are women who genuinely scare me — and boy are they fun to watch. Certainly more fun than watching RHOBH’s Joyce Giraud. Remember her? (I didn’t think so.)

Alas, instead of getting to the real Staubiness of it all, we’re back in Boca, dealing with Cakegate (yawn). Siggy is destroyed because Melissa and Teresa had a food fight with the cake Siggy had made specially for Melissa’s birthday. Siggy deals with her feelings by calling her husband and repeatedly folding and refolding a black-mesh bathing suit. Melissa deals with her feelings by calling her husband and labeling Siggy a fancypants. And the one with the pigtails (I can’t remember her name and I honestly don’t think she’s going to be around very long so why bother) is already over everyone. (Margaret! It’s Margaret!) Siggy is crying, but her husband encourages her to share her feelings with her friends, and I agree: In a year as divisive as this one, it’s time we are no longer silent on the topic of disrespect toward cakes.

But for real, Siggy does seem pretty emotional these days. I wonder if something else is going on. Margaret and Danielle wonder no such thing — in fact, they think it’s funny that she cries so much, and Danielle thinks Siggy owes them an apology for her behavior, not the other way around. Did I mention that the gals are on the way to do yoga on the beach? Teresa leads the group and she’s actually kind of good, telling everyone to go at their own pace through the series, which is the sign of an empathic teacher. Danielle’s pace, BTW, is “Let me show you how bendy I am/I should be leading this class not Teresa so I’m going to steal the spotlight by contorting myself like I’m one of the Flying Wallendas.” (Siggy and Dolores go get juice by themselves instead, which is boring, but the lines are drawn.)

Margaret has ordered a wreath to commemorate Teresa’s mom on the beach and I’m torn about whether this is a genuinely kind thing to do or an attention grab. You know what, it can be both. I think the emotions the women show on the beach are real — it’s just…the teensiest bit icky. But Teresa appreciates it, and the ceremony of paddling out on a board and pushing a wreath of white flowers out to sea is actually really lovely.

Back in Jersey, it’s family dinner night at Teresa’s, and on the way in, Joe says to his three kids, “Come on, ladies,” which is hilarious because two of them are boys. Get it? It’s funny to think of boys being girls! (I could have skipped this part but felt it important to point out. I like Joe, but this Neanderthal stuff is not cool. You’re better than that, Joe Gorga. Cut it out.)

In Boca, the tension is thick. Siggy and Dolores are one side, everyone else on the other. Siggy schools the gang on proper decorum for their field trip to her fancy friend’s house (guess how well that goes) and as they sit down at the fancy table for their fancy lunch, she explains to her pal Lori (who seems a little pretentious but very nice) that Teresa’s mother has recently died — which is putting this whole cake thing into perspective for me. Shouldn’t Siggy cut Teresa just the slightest bit of slack right now? Throwing a cake at her sister-in-law made her feel good. Can you not just let her have this? Allow us to move on from Cakegate and get into some Staub-level drama already!

Oh wait, my wish is granted, because Cakegate morphs into Wreathgate: Siggy and Dolores are not pleased that Pigtails, whom Siggy brought into the group, had the audacity to not only plan a memorial for Teresa’s mom but not invite them. You’ll remember that in episode 1, Siggy and Margaret met at a party, meaning Siggy has known Margaret for precisely one hour longer than the rest of the group, making them — by Housewives standards — old friends. And old friends do not exclude each other from beachside memorials.

Siggy, Dolores, and Pigtails get a tennis lesson; Teresa gets a swim lesson; Melissa and Danielle make incessant dumb jokes about the swim teacher’s pecs and package. Side note: How does one grow up in New Jersey, near all the beaches, and not learn how to swim? Second side note: One does not bring Danielle Staub back from the reality dead to make dick jokes. One brings Danielle Staub back to shake things up, so can we please get to shaking pronto?!?

Siggy can no longer keep her hurt inside and confides to Lori about the horror of the thrown cake, a.k.a. the worst thing that’s happened in 2017. Lori — perhaps uncomfortable because she’s never been on TV or perhaps a little too eager to get cast in a Housewives of Boca spinoff — does this weird thing. Siggy says, “Last night, we go out to dinner, and all of a sudden the cake is presented.” Lori says, “Gorgeous,” as if she can see it, though she cannot. Siggy continues, “Teresa picks up the cake and throws it across the floor.” Lori gasps, horrified — horrified! — before Siggy even gets to the word “throws.” So Lori is either psychic (Real Psychics of Boca!) or has already heard this story and is a terrible actor (Real Terrible Actors of Boca!), but either way, get this woman her own show. (Though…did anyone else think it was weird that Lori invited the gals over to play tennis and swim and did neither? I’m having trouble coming up with a personal analogy with which to figure out if this is normal behavior, as I live in a New York City apartment and not a sprawling Boca estate, but I *think* that’d be like inviting a friend over to watch Black Mirror and then crouching behind the nightstand and refusing to watch with her.)

Pigtails and Dolores talk about what’s going on with everybody — Pigtails feels that Siggy is being dismissive of everyone and was wrong to call them “animals” and proclaim that she has a “higher IQ.” Dolores, ever the loyal friend, defends Sig, saying she doesn’t know her own IQ, so maybe Siggy is right. (Oh honey, no.) I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I have to side with Margaret here: While I don’t like that she’s being insensitive about Siggy’s crying (crying is human and emotional and while yes, she does seem to be doing it a lot, it’s not really something I’d pick on), it is incredibly rude to basically tell your friends you think they’re dumb. I cannot wait for this to inevitably blow up later at a booze-filled dinner at a restaurant where diners and waitstaff will pretend to be horrified (but will secretly be delighted). “Who brought you is who you stay with,” Dolores reminds Margaret, and she’s right: Siggy met her at a party once, so Margaret must never cross Siggy.

Turns out dinner is not at a restaurant but at Siggy’s home, and everything starts out pleasant enough. The entryway of the home is filled with 11 portraits of the Sigster in what appear to be different moods (and hung in such a logic-defying pattern that I legitimately feel like I might have an anxiety attack). There’s “I’m so fed up I’m tearing my hair out, but in a fun way” Siggy. There’s “hands-on-hips Power Siggy.” There’s “Hey, I’ve got a fedora and a guitar for some reason!” Siggy. All the Siggies are here.

But the most important Siggy — the Siggy we should all be paying the most attention to — is the one not hung on the wall at all. That would be IRL Siggy, who is pretending that everything is okay and kiss-kissing the girls as they enter her abode — and that means girlfriend is pushing down some major rage that is inevitably going to come out in a torrent over little cups of tomatoes and (I think?) raisins served by someone who is credited as SexZ Chef. (That’s pronounced “Sexy,” in case that wasn’t clear.)

Things heat up almost immediately — and not just because of SexxxZee Chef — as Teresa and Siggy head to the couch and trade thinly veiled barbs about the previous night. (Not for nothing, but for someone who is obsessed with manners, Siggy says neither “please” nor “thank you” to the gentleman who serves her wine.) After a few minutes of awkward silence interrupted by awkward small talk (and Siggy complimenting SeXyChEf’s jumbo lump crab cakes), Sig lets loose: She’s still angry about the cake, and Lori, her true best friend, validated her feelings. (This makes me feel bad for Dolores, who has been validating Siggy’s feelings for days on days on days.)

Siggy tells the gang that the cake was $1,000 and delivered to Melissa on a silver platter, so she should have been more gracious. (I’m not an expert on $1,000 cakes, but I feel like it’s a bad look to, while schooling people on etiquette, tell them how much you spent on them.)

Margaret and Siggy end up arguing over when it’s actually acceptable to cry — over spilled cake or not over spilled cake — and Siggy finally (finally!) gets to the heart of what’s bothering her: She was hurt, and that should have been enough to make her friends apologize. She accuses Margaret of having no compassion (seems accurate), and Margaret insinuates that Siggy overreacts to things (okay, also accurate). Gosh, if two women who met in a store two days ago can’t make their friendship work, I’m not sure who can.

Round and round we go, until Siggy does the unthinkable: She calls the women trash — and everyone storms off. “The crab cakes were salty!” Teresa callously lobs at Siggy before bouncing (poor sexE chef) and that’s a wrap on dinner.

Next week looks like it’ll focus on Siggy and Piggy (who should have their own show based on the title possibilities alone), which is all well and good, but I’m waiting for the moment when Danielle grabs the spotlight and won’t let go. That’s when things will really get good. Until then, let them throw cake.

This article originally appeared on

Chelsea Handler: More white athletes need to #TakeAKnee

25 Sep
chelsea handler

I spoke to the comedian and activist for Entertainment Weekly.

Chelsea Handler has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump for ages, and this weekend was no exception. The Chelsea host joined the likes of Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams and others stars who, prompted by Trump’s derision of NFL athletes who kneel during the national anthem, posted photos of themselves taking a knee in solidarity. (Handler put her own spin on things, showing her dog taking four knees.)

Asked about her decision to take part in the movement, Handler told Entertainment Weekly, “I just think everybody who has a platform needs to use it right now, and people need to speak up and speak loudly, because it’s really scary what’s going on and everybody has to say something… That little six-month waiting period of seeing if Donald Trump is going to be able to turn this ship around and become presidential is over. It didn’t happen. He’s demonstrated this behavior over and over and over again, and people with platforms need to speak up. Taking a Knee isn’t going anywhere. What we need is for more white people to be doing it, more white athletes.”

Handler cites the civil right’s movement as a precursor: “[Things like] this change when the race or group of people that aren’t being affected stand up. The civil rights movement changed when white people spoke up for black people. Women’s rights changed when men spoke up for women. And we need to do it again, unfortunately. We constantly have to fight for the very things we fought for generations before. But every white, responsible American citizen needs to stand up and talk about how wrong this is.”

The TV host and comedian has gotten increasingly vocal about politics and injustice over the past few years, and her Netflix shows, Chelsea and ChelseaDoes, have been a departure from her previous, more lighthearted E! series,Chelsea Lately, which ran from 2007 to 2014. “What was I going to be screaming about then? [Obama] was called the N-word when he got into office and still said, ‘These are our constituents. These people who are calling me the N-word are our constituents and we need to get them health care.’ We’re talking about someone who was the most diplomatic, the most presidential person you could have in office, versus a toddler who should be in a diaper. It’s not intentional, it’s reactive. There’s nothing else I can do.”

Handler calls this “a dark, dark time” but does see something positive happening as a result: “The only silver lining is that we take back our democracy and people stand up for what they believe in. Every single person has a right to peacefully protest, period, end of story. Doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing.”

Chelsea is available on Netflix. This article originally appeared on

Started From the Bottom Now She’s Here

25 Aug


flickr/creative commons/rafe barron



For anyone who’s seen footage of her live performances—or her recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon—this is hard to believe. She is, quite simply, a force. An Amazonian beauty with a powerhouse set of pipes and a penchant for chardonnay, the woman known as the Cabaret Hurricane runs around the room motorboating and mounting audience members, whether they like it or not. (They usually like it.) The word confident could spring to mind, though it feels like a little sissy of an adjective given the off-the-wall artistic cataclysm that is a Bridget Everett show.

But when it came to playing the hard-living Barb Dombrowski in the drama Patti Cake$ (out now), she felt wobbly. “I basically did everything I could not to do it,” Everett says of writer-director Geremy Jasper’s invitation to workshop the script at Sundance Labs in 2014. “Not because I didn’t want to and not because I didn’t think it was a great opportunity , but because I thought I would bomb.”

Jasper had no such misgivings: “I’d been looking for Barbara Dombrowski, and I hadn’t found any actresses that seemed right for the role. Then suddenly I saw her face, and I was like, ‘That’s Barb.’ ”

Which is hilarious when you find out that he first saw her face when she was belting out the song “Titties” on Inside Amy Schumer. “It’s ridiculous to be like, ‘That performance [made me think], I want you for this dramatic role,’ ” says Jasper. “But then she did one of her monologues and I could tell there was just this unbelievable depth and melancholy, and it felt very real to me. She seemed to have this deep inner world, and this big reservoir of emotion.”

Barb is unlike anyone Everett, 45, has played before: She’s mom to the titular Patti, a young woman trying to escape her dead-end New Jersey town by becoming a rap star. Life hasn’t been kind to Barb. Her guy walked out, her dad died, her mom (played, wonderfully, by Cathy Moriarty) is convalescing in the living room. And she believes that Patti’s birth quashed her own musical aspirations—a sentiment she takes pains to remind her daughter whenever she can. Yet Everett is somehow able to make Barb magnetic as well as repulsive.

“At Sundance, she was just a four-letter C-word with exclamation points,” Everett says. “[Geremy] and I talked about it, and we both thought it would serve the film better if we showed a few more colors of Barb. When you play anybody, you bring a little of yourself to the role. I can be a total cunt and I can be the person on top of the bar, but I looked at Barb and was like, ‘She was for sure trapped and lonely and can’t express love to her daughter. But she realizes that she wants to.’ ”

That music figures so heavily in Barb’s character—she does karaoke down at the local bar and fronts a cop cover band called NJPD Blues—was the key to unlocking her potential. A classically trained singer originally from Manhattan, Kan., Everett found security in the musical numbers. “Those were the only moments when I felt centered and in control. The one thing I thought I had going for me with this part is that I can sing. So [after Sundance Labs], I felt like if the movie went forward, that might give me an opportunity to not get booted out by a boldfaced name. I remember having nightmares of who was going to replace me. And I was just like, ‘That bitch can’t sing, and that bitch can’t sing…’ ”

As soon as she wrapped Patti Cake$, Everett shot Fun Mom Dinner, about four women (Everett, Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, and Katie Aselton) who go out, get stoned, and meet a hot bartender played by Adam Levine. It was another role she was sure she wouldn’t land. “[Screenwriter] Julie Rudd was like, ‘I have this part for you, but the producers want you to do a table read.’ And I was like, ‘If you’re asking me to audition, I’m not going to get it because I will choke.’ And I went in and did the table read, and they offered me the part right away.”

Next up are Little Evil, a comedy-thriller starring Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly, set to hit Netflix on Sept. 1, and Love You More, an Amazon pilot she co-wrote with Bobcat Gold- thwait and Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City, 2 Broke Girls), produced by Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones). In it Everett plays Karen Best, a “big girl with a really big heart and a messy life,” who works in a home for young adults with Down syndrome. “I would never have been able to do the kind of work in that pilot if I had not had the experience of Patti Cake$,” she says. “It opened me up and gave me a lot of faith in myself.” She’ll also bring back her live show with her band, the Tender Moments (Beastie Boys’ Adam Horo- vitz is a member), to Joe’s Pub in NYC this fall.

For now, after “25 years slugging it out,” Everett is giving herself the briefest of breaks; when I talk to her she’s poolside in the Hamptons. “Now I work hard and I get to treat myself,” she says. “And the best part is I can pull out my credit card and not have to call Chase Bank beforehand to make sure she’ll fly.” All signs point to this finally being the Year of Bridget—just don’t try telling her that. ◆

This article originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly. For more from the interview, go to